We have a tendency to write a big end sequence for our events. Something that requires the players to build to the point where they achieve a final goal and everything ends. With Mandala games typically this is the point we finish. We’re running the story up to the point that the players achieve one of our final moments.
We’ve historically run action games. Making the final fight the boss is a major LRP trope and it is another area where we something let our game down by making the last thing that happened just another battle. We typically have a ‘most likely’ ending and 2-3 other possible routes out that the players could take. However, we’re reactive to the players and may end up doing something utterly different. We’ve had at least one event where the event plot was utterly rewritten 6 times over the weekend when the players did cool things that were utterly unexpected. Some of them fed back that the event was too linear… There is a tendency to pace an event by the violence and this gives too much focus to the violence to allow you to write a good event.
Events tell stories. Running an event with only one story leaves things a bit thin. Each story is likely to have multiple threads. If a thread is important the players may need several different ways to access it. Expecting players to just grab the first chance is a mistake. If the wrong player finds it, they don’t recognise the significance etc then another chance means the players who are engaging get time to catch it before being left with a frustrating brick wall. Equally if the players don’t bite after a 3 different tries then you need to leave it for a bit or try something new. With some fest level plot we’ve left it a year before we’ve sent something out again and the players have picked it up.
So far I’ve both suggested that you don’t shove things down the players throats and you give them several chances to access key plot points. This isn’t as contradictory as it sounds. It is, like many things, a balancing act. It’s not a film, players aren’t always predictable and if you’ve planned this stuff in advance then it’s much more likely to give them a satisfying event.
Going back to end sequences, there is a tendency towards violence and action which can detract from an event that isn’t violence or action focused. People who go to empire to politic are more likely to be looking for a politically outstanding ending that a violence ending. They want action, but it needs to be in a sphere that’s in keeping with the tone of the game.
From my perspective both LRP and LARP have traditionally been more action focussed and the branching out to a wider range of styles feels more recent and, to me, more interesting. There is a habit to fall back to what is easy and what we know, and it’s often fairly easy to write a dramatic climax to an event using attacks and violence. It allows your event to end on a high. Identifying that violence isn’t the answer to everything can be a bit of a leap. Hopefully over time it’ll get a little bit more natural.