Everyone has amazing ideas for a LRP game. They’ll either be based on something they’ve seen, something they’ve played or some random idea they’ve got from nowhere in particular.
Running a game is a big daunting undertaking, especially when it’s something different from the sort of thing you’ve run before. Trying something new is risky. It’s a little bit scary, and sometimes you can’t go all the way. I recently played a St Trinians versus the Evil Dead game. I was playing with an amazing group of people, and having spoken to several afterwards, the Evil Dead part of the game was vastly less necessary than the St Trinians part. We loved forging bank notes and relieving the locals of their cash. Dodgy art deals were amazing, beating the Cheltenham girls at hockey was brilliant and bartering with the caterers for cheese was also pretty awesome. Fighting deadites was good.
I would have been less sold on a St Trinians game that didn’t include the evil dead in the initial pitch, but having played the game I would go back to a solely St Trinians game without hesitation. We try to do new things with our games. New things require new skills and balancing systems that we’ve never been able to put into play. Pitching a game that has unknown elements is really hard. I work within a team when I’m running games, so they do have to be pitched. I’ve had numerous games die a death before (or soon after) the world finds out about them because we can’t reach critical mass, or because I fail to have the time to push them. I suspect most people are the same. So how do you get started with a new game?
For us, we talk. We will spend hours talking about our games, other peoples games, things we have seen on the internet and things we would like to do. For Dark Hearts the first time it became a real game for me was when I was told there was no room in the Empire setting for a player event (by another of the Mandala team), so I told them a story that would work as a background for an event, and a few months later we ran the event. The conversation started as ‘Could we run an Empire player event?’ On being told no I got difficult and told them why they were wrong and we ran it. If you ask anyone else involved in that event how it happened they will tell you a different story.
A lot of the logic behind how you start running an event will change depending on why you are running it. The typical Mandalion reason for running an event is because ‘we can run a better event’. For particular events that means it would have a particular challenge we enjoy. I like running hard events. I like to feel that the events I’m running are pushing the edge of my abilities. (I really struggle with the bits of events that require software because it’s an area I can’t just fix. I can’t program usefully, and so I rely on other members of my team to write software for me to make events run.) The event I’m currently thinking about will for a large part be run over the internet. The mental block of not being able to provide the most fundamental part of the stuff I need for the game is making it a lot harder to get this game going than normal. I need to find time to talk to the right people to make it work. I can’t run games on my own. I wouldn’t want to. Getting a game past the idea stage requires it to be tricky enough to be interesting, but no so hard as to be impossible for the right number of people in order that it has the impetus to run.
We find this is best achieved with a group discussion somewhere like a pub or the night after the last game we ran/played.