Post-Event Reflections

Hello, everyone! I hope that everyone is well—not to mention busily preparing for our upcoming Winter event at the beginning of November. As you go about your preparations, and maybe brush up on some lore and mechanics information about the game, I also hope that you take a few moments to consider some “reflections” that I have written down in light of a couple of observations that I (and others) made during the past event. Please know that everything that follows is intended to be a constructive, helpful commentary and, ideally, should clarify areas of potential confusion for all of our participants, including staff. There are a few requests that I will make of everyone, but not without also providing some suggestions for role-playing “sticky situations” or solving possible problems. Please take them for what they are—nothing more or less.

That said, and without further ado, my reflections.

 

Rendering the Feudal Society

One of the aspects of Éras that comes up most often in PELs is the world’s set-up; that is, the feudal society. Many participants have asked for clarification and further guidance about this. It makes sense. We live in America, and most or all of us have grown up internalizing the notion of equality regardless of circumstance, as well as the possibility for upward mobility through continued effort. The practical realities of a feudal society are extremely unfamiliar, and some of the ideologies at the heart of the system can be hard to embrace. So I have tried, below, to put together a “crash course” on feudalism as well as a few specific recommendations to keep in mind as you navigate the world of Éras:

  • Feudalism is a very tricky and complex system because it involves so many different parts of society, and its values and privileges are not always clear. At its core, however, it is important to remember that it is not a system of equality—the nobility have one set of privileges and corresponding responsibilities, while the commoners (a catch-all word that refers to both artisans and peasants) have another, completely different set of privileges and responsibilities.
  • Some of you may protest at this. What responsibilities do the nobles have, when it seems like all they do is enjoy their privileges? And what privileges do the commoners have, when it seems like all they do is work? you might ask. The simplest answer is this: The nobles must define and defend the laws of the kingdom, developing strong leadership qualities in order to rule effectively and to protect both their vassals and their lands. There is a great deal of pressure in knowing that not just one, but hundreds of people are relying on you for their safety, well-being, and continued prosperity. By contrast, the commoners enjoy the military and economic protections of the nobility, are always able to seek out the aid of the nobility, and need not concern themselves with the drudgeries of governance or politics on a grander scale. There is great comfort in knowing that a lord is bound by oath to take care of you during hard times, no matter what.
  • It is important to realize that, although the two social classes are not equal, they are bound together into a symbiotic relationship—neither could survive without the other unless some massive societal restructuring took place, and both classes know this. Keep in mind, too, that both classes are essentially pledged to a life of service; in the feudal society, your life is not necessarily your own, no matter if you are a commoner or a noble. It is considered a form of societal and personal grace not merely to know this, but to accept or even embrace it.
  • Thus, even though both classes are fundamentally different, individuals within each class can and should take pride in the fact that they are performing a kind of service that the other could not—and that, because of that, society may continue to function.
  • This is the groundwork, then, for the fact that the nobility is supposed to behave graciously and respectfully toward commoners: the commoners provide the nobility with their food, clothing, and wares, and free their time from mundane work so that they may educate themselves to become better rulers and warriors. In the meantime, however, commoners are expected to show due respect to the nobility, because the nobility are so much more highly educated and wield so much economic and military power. (I read once, during my preliminary research for the game, that “no single foot soldier or archer could stand up to any one knight.” This is an extremely powerful illustration of the respective roles that the different classes are expected to occupy in society—in this case, during war. A knight was, for all intents and purposes, the medieval equivalent of a tank. That the responsibility was reserved for a noble is telling, as is the fact that commoners were not expected to compare.)

So, what is the best way to go about role-playing all of this?

The easiest, most expressive way of role-playing the feudal society is simply to address other characters properly. In general:

  • Across the noble/commoner divide, it would be considered rudely familiar to address anyone by first name unless explicitly invited to do so—from both ends of the spectrum. Thus, Lady Mary Black would never just start referring to Alice Farmer as “Alice.” Instead, it would be a mark of cordiality or respect to call her “Mistress Farmer.” Likewise, Alice would never casually refer to the noblewoman as “Lady Mary”; she would address her as “Lady Black” until instructed otherwise. Such permissions may be as simply expressed as, “Please, call me Lady Mary.”
  • The most common “universal” honorifics are as follows—
    A noble whose specific title you do not know: “My lord” or “my lady,” as in, “My lady Black, may I offer you something to drink?” or “Are you acquainted with my lady Black?”
    A commoner whose rank or title you do not know: “Mistress” or “Mister,” as in, “Mistress Farmer, you look quite dashing today” or “Mister Ackworth is our local barrister.” Please note that these two honorifics are used to differentiate commoners from squires, who are of course addressed as “Miss” or “Master.”
  • It is ideal to address a person, no matter what their social class, according to any titles or ranks they might hold. Thus, if you know that John Danford is a knight, you would refer to him as “Sir [John] Danford.” Similarly, if you know that a foot soldier is a corporal, you would refer to her as “Corporal [Alice] Farmer.” This guideline falls through in cases where the use of a title might render the address ridiculous, as in “Forester Forester,” which I mention only because we actually have a case of that right now. In that scenario, an acceptable alternative would be “Mistress Forester,” or—with permission—“Forester Lexa.”
  • Within one’s own social class, it is acceptable to disperse with formality and skip immediately to a first-name basis unless explicitly informed otherwise. Thus, Lady Mary Black would simply refer to Sir John Danford as “John” upon their introduction, and Alice Farmer would call Roger Ackworth “Roger.”
    Note that this is trickier for nobles, because they must be more aware of ranks, so as not to offend nobles of a higher standing than they. Thus, while Lady Mary Black might well be on a first-name basis with Sir John, she would never dream of calling Count Geoffrey Lyon “Geoffrey,” unless she were deliberately trying to provoke him, or to imply something about the nature of their relationship. By contrast, Count Geoffrey Lyon would be perfectly within his rights to refer to Lady Mary Black by her first-name—but even then, such practice could be seen as belittlement under the wrong circumstances.
  • Even within one’s own social class, it is sometimes a good idea to refrain from showing undue friendliness. Our young Alice Farmer, then, might choose to refer to elderly Isabella Glazier as “Mistress Glazier” out of respect for her age and experience. Alternately, if Alice Farmer has a rather icy relationship with Ralph Cooper, she might call him “Mister Cooper” to indicate that there is no fondness between them. There are many iterations of this, some of which are culturally-based (take Blacknalleers, for example), and you should feel free to adjust your form of address to suit the circumstances as well as your character’s personality.
  • Finally, it is advisable to differentiate between siblings or individuals with the same last name by using their full names, so that you might refer to both “Mistress Alice Farmer” and “Mistress Margery Farmer” without anyone becoming confused.

Admittedly, it can all be a little bit complex, but take from it what you will and know that these guidelines can always be “fudged” as necessary. And remember—if you’re really lost or unsure, it is quite courteous to just ask somebody what they would like to be called and have done with the uncertainty once and for all!

A secondary way of rendering the feudal society is via actions and reactions. In general:

  • When a noble enters a room, seated commoners should rise out of respect; the noble, in turn, should acknowledge them and make sure to give them leave to sit back down. This guideline can and should be constricted in social situations that would render the action so inconvenient as to be impractical, as in the tavern, which people enter and exit all the time. Instead of rising when any noble enters, then, commoners might elect to rise only when a person of great consequence—for instance, Count Henry Marcheford—enters the tavern. It is also possible to rise only if a noble approaches you specifically, or comes over to sit at your table.
  • Anyone, noble or commoner, who notices a great lord or lady enter the tavern, is encouraged to call out something like, “All rise!” to call attention to that person. At this point it would be a grave discourtesy not to rise out of respect.
  • If a noble of higher rank greets you by name or approaches you to begin a conversation, it is expected that you would bow to that person. Likewise, if you seek to strike up a conversation with a noble of higher rank, a bow accompanied by some small courtesy such as, “If I may, I would beg a word of you,” or “If it please you, I wish to speak with you” would be standard. Another conversational courtesy to bear in mind is, “May I speak freely?” or “May I have your permission to speak?” While carrying on the conversation, the person of lower rank especially would be expected to remain attentive and avoid unduly interrupting; and it is considered good etiquette to bow once again upon dismissal.
  • Nobles might, if they so choose, observe small gallantries amongst themselves, including but not limited to kissing someone’s hand, granting a favor, or wearing a favor; but these behaviors would never be extended to commoners, at least not seriously.

And finally, because we have gotten a lot of questions about precedence and ranking specifically regarding the military and internal government of Ravensgate, the official rundown is this:

  1. Within the bounds of his lands, orders issued by the Count of Marcheford supersede all other commands except those issued by his direct superiors, or anyone of higher rank within the Orders of the White Lotus or the Silver Fern.
  2. In local military matters, including the defense of the town, the decisions of the local military personnel—including knights, royal mages, squires, soldiers, and the forester—take precedence over the orders of any civilian, even nobles.
  3. Orders issued by any person holding the rank of Brigadier or higher within the Orders of the White Lotus or Silver Fern supersede the commands of all landed knights or royal mages as well as those of the local forester or soldiers of the Watch.
  4. The forester and the soldiers of the Watch are to heed and obey the commands of any landed knight or royal mage who has sworn, by oath of fealty, loyalty to House Marcheford.
  5. Local squires are welcome to offer their advice and skill to the local forester, and the local forester may choose whether or not to accept them. In entering into this partnership, the squires agree to abide by the orders and commands of the forester. If an imprisoned noble should request to be held in accordance with his or her standing and the forester should have no objection, the forester may remand custody of the prisoner over to a squire or squires, if they agree to guard the prisoner faithfully until such time as the prisoner’s formal trial.
  6. Local squires are permitted to capture known a criminal and hold him or her under their own personal guard until such time as the criminal’s formal trial, or until such time as the squires can turn the criminal in for a previously-advertised bounty. Should the squires require the aid of the forester or any soldier of the Watch prior to the trial or the collection of the bounty, however, the criminal is thereafter considered to be in the custody of the Watch. Should any criminal escape and elude recapture while under the personal guard of a squire, that squire shall be required to pay whatever fine would have been levied upon the escaped criminal if that criminal had been sentenced properly. In the event of a murderer’s escape, the squire will be required to pay the equivalent of a major fine whose value shall be set by the forester.
  7. The soldiers of the Watch are to heed and obey the commands of the forester, in keeping with their internal titles and rankings.

 

All of the discussion about titles and so on brings me to my next reflection:

 

Attention to Terminology / Integrity of the Game-world

At the fall event, I heard a few things that made me wince inwardly: Someone referred to the plant incarnation as a druid. Another person spoke enthusiastically about werewolves, because it was a full moon, and vampires, because they’re vampires, I guess. A slew of participants stopped referring to “the Knight’s Stand” and started referring to “the guard house.”

I don’t want to sound as though I’m nitpicking (although, all right, I’m totally nitpicking)—but hear me out regardless. The reason that these lapses of terminology concerned me is because they represent more than just a slip in diction; they represent a lapse in thought and approach, and in doing so threaten the integrity of the game-world that we are all trying so hard to create and maintain.

For example, take the plant monster. Yes, outwardly there may be some basic similarities between this creature and the mythical druid which is commonly depicted in other fantasy novels and worlds. But the key fact is: They are not the same. Moreover, they are not the same because we have deliberately designed them not to be the same. The problem with assuming that they are one and the same, then, is because it encourages you to assume that you already know what is going on, what something is, what its purpose or behavior or outlook is—except, at Éras, you might be wrong. And in cutting yourself off from the drive to question and explore, you might miss out on something really cool. On top of that, you might influence other people to adopt your terminology and, thereby, your assumptions—and they might miss out on something cool too. It’s definitely a domino effect, and it’s for that reason that falling back on the familiar tropes, archetypes, and terminology of the fantasy genre at large can be so problematic.

What’s at stake in issue of “the guard house” as opposed to “the Knight’s Stand,” by contrast, is a loss of place. One of the things that I think resonates strongly with the participants at our game is that it has a sense of realism that is deeply rooted in the specificity of place: of the Silver Raven tavern, of the town of Ravensgate, of county Marcheford and Braelin and the universe of Éras at large. But if we allow ourselves to strip away these details, no matter how small or insignificant they may be, I feel as though it becomes that much easier to forget that we are in Ravensgate and start thinking more along the lines of being in “just another game.” Just another fantasy world.

My insistence on calling places by their proper names, then, and in referring steadfastly to “the Ravensgate Watch” or calling the members of the Watch “soldiers” or “watchmen” rather than the less official/more generic “town guard” or “guardsmen” is because I want to preserve the details of the game’s place. Maybe it’s a little crazy, but I hope that you feel the same way too.

And finally, as regards werewolves, vampires, elves, dwarves, liches, fairies, and all manner of other fantasy creatures—simply put, they just aren’t part of Éras. Don’t get me wrong; I think Tolkien is great, I enjoy playing D&D, and I love all the old folktales that are out there. And I’ll be the first to admit that we have in fact drawn from mythological sources to help shape our world, because how can we reasonably escape those influences entirely? But we have purposefully shied away from the most famous of the creatures in the stories—partly for the reasons that I mentioned during my discussion of the plant monster versus druid issue, but mostly because they just don’t match the aesthetic of our game-world.

I hope that the frankness of this reflection will help to eliminate these types of references, but just in case it doesn’t, I have a solution in mind. I don’t like the idea of breaking game any further than these references will already have done; so instead, I encourage anyone hearing mention of famous fantasy creatures to respond in-game with a variation of the following: “What, you still believe in those old fairy stories?”

 

And finally, the last and shortest reflection in the series:

 

The Importance of Taking Calls

This is just a reminder, based on some reports that came out of staff center after certain larger-scale encounters: If you get hit with a skill call, please take it. If you don’t know what it means, please clarify with the person who hit you. If you’re not sure if the skill call landed or not, please ask whoever it was that tried to hit you. Thanks!

Tuesday Tales: Guest Series, Part I

The Three Do’s and Don’ts of Character Creation
By Derek H.

You hear about a LARP that you want to try out and eagerly create a character to go and play.  Your ability to enjoy a LARP often depends on the character you’ve created.  Sometimes your character gels with you and the community… other times it doesn’t.  Here’s a brief list of do’s and don’ts that will hopefully help you out in creating a LARP character that will make it easy to enjoy your LARP.

DO:  Make a character that will interact with other characters.  The only thing that separates us from a bunch of recreationists with plumbing supplies in our hands is our mutual belief in the world we’re creating.  Therefore, create a character that will perpetuate that world by interacting with other people.  You don’t have to get along, or be friendly, but you ought to be able to interact with other characters in some capacity.  Scowling at others and threatening to cut them in two is a form of interaction, so go for it if that is what you want to do.  Even antagonists need a place to call home.  Just remember that mysterious people in the corner often drink alone and get bored.

DO: Make a character that fits within the world your GMs have created.  Without the hundreds upon hundreds of extras to create a fully fleshed-out world, we few players and cast are all we have to create the setting of our world.  Try to create a character that fits within that setting, rather than create a character that is so completely out-of-genre that it sticks out like a sore thumb.  Some examples include fairy princesses in a world without fae, or steampunk tinkers in a magic-heavy fantasy world.  Everyone wants their character to be unique.  There are just ways to do this that respect the world your GMs have painstakingly put together.

DO: Make a character whose story is just beginning.  A character history is a starting point for your character’s adventure.  After all, you are at a game in order to explore their true adventure, one would suppose.  Be mindful that the history you’ve created allows for that to happen.  It is easy to get caught up in writing your character’s story and have their adventure already told before they even took their first breath of life.  Leave openings in your history for future adventure and change.  After all, watching your character evolve through living in the world is what it’s all about.

DON’T:  Play a character that is smarter than you.  We want our characters to be everything we feel we can’t be, and that is fine.  Know your limits.  Don’t play a character that’s clever if you can’t think on your feet, or someone who is a charmer if you get tongue-tied at the thought of talking to other people.  Those being said, definitely explore those areas that challenge you by creating a character who aspires to be good in those roles.  That way, you can become a charmer or a fast-thinker, rather than disappoint yourself time and time again by not being able to live up to the character you’ve created in your mind.

DON’T:  Make your character the center of the universe.  It is very tempting to want to create an epic story for your character, which is often achieved by creating an epic crisis that revolves around them.  You are one of many characters in the game world and you have to share the story with them.  It isn’t fair to expect your character to garner the attention of the world over that of everyone else.  That is not to mean that you should not have your moments to shine.  After all, those are the moments that make a game memorable.  Just remember that everyone feels the same way and wants their chance as well.

DON’T:  Make a character based on another piece of fiction.  No matter how obscure you think it is, I promise you that someone has read the book or seen the movie on which you based your character.  Not only do you do a disservice to your own creativity by stealing a character from another piece of fiction, but the moment others recognize your source material, it forces them to think about it and pulls them out of game.  After all, would you be able to stay in character when dealing with Gimli the dwarf or Ender Wiggin the fighter at the local tavern?  Yes, I’ve actually had this happen to me.

I hope you find these guidelines helpful when creating a character.  Being involved in a LARP means being involved in a community of very creative, enthusiastic people who want to help bring a story world to life.  Creating a character that supports that will engender the bonds that make a LARP experience special.  Good luck!

Pre-event Logistics

Although today is Tuesday, we are now within two weeks of our Summer 2013 event and therefore will not be offering a tale.  Instead, we’d like to remind our players about some logistical matters as we approach the event.

Preparations and packing.  For your convenience, we have compiled a list of items that you should consider bringing to an event:
  1. Character costume
  2. In-game props and decorations
  3. Sturdy, water-proof boots
  4. Boffer weapons, as per regulations
  5. Cabin decor (optional but encouraged)
  6. Gloves
  7. Extra clothing for layering or changing
  8. Extra socks and underwear
  9. Pouch for out-of-game items
  10. Necessary toiletries
  11. Necessary medications
  12. Bath towel and shoes (showers are available)
  13. Bug spray and/or sunscreen
  14. Food and drink (highly recommended)
  15. Money
  16. Pillow
  17. Sleeping bag and blankets
  18. Pajamas
  19. Small flashlight

Before you come, make sure that you eat something, and that you have food to bring with you for game-time.  We provide snacks, drinks, and basic cold-cut sandwiches in the tavern during game, as well as one hot meal on Saturday evening, but that is all.  A good, full meal to begin the weekend is always an excellent idea, and having food on hand during an event guarantees that you will never go hungry.  You alone know how much food you will need to keep you up and energized.

Arrival on site and check-in.  Players are asked to arrive on-site no earlier than 5pm on Friday, May 31 (unless carpooling with staff); staff, no earlier than 3pm.  A staffer wearing a black staff shirt will direct you where to park.  Upon parking your car, please report to General Manager Hilary Umbreit for check in.  She will be seated in the open basement of the main building, just down the hill to the right of the parking area.  At this point, you must pay your event fee and sign your safety waiver, if you have not already done so.  Anyone who does not pay or who refuses to sign the waiver will not be allowed to play.  Additionally, you must present your weapons for inspection and approval at this time.  If you have armor, we recommend that you bring it with you so that Hilary can assign its in-game value.  Once you have paid, signed the safety waiver, and your weapons and armor have been inspected, Hilary will give you three things:

  1. Your character baggie, which includes all of your in-game items and your character sheet.  Please retain this bag, as we ask you to return your in-game items inside the bag at the end of the event.
  2. A map of the campsite (if it is available).  New players and staffers are strongly encouraged to take a walk around the entire campsite and get a feel for the lay of the land before reporting for set-up.  It does not take very long, it is quite scenic, and it ensures that you will not be stumbling around blindly come nightfall.  Remember—we try not to use electric lights at night, so it gets very dark!
  3. A cabin assignment.  Players will be assigned to sleeping quarters in one of the outdoor cabins or within the main building on-site.  Please specify whether or not you would like to sleep in an OOG area at this time.  Volunteer and general staffers may bunk with players if they have the express permission of the GMs, but their presence automatically renders the cabin or room out-of-game.  Otherwise, staffers are expected to sleep all together in the staff bunk room just off of staff center in the main building.

Once you have checked in, you should move your belongings into your cabin (or into the staff sleeping quarters, if you are staffing).  Then you should arrange your cabin however you see fit.  Decorating your cabin is optional, but strongly encouraged.  Having an in-game cabin that is legitimately decked out allows you to host visitors and to spend time in your cabin during the event if you so choose.  Sometimes it can be very nice to have a private place away from other characters, to conduct conversations, business, and so on.

If, after you have set up your cabin, you find that you have a number of extraneous out-of-game items that you definitively won’t need during the event, you may choose to bring one (1) bin or bag up to staff center.  There, we will have sectioned off a small area in which players can leave these bins or bags for the duration of the event.  We ask that all such bags or bins are securely and neatly stowed, labeled with your name, fully zippered or otherwise sealed, and contain no fragile items.  Likewise, make sure not to include anything that you will need during an event, because such bags and bins will be considered off-limits until Sunday afternoon at clean-up.

Set-up.  Only after you have unloaded your own belongings and arranged your cabin to your satisfaction should you report for set-up.  When you are ready to do so, proceed to Staff Center, which is located in the main building.  Here you will report to General Manager Adam Selby.

Tasks range in difficulty and complexity, and include such activities as: planting solar lamps, tiki torches, and other in-game light sources on the paths around the campsite; unpacking and organizing staff center; moving mattresses into the staff sleeping quarters; clearing out, cleaning up, and/or setting up in-game buildings such as the shrine, the forge, the Knight’s Stand, the Silver Raven, and the Oak Bookseller; hanging tarps or other cloth in designated mod halls; and so on.  You will be awarded a given amount of CP per task that you complete; please report back to Adam when you have finished one task and would like another one.

As a general rule, players will be given preference over staffers to undertake set-up tasks.  This is because players earn CP for helping to set up, and because staffers take on a lot of work during the event itself.

That said, there comes a time during set-up that there simply are not any more tasks left to complete.  If this is the case, you should start getting into costume and head to the Silver Raven Tavern for the pre-game player meeting.  Once there, please wait patiently for one of the GMs to arrive.

Pre-game player meeting.  The pre-game player meeting occurs once set-up is complete and the players, now in costume, have gathered in the Tavern.  One of the GMs will arrive and do a head-count; if most of the players are at the Tavern, the GM will blow a (referee’s) whistle outside of the tavern three times, signifying that the pre-game player meeting will start in ten (10) minutes.  If you hear this whistle, you should hurry to put your costume on and get to the Tavern.  We will start whether you are there or not.

This meeting includes significant information about the upcoming event, including important out-of-game calls such as “Caution” and “Emergency,” who among us knows first aid and what to do should an emergency occur, and any unusual circumstances or details that you need to know for the upcoming event.  Please note that, although you may ask for clarifications at this time, the meeting’s function is not to review skill calls or mechanics, as we assume that you already understand them.

In-game arrival to Ravensgate.  Once the pre-game meeting is done, all players with new characters, or established characters who traveled outside of Ravensgate between moons, must scatter beyond the edges of the town commons.  From here, when game-on is called, you will role-play your in-game arrival in town.

If you have an established character who remained in Ravensgate between moons, you may start game in the Silver Raven or within the town commons.

Players are discouraged from clumping together unless it actually makes sense in-game for you to do so—for instance, you might arrive in town with the group of people you were traveling with between moons.  If you feel legitimately uncomfortable traveling into town in this way—if you are a new player, for example, or you do not want to walk alone in the dark—a Town Guard PC or NPC will be stationed on the far side of the river by the footbridge.  You may go there to be escorted into town by that person.

At the beginning of each event, all characters start alive, in good health, with no injuries, and with full use of all of their skills.  We ask that you make sure to keep your character sheet on your person at all times, as it can be useful for reference during game.  You may store any BGS responses or carry them with you as you so choose.  Remember that documents such as letters, some spy responses, sage books or scrolls, and so on are considered in-game, stealable items.

Game-on call.  As everyone scatters, one of the GMs will blow the whistle outside of the Tavern two times.  This signifies that you have approximately ten (10) minutes to find your position and get into character.  After ten minutes, the GM will blow the whistle three more times.  This announces that game is officially on—you should act in-character and expect in-game occurrences to happen from this point onward.

Optimally, we try to start game between 9 and 10pm.  However, due to a variety of factors, this may not always be possible.  Thus, we ask players to remain patient and flexible as staff gears up for the event.

Game-off call.  The Éras Chronicles uses a “soft-stop” to indicate game-off.  At 2am, a staffer or a player in the position of town Crier will blow a whistle or ring a bell outside of the Tavern two times and announce, “Two of the clock and all is quiet” around the campsite.  As soon as this happens, all staff-driven activity stops and every staffer is expected to go to bed.  If you are a staffer and you have not reported to the staff sleeping quarters by 2:15am, the GMs will come looking for you.  (Please do not make us do this.)

Players, on the other hand, may continue to interact and wrap up in-game business or conversations inside of the Silver Raven Tavern.  All other areas and places around the campsite are considered out-of-game; as soon as you leave the Silver Raven for any reason, you are no longer in-game.  Although it is fully your choice to stay up past 2am, we strongly encourage all players to go to bed as soon as possible.  Game-on is at 9am sharp on Saturday morning.

Overnight restoration.  Any player sleeping in an in-game cabin automatically regenerates four (4) CP worth of skills overnight on both Friday and Saturday.  You may apply this restoration to any skill available to you on your character sheet, including vitality, in accordance with the skill’s normal CP cost.  Thus, John can restore two points of vitality (2 CP total, since the skill costs 1 CP per purchase) and one use of Parry (2 CP); two uses of Fumble (2 CP total) and one use of Subdue (2 CP); or two uses of Bind (4 CP total).  Note that the four CP may be applied only to skills that you used up the day before.  If you did not use any of your skills, therefore, you do not gain any of the restorative benefits.

There is a catch to all this, however; namely, your cabin must legitimately look in-game in order to receive your overnight regeneration.  On Saturday morning or afternoon, one or both GMs will conduct a cabin inspection.  If your cabin has out-of-game items or trash lying around, we will post a sign on your cabin door indicating that it has been declared an out-of-game cabin.  Should this happen, you will not gain any CP restoration on Saturday night.

Further details about the course of the event can be found in Chapter 8 of the Rulebook.  Please make sure to look over the different mechanics and skills descriptions as well as in-game information pertaining to the world, in-game law, and so on before the event.  Finally, if you have any questions at all, contact us at eraschronicles@gmail.com well before the event.  Thanks and good luck as you prep for the event.  We are looking forward to seeing all of you!

Pre-event Logistical Announcements

Just in case anyone missed the memo as they are prepping for the upcoming event–a description of the campsite as well as the instructions (PLEASE FOLLOW THESE THE SITE DOES NOT HAVE AN ACTUAL ADDRESS) are included on our Logistics: Campsite Info page: https://eraschronicles.com/logistics/events/  Please ignore the picture on that page as it is outdated; the new cabins, however, are equally nice.  I am also happy to report that it is confirmed: every bed now has a mattress.

Stay tuned for more logistical details as the date approaches. In the meantime please remember that the deadline for registration, (pre-)payments, and all BGS is due THIS FRIDAY, MAY 17 BY 11:59pm. Thanks!

Words of Advice: Maintaining an In-game Economy

Hello all, after reading a few PELs we have been inspired to make the following announcement for your consideration:

One of the hardest things about running a LARP is attempting to create (and maintain) a legitimate working economy. We on staff have done our best to create a system with a clearly defined supply-and-demand that creates both a need to obtain and then an impetus to spend money and keep coin circulating through the game. But we can only do so much! You on player-side can help by keeping a couple of things in mind.

The first is to be willing to spend your money, not just on items but also on services. (Remember to tip, too! It is realistic, will help support characters whose funds are dependent on tips, AND it will garner better service for you.) The second is never to be afraid to charge another person for a good or for services rendered, even if the charge is modest. There is a general trend in LARPing worlds to be very altruistic; and we don’t want to discourage people from well-placed altruism, but keep in mind that if your normal policy is to charge (even modestly), when you do give or do something for free, the gesture will actually mean something to you and the other person.

These are just things to consider as we move forward together with the world.

Words of Advice: How to Write a Good PEL

[Now that our first ever PEL period has come and passed and we have read through the insightful comments that our participants had to offer about our recent event, we wanted to offer a “Word of Advice” post about what we consider to be a “good” PEL.  We have phrased things in generalized terms in the hopes that you find it helpful and illuminating not just for Éras but for any game that you may attend.]

Every game that we have thus far attended or researched has an avenue by which participants can submit their feedback about an event.  While the format varies from game to game the general principle is the same everywhere: We care about what you have to say.

If you have been offered the chance to write a PEL, then, you have been given a great responsibility indeed—make sure to take it seriously and, more importantly, to make it count.  (This holds especially true for games like the Éras Chronicles which offer a tangible incentive to those who submit a PEL.)

Although many PEL formats include an “in-game” section, we recommend that you place a greater emphasis on your out-of-game responses than on your in-game responses.  It can be tempting to neglect the former because the latter is so much more exciting, but to be frank the latter only really matters to the person writing the PEL; it creates a lovely narration of the game from your character’s personal standpoint but offers very little which the managers or staff can use to improve the game, since it doesn’t tell anyone what you really think about the game as a whole, its set up, its aesthetics, its mechanics, and so on—which is, realistically, the whole reason why the staff has solicited PELs to begin with.

When writing your PELs, here are a few simple rules which you should try to follow to the best of your ability:

1. Give credit where credit is due.  If you think that someone—or several someones—did a phenomenal job, say so.  Even more importantly, though, is to explain why you felt that their performances were great.  Consider the difference between the following examples:

  • Example A: “John, you were fantastic.  Great job!”
  • Example B: “John, the way that you portrayed your villain as having real, concrete motivations for acting the way he did was fantastic.  The fact that the players were able to parse out his internal struggles and his back story made him into a relatable character and really forced my character to reevaluate her understanding of good and evil.  Even though in the end my character chose to stand against him, she had a great deal of respect for him, and that’s why she ended up arguing that his life be spared once he had been defeated.”

While example A is nice to hear in a very general sense, it doesn’t offer any insight as to why or how John was so fantastic.  And so even though John might feel good hearing the compliment, he has no notion as to what he specifically did well—and therefore might not know how to replicate his fantastic performance.  Example B, on the other hand, explains exactly what John did well and thereby ensures that he will continue to create compelling, relatable NPCs.

2. Offer criticism—but never without also offering a solution, if you can.  There are bound to be aspects of the game that you didn’t like, either because you didn’t understand why an in-game event happened the way it did, or because you think a skill or character might be mechanically questionable, or a host of other things.  Never be afraid to be honest about these criticisms…but never criticize in an unproductive way, either.  That is, always suggest a way to fix the problem you’ve brought up.  Consider the difference between the following examples:

  • Example A: “I don’t like the Fear spell because it’s overpowered.”
  • Example B: “I hope that staff will consider tweaking the Fear spell’s effects because, as it stands, it seems awfully powerful for a 1 CP skill.  Instead of requiring the target to move completely out of sight of the caster, perhaps the spell’s effects should simply require the target to move at least fifteen feet away and then avoid engaging the caster for the duration of the spell.”

From a staff perspective, example A is helpful but also frustrating, because the commenter has asserted that a mechanical skill is “overpowered” without specifying why or how the problem might be addressed satisfactorily.  Example B, on the other hand, explains very reasonably why the skill in question is powerful for its cost and then goes on to provide a concrete example of how the problem could be fixed.

3. Remember and acknowledge your limitations, and trust the staff to know what they are doing.  As a player, you have little or no access to the behind-the-scenes workings of the game in question.  Something which you perceive to be somehow problematic was almost assuredly discussed before the event ever took place, and the staff usually has very specific reasons for the way that plots, characters, information, and other aspects of the game are put forth.  It’s perfectly fine to offer your commentary or bring up an issue for consideration, but do so with a grain of salt.  Keep in mind that things may be exactly as they seem.  Maybe that “overpowered” character is supposed to be strong for in-game plot reasons.  Perhaps that NPC who used the “All within the sound of my voice” call simply is that rude.  It could be that staff deliberately included a difficult creature in that mod to create the possibility that the players might “lose” the encounter, because it was supposed to be a legitimate challenge.

In other words—when it comes to perceptions, particularly of intent or power-level, definitely make your comments, but give the staff the benefit of the doubt.  And, if and when staff has gotten back to you to explain the reasoning (or even just to assure you that there was a specific reason!), be prepared to accept the explanations at face-value.

Addendum: We posted this on Facebook but we have since been reminded that not everyone uses Facebook–we’re sorry for failing to keep that in mind!  So we wanted to copy and paste it here for your consideration:

We just wanted to make a quick note in response to a trend we’ve observed in the PELs we have thus far received. It seems that a number of players have been making assumptions about the power-level and/or in-game purpose of various NPCs, without having any actual knowledge of the skills or history behind these characters. We appreciate it that people are willing to speak up about the perceived power-level of NPCs, but we ask that such criticisms come as a result of specific and observable instances of excessive skill use or unreasonable in-game actions rather than from the assumption that they are powerful simply because they are played by staffers. We have made every effort on our end to ensure that the power-level of every NPC we send out is appropriately balanced and tailored specifically for the role they are intended to occupy. Generally speaking, the vast majority of NPCs are on par with or weaker than a starting player-character.

In short, it can sometimes be difficult to curb the impulse to make OOG assumptions about an NPC’s IG skills/knowledge/history, but please make the effort and give us the benefit of the doubt. And of course, all this aside, we do want to hear about it if you feel that an NPC was legitimately too powerful or overbearing. Thanks for your feedback!