Last night, i was at my larp, There was a situation involving the ganking of the Prince. The sheriff had called all of the vampires in town at elysium together to let them know, But then he spent about a half hour investigating the crime scene. In addition, the vampires were not allowed to leave. Until he made his pronouncement.
Did i mention that the sheriff is mute?
This is unfortunate because it had the effect of trapping a whole bunch of players in one spot with nothing to do but wait. And there were a number of new players in the room who had no attachment to the plot or the old prince. I could feel them getting restless. But as it was created by the other players,and not the ST staff, there was little they could do.
The reason why i bring this up is because i feel that most gamers, myself included have famously short attention spans. Leave a player in the lurch too long, and eventually they'll think to themselves, "Ya know...I could be at home right now, downloading Doctor Who on Bit-torrent." And come next game session, that's just what they'll do.
So, i want to talk about the theater of larping for a bit.
You know me. I'm always trying to figure out ways to help get people in that crazy mindset of "Larp as Improv Art-form" because i find that when you do this, it helps you to find your way into your character in a way that game systems flatly don't do. But, like any improv person can tell you, when the pace begins to drag, it can mean death. The other end of this puzzle, is that you'll have players that want and need to be handed a bit of plot, but you'll also have players that want and need you to leave them the hell alone so they can get into trouble all alone. There are nights, when all you have to do is put a few players in the room together and simply let them talk. exchange philosophies and junk like that. There are some players that will dig on that.
But other players may need a little bit more.
Make it an event
The Camarilla has taught me a very valuable thing about Larping. Insofar as when you've got a great big chronicle that stretched across the depth and breadth of the globe, you ought to plan your game as if you'll have visitors every single night you play it. Visitors who aren't involved with your ongoing plots and who may need some sort of handle to grip onto in order to get involved. You want them too. You honestly want to find ways to help them into the ongoing things and maybe even help them develop plot of their own. If you do this, they may want to come back. And one of the principles of larping is "The More the Merrier."
With this in mind, No court of vampires should be a dull, dry, and un-dramatic affair. While some vampires should cultivate a bland attitude, others should come to court shaking with rage over some slight or other. There should be drama seething in each vampire court. I expect that the equivalent ought to take place in any other sort of game where supernatural creatures gather. They do tend to be excitable creatures don't they? As a GM, i think it would be wise to engineer some sort of low level conflict of some sort, A bit of sloppy feeding here, a bit of domain poaching there. If a PC prince asks the assembled kindred, "Does anyone have a grievance to bring before me?" The last thing he should hear is silence. At least 1 hunt test failure ought to create some problem that would turn up at court.
In fact, it is my opinion that supernatural creatures should only meet in a full one elysium when the political needs are pressing. Court is a regimented affair, and violence is strictly verboten. The problem with this is, That occasionally, vampires want to kill one another.
Also, you should make room for times when Vampire congregate that have nothing to do with Formal Court. Social events, Clan Meetings, Covenant Meetings, and things of that sort play a vital role in the theatrical life of a community of vampires.
In addition, Formal courts are held in Elysiums, unless of course, one means to dispense justice on the grounds. As a result they are a means for socially oriented kindred to meet and greet and get to know all of the kindred in the community. Also, it is a means for artistically inclined kindred to show off their skills and talents to the small select group who are liable to "Get it."
What this OUGHT to mean, is that players with those sorts of skills should figure out ways to turn a formal court into a kind of artistic salon for their OWN talents. I suspect that any larp with 30 people or more could likely field a 3-4 person band. In any given group of players there ought to be a few people with formal dramatic skills, improv, a singer, a juggler, a stand-up comedian, and things of that sort. The Keeper of Elysium is supposed to actually organize entertainments at any formal court, And yet i have yet to see a single larp where that was the actual case. Also, Carthians are keen on debates. Why can't there be the occasional debates at something like this? It seems like i only see these sorts of things at major conventions. This seems like a gyp to me.
Another thing that i think would be helpful: Whenever a person is appointed to an office in a vampire court. I think there should be a formal rite of investiture witnessed by the whole court. It's a little bit of the pomp and circumstance that one should expect from these proceedings, and in addition makes it far less likely that people don't know who's actually filling those offices.
Indeed, some of the best forms of theater and some of the best forms of religious rite, share much in common. They have a certain kind of rhythm. and a certain bit of showmanship is involved in their creation. Also: There is the tendency towards a heightened form of language, a poetry to ritualized proceedings. That sort of shit is kind of hard to fake and unless you have some experience in that kind of thing, you ought to memorize, or at least have some crib notes for it. Why not have a prop book with the proper texts. No problem with that sort of thing if you're reading off an Invictus oath, a Lancea Sanctum mass, or a Crone high ritual. Heck, if you're planning to swear a new Ordo Dracul to the Oath, You might even consider a phonetic translation of the proper oath in hungarian.
That, in my arrogant opinion, would be cool as hell.
The primary concern in these sorts of things is that you are trying to evoke a specific emotional responses from it's participants. Decide from the jump what that specific emotional response IS, and then build from there. The less diluted that emotional response is, the more likely it is that it will have the proper effect. And the more likely it is that the players and GM's will feel as if they've been part of something cool.
This of course, begs the question of players who for reasons dumb or smart, want to interrupt such things. Which may be the reason why some folks aren't keen to try it. I don't know how to tell you to fix this short of some mechanical fix or some out of character contract between the players. Of course, it ought to go without saying, that if you turn up at a Ordo Dracul knighting ceremony and start acting "Ig'nant" Then you ought to expect every Ordo Dracul there to jump up and stomp the unliving shit out of you.
And they'd be right to do so. Nobody likes to have their parade pissed on.