Thursday, January 01, 2009

Get Visual!

Sometimes, People write me and ask me questions.

It's true! I'm not making it up!

Hey Pete, it's Del again.
Feel like tossing me and the ST's of my game a little helping hand?

I'm running my first official Elysium (well, technically a salon, since it's not the permanent location), and it's going to be a slobberknocker:
BITE NIGHT, a friendly battle between the kindred of Tampa. Some IC stuff:

"We've all secretly wondered it: Could I take him in a fight? Would she destroy me in a brawl? Well now, with the help of my good friend Craig Forist, the most esteemed leader of Clan Brujah in the city of Tampa, Eric Skye of Skye High Productions is pleased to present... BITE NIGHT, a no-holds-barred battle among the city's kindred, in a safe and controlled environment where we find out - without that messy business of Final Death and all - whether you really are a bad enough dude to save the President.

Interested? Maybe you're not yet, but Mr. Forist has been kind enough to offer up a major prize for winning. I asked him to be more
specific, but he cagily replied, "Don't worry, it's gonna be Major!"
Here are the ground rules [OOC Stuff in brackets after each bullet]:

• It is one-on-one combat, in a caged ring. Two kindred enter, one leaves.
• Everyone starts on an even playing field. Vampires enter the ring with 5 blood from their pool; the rest is set aside for either the
next round or the rest of their night. (You make a note to the ST there how much you had before, and you get the balance of [5-your
total] after the fight)
• It is a battle until one vampire relents. Either through crying for mercy, tapping out, or simply falling unconscious, but when the
fight's over, it's over. (Battles go to Incap, no further)
• This is for bragging rights and the night's prize only, not grudge settling. NO TORPOR! Taking things too far and putting an opponent in Torpor will immediately disqualify you from the tournament, and additionally you will owe the office of Keeper of Elysium a Major Boon for disrupting the tournament and engaging in unsanctioned violence in a Salon!
• Winner moves on in a bracketed tournament, and you will have some or all of your blood pool refreshed in between rounds (if you advance).[There will be additional blood available for winners to replenish between rounds]

If you're interested, stop by the offices of Skye High Productions during the week. We're in Club Underground, upstairs. Just mention
'BNR1' to the doorman and he'll show you up [email me at tendrilsfor20 at gmail dot com to get on the list]

I'll see you all at the fight! Let's get it on!

Eric Skye neé emcee Up-Roc"

Now the OOC:
I am working with the Storytellers right now on an ersatz "sub-health- system" so people won't be crippled for the night/torpored
while still getting to compete and show off those sexy dots on their sheet.
There must be some way to voluntarily only use part of your health levels, assuming all parties agree to it, so that we don't end up with half the game torpor'd from a little diversion.

Any thoughts? This is happening this Saturday.

Now I'm going to talk about specific advice first and then more general advice later okay?
I've seen this idea turn up in at least a couple of places. It's a good one. It has mileage to be gotten out of it. I cribbed the same idea from a short story about vampires entitled "Dancing Nightly" We've used it a couple of times and here are some bits of general advice:

1) I like the idea of short rations of blood. It keeps the fights short. You might amend this on the fly, if it seems that the fights are TOO short or are triggering too many hunger frenzies. Also, it's good that you keep the battles to one on one.

2) Have the combatants tape their mouths shut with duct tape.Literally wind duct tape around the kindred's head at mouth level a couple of times, This prevents a hunger frenzy from getting very far and prevents vampires with dominate and majesty from hosing their opponents. Won't prevent animalism or nightmare though.

3) Force players who wish to participate in combat to provide you with a 3x5 card with the following information:
-BP, (the pool of course is five, but they may be able to spend more than one a round.
-Combat merits
- all of their combat attack pools PREFIGURED
-Frenzy check pool
This gets the sheet out of the players hands for the duration of the combat. You will essentially be running combat.
Make a mess of these cards up ahead of time. It'll save you some prep.

4) Allow the players involved in combat to mark the movements of the combat in slow motion. It'll be nice and visual and will give the people watching something to look at.

5) Have at least one NPC who is keenly interested in betting. If you can cozen a few players into doing the same, then the action in the stands will get as heated as it is in the arena. It wouldn't hurt to have some covenant pride going on, it also wouldn't hurt for there to be side prizes being offered to winners and good losers.

6) Station 8 ghouls with shock-sticks and armor around the perimeter of the cage. Have a magnetic lock on the cage door which can be gotten open by the press of a button.Have that button held by the "Proctor" Have a fast-blood delivery system in case of a mishap. (Like an enormous syringe filled with blood. That way, the medical team, does NOT have to cut the tape to get the blood in the kindreds system.

7) Have at least one Mekhet acting as "Proctor" to keep an eye out for cheating, Don't tell anyone that this is happening.

8) Make certain that the competitors blood as well as a large store of animal blood and human blood liberated from a blood-bank are on hand to provide healing to competitors.

9) I wouldn't worry too much about the sub-health system. Give your players an opportunity to role-play daunting injuries for the rest of the evening. Since the promoter who arranges the fight wants to make sure that the fighters get home undamaged, he can also provide a secure means for returning to their haven. That way, nobody gets jumped after the fight and the subsequent party.

10) Make sure that there IS a subsequent party. Fete the winners and if the losers showed good sportsmanship, honor them too. Make certain that those who cheated, showed poor sportsmanship, or frenzied get stripped of status. That's Harpy territory. talk it over with them.

11) If you're feeling up to it, you can even pre-script some of the fight action. This is especially good for NPC/NPC fights. and obviates a lot of throwing chops. Can even be useful for bringing in certain plot elements. ("Dude! I had no idea the old man was that FAST!")

12) In case you don't have a lot of takers right up front, schedule an undercard of NPC ghoul fights. This will hopefully get them into the proper spirit of things. Get a couple of players to play NPC's and have them do the slow motion fighting stuff while you narrate to the crowd. You might consider asking your player base if anyone has any experience in Stage Combat. It might be worth the time to have that person teach a small class on that stuff for the next time you do something like this. Although, it's probably too short notice for this Saturday.

Now... A lot of the advice i give above, is to help with certain specific elements of a set-piece fight. Set piece fights are different from ordinary fights in larps, because you have a pretty good idea of how they're going to come out before they even happen. The main point of lot of the advice above is to help make the fight itself into a something very visual.
Visual events in a larp are very important. No one wants to sit around watching two guys throw chops all night. That's about as exciting as watching flies fuck. Granted, it's a different story when YOU'RE the one in the arena, or you have something riding on the outcome. But, if the fight is more visual, it's also more accessible to people who aren't as involved.
Visual elements also help people get out of the mindset of whatever dingy venue they've managed to scrounge up for the evening and into the vibe of being in another place, possibly another time even. Visual events and set decoration can cue the mind in subtle ways and aid in the creation of suspension of disbelief.

Well, actually. Now that i think about it. Since larper are both actors AND audience, maybe that ought to be suspension of SELF.

In any case, anything you can do as an ST or as a player to up the visual and dramatic potential of a larp, helps the overall performance of the larp itself.

Sono Finito.