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  • Stages?

    For some odd reason, I found myself reading through the Biting the Hand forums (not normally my cup of tea, as I don't really concern myself with the macro issues of the gaming industry), and there was a 1-2 month old thread talking about the 'casual gamer'. This -supposedly- mythical species is the kind of gamer who can't put out a constant few hours a day to play a constantly persistent game, but can free up longer bursts at a time, many hours on a day, or one or more consecutive days once a week, to game.

    There was also made mention of Skotos' seemingly now defunct 'Stage' approach to a gaming area: A few interconnected rooms to run a small-scale game in. For some reason, this concept didn't seem to stick, or was aborted before it was ever seen through fully; maybe the implementation was flawed, too, but I am in no position to argue this.

    I do know that both of a the Galactic Emperor titles feature(d) Stage-size areas for role-playing, but especially the newer GE: Hegemony game probably caters more to a strategy gaming crowd and mindset. As far as Succession is concerned, I simply blame the fact that a week was far too loose of a frame. I tried to play the game, but I had problems finding people to play with at all.

    One of the main reasons given (by Christopher Allen on the BTH Forums) as to why Stages seemed an approach that didn't really pay off though was the fact that the work that would have to be put into a single Stage was almost the equivalent to that put into a persistent environment such as Castle Marrach. The obvious answer, to me, would lie in recycling.

    It's obvious, I know, but it should probably be lined out anyways. The thing that you don't want to do is create a multi-session plot that half of the participants of the first part won't be able to attend for varying reasons. Hence, the ideal approach is one that is both episodic yet in some way persistent.


    The most obvious approach to this is to reuse the same setting again and again, with different plots. Choosing for example a roadside inn in a Fantasy setting allows the players to take the roles of guests spending a night there and being drawn into whatever is afoot. The next time you use the stage, it's another night, different or the same guests staying over and a new mystery to tackle.

    This is probably closest to your normal tabletop RPG session, you're just limited to the same Stage (though you could expand on that, too, with time). You could even see characters 'advance' if you want to deal with material possessions and skills and want to attract achiever players.


    Alternatively, you could also just reuse the same plot several times, which is especially useful if you limit player space. If you recycle, everyone who's interested can enjoy these vignettes. Ideally (assuming a Stage Event once a week), you'll probably want to start out with four or five different plots and run them consecutively. Then, you'd rerun the two or three that worked best so far before introducing a new plot and then moving into a period of encores again. Rinse, repeat.

    This approach goes by the same rules as the first one, it just ideally reaches a broader audience than the one before it.


    Or, you could approach the Stage like the boardgame Cluedo. You basically confront players with the same situation over and over again (a murder in the boardgame's case), but you change the resolution of the plot they're faced with. At least until you run out of ideas. This approach might however work best with prefab characters, with their own goals and motivations each (which would of course have to change from event to event as well, so no player who's played character X before could foresee another player's moves), as it makes little sense to have the players create characters in a setting that is 'reset' with every new event staged.

    I have no experience with a game like this in an online setting, but I find it feasible. Especially the use of prefab characters would allow people to immerse themselves in the gameworld without much preparation (they'd probably need a one page writeup of their character; the rest would be left to their interpretation). Experiencing -roughly- the same situation through the eyes of varying characters seems like an added attraction, at least for a while. It worked for the movie Rashomon after all.


    All of these seem to offer their own advantages and disadvantages, but all of them seem to work nicely for at least an extended period of time.


    Hence, I wonder... aside from the potential initial work necessary to start up and run a Stage, and aside from the potentially wobbly placement of Stages (in too large a timeframe for Succession; in a heavily strategical gamer setting for Hegemony), what held this approach back?

    I can see a lot of merit, both for the dedicated 'hardcore' player looking for something different to contrast their usual gaming needs and the 'casual' player with limited time on their hands.


    Am I missing something?


    Have a nice day.
    'If you're going through hell, keep going.'
    -- Winston Churchill

    POLITENESS, n.
    The most acceptable hypocrisy.
    -- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary


    'Hitler had a good 20 to 30 IQ points on Bush, so comparing Bush to Hitler would in many ways be an insult to Hitler.'

  • #2
    Re: Stages?

    Originally posted by Dariel
    Am I missing something?
    No -- I haven't given up on stages yet

    There have been a variety of stage settings created and ready to use -- we have an excellent roadside fantasy inn at night, a gothic mansion at night, and a desert oasis.

    The challenge to date has been not the setting, but the work to create the 'game' in the setting.

    A challenge to you with both Marrach and LARP experience -- write up a LARP style plot for 16+ characters over the course of 8 hours, where the characters are pre-defined and have a bunch of memories, but requires few plot gadgets, and will work in any one of the settings above. I'm planning to do a proof-of-concept before the end of summer, and we'll use one for our test game on a weekend.

    -- Christopher Allen

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Re: Stages?

      Originally posted by ChristopherA
      A challenge to you with both Marrach and LARP experience -- write up a LARP style plot for 16+ characters over the course of 8 hours, where the characters are pre-defined and have a bunch of memories, but requires few plot gadgets, and will work in any one of the settings above. I'm planning to do a proof-of-concept before the end of summer, and we'll use one for our test game on a weekend.
      I've had no response on the above. Any LARP writers out there?

      -- Christopher Allen

      Comment


      • #4
        You know it sounds kinda fun........ can I give it an Arthurian spin?

        Kathy N - Pendragon Storybuilder
        "I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings"
        ~ Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm working on a rough draft of something, but I'm not beyond the concept stage so far, clearing up a few issues.


          Have a nice day.
          'If you're going through hell, keep going.'
          -- Winston Churchill

          POLITENESS, n.
          The most acceptable hypocrisy.
          -- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary


          'Hitler had a good 20 to 30 IQ points on Bush, so comparing Bush to Hitler would in many ways be an insult to Hitler.'

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Re: Stages?

            Originally posted by ChristopherA

            A challenge to you with both Marrach and LARP experience -- write up a LARP style plot for 16+ characters over the course of 8 hours, where the characters are pre-defined and have a bunch of memories, but requires few plot gadgets, and will work in any one of the settings above. I'm planning to do a proof-of-concept before the end of summer, and we'll use one for our test game on a weekend.

            -- Christopher Allen
            Sounds like a clasic locked door cuthulu live game. Or other type game. Horror games often use a "locked door" setting where the area is very clearly defined, and often the game is over if the stage is left. An outline of such a project isnt to hard, but to get a good one, the fields would have to be narrowed a bit. A few questions then. 16+ where the number is always the same (always 20 pc) or very flexable? Also do you have a critical number you want to shoot for. (aka must have at least 6 players..)
            In addition did you want a team setting? aka some puzzles need more than one person working together? a conflict setting? (there can be only one (highlander) ) a team and conflict setting (the group that reaches the chest live, everyone else dies.)
            With thise quesitons answered, I should be able to whip something up. Its much like a con game, tho longer than avarage, so its like a 2 part or ternament setting.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Re: Re: Stages?

              Originally posted by John
              Sounds like a clasic locked door cuthulu live game. Or other type game. Horror games often use a "locked door" setting where the area is very clearly defined, and often the game is over if the stage is left. An outline of such a project isnt to hard, but to get a good one, the fields would have to be narrowed a bit. A few questions then. 16+ where the number is always the same (always 20 pc) or very flexable? Also do you have a critical number you want to shoot for. (aka must have at least 6 players..)
              Well, initially this is for a demonstration, so would only be played once or twice. As far as number, again, flexibility is important, though ideally as many as as can be reasonable.

              In addition did you want a team setting? aka some puzzles need more than one person working together? a conflict setting? (there can be only one (highlander) ) a team and conflict setting (the group that reaches the chest live, everyone else dies.)

              With thise quesitons answered, I should be able to whip something up. Its much like a con game, tho longer than avarage, so its like a 2 part or ternament setting.
              I'm really open here -- obviously a Living Fiction style LARP where everyone has a public 'team' and a secret 'team' allows for most of the interaction to happen between the teams.

              The key is that we have a limited number of settings that are complete enough to play around in, the Gables (two story mansion at night), the Hearth (a medieval inn at night), and the Oasis (a desert camp during the day). Theoretically I could also resurrect the old Galactic Emperor: Succession space station as well.

              -- Christopher Allen

              Comment


              • #8
                I've thought about working on stage ideas myself, but I never hit upon a concept that I knew how to implement myself. A lack of experience with LARPing I suppose.

                I would love to work with someone on an idea, though, helping out with developing characters and background and whatnot, as I learned more about how the form works.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by StaciD
                  I've thought about working on stage ideas myself, but I never hit upon a concept that I knew how to implement myself. A lack of experience with LARPing I suppose.

                  I would love to work with someone on an idea, though, helping out with developing characters and background and whatnot, as I learned more about how the form works.
                  There are some good articles on LARPs out there on the net.

                  Some writing resources:
                  http://www.vialarp.org/larpwriting/t...cle_index.html
                  http://www.skaro.com/larp_conplot.html
                  http://www.skaro.com/larp_cthulhu.html

                  Some free example LARPS:
                  http://www.larpaweb.org/gamebank/gamebank_free.html
                  http://www.rpg.net/larp/scenario.html#general
                  http://www.rpg.net/larp/scenario.html#NCCU

                  Some more practical LARP resources:
                  http://www.cattail.nu/larptoc.html
                  http://www.rpg.net/larp/papers/priordesign.html

                  There is also an draft article that we wrote a long time ago in the Builder's TWiki: SoYouWantToBuildAStage

                  -- Christopher Allen

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    A Skotos Stage Lives!

                    Just thought I'd advertise here as well that Skotos does have a stage that is being run on occasion. In fact it's being run this coming Sunday, October 24.

                    The Lovecraft Country staff has worked diligently on producing what we hope is a horrifically fun romp in the Sahara desert:

                    In the Tomb of the Desert God

                    Check out the Lovecraft Country forum for instructions on where to go to find out about the stage and for the link to sign up to play.

                    If you have specific questions about the stage, please feel free to contact me directly at willow@lovecraftcountry.com.

                    Enjoy!
                    StoryScreamer Willow
                    SH Willow

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