Over the weekend of 16th of November 2012 Twilight Realms brought its current run of 10 and a half years to a close with 3 back to back LARP scenarios set in its campaign world of Tempress. This is not a review of the event – I cannot write that – I was responsible for putting together one of the scenarios. What I can offer is a personal view of the event and the short game format.
Lets start with the stories themselves – in order they were:
- Castrum – Soldiers find themselves defending an abandoned wilderness outpost against a strange and terrifying onslaught.
- Hostage – On the run after a shift in politics desperate men use hostages to try and avoid capture.
- Stake House – A village puts together a cash prize to recruit vampire hunters to put an end to 3 of the undead.
The first and last games were played out at night. Hostage – during the day. All the games had a target length of 4 hours. By the end of the weekend one thing was clear. It had been a success and the shorter format had been enjoyed by the players.
Personally I had a fantastic time. I had an opportunity to create 2 new characters – one was fairly by the numbers, the other though was a fairly extreme sociopath. This second character is not a personae I could hold up for too long. He had very distinct speech patterns and mannerisms that I would have found hard to hold up for a day or two. A few hours is another matter. This was not about slowly building a character. This was about jumping head first into a role and running hard with it. It gave me a chance of doing something that would have been difficult over a longer period of time. The game I ran – went well. Players personally thanked me. Running against a clock meant I had to monitor what was going on and maintain quite a high level of pressure on the players. I was running the fantasy horror game and this tightness helped push the game along and maintain the tension.
The short format meant that we all had to focus hard on what was important. That brought out tighter games and tighter role playing performances. It was a case of less is more.
I’ll admit that it did help that Twilight Realms has a rich backdrop of previous events to draw on. It helped to inspire the stories, give the stories a little added depth and meant that player characters with known back stories were being played.
Yet I can’t help feeling that this is not necessary for a successful short game. I think the short scenario is a lot like a novella or short story. It is something that runs to its own point without all the additional material that a novel requires. It is the LARP equivalent of a TV episode. It is something that is fantastic when part of a greater whole, but still fun in its own right.
So I am in favour of short games.
I also have to applaud Twilight Realms for a decade of great games.
If anyone would like to write a review of one or all 3 of the Short Story games – I would love to see it on LARPBook.