I recently attended a Forest Argent game as crew. This particular weekend event had a problem. In the week running up to it a large number of the crew had to either not attended or reduce their planned attendance. This as you might imagine really put the pressure on both the events organiser and the remaining crew.
This article is about what to do when you run out of crew; and is largely inspired by what happened on that weekend. Gideon the ref and all read Forest Argent head honcho did a stunningly good job of creating a weekend that the players seemed to thoroughly love. In other words whilst the going was touch the result was a total success.
So lets get on with what to do when you have not crew.
I should say that some of these tips need a deft and subtly hand to work – but work they will.
Encourage Player Creativity.
Larpers are a creative bunch. If you can get them talking and coming up with ideas then it is likely that they take actions that will develop their characters and come up with creative methods of dealing with the events scenario. So give them time to talk and let them know they have time to talk. Let them think a major moment in the scenario is scheduled a little way in the future and also give them some juicy bit of plot point to deal with and let them run with it. Once you get them talking don’t try and block their ideas (even if some of them may be a but outlandish). Instead encourage trial and experimentation. Let your reduced crew drop in other salient points here and there and then step back. The chances are there you have just lit the fuse on a creative powder keg. All you have to do is wait for the boom!
Keep an Eye on Crew Welfare
If you have a reduced crew then the remaining members are going to be working harder. Don’t take the hard work for granted. Make sure they are fed, watered and getting as much rest as possible. If there are problems don’t put the pressure on instead work with an solve the problems .
In short -even without much in the way of crew – put the crew before the game and the chances are you will have a better game.
Your crew have good ideas – Use Them!
At this point I’m going to run with the idea that as your crew is reduced the ability to run NPCs are intended is damaged or in some cases lost altogether. Ok so take a stock of what is left. Lay out some possible timings and directions the plot may go in an discussion it with your crew. Allow your crew to expand on the remit of existing NPCs and come up with good ideas. Let them shine and modify the game plan. You may not be able to run the game as planned but your crew may just be able to help you do something amazing.
Costume Maketh the Crew
If your crew numbers are low then the likelihood of representing multiple characters comes into play. If this happens then what matters is making sure that each character has a such a strong visual cue for the players that they can forget its being played by the same person as the chap they met half an hour ago and is in fact someone different. Its not just changing costume that helps here – its making sure some extremely noticeable is used to spell out the difference. In the Forest Argent game I mentioned I played one section with a giant colander tied to my head with a canvas bow case (that was tied in a bow). Once the players had stopped guffawing the new character was quickly accepted as being just that. I’m not saying you always have to use a colander (but it does seem to help).
You can’t count what you cannot see
Taking things off camera can really help with a sense of numbers. Communicating with some one you cannot see can really add tension. So in a fantasy session use a single runner to get message exchange going. As technology increases this just gets easier as one a exchange of messages with one person can still imply that you are ultimately dealing with a force that is just too large to deal with. This can also be used to give players time to think and discuss and plays nicely into the first point in this article.
In The Dark One Can Become Many
A variation of you can’t count what you cannot see is the enemy in the woods (or any other obscuring environment). One person carefully making noises, leaving clues and so on can appear to be one of many. So if your crew numbers are low make sure at least one of them knows the site and get them to take full advantage of the dark once the sun goes down. I once saw one crew member terrorise and lodge full of people simply because he kept making noises from different directions.
Well that’s it with the tips. I’m sure there any many others – if you do have suggestions like these then please get in touch. I’d love to put them out.
The image used in this piece is by Flickr user Jonathan Kos-Read. Click here to learn more about this image and it’s licence.