Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Calam was great :-)

Two weeks ago the next installment of Calam ran. While we had some drawbacks with people having to skip this event (due to an abundance of larps going on in September), the event itself was great.
People liked our approach for this event and the fact that the inn had a real feel was wel appreciated.
The real feel was one of the main items that I wanted to test this event. We had decorated the inn to make it look good and real, and then we provided service to make it feel good.

Ordering food was done by asking the barkeeper of the waitress for food. They would go into the kitchen, fill a bowl on serve it at the table. No more queing and doing dishes as all other Belgian larps (that I know) ask of the participant. No, we went for the real deal :-)

There were of course some things that could go better, we had this time somewhat more fights than during past events, but everybody agreed that they fit the world. But we'll see how we can dimish them and keep the Calam athmosphere that people are liking.

In the meantime all of the crew is in favor for running 2 events per year, so keep out an eye for 2 events starting 2012.
I'll see that I'll post some pictures this weekend.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Ragnarok larp

Last year I was rambling on the Avatar larp forum, about the fact that they could take some hints from the Conquest of Mythodea larp in Germany. This resulted in a PM from Thierry who was already working (behind the scenes) on a new mass larp for Belgium: Ragnarok. Having read my posts he wanted me to join the crew.
So I went ahead, helped out where I could and ended up as a referee during the game.

So how was Ragnarok? Well, as a referee I had not much to do, 2 battles to supervise, some easy questions to answer, so all in all I had an easy time. But what about the game itself?

Well the looks were great! They made some wooden buildings for the 'official' places of the in-game Harapan city where the larp took place. They even had a beer brewery :-)
All the players and npc's looked great. It reminded me very much of the Maelstrom larp in the UK.

Ragnarok goes for the What You See is What You Get approach. Which means that people wanting to craft items, will have to do it (or at least make it look like their doing it). This resulted e.g. in players wanting to learn the brewing skill, to actually having to brew a beer for real :-). Pretty awesome, no?

Everywhere you went or looked it all had a real feel to it.

From what I saw, all players enjoyed themselves at the event, so that part they got going good. I especially loved the resources hunt each morning. That was really a splendid idea :-).

But there are some places that they'll need to improve.
Since they want to give all the players so much possibilities to create different kinds of stuff, the organisers are giving themselves a lot of work to do during the event. Each crafted items needs a laminated card and that means you'll need people to make those cards, hand them over and such. In my Manticore larp (max 80 players) we do the same and it's a hassle. If you do it for 500+ players (as were present at Ragnarok) this means you have a lot of adminstration to do. And it seems that this is something that could be done better. I heard a number of times that people had to wait in order to create stuff as the papers were not readily available.
Maybe they should use the Maelstrom approach: make stuff between events => all the laminated cards can be made in the months between events and put in the player envelope to hand out at the check-in.

What I never really liked is the 'paper-work' in order to fight between two armies. I hated it at Avatar and I sure don't like it a Ragnarok :-)
I understand it's done to give referees (like me) the ability to be at the fight and supervise if needed. But if a larp of 6000+ players like Conquest of Mythodea can do without this paper-work and have major battles, Ragnarok should also be able to do without.
Each faction has their own referee, so if faction A attacks faction B you'll already have 2 ref's present. If needed they can call in some backup if the fight is really big.
This would lead to more instant fights making it more fun, and also more tactical. Faction A can then attack the camp of Faction B if those people are going in a big group to the 'city' or such, leaving their camp almost empty...

They could alsodecrease the distance between the camps/city. It took at least 5 minutes to get from the city to the nearest faction camp. That is in my opinion too far. You want the camps closer to the city, so that people will visit the camps and cities more quickly instead of 'planning' the trip.

Final remark is one that I'm sure is not needed to say, but still: more toilets :-) I hate chemical toilets and I hate it even more when there are not enough so that they are full by Saturday afternoon. But like I said, I'm pretty sure the organisators know this one :-)

Here are some things that would improve the game even more:
- give free entrance for people who can play live music, give fireshows etc. They will have to perform X hours per day and in exchange they get drink/eat tickets and free entrance. That's how they do it at Conquest of Mythodea and it results in a great atmosphere.
- lower the price of the NPC's to e.g. 20 euro => the NPC faction will become huge and can bring lots of fights to the players :-) This also means that you lower the hurdle for people wanting to test out the larp without breaking their piggy bank :-)

So all things considered Ragnarok larp is a larp with a huge potential. If they can fix the minor beginer's errors they will have a larp that will attract a lot of people.
Everybody who stopped going to Avatar because it was no longer fun, to much munchkins or such should give Ragnarok a chance, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The people behind the larp

There is never a larp without the (mostly few) crazy people willing to spend A LOT of their SPARE TIME to organise an event. They spend days, weeks, even months thinking of a good scenario, creating props, writing character roles, decorate the site, manage the event and afterwards cleanup the site.

When an event is good these people are happy and know that all their hard work meant something. But beware if the event is not as good as they hoped or even if it was right out bad. Then these people ask why they put in all the effort if the feedback afterwards is: "the event sucked", "I won't be back", ...

I've been running events for more than 10 years and I've had those moments. When I said 'this is it, I'm stopping', but each time I came around and continued on.

I remember Manticore 12, for me one of the worst as a projectleader, I told myself on the last day of the event that I would quit because I was breaking down (body and soul). But during the cleanup of the site people came up and told me that they loved the event. Suddenly all my reasons to stop were gone, as all the work did mean something!
Manticore 14, it's Sunday 22.30, everybody has already left. I'm cleaning up the mud in the corridors of the building we rented. After 15mins it's still not very clean. I remember thinking "This time it's for real! I will stop and spend the time thus saved on other stuff". Well, that never happened, along came Manticore 15 with me still in charge.

Now why am I all saying this? Well, last weekend we had Manticore 19, the pen-ultimate event before our grand finale of the current storyline. And while I'm not giving up (I plan to at least start the new storyline) I had mixed feelings of this one. My main storywriter is stepping down and I'm not blaming him.
The event received mixed reactions (people are saying that it was great, but those same people also say that is was "so so"), but in the end it was not the event that failed, it was I who failed as the project lead.

I saw from miles away that things in the team were not 100%, but I decided not to intervene, as these problems have always been present and they always solved themselves without my intervention.
But this time it was different and I didn't intervene at the right moment. My main concern with intervening is that the team consists out of volunteers who are also my friends. I find it personally difficult to criticise them if they do something wrong. I don't want to loose them as a teammember and certainly not as a friend. But my hesitation to intervene has cost me one team-member that I did not want to loose before the grand finale. Oh, he'll still be around and has promised to help out and such, but he won't take the lead in the storywriting anymore.
In order to keep the rest of the team going, to deliver at least an awesome finale, I'll have a talk with them in order to smooth things out and to lay down some rules. This to make sure that noone oversteps their function within the team.

Larping is fun, organising a larp can also fun, but like Mark Horstman (of Manager Tools) always says: from the moment you put two people in the same county you have a conflict. I just need that conflict to lead to great results :-)

Friday, March 11, 2011


Well as always it's been awefully quiet here :P
But there's been a lot going on. People knowing me, know that one of my dreams has always been to have a piece of land with buildings specifically made for larp. Well, that dream might become true.
I'm in the process of buying a nice big piece of forest just over the Belgium-Netherlands border. It's part of a bigger forest so lot's of opportunities for great larps.
Of course it's not as easy as a piece of cake, but I'm confident that all will work out fine.
Once all has been concluded and I'm ready to build I'll put some more info here.
In the meantime keep larping ;)