Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lessons learned: WAR Event July 9-11

I ran my first complete event as plot at this last Lumberton event, I am going to go ahead and put my lessons learned up here. So without further ado we begin with, the good and move into the areas of improvement.

The Good:
The event pacing pretty much rocked. Randoms went in every 45 minutes like clockwork and we ran 3 major mods and 6 or 7 smaller mods. In addition we had 2 major wave battles in town. It felt pretty much perfect to me. I had a few skilled NPCs and a few less skilled ones but they all worked themselves to death.

I decided about 3 weeks before the event that I wanted to see what the effect would be if I ran a big module right off the bat. I hooked it before the event, put a timer on when it had to be completed by and prepared all of the costumes and cards ahead of time, this worked fabulously. It pulled everyone into the game much more rapidly than if you have downtime at the beginning of the event, and because it was a larger fight type module, it excited the NPCs as well. I was really pleased with the way this seemed to engage everyone at the event. I do not think that something like this can be repeated every event but I do hope to keep in mind that it seems to be best to get the blood flowing sin some way right out of the gate.

My scaling for the APL seemed to be right on, I had very few complaints about things being to hard or unbeatable. I did have one issue that I will be discussing in the improvements section.

Plot coverage, the ability for plot to touch everyone, seemed to be fairly decent, again there was one glaring exception but I will be addressing that.

The Bad:

I had only a few negative comments from my post event emails and conversations, these are the things that I will be working the hardest to improve at the next event. I will include my plans for improvement as well.

No new player plot: This is my glaring omission, I do not write plot that is directed at newer players. I try to include monsters in every fight that are new player friendly but there is no plot that makes them into the heroes. I am going to fix this. I already have written a brand new plot that will be rolled out at the next Lumberton and is specifically targeted at new players. My strong suit is the epic but all people should be able to enjoy NERO, new and old, high and low level.

I had one complaint that a few of the mod concepts that were used were a little bit tired. The one that was mentioned most was the fight in which one team was trying to destroy a protective circle while the other attempted to keep the undead from killing them. I know the idea is pretty used but it seemed like everyone had fun. Never the less I will steer clear of this concept for the immediate future.

And last but not least, number of NPCs. I do need to do something about this, we had no where near enough NPCs for some of the larger battles and we struggled mightily when we were running more than one mod at the same time. I have come up with an incentive program for the last two events of the season, we will see if I get any takers. I am going to give a set of ultralight claws to the first ten people that email me about NPCing the next TWO events. The way it will work is this, I will have the claws done at the next event and the NPCs will get to use them, then I will take them home again, at the end of the second event, if you NPCed both, you get to keep them. There you go my email is I will leave this only here for a day or so.

Overall: I thought we ran a pretty great event. If you do not think so, feel free to say so. Once I improve these things I listed above, hopefully we will get even better. Let me know if you have any questions!


  1. NERO Elkins also held an event this weekend. (We were sorry to overlap, but campground availability forced us to do so.) And we had many of the same issues: not enough plot for newer players, and not enough NPCs. I'm trying to figure out some ways to encourage more players to NPC, and maybe bribing them with nice weapons is the way. If you have any other thoughts on the subject, let me know. We're always looking to improve the game.

    Thanks for posting this. It helps if we learn from each other in this way.


  2. The goal as always is improvement of the game as a whole. I think the real trick is to make NPCing fun, which I try to do but the claws at our shack were awful so this will get some better claw reps into game. Plus they are surprisingly cheap to make.

  3. @Matt

    Based on what Noah said, you guys are doing some good stuff down there.

    Sorry I had missed you on the link list before (too damn many NERO chapters), but I'll be including NERO Elkins in the schedules from now on.

  4. I have two suggestions for getting more NPCs. First, I've always been in favor of a required monster shift for all players. This will magically solve your NPC staffing problems. I've seen it work wonders in other NERO-esque games.
    Second: Cross-game. You're in the heart of Belegarth and Dagorhir country, and you've got a few thousand Amtgard players in your region as well. Building good relationships with these groups can give you pool of hundreds of experienced fighters who might come out to NPC for a while.

  5. Active vs Passive Recruiting

    I've very rarely had problems with numbers of NPCs for my events, for one simple reason: I proactively contact people and actively recruit them to NPC for all the events in the series I'm running. This is usually part of an "NPC Exchange Program" where I find another writer who's running during a different part of the year, or maybe concurrently at a nearby chapter, and both of our teams will sign up to NPC for the others' events.

    Of course, this isn't always possible. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, beg, plead, bargain and bribe, you just can't get people to chip in and help - like the recent 120 PC vs 8 NPC national event. Good grief, Charlie Brown!!!

  6. Tim,

    In reference to the last mod of the night that we ran I think I now see what the problem with it was. After talking to a number of people from our event it has come to my attention that most people on the " other" side of the circle really didnt do anything. agaon that comes back to the lack of NPCs that we had but I think we did a hell of a job this past weekend


  7. Yea Noah we were right there at 96 people and 7 npcs


  8. @Noah

    We used to do some active recruiting for Galavast, and I feel like it worked out pretty well. We'd pick people with specific skill sets and write a part designed just for them, in hopes of getting them to NPC. We usually did a pretty decent job with 15-20 bodies NPCing for 60-70 PCs.

    We also had the luxury of the Noble houses running plot for the other's events. Lumberton Plot was the Galavast Noble team, and Galavast Plot was the Lumberton Noble team. Now, this didn't mean that the plot was only directed at nobles. It just meant that skilled, experienced players were available as NPCs for both events, and I feel like both events were of a higher quality for that reason.

  9. We always did that with the Northern Barony and Southern Barony teams at ARGO back in the day, and to a lesser extent with the PRO noble teams. It worked out pretty well.

    Anyway, my team is looking for solid chapters to play at, so we can game twice a month (on average) again. If you can find another good chapter we can *PC* at, I can probably convince them to come NPC steadily for ya.

  10. In regards to the big fights. The outside groups held a line and just took the beating. Not wanting to be bored 3 of us broke off to actually fight the undead and we had a blast in doing so. One possibility in that style of fight is to give the PCs something to do other than to protect. i.e. in repelling the waves perhaps the PCs notice an item in which the other group desperately needs. This could potentially cause some PCs to break the line and go after it. Which could potentially collapse the whole line if not careful, and make the hole encounter a lot harder.

    In regards to NPCs it's really hard to get them sometimes. I would push PCs to double hook for mods as much as possible. I usually tell staff when I am PC'ing if they are desperately short to come find me to NPC for a few hours. I totally forgot last event :(

  11. That is an awesome idea Mark, thank you.

  12. What if at check-in you had a sign-up sheet for people who were willing to volunteer as pinch-hit NPCs? I don't really want to give up my whole weekend to NPC, but I'd happily put my name on a list at check-in saying that I'm willing to come up and do it for 3-4 hours if I'm needed and not in the middle of personal plot.

    Of course, the biggest problem with that sort of thing is that the time you need NPCs most is for the big town mods, which almost everyone wants to go on.