Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest Post: 6 Big Mistakes When Running an Event (Part 1)

Hi, I'm Scott Eerie, and I've been playing, running, and staffing larp events for over 20 years in the New England area. I'm going to be talking about behind-the-scenes larp stuff, mainly advice on running larp games.

or, What the Hell Am I Doing Running a LARP Event?!

Well, here I am. Rather than hitting you, genteel reader of this blog, with an in-depth essay on one of the innumerable LARP topics I consistently rant about to my friends, I'll just ease you in with a post that hopefully isn't too heavy. And we all love numbered lists, right?

Running a LARP isn't easy. I get it. I've run them before.

There are also WAY more than 6 mistakes. I could write a book full of them, but for the sake of simplicity (and sanity) we'll just stick with a nice, even 6.

And you might think some of these mistakes are so basic that no one could possibly mess it up. Well, you'd be wrong. These are common mistakes, as I've seen them again and again, and many larps never seem to get it right.

So here they are, in no particular order of importance:

1. Improper Planning and Preparation (Or Rather, "pre-event, last-minute chaos")

This is a big one which almost every LARP I've been to is guilty of, even games that have been running for years. This is a broad topic that, quite frankly, needs its own book, let alone a couple of paragraphs in a numbered list. I'm sure many of my future posts will concentrate on this one.

All I can say here is, you can never prepare enough or plan too early. And, if possible, get a project manager or two on your team.

2. Lack of Scheduling

Some games run without a schedule. Some games have a schedule, but only use it before the event for planning the "big stuff". Some games think they have a schedule, but instead have a random list of encounters. And at some games, only the few people on top of the staff hierarchy ever get to even see the schedule.

Schedules are critical to running a smooth game, and must be implemented properly. It should be prepared well in advance of the event. Every major encounter, module, and field battle must be listed with the time, number of NPCs needed, and the staff members running them.

Everyone on staff, "low ranking" NPCs included, needs to be able to see the schedule prior to the event. It must be prominently displayed in NPC Camp so everyone knows what's going on at the event. I know things will be way off time-wise, but the benefits far outweigh the extra planning involved.

3. Bad Staff Communication at the Event

Writeups are good. All the major encounters and modules, minus the top secret plot goodies, should be written up and made freely available to the NPCs and staff. Include simple, one sheet guides for playing common monsters and common things every NPC should know both in and out of game.

Walkie-talkies are good but can break immersion, so use them cautiously. Have them in key areas so staff can get in touch with home base when they need to. Even better are cell phones using text messages only. No one wants to hear "The Final Countdown" ringtone while they're trying to figure out a way into Zardon the Lich King's garden.

Tune back in next Wednesday for Part 2 of 6 Big Mistakes When Running an Event!

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