Thursday, March 3, 2016

Why I Join the Western Flank By Cal O'Leary

Why I join the Western Flank
A look into NPCing

The very first time that I NPC’d was my second event, it was at WPI Riley Commons it was a Drow event, I think Maryanne Betie was the EH but I could be mistaken.

The dark face paint, the dimly lit room (which one week ago was brightly lit for my first PC’d event Tournaments of Chiron, hosted by Rhiassa) the scary sounds, I saw black plastic walls for the first time, there were creepy spider webs everywhere, smoking props, and I was amazed. I got my role, a list of things to do, I fought in armor (which I didn’t think I would be able to do for awhile until I actually had my own). I met great people worked up a fantastic sweat and watched a brilliant story unfold around me, and more importantly; I watched a group of player cheer for the staff at the end.

This simple act of thanking the EH and they crew that ran the event blew me away. You could tell by look of expressions on each face that they :

A) Had a fantastic day 
B) Enjoyed the heck out of the story  
C) Was super appreciative of the efforts put out that day.

This event hooked me on Realms. Now I had been going to a local fight practice for a few months before my first event, and like I mentioned my first event was a Tourney at Riley Commons. I had a blast at the tourney but it reminded me of fight practice with fun clothes, no it was my second event that sold me.

A bunch of people ask “Why do you NPC?” a knee jerk answer to this is “To give back to the game.” Now that is not a BAD answer it certainly does give back to the game, it provides a much NEEDED often lacking service, it helps others play, it helps tell the story, it helps make special moments, but it can also be a tool used to improve yourself.

If I had to think hard about Why I NPC it always boils down to the same three reasons but they all start with number one.

Number One Reason I NPC

I WAS TOLD TO. Back in my day (fixes glasses off his nose) Folkestone practice took place in Kingston on the plains and there were two guys who I looked up to being so new. Both double white belts both friends and both mentors. The first was Tom Johnson Blade lord of Grimloch the man who brought me into the game and helped me become a lot of what I am today the other Jarrod Marshal (Then) King Jarrod of Folkestone a guy who taught me to offer rides to new players and talk with everyone and volunteer always. These two had a motto, actually everyone I knew back then subscribed to this school of thought, you play two you staff one never break the cycle. If you found yourself playing back-to-back events time to start NPCing. Seemed simple enough, theory was sound if everyone does this the game runs itself. For awhile it seemed like that’s how the world worked, then there seemed to be a flux, we lost a lot of older players due to life, other games, kids etc. and we also saw a very week influx of newer players. Now a days it seems every semester WPI UConn and UMass Lowell are bringing in 30 new players each, but there was a time were numbers were low.

During this time we saw an increase of players playing full time, weather that was due to they could only hit 5 events that year so might as well play, or this is the LARP they play they staff another but often time I ran into the same excuse of, “I didn’t know I was suppose to” or “ I didn’t know who to ask”. I think in part this falls on my generation of players, now my generation of players have produced some great story tellers, mentors to this game, white belts and leaders of the community it took us a while we got our act together. We were staffing because we were told to but we didn’t pass that message along or we didn’t do it loud enough.  Currently I think leaders do a great job training their kids to give back to the community. Not only are Nations leaders doing a great job training their kids, we have great NPC initiatives out there Cheech (Jay Micciche)NPC Perk Tokens and Lady Gwen from Rhiassa (Lani Grayson) awesome NPC Raffle Belt Button combo.  With all these thing in place message is slowly getting back out there NPC NPC NPC.

My Number Two Reason

I love telling a story. Whether it is on stage performing or in a Wizard Hat helping teach a class at Hogwarts I love to tell people a tale, I love the attention, I love the reactions, I love that I can help create a memory for someone (hopefully a good memory at that). IF you have ever DM’d D&D or GM’d another game you know they joy of creating a world and telling a story, but were would that story be with Non Player Characters? What would drive the plot, set the goals, provide excitement and mystery? So as much as the EH shapes the story and world we play in NPC’s give it life.
They take the idea and perform and make it real.

One of my favorite NPC’s rolls was during a Wolf Plot that my roommate Bobby Blache (Gryff) and Ian Struckhoff (Atticus, Muninn). I got to play an old Alpha Pack leader (Red Paws)commanding his pack of Werewolves to hunt lesser creatures and prophesies about the impending doom (In a nut shell…way more involved). But what I loved about this roll was I really got into it. Up until this event I mainly played a cog in the machine a grunt or a crunchy, but here I developed another character. I spoke in a raspy voice, was cryptic, wise, approachable but you could tell evil. I wanted the PC’s to hate me this Alpha Wolf  Red Paws, I wanted them to hate his actions but I wanted them to LOVE Cal for playing a good bad guy.

I had a really good time roll playing with Andrew Bancecroft (Rorin) and enjoyed watching him scheme to take me down.  He was smart, clever asked the right questions made allies with my treacherous wolf brothers and ultimately saved the weekend. It was awesome to seem him save the day, get the gold and be the hero. I got as much joy at that event as I ever had winning a tourney or getting a magic item.

Number Three Reason

Learning NEW THINGS!

If I ever found myself in a rut in the tourney market, maybe my hand and a half is rusty or I had been getting whomped in sword and shield I would pick up that style and NPC with it for full events. This helped me fight everyone at least once at one point, and helped me learn what worked and didn’t work with my style of fighting. This also made me a better fighter by giving me an opportunity to call and get used to armor well before I had a chance to own full sets of armor.

If you are rusty at armor or want to call it for the first time this is a great way to do it. You can always call dead when flustered, you don’t feel like you are wasting players resources. It helps you learn how to keep track of multiple hit locations and you are still providing a much needed service to the game.
Who knew making yourself better could also give back to the community. YEAH!

There was this one year Christopher Marques(Jaha) and I dedicated to getting better at sword and shield. We were NPCing in the Fae plot line so every other weekend that year it seemed we were on the western flank working our shield work. Mistakes were made, fights were lost, shots were sloppy but then, they were not. That year after working hard I saw more and more improvement until eventually it became at least for me one of my preferred styles.

So there you have my top three reasons why I NPC.

Not good enough? You NEED ONE MORE?



We all play this game to be social or at least try to be social. If not we would be home playing on a computer or console or tabletop to get our Nerd Fix. But there is something about wind blowing in your hair (I am told), the smell of battle, sword in your hand and an actual roar of the crowd. We enjoy that aspect; in fact I think the social aspect is one of the strongest aspects of our game.
Well, staffing other people’s events allows you to get to know different people outside their IC personality. You get to work with people in different nations, providing you with a different perspective on how others nations do things. NPCing has provided me with an avenue to show people the real Cal outside of being that "Jerk" Syruss. It opened doors with different social circles and ultimately is the reason I have such a large extended family.

But yeah why should you NPC.



  1. This is fantastic, I hope it draws more folks to NPC!

  2. I couldnt agree more with these reasons. But Ill add another when you NPC you get to be everything from the crazy goblin that guards the gates to the thousand year old litch. You can be a god 1 minute and a crunchy the next. Its a great way to break the cycle and keep from getting bored with your character/build.

    And alot of the time you get food :)

    -Sir NAJ