Friday, October 7, 2016

Live Action Reaction Players

 From the Editors Desk

Alex "Lucas" Newbold

Realms isn't Live Action Role Playing, it is Live Action, Reaction Participating.  Now before you go and correct my grammar and bicker over my choice in words, hear me out.  Or rather, read on...

The Realms, is unlike most Larps.  Some say it is because we are more Fighting System based than anything else, which I believe we are not.  We are a streamlined combat and spell system, designed to not upset the flow of combat and a scene.  Very little math is involved (armor 2), thrown spell attacks are the same predictable thing, with the same predictable game mechanic call to it.

Fighters in the Realms, "have it easy" or so I'm told.  Any weapon combo, any armor combo whenever they want.  Wow, what a perk! Infinite fighting skill, unlimited swings of my favorite style of the weekend, that's fantastic. If my armor gets busted, I can have it repaired by my mage friend, or ditch the suit and put on one of the other four that I own.  I need to take more advantage of this more often.

The Realms, has a highly detailed, highly customized, and deeply constructed magic system.  So customized, that some of our spell casters claim to have no magic at all for their Role Playing purposes (yes I used Role Playing rather than Reaction here, that was intentional, stop picking nits and read on).  We've got Precognitive characters, Shapeshifting creatures, and all manner of religious zealots calling down their invisible sky friend to stomp the bad guys.  Complete creative freedom to build your character however you want to express your own personal form of Live Action fun. 

So, with limitless creative freedom and your unrestricted Fighter Buddy two players could easily run the table and have the best time they've ever had at a Live Action game.  At the end of the game, the two friends leave the game despondent and sad that they didn't feel immersed in the game.  Why is that?  Why is a game loaded with UNLIMITED OPTIONS so dull?

Because you're not playing a Role in the Realms, you are Reacting to provided content, designed for you to participate in.  

Follow along with me as I break down a typical event and explain my point.

You arrive on site, say hi to a few friends in the parking lot as you hurry to the Reg Desk to check in.  Because you’re excited and you want to play, so you hurry and wave in passing.  5mins later, you make it to the Reg Desk, because you did get distracted and talk with friends.  Eh, its Realms, the event won’t start on time anyways you mutter as you check in and pay.  You wander back to your car, chatting with new and old friends as you hurry into your costume and character specific gear.  You and 5 or 6 close friends continue chatting about the new car, the old job, and the thing that was funny and or dumb that happened last night.   Eventually you make your way back to where the event will be starting, because everyone has to get together for the Reading of the Rules.  None of you take it seriously, you screw around, and hope it is over quick and that no one tries to be funny and… too late, someone asked a dumb question about a rule that was posted on-line weeks ago, thinking that they were being funny (Surprise, they weren’t funny!).

Game start is called, and you’re all standing around looking for something to happen.  After a minute or two, nothing happens and the mob begins to break up and drift into several pre-established cliques.  Then, SOMETHING HAPPENS and the entire event site pounces like hungry kittens starving for Plot attention.  One of the cliques gets the attention (mainly due to standing nearest to the Plot Hook), and it wasn’t your group.  So you head to the Tavern area to mill about and see what happens next.

Then you realize, you have nothing to talk about and nothing to do.  So your conversation drifts to the spell system, tweaks you think are inspired and need to happen to balance the game.  Your Mage friend doesn’t agree with you though, and explains that you need to check your Fighter Privilege (whatever that means). Before you know it, four other people with nothing to do, have hijacked your conversation and you’re eating all the pretzels and cheese with your Mage buddy.  Because hey, free cheese (try not to think about how long that cheese has been on the table, not being refrigerated).

Over the next 8 hours, this cycle repeats itself.  Sometimes you discuss spells, sometimes you discuss the Tournament last month (Seriously, what were they thinking with that call?), how your Mage buddy shouldn’t comment on rules about Armor, the finer points of Salvation Army Garb shopping, and how you really need to fix your grieves, and stop duct taping them on every event.  Plus you got a few fights in against folks in masks and inside out t-shirts.  Your Mage buddy tried to solve a puzzle, but some twit with a spell got the answer first (mental note Nerf that spell, because it ruined your fun). That night over pizza, you and the same people you spent the day with, talk about your day and loudly proclaim how you’d have done X differently, and how when you throw your event things will be different.

Sound familiar?  Sadly, for many of us this is a typical Realms Event.  Wait, slow down right there.  Stop getting huffy and defensive that Your Event was nothing like this.  I’m sure it was.  Because you cannot control every moment of every players experience at the event. Sure, you marched the event site across a bridge to battle the Evil Thing in the Field, but three players don’t like questing at night so they stayed in the tavern and did dishes.  Two folks went to bed early, and are sad that they missed the fight. Plus, those newbies had no idea what was going on and stood around confused.

As I said before, Realms is, Live Action, Reaction Participation.  The site is live, there is action, we React to it, and we decide our own level of participation.  That said, it is possible to make the Realms a Live Action Role Playing game, where we play our Roles between the Action sequences.  Allow me to explain…

Game start is called, and you’re all standing around looking for something to happen.  After a minute or two, nothing happens and the mob begins to break up and drift into several pre-established cliques.  Then, SOMETHING HAPPENS, the team nearest it calls to action and moves as one to solve the problem.  Then the Blacksmith sets up his forge in the corner of the tavern (not drops a Circle, but sets up their forge props.).  The Priest takes out their prayer items and begins incantations to curry favor that day with their invisible sky friend (not casts an intervention, but Role Plays out their faith with their flock.  After all, there are newbies to recruit to your Sky Friend Cult).  The Order of the Fighting members meet in the corner to discuss the marshalling from the prior weekend, and offer instruction to the new faces in town with their awkward weapons.  The Peacocks gather and offer advice and help to the new faces in town with clothes from Sal’s Army.  Then the Peacocks gather to offer advice and help to the Order of the Fighting members, and their awkward clothes.  While Mages and Lords, and Seers, gather to discuss the threats of the year, not simply of that day.

Don’t simply participate in the Realms, play your Role.  I fail at this often, as I like seeing my friends from 90miles away, or 30miles away that I don’t see often enough.  Using myself as an example, I’ll explain how I could Play My Role and improve the game.

Sir Lucas, is an older Fae warrior who has been around a long time and is currently overseeing a trading village at a mountain pass on the border of Invictus owned lands.  Lucas is not experienced at overseeing traders and merchants, but it’s his job and he does it.  It makes him grumpy, as he’s not accustomed too much beyond fighting and violence.  Funny thing, in real life I own a small business with my wife and it often makes me grumpy.  I could easily discuss supply and demand of Iron, the cost of Hay for the winter months, or transform my real world conversations with my friends to be more appropriate to an in game setting.

Now, before you get all “But I already do that stuff!” with me, I know that you do all that stuff.  Thank you for that.  But we all don’t do that.  We get lazy, we get sloppy, and we don’t want to haul out and put away props. We forget to make our own fun. But we’ve entered started Feast Season, you know when there is nothing to do at events and people start wars (But I like wars… (Shut up!) OK, OK, you don’t have to yell.). 

With the fall, comes college kids new to the game, and with the spring they leave the game because the events were boring and non-immersive.  It’s time we step up our game.  Let’s stop Reacting, and start Playing our Roles.  The Event Holder throws the event, and provides the larger part of the content.  It’s part of our job as players, to flesh out the game world around the larger piece of content.  Sure there is an army of Demonic Viking Kittens massing for our destruction, but there’s no reason we can’t have fun when they’re not actively pounding on the door.

Be the change you want to see in the Realms.  No Jeans Initiative, Loaner Armor, Loaner Garb, all great services that add to the game.  But so many of us, simply can provide so much more by simply altering our chatter during the game.  Side note, For those of you who have recently come into the game, we have Loaner Armor, Loaner Garb and even Loaner weapons.  Ask around, some of these folks here in the Realms know a thing or two about the world around you.  

The Sunday of Feast of Blackwood, I was not bored for a minute.  I saw mages set up and doing divinations. A library set up, gathering and dispensing information.  The Order of the Peacock, was strutting their stuff, and judging.  The tournaments were well attended, and much discussion on fighting technique took place. An armorsmith spent a great deal of time going over their technique, giving advice, and discussing material costs.  I saw an entire event fully involved and immersed.  It was glorious.  Except for one guy, in blue jeans.  Yes, I’m judging you.  If we all put as much effort into attending events, as we did that weekend, we WILL improve the immersion of the game.  When we improve the quality of our in game atmosphere, and play our roles.  We improve the game, we inspire new players to come back, old players to come back to the game, and inspire folks to bring new players to the game.

Play Your Role

See you on the field.


  1. Thank you so much for posting this, wonderfully written and I accept the challenge. Even as a player who embraces fluff and loves to role play, I often find myself OOC shooting the shit because others are.

    I have told newbies in the past that the Realms is amazing because you can make your own fun and run with it.

    I gladly accept your challenge, sir!

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  5. This isn't a bad thing though! This is where you not only become more social but you learn how to work with other players you've never met before. If you always play with your family and friends you both already know how to work together, how the other thinks, etc. But if it's someone you've never met it can be a little difficult. Me and my brother grew up doing everything together without really having any friends, maybe colleagues and associates but not really friends. So we were very used to knowing what the other wanted or how they played etc. But when we actually got two friends, it was very difficult to agree on many things. So if you play and work with other people now it will be easier later. Me and my brother have improved our skills to work with others. pre hacked games