Hello, my dear readers.
September is here and I think it´s good to start to write also about other things then just sewing.
I do a lot of larping (not that much as I wished to, but that will definitely come soon!)
I have returned from awesome weekend in a chateu, where the New Illen Chronicles took place.
It was definitely one of the more axhausting LARPs – playing 24/7 with no RP breaks. The setting is a high fantasy world with a lot of magic and great potential for really awesome stories. You are giver all what you love in the fantasy cliché world – conquering race of Illens (humans), who took the island (more like a continent) from the citizens of magical Mythea, renamed it, decimated the citizens, the Beings, and started to re-shape the wold in their image.
Magery is prohibited, half-breeds are frowned upon, the Beings are enslaved, turned into servants, tamed with chantry brands or worse – they become “Gifts”, tools of power for the witch hunters.
Oh yes, you have witch hunters. And the Sun chantry, Inquisition, chantry nuns and many more.
It really is well thought setting and it has great potential for awesome stories. The background is quite elborate and warms the heart of every old school fantasy lover. Which is the thing that really made me hooked onto this game.
You were given the opportunity to create your character or as for one prepared for you. I´ve seen very good character, who were given a really wast depths and the portrayal was simply mesmerizing. I can´t speak for all what I´ve seen, because I didn´t have the chance to meet all the characters, but the ones I´ve met and knew, that they were prepared by the ORGa, were well done.
The script rate was also for the players to choose. If you just wanted to sandbox around and wait, which adventure you can join, you were given the oportunity.
Also you are able to choose to be either Illen )the concquering “human” race, the Being (magical being – branded or not) and a half-breed. As the Being or a half-breed your social status was somewhere below zero.
With a chantry brand the Beings are prohibited from casting magic under penalty of death and their status is basically second class citizen or a slave.
Having one parent the Being makes you something Illens can spit on. Having children with the Beings is a big NO NO!
I was a part of a noble family of witches in hiding, who came to pay a tribute to Northern warden and his new wife.
We brought our own characters, which we prepared some five to six months prior the game. Later a half-breed servant character joined the group to have someone to look at 🙂 and actually have someone who can wield a sword.
Being a high-born delegation came with the benefit of bigh tents, lot of wine and good food. We decided to take it in big style and we prepared lot of props and turned our small encampment into true place for nobility (with the fur, pillows, banners and such).
That is a good sign of players looking forward the game 🙂
And I´ve seen that sign a lot around, as people have given a lot of thoufht to costumes and the characters.
The prepared characters were well thought. The background was well prepared and was colourful enough to catch an eye. Together with the place (chateu Líšno) the illusion of the world was almost believable.
The players were ready to give the game 150% and it was really a sight for sore eyes to see all the people around trying the best to stay true to the characters – from the villagers to nobility, Inquisition, witch hunters and the Beings, who can´t be easily tamed.
With the idea of partial sandbox the weight of the perfect illusion of the world was on the player´s shoulders and it worked well thanks to the players.
The first part of the game was mostly conversational (what I´ve seen); to have the opportunity to meet the characters and start to drown in despair and issues of your own character and of the world itself.
And boy did it work – I had some of the best conversations in the first part of the game and I´ve seen beautiful and strong scenes, which were not staged.
Big merit of the game were the players. I would dare to say that having some characters played by someone different would harm the story.
The plot itself would deserve a more simple approach, but you can´t really say that there was only one plot line that mattered.
Some of the NPC´s were just fabulous.
We had our mother, the wicked witch of the woods, turned into one of the main villains and the portrayal was eerie, awfully unerthly and ghastly. 10/10 to this!
I personally got a lot of space to do the things I wanted (you see, witch stuff, rebellion against the Chantry and dabing into rituals of old), which was actually great, but at the end more time consuming then expected (so my personal plotline just vanished in the woods).
Improvisation! It was great to see the players to get along with things you say and no discussion about the rules or setting. It helped a lot and the conversation flew wery naturally.
Small talks were one of the true gold of the game.
WHAT DIDN´T WORK
First of all I would like to say that I know, that the ORGa encountered several big issues. People just abandoned the ship and left not enough people to take care of the game. Also production had to be mended on many places to work well.
I am a fan of partially scripted game. You just have to hold the reins of the events in your hands somehow, if you have a vision.
But to turn script against players wishes is not okay.
I was bit bitter that my character was forced by the script to do something she did not wished and thus betrayed her lord, who the day before accepted, that she is a witch and she means no harm.
That was bad. That hurt. And it was not necessary.
When script crashes with the course of your actions and forces you to turn around like ensign, it´s not right.
And I am almost 100% sure it was not just me, who was bitter.
I love the idea of sandbox, no rules and improvisation. But if you don´t know, how to get the needed info, it´s bad.
My character was supposed to be the well educated witch of her coven, so I was expected to know what is going on in many situations. Well, I didn´t. I was bluffing most of the time and then trying to chase the ORGa, if I am saying the correct things.
I ended up feeling like an idiot half of the time.
And I know I wasn´t the only one, again.
Also, half of the heping ORGa was poorly informed. Maybe, it´s too strong statement, but having ORGa in the field, who have to consult with the main organizer, just swallows too much time and stops the game.
I believe this particular thing was caused by the fact, that the ORGa team was weakened by people who left, but still. You need to know, what is going on.
If you have wast world, you simply need some design document for mechanics and whereabouts. I know that again – people left the ORGa, but in such a case, it would definitely be better to simplify some plotlines or just
Too much plotlines and other mess.
There were many plotlines connected in weird ways. Sometimes it felt forced – like it has to be, just for the sake of the story (and it did not worked well!). And having all the things crashing down to one massive showdown, which was bit dull at the end, is for me one of the biggest flaw ever.
Also, people got lost in “who is who” and too many hidden epic figures around. I know, that every player is a special kind of snowflake (I was for sure) and every character deserves to be at least bit epic, but I personally think that you don´t need to see every god awfully epic scene and ponder on every epic revelation which you just were not able to see coming (seriously, how the hell am I supposed to find out, that someone is a King of Hell in disguise, if he just is not showing any sign and literall noone knows?)
Then it´s just meh. Carry on.
Third meh in this case is – too much plotlines, not enough people to supervise it. Again – I have mentioned the issue above, but I am unsure if there would be enough people at all.
Also, some of the connections and plots felt like hastily glued together.
Main ORGa playing a character of too much importance.
Hey, I do some larp organising and I for sure know that I would love to play with some characters in “my worlds” and have heartbreaking scenes and share adventures with them, but!
Facing issues organizers had to overcome, I would not recommend to have main ORGa playing a character that HAS to be present in the game. Not to mention having a plotlines connected to such character.
Not to mention that such character has to see or supervise events.
Not to mention… well, I would just NOT reccomend the main organizer to play a character that needs to see, hear and influence everything.
We are either trying to “live the world” and with it comes improvisation and sandbox, or this is strongly scripted LARP. New Illen was bit indecissive in this case.
Sometimes things happened even though characters tried everything to prevent it (and we could feel it was forced and… meh!)
Having only one well informed organizer not present half the time for consultation is not good.
It creates issues with information flow and huge (6 hrs huge) delays while players wait for something to happen. 6 hours is too much!
People slowly started to abandon the characters and chatted the half of the Sturday out of the character.
Friday (for my character) was packed with events and was great! Highlights of the day are many. Saturday turned sour around mid-day and it just went from bad to worse. It ended in annoyingly epic series of events which HAD to happen, but were…meh.
At the end there was no catharsis, things were left unspoken – I just don´t like it.
I´ve learned from the experience that it is better to have at least some two hours after the “big finale” for the players to finish things and leave the character behind.
You can party later!
I know that a mechanism of a “wish boot” was present in the game ( a altar with two bowls – one for character´s wishes, second for player´s wishes or complaints), but I don´t think it was working well. If you need information at the instants (shit is happening and you need to act now), waiting for someone to rely in hours or two just is not helping.
Errors in character sheets and plotlines missing for characters.
If you spend some 5 months of working on the character development, it really is unacceptable to have literally NOTHING prepared in the game. Just carry on and sandbox around.
THAT is not okay.
Much worse is when ORG mixes names of characters or gives the info too late. Like the day of the game you find out you have kind of important connection to someone else, but you have other things planned with other characters.
It ends with bitter aftertaste again and at least one player really upset.
It definitely is a responsibility of players to take care of the characters and give the ORGa enough time to prepare things in advance. But it is also responsibility of the ORGa to pay attention to already finished characters and take care of their plotlines. Merging two characters into one (and fail to inform the said player in advance). That is not a solution and it is not gonna work well for anyone.
Too many rituals killed the magic
I actually did one or two rituals, poisoned a guy twice and hexed noone. I didn´t felt the need to do such things.
The Beings on the other hand were ritualling their arses away in forest all the time (or at least it looked like that).
It kinda was annoying not to be able to talk to someone, when you alway heared the same reply about someone in the forest.
Don´t get me wrong, I love me some magic and stuff.
But this was… too much in my oppinion.
And with Inquisition present no open spellcasting was possible.
If you weren´t the Being and just healed your way through the game.
Overall I would say 7/10 rating. The world has a huge potential and it does not need earth shaking epicness of doom. All that epic stuff fades next to all the personal drama and strong emotions created by people not magical events (says special kind of snowflake noble witch-bitch, daughter of the evil witch bitch of doom!)
I would definitely go again (and heck, I hope for more to come in future). And I would definitely reduce the epicness and add some politics and maybe old fashioned guerilla raids and stuff.
The players are so awesome and are able to carry the game, that it would be benefitial to have less “important” NPCs present all the time and more “no name, appear once” character with info or just… you know, stab you in the back.
I strongly believe that with more time, love and care New Illen Chronicles will be hell of a game with incredibly good stories to tell.
XOXO, Rael 🙂