There are a lot of reason why people want to be a storyteller. In MES (Mind’s Eye Society) that reasoning ranges from needing a volunteer so a venue can exist as a live game at all, to people who just prefer to storytell. I fall into neither of those categories, in fact, when Masquerade was re-released as a venue in the MES (Mind’s Eye Society) I was quite hesitant about trying it all since I was already well-versed in the Requiem LARP.
A lot of my friends were fans of Masquerade – in particular: Cam-Anarch. However, hardly anyone in our domain, were even familiar with the mechanics – so partially for recruitment and partially due to need for skilled players we called in folks from troupe larp scene to help us with the game. Our first iVST left after the interim term was over, our first VST had a hard time making it to the games, and our games suffered small attendance — and I mean between 4 and 7 player games. It wasn’t a very exciting game.
At this time two things happened, I started attending more local troupe LARPs – and one of my friends started pushing me to change the game IC (In-Character) to make it more dynamic. This required a lot of IC maneuvering, that got me involved both locally and nationally — I finally got to see what it was about Cam-Anarch that made it exciting – the hypocrisy and the hierarchy, and the EPIC adventures. We went through another recruitment spree and the game swelled and for a while seemed pretty healthy – as the chronicle progressed nationally I got to go on adventures around the world, politic with PCs, and really experience the game. It became my favorite game.
Over time, no matter how much I enjoyed myself – and I did, I found a strange urge to want to help with storytelling. I say it was a “strange urge” because I never experienced that desire before. Previously, I story told “Mage the Awakening” out of a sense of obligation; I was on of the more veteran members of the game and our previous storyteller was mentally fried.
With Camarilla-Anarch it was different.
I wanted to share my experiences with the other players, I wanted them to come to love the game (and the world) as much as I had. Still I was shy about being an actual direct storyteller, I took a job assisting the regional storyteller with building setting, and that was pretty fun although largely administrative. Slowly, I came to realize that I really wanted to directly storytell this game, and that was the best reason to do it. Because you’re excited about it – and want to share that excitement with others.
Using Metrics to Build the Better Game
Becoming a storyteller in the Mind’s Eye Society (MES) can be as easy as signing up, much harder was really understanding what I was supposed to do as a storyteller. Worse, my first month storytelling coincided with my finals/graduation deliverables which caused no small amount of frustration. But the biggest hurdle was understanding that the way I would story tell would would not be the same as anyone else.
I could borrow ideas from other storytellers I admired, but in taking those ideas and using them, they would be different because storytelling is a creative act. When I realized that I needed to build a system around my personal strengths and weaknesses, I really started to wrap my head on the task ahead of me.
In particular, I needed to find a conceptual metric to gear my games toward. For me that metric is “PC interaction”. I stumbled over this concept during a period of time where I quizzed all my friends, who I also admired as storytellers, about what skills would be needed to story-tell.
The idea is based on a simple formula:
- People attend LARPs to experience a story, the more the game feels like characters in a story the better the game will be.
- Every time a player-character interacts with something ( game setting, NPC or PC) they are reminded of the story they are involved in.
- Therefore, all other things being equal, the higher the average PC Interaction, the better the game will be.
This also has implications for players, OOC chatting takes away from PC interaction. Late game start takes away from PC interaction, the quality of PC interaction is an important variable, as well as the type of player (What kind of story do they want to tell?), and the size of the game.
While, all of this may seem obvious, for me and many others taking a systems oriented approach makes defining and completing the functions of a storyteller much easier. And, serves to define the approach I plan to take as a storyteller moving forward. Its important to note that different storytellers will have different styles – while my approach works for me it may not work for others.
While it possible to tell a great variety of stories in the NJCA LARP, in particular, I feel Camarilla-Anarch has a number of stories it excels at telling:
Elements of a Masquerade-Camarilla Game:
- Politics and Social Hierarchy
- Caste-based Intrigue
- Supernatural and Mundane Events
- NPC Motivations and Perception Play
- Humanity Loss as a Horror Element
- Mythology as a Horror Element
National LARP Organization vs. Troupe LARPs
I feel that its important to note and include national and regional elements of the game and encourage all players to get involved via multiple roads. I think this is a particular asset of games as part of the MES organization and it would be a disservice not to make it available to the players.
In addition, I think there are many strengths that troupe games have that we can learn from as a LARP. In particular the personalized feel I’ve experienced as a player in many troupe games is something that I aspire to for my game. Another note that I aspire to as a storyteller, is the high-quality production value of troupe games which (at least locally) vastly exceeds MES organization LARPs, ideally I would like to emphasize this our games.
Building A Strong Team
Finally, I don’t really believe that its reasonably possible to do all of this by myself. I need the space and time to create, but also to have a real life. In order to supplement the needs of the game with my personal needs as a human, I need to create a team of storytellers (AVSTs) that are armed with information about plots they will seed into the game, organized in terms of timing and plot release, and educated about how to run games.
I plan to run this game for 1 year, and act as an assistant to the next VST for NJCA. I would like to thank all of the AVSTs that have helped me to this point and I hope we can tell great stories moving into the future.