Being a Feather Wearing Loon in a much less frozen field

Recording: It’s a Larp event and I managed to avoid pretty much every camera in the place it seems.

Tea: “Healing Tea!” which was also Sainsbury’s Assam. King of all Teas!

It’s been a couple of weeks now, and I admit I have been slacking a bit, and by slacking I mean writing plot for another LARP, writing up only war, trying to think up some 24 adventure seeds based on Eurovision Song Contest entries, and occasionally firing intrepid Kerbals at space (note I do not say “into space” there, this should give you some indicator of how well that is going). All told I’ve been quite busy so it has taken a bit longer for me to write this up.

What a difference the temperature not being sub zero makes!

On the first day I arrived however there was awful rain and wind. I have said it before and I will say it again. The site is not well suited to Larp. The lack of real infrastructure and particularly the fact that the OOC camping is just one huge field means that if it is Windy then there is no defence against the wind, other than pitching right up against your car. Watching the lines of dome tents deforming in the wind, and particularly hearing one of the struts of my tent breaking was not fun. I resigned myself to another terrible event due to the weather.

Having pitched our tent at the Regio end of “the Long street of Wintermark” also in the wind, we set up our set dressing and waited for the rain to stop. Which it did, the wind even died down. This made a colossal difference to the event. In good weather the issues with the site fade into the background, the ground is solid and the OOC camping’s exposed nature does not matter.

There were other things as well. The town at the centre of the site was a lot more complete. The Inn was awesome and looked a lot better with the roof on. They might need to alter the upstairs slightly as the roof was a bit low at the corners but that is a minor quibble compared to how good it looked! The Senate building was still excellent and the addition of a Civil service tent was good too. If I had one suggestion I could make that would be to have a “Bumblebee hive” in the centre of town as well where people could go to locate the field refs. It was not as hard to find a Bumblebee ref this time, but they still seemed exceedingly stretched. Every single one of them however was helpful and understanding even when we were doing weird experimental magic.

Another excellent addition to the field was toilets in the centre of the field. Ok they had the logistical problem that they could only refill the water in the morning before people got onto the field, but that aside not having to slog to OOC to go to the toilet was great, and solved one of the issues I raised in the first review. It would be great for them to be able to extend the water system into the middle of the field (possible with a removable standpipe for when the field needs other use) would be great, especially for these toilets. Again however this is wish for the future, the addition of the toilets themselves is fantastic.

That is worth pointing out, there seems to be no “Institutional Inertia” with PD, i.e. the drive not to change things people have mentioned because that is how they do things. Exactly the opposite in fact, they listen and they do make changes. In addition to the toilets there also seems to have been more plot on the field, clearer information on when things were happening and so on. Basically anything that was raised as an issue at the first event has been looked at and where possible adjusted. The only thing that was missing was the suggested booklet detailing the rules, but I suspect that will be coming soon. They should be commended for this, and indeed it came as a very nice change!

The best part of the event however was researching and then … perpetrating… a new ritual. In other systems I have played researching anything like that would take months, even years of work. In this system we pretty much just wandered to God, told them what we were trying, then about an hour later went off and did it. This, frankly, is amazing, and gives the players a much greater feeling of being in the world and being able to effect things. Getting the ribbon for the entirely new item we had created counts as one of my greatest moments of Larp ever. I suspect that as the game goes on the Ref team may get overwhelmed with such requests however, but I hope this stays in. Again, more refs will help with that I suspect.

I actually had more chance to wander about the various camps this time, and I have to admit the thought put into the nation briefs really helps you spot which nation a given person is from. This is one of the more awesome things about Empire, the amount of work the player base has put into its costume is amazing (I was doing 14 hour days on mine for a few days before the first event) and it really adds to the game, but at the same time I haven’t seen any of the “Kit-nazism” that I was somewhat worried might be prevalent. People who want help with their kit seem to be getting it, and the player-base for the most part seem willing to help. Some of the camps seemed a little less organised than others, and I still think some form of camp planning needs to occur, not least of all because it would add to the feel of each nation. It would also help with the fact that some of the smaller camps seemed to run into each other which sometimes made it difficult to find your way around.

This event was also better than the first one due to the plethora of food choices there were, many of them in “Anvil” and suitably In Character. The addition of the noodle van out in the OOC seems to have been very popular, and the ability to buy half a cooked chicken and bread was awesome. There were a couple of things that I would have liked to see such as slightly more IC looking noodle boxes, and also some IC dustbins in Anvil and the national camps. The extra food venues solved the problems of the long queues of the first event, and meant that when you decided you wanted food you could get it pretty quickly, and even better you didn’t need to go to the OOC field this time. The IC Taverns and food houses offering food for IC cash were also excellent, and the whole thing really helped the feeling that Anvil is a living place.

Time in this event was a much smoother affair and if unlike me you could remember your PID number was moving very quickly with people buzzing in and out with their character packs. For those of us forgetful types the line moved a little slower but it was still a lot faster than the first event. The packs continued to be awesome and I have now had a chance to look at a number of the other physreps for the trade goods and they are really very good.

The player base are now starting to hit their stride as well, alliances are forming and certain groups are starting to be more well known, everyone is a bit more confident with the setting and so on. There is a lot of politicking going on, and also trade but I worry a little that people coming in a bit later on in the game may find it difficult to break into these two arenas due to how things like the Bourse are set up. I will also admit the Wiki continues to intimidate and confuse me, it is getting better however as they have fixed some of the search terms, so searching for rituals for example is easier.

I can see this game just getting better and better as time goes on. Although I worry slightly that the Wiki is going to become a bit unwieldy! I will happily admit that I am hooked, and hope that the game can keep its current ability to react to player actions, not least of all because I have ideas for more experimental rituals to undertake. I still think they need a few more field refs but it cannot be easy to find people to join such a dedicated and excellent crew. Soon I hope to actually be useful on battlefields so I might be able to review that half of it.

Really the only bad thing about Empire is that I won’t be able to make the Third one!

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