Monday, 19 October 2009

For a year and a half now, I've been making an effort to go to Dumnonni, a live action role-play event that occurs on a few weekends throughout the year (bar the coldest winter months). At first I was sceptical. I say at first, I'd spent 20 years being sceptical after dissing the LARP events run in the fantastic parklands that surrounded the campus at Sussex University. In hindsight, I think I was probably correct.
It was only after a great deal of encouragement by one of my players, who is one of the Dumnonni referees that I was persuaded to go, I figured a weekend of camping with entertainment laid on would be a bit of fun.
I was pleasantly surprised, the attention to detail is amazing, and yes whilst running around in armour and being bludgeoned by someone it is rather fun, what I hadn't expected was the quality of the roleplaying. The amount of background information some of the players and crew know is quite amazing, but to carry that through and play a character, or several during the event is really quite special.
I like the reality of it the mud, walking, waiting, smells, sunstroke, rain and discomfort all give it a sense of authenticity which is lacking in normal story sessions. Authenticity I will now make efforts to suggest subtly in my narratives.
I thought I knew about role playing characters, after those 20 years of running sessions, but attending these events for Dumnonni has taught me a lot of new approaches, and helped me break through some of my natural reservations.

I don't think all LARP events are like this, but it is well worth going along to one, just to find out.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

The First Two Tefr Scenarios

I have now uploaded two scenarios to Lulu. All The Fun of the Fair and The Horn of the Clan.

All The Fun of The Fair, previously titled Market Madness, is a very basic introductory scenario –just to get new Tefr narrators used to the system, introduce players and give them an opportunity to play newly created characters. In addition to the scenario, it also includes a lot of useful detail about the town of Erdir, where the story takes place, as well as description of all the stalls, entertainment and folk that make up the Autumn festival in Erdir during which the scenario happens.

I wrote this in a very traditional, highly detailed manner; too detailed if I must be honest. The narrative scenario itself is probably over-written, and is possibly too complex, with too many items to find and as well as a number of things to do (coupled with all the confusion of the fair and a new system for both players and narrators). I may come back to this one and create a more streamlined version, once I've learnt how to write these scenarios in an optimised form.

The Horn of The Clan is the second scenario in the sequence and whilst it doesn't have any direct bearing on the rest of the story, it does fix the main characters of the Annuath and some of the other peripheral characters. In story terms, it presents the character's ordinary world, how they exist normally, but then beginning to turn that round so that they must question just what is the morally right thing to do, even if it goes against their instructions.

Whilst I have managed to limit the amount of excess descriptive detail, I still think I have over-written this scenario. It is probably even more scripted, in places, than All The Fun of The Fair. I hope that narrators will read through these sections in advance, to get a feel for the way they can progress the story for themselves, then play it off-the-top-of-their-heads, rather than just read it out verbatim –from experience, that is a sure fire way to deaden the narrative involvement for the players. However; I do appreciate that this sort of free-form narration from memory takes practice and a little bravado especially when dealing with a new world and system of play.

On the positive side, this scenario has a much clearer story structure, and I have provided a list of the kernel events in the introduction to show how these points will provide a guide whilst playing it out. I have also taken some advice from a friend, and provided character behaviour descriptions on the character sheets themselves. I'm hoping that this may offer a way for narrators to improvise a lot more freely when playing those characters.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Thoughts and Perspectives

I had an interesting day yesterday. Having attended a very enlightening talk by John York, the controller of BBC drama. Not only did he provide some new insights for me on how, not only to solve writing scripts, but also to marry up a five act structure to a three act structure.

-What, you might ask? Basically it's the fundamental way that most scripts know: call, conflict, resolution  or beginning, middle, end; if you want to put it another way.  

Interestingly, these same principals can be applied to roleplaying scenarios and larger campaigns; and tie in rather well with some of the other narrative structure approaches I have been studying.

More on this later, when I have time.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Prelude to Rhapsody

I've taken the plunge now; re-edited what was previously known as the Tefr Gamebook, and taken out all references to game masters, and game, replacing these with narrators and story. This is a very deliberate move to distance Tefr from the raft of fantasy game products which are available out there; most of which are simply that: games, like a kind of fantasy monopoly set. I'm not criticising these products, but Tefr is not the same, even if it once had the same origins. 
What I have now made available through Lulu is the basic manual to start a group-narrative, with the slightly pretentious title of Prelude to Rhapsody, but one that fits what the book is about perfectly.

I have also been considering trying to update the Knowledge is Power book in the same way and making it available to new Tefr narrators; however, I'm still painfully aware that this book is not really ready for publication; I may yet decide to split it into two volumes and expand the guidance for writing narrative scenarios.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A New Beginning
At the suggestion of Leo Hartas, I'm moving the news part of the Tefr site into this blog format. Partly because it will be easier to update, and partly to make it a bit more insightful. By that I mean that I will be talking more about the process of developing Tefr.

As things stand, Tefr is still very much a work in progress. Yes, the Gamebook is written, as is the Knowledge is Power book, bar a number of illustrations. The main issue is creating a format for publishing the scenarios and finding the time to work on them further. It is really important to me to try to put across the narrative element involved in playing Tefr. Finding a formula that gives Game-masters a narrative structure, whilst still providing freedom for characters, and is simple enough to just pick up and play is a difficult task; one which had stalled the publishing of the first few scenarios.

Again at Leo's suggestion, I will shortly be publishing prototype versions of the Knowledge is Power Book as well as the first few scenarios, in their raw form. This will, hopefully allow for some much needed feedback as well as further play-testing.