- meet up and have a group brainstorm for some game ideas;
- choose some to work on, and divide up into writing teams according to theme/experience/preference/etc;
- spend a few hours together developing and working up the ideas into skeletons of games;
- get back together, and present our projects to the group;
- might be some opportunity for playtesting bits of system or resolution mechanics or things like that;
- (or even finished games, if there are any (and they’re short));
- discussion of the experience and of the results;
- anyone who wants to carry on working on the project, individually or as a team, is encouraged to do so.
This still seems like a decent general plan for future such sessions, but it wasn’t quite what we did on the day.
What actually happened
There weren’t enough of us to need to divide into groups, and two people had brought along ideas for small chamber larps / freeforms which were already pretty sound and seemed fun. So as a group we worked together on those, alternately, until the design issues were ironed out and they seemed complete enough to create workable drafts.
The authors each swiftly wrote up materials for prorotypes, and then it seemed like it would be a shame not to playtest them right away. So we did!
The Cohort (by Karolina)
This is an emotionally-intense 3-4-hour freeform about a group of nerdy and troubled students, and the ups and downs in their lives and relationships as they progress towards maturity. It addresses potentially-painful social, emotional and psychological problems. It’s structured as a series of group scenes taking place at intervals, with inbetween vignettes and out-of-character steering discussions to fill in events and drive the dynamics onwards. There’sa nice mechanism where before or after each scene, the players have to point simultaneously to the character who they think is currently the most [X], where X varies according to the progress of the story. This was very effective at revealing arc and steering possibilities, for such a simple thing.
This game felt very natural and involving: the characters came to life quickly and easily, and their difficulties and successes felt real and flowed smoothly, with good discussion between. The details of the structure can be polished a little, but overall it was already very satisfying to play.
Here Comes a Candle (by Laura)
A 1-hour (plus prep) larp set in a prison, in an alternate-world totalitarian regime. A cell of revolutionaries has been arrested: at dawn, which coincides with the end of the game, one of them must confess to being the ringleader, and be executed. If none confess, or if more than one does, then all will be executed. Each has a reason to want to live, and a reason to want to die, chosen by the players at the start: and they also choose personality traits which will tell on their behaviour during this final hour. The larp plays as one continuous scene, with no meta elements.
This neat idea generated some powerful emotions, frustration, and a great sense of building tension – and even managed to reach a genuinely surprising ending. The setup and character creation will need a bit more work, but like The Cohort it was already plenty solid enough to see its potential.
We want to have another game-writing session soon: there are lots of great ideas around! And to further playtest these games, of course. Overall it was a very enjoyable and satisfactory session!