- I have paraphrased John Adams before when it comes to LARPs by saying "there's a quarter of players who are going to like the game regardless of its flaws and a quarter who will hate it regardless of its worth. A game's measure of success lies in the undecided." One's state of mind is a major influence on the game attitude and perception of success, and mine was no execption. I will try to be as "reality based" as I can be talking about the game, but keep in mind I may have just been part of the "bottom 25%."
Application/Character Request - By and large, I didn't have any big problems with the questionaire they used, except for the fact that John Cleese was my favorite character in Tombstone. Not just for the "What's all this, then?" but for the fact I have a leaning for the characters that are trying to keep the peace the best they can, which summed up Sheriff Langston. As a "personal note for future character requests," I need to remember to put in that I prefer to have a partner or team, and/or be the person people come to, rather than be the proactive person out making new friends.
Pre-game Issues - Hoever, I did have major problems with the other pre-game materials. I am still pretty incensed with the Civil War part of their background story, which I felt bordered on "lost cause" idiology. When I got my character, I felt that a lack of media hints was a real problem. While they had a list of movies my character appeared in or was drawn from, I could have used better hints on what movies were important. I watched two of the movies (well, one and a quarter, anyway - one of the movies was so bad I wouldn't waste my time on it) and didn't see anything that applied to my character as written. Likewise, I think a short list of movies to watch in order to get a feel for the game would have been really useful.
Game Issues, Personal - I found that a lot of my plotlines were of the unfortunate "keep things secret" variety. While this might be a valid plot for a Western, esp. since there were so many secrets in the game, it is not an encouragement to interaction. Talking to people meant that you could give away a pile of secrets over a poker game or bottle of whisky. While secrets are the currency of the game, I was reluctant to put myself in a position to hand out other people's secrets that I was given in trust, as I didn't know how much that would screw with their game. Some of my other plots were pretty much DOA to me, such as the poker game (I don't like card games and dropping all that money for little or no return just didn't make any sense).
For me, I ran into the problem that there wasn't much that made me the "go to" guy for other players, which can be a problem. The exception to this was my sudden popularity on Saturday night due to my being one of the few known "Cowboy Gumshoes." This had the advantage of keeping me occupied as I tried to puzzle out a few of the various crimes that took place. Unfortunately, I ran into the "velvet flocked wall of silence" and was never able to bring and of the mysteries to a conclusion. Perhaps a detective character might have been able to do it. Oh, well - "Forget it pardner, it's Tombstone."
Game Issues, Meta - With a lot of time on my hands, I endevored to spend a little time doing some analysis of the game itself and especially the flow of activites. Prehaps the biggest problems seemed to be a general lack of enemies. Why this happened I'm not sure, but I suspect part of the problem was the lack of black hats to provide antagonists for the bulk of the game. I think it would be difficult to have enough opponents for a game if they have to be "bad guys." One thing I'm not sure about was how much "good vs good" fighting they expeced. The West was full of events where groups that don't fit the black hat mold still come to blows - sheep vs. cattle, that sort of thing. However, I think the mindset of gamers to avoid violence makes it very difficult for two sets of "good guys" to go to war with each other - as a chat with any "Torch of Freedom" GM would colaborate.
Likewise, it is very hard to simulate either the historical or classic films attitude towards race and gender. Probably that's a good thing as a civilization, but it does make trying to have a game based either on the historical west or the movies difficult.
Another problem is the GM's planned "Scheme of Maneuver" for the weekend. The arrows all seemed to point to a climactic confrontation on Sunday to wrap up the game. Problem was, the Cowboys power was broken Sat night, but the "Date with Destiny" (DwD) superpower (which meant you couldn't die until you met your nemisis in a showdown at end of game) delayed the final resolution for certain characters until Sunday. For those not so blessed, Sunday morning was about as exciting as you'd expect a Sunday morning to be.
This brings me to a personal hobbyhorse - the Set Pieces for DwD. Each of the Hero/Villain pairs gamed out their encounters out of sight, then playacted them out for the game. Now, scenes like this can be good theater or they can be bad pantomime, depending on the players involved, but can't be interactive. It might just be my Obama-loving, socialist little heart showing here, but I can do without the "privilege" of watching other players having "exclusive fun."
Note: Here is where I end most of my game review and return to personal blogging
Having sat through the end game (with more then the usual amound of "I did cool tings" speeches, but without the "Shameless Plugs" that used to be a tradition in the old days, so I guess that's a wash) it was now time for socializing. Problem was, having not had a boffo time at the game, I was unwilling to inflict the other players on me or vice versa ("I'm not getting you down at all, am I?"). Frankly, I was borderline fit company anyway. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have lunch with a small group who also didn't want to go to the main Dead Dog Party. Being with a bunch of people I liked talking about things other than the game, mostly, was the first step along the road to my recovery.
For the rest of my recovery, I have the traffic on I-270 and Lawrence Schick to thank. Since I saw the traffic back up almost from the exit from I-70 to 270, I bailed off to the shopping center right off the exit to ponder the map and my options. Fortunately, there's a My Organic Market in that shopping center so I could stop for some munchies. Then I decided I had no place to be anytime soon so I would get onto the back roads and see what Maryland between 270 and the Potomac looked like.
I also had a mixtape, courtesy, of M. Schick. It was a compilation of several old country songs and various parts of western movie sountracks. Strangely enough, the mucis went really well with rural Montgomery Co (there really is one!). There is a lot of farmland, some with cattle, interspersed with small towns. I suspect there are probably a few B&Bs out there that would be good places to gat away from the city with a less than a hour drive to get there.
So, what does it mean? I guess I'm not totally turned off by gaming, though it no longer rates as high as it used to (ah, those heady days when you could LARP one a month or more). I believe under the right circumstances I would go back to another game, though I would require a team or at least a part that would bring the game to me. I also accept that if I don't game it won't kill me. William Wildfarer once said you know you've been in the SCA too long when the only thing worse than going to an event is not going to an event. I'm no longer there as far as LARPs are concerned, though I do have a twinge of regret at the thought.
"...of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong."