Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

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Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Honest John Stag on Sun May 31, 2009 1:05 pm

I was wondering how people felt about larping with members of the public observing and sometimes interacting? And what does it mean when an event has two customers those who pay to partcipate and those who pay to observe?
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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Honest John Stag on Sun May 31, 2009 1:27 pm

As a LARPer I'm not used to playing in front of the public. However having an acting background and being a big show off anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and found that having the public there to interact with added to my own enjoyment. Many of the players I spoke to felt the same.

However, some didn't. Some felt uncomfortable as they weren't sure what to say or how to act towards the public. Some were even a little worried that they might swear or act inappropriately in front of little kids and cause the event problems.

So how do you ensure that the public get entertained by actively engaging characters and that those that don't want to get close to the public don't have too?

My suggestion would be that those people like myself who like to engage with the public are given the opportunity 'to crew/monster' for a few hours each day. Give us a special sash to wear, marking us out to the other players as visitor guides or whatever and set us lose with the sole purpose of giving the public the best time ever. For our troubles give us a game credit that can be spent on a linear (if you charge) or something else event based.

Now I'm not saying this would prohibit other people from engaging with the public but it would ensure that there are people in place taking care of the public all day.

Like I said I'm a LARPer and I would turn to our reenactor pals on this one as this is an issue they must deal with all the time. Love to hear a Reenactor point of view on this.
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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Benjamin Parts on Sun May 31, 2009 2:42 pm

I was very interested in how the public being present would work in practice, and I was expecting to be more or less indifferent to them myself: Just ignore them and keep on playing. But I actually enjoyed them being there during the day. I like showing people what a fun little hobby we have, and I even felt that it made the more flamboyant moments of roleplaying more rewarding. It may also have helped maintaining a light-hearted atmosphere, as players kept their roleplaying ‘light’ instead of going for ‘deep immersion’.
They were also a functional part of the event. You`ll never get players to play non-resisting victims, and you`ll never get enough NPCs to populate a town with.
That said, I`m glad we had the night to ourselves.

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Honest John Stag on Sun May 31, 2009 3:00 pm

One of the consequences of the toll system on the gate was that the players were less inclined to leave the township. This had a benefit of ensuring that the majority of people were in the same space the public were in at any given time. If the p[layers were dispersed across the township, the IC tents and the tunnels, the place would have seemed empty in the public's eyes. Also there would have been very little energy for the players to feed off and there would have been that nagging doubt that the real fun is always happening elsewhere on site.

I'm not sure if the toll system was designed to ensure that we were encouraged to stay put but if so it worked well.

Downside- In a big open space like the township there was very funny opportunities to be sneaky, as nearly every point a militia soldier had line of sight.
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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  CrapBeard on Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:51 am

I for one really enjoyed the public's presence and the oppurtunuties we had around them; the daytime bouts of fisticuffs were great fun, (and kudos once more to honest john for being a brilliant ring announcer for that) and from what I gathered the public really enjoyed it, as well as various other misdemeanors and goings-on in town.
I have heard the valid point that it was almost left up to the players to entertain the public, but I was not at all adverse to it and relished every oppurtunity I had to play up the "yarr we be pirates" aspect!
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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Admin on Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:59 am

It was never "left up to the players" to entertain the public. That is a bit of a disservice to the guys who were actively doing displays and features (e.g. Mark with his childrens sword training, re-enactor displays etc). There was a timetable of features going on specifically to avoid this being the case. This was a new style event though where it was made clear in advance that the public were there to participate and were for their own part "players" in a way. Being entertaining was the price you paid for being allowed to rob them of something that was theirs and they could take home with them if they wanted. They were not NPCs they were real people.

Whilst we are advocating more re-enactor involvement for next time with displays etc (which some LRPers seemed to enjoy too) this will offer things which are obviously structured to entertain but remember that the public are an integral part of the event and they actually are subsidising your play. Some features (e.g. trials) are game features but are designed to be entertaining too. Martin wants to encourage more people into active LRP hence an event which invites the re-enactors and public to see what really goes on. I know you weren't being critical crapbeard but I am asking that sometimes people try to look at things from an alternative perspective.

I suppose what I am saying is:-
Try to understand why things happened as they did, not just that but what was intended too. If you can understand why and how you have a chance to understand how to (or indeed if you can) change things for the better.
BB&B is unique since it has four groups of "players", characters, traders, re-enactors, public. All four have to be considered in the creation and moderation of the event or we might as well return to the normal LRP format.

Having said that it is a valid and interesting comment since it is honest and explains how lrpers may be feeling. We have to ask two questions then:
1. How do we make players more comfortable with being around the public?
2. How do we make the public more comfortable and accessible within the game?

An ever inquisitive Admin.

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Dre on Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:44 am

A few lines on 'how to deal with the public' might be good. For instance at this event we were told in the rules not to fight in the public area. Yet clearly members of the public could purchase larp swords and spar all they wanted. At one point a small child approached me and said 'Wanna swordfight?' He didn't have his own sword, but I would have lent him mine. I wasn't sure whether I was allowed to lend him one of my larp swords and do a bit of play fighting with him; I didn't want to overstep my remit as a player and put the organisers in a difficult position in case of incident (as unlikely as it may have been). So I told him to find one of the red jackets, to ask them.
Obviously players should never strike the public or discharge pistols at them. Most larpers are happy to show someone how to fight with a latex weapon, but tend to be put off by very young children because you usually don't find them wandering around at events, let alone wanting to spar with a larp weapon.

I stand by my idea of introducing more of a trading game into the mix, which might give the public more 'hooks' with which to interact with players and vice-versa. Tell them that the black sashes are interested in who has Tea to sell and they suddenly have a way 'in' to the game.
I'd also like to see a leaflet which explains a little bit about the game world ('You are about to enter Widley, a den of scum and villany and one of the last refuges for scurvy scum on the British coast...') and introduces re-enactment, living history and LARP as concepts, or simply explains the game itself ('All around you are pirates, each loyal to his or her own colour - players in a game spanning the weekend of who can gain the most coin and infamy. They are engaging in what is known as Live Action Roleplaying, or LARP: these characters have no scripts, but their own personal motivations and personalities.' etc.).
The idea of having a few dedicated 'guides' for each type of activity is a good one; give them a very distinctive sash or costume and let the public go to them about questions and for more information. In fact, an 'Information' stall/tent might not be a bad move - there you could take down details for mailing lists, provide an outlet for re-enactment and LARP groups to distribute flyers about other events, and generally be informative to people who are a bit confused about what all is going on exactly.

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Admin on Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:26 am

Thanks again Dre. I think the scene setter for the public is essential too.

The town hall was designed to serve the functions you mention. Once again it was a staffing issue. We just didn't have enough people to operate it but this will be remedied. It's all a bit chicken and egg - we needed enough militia to make any action by the players risky otherwise it would just have descended into anarchy. We were very short of player militia so we had to have more NPC militia. We didn't therefore have enough NPCs for other jobs etc. More players means more staff freed up means better running etc.

I am not sure how we could physically run a trading game which the public can get involved in. I am also interested in this sort of thing for involving re-enactors who are non-combatants. I'll start a new thread on this. Please offer specific ideas and mechanics.

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Crow on Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:42 pm

Perhaps I can offer another perspective as I was Joe Public and I'm a larper as well. I only saw the sign on Fort Widley on Friday and decided to take the wife and daughter up for a look. I didn't realise that it was a larp event until i saw the weapons on the way in. Overall I was very impressed with the folk that came up to give us tours, rob us, show us thier pole-cats (seriously...) etc. I can't say if they were players or not but even my wife got into the spirit as we tried to sell our 3 year old to some pirates! My daughter loved it and spent the rest of the day telling everyone about the giant lobster men. There certainly needs to be a clearer segregation between the public and combat as we got caught up in the melee with the sea monsters. Luckily I was used to it but an unsuspecting member of the public could cause real problems. Possibly some guards to keep the public back in-character could be used for major attacks like this? I can see the cries of "Keep the townsfolk to the rear and let the pirates deal with this!"

Overall an excellent event that I will be signing up to in September.

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Admin on Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:18 pm

Thanks for the input from a member of the public as it were albeit one with perhaps more of an understanding than most.

We do need more experienced Marshalls on these sequences who can "get people to safety". It would be nice if some of the pirates role played this too and joined in.

Just to set the record straight the lobster men were trying to get into the arena in the middle of town as a safe place to fight - unfortunately our zealous lobster bashers never let them get that far and once they were getting pummelled... (good job those suits were well padded). It wasn't a case of keeping the monsters away from the public but stopping the players trampling the public in the rush to smack monsters. Back to individual responsibility there just like people who get clouted by the person in front of them overswinging their sword behind them or clunking a team-mate with their blunderbuss.

This is something that definitely needs looking at though since it cannot be left as is. The difficulty is how to get monsters into safe combat places without the players trying to smeg 'em en route. Of course we could marshall the transit but that breaks some of the suspension of disbelief and certainly spoils the surprise. We could keep the monsters for the tunnels but then the public miss seeing them. We could keep monster attacks to outside town (e.g. on the ramparts) but that stops the public getting up close to them. I hope the dilemma is clear.

Any flashes of genius? Preferably half a dozen different ones that we can use for the number of encounters planned for the next event Question

The militia could for example lead a monster in "in chains". Once into a safe area it could break free of it's chains and need to be attacked by the pirates. That's one idea - can you good folks come up with at least five more?

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Crow on Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:31 am

It certainly is a difficult one as watching the fight was a highlight of the day. I must admit a lot of the public headed for the gate to see the "sea monster" that everyone was shouting about.

Knowing the Fort layout is there a possibilty to have one of the tunnel exits come into the side of the arena? the monsters could emerge from below straight into the safe area. Something I have seen at Fools and Heroes is a "portal" which was basically a large tent with a fibreglass front that monster could emerge from. Possibly the two could be combined allowing monster crew to access what looks like a simple town tent from behind in costume then appear from the front. The addition of a smoke machine to create sea fog could be a nice touch too.

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Lobster sequence

Post  Troy on Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:38 am

Hi Admin,

I have had a bit of a think about this and come up with the following.
It does require changes to the fight area outside of town and the one in town.
The exterior one would need to have an exit as close to the main gate as possible.
The interior one would need an entrance lined up with the main gate and no dog legged entrance (at last temporarily.)

1. Militia guards on the top of the stern raise the alarm
2. Lobsters move into exterior fight area
3. Pirates move outside to engage lobsters
4. One lobster (appropriately supported) spearheads to town gate.
5. Pirates outside deal with one lobster
6. RSM Thunder engages lobster and leads it to interior fight area. Militia at gate and in town peel away escort.
7. RSM Thunder terriers the Lobster till militia are ready to fire.
8 Thunder runs, militia fire. Lobster does a "platoon" moment.
9. Lobster gets carted away on cart.

Pros:
Half the attack is non-scripted, pirates specifically deal with it.
Public get a full, unimpeded view of at least one lobster.
Public kept well back of most chaotic combat.
RSM Thunder gets his moment in the sun!
Militia get their shot in too.

Cons:
Half scripted... I bit of a bad thing probably in some opinions.
Pirates rushing to get out of town to fight.


Two other options are to include a scripted secquence for the pirates when they get out of town that basically consists of a couple of people getting ripped to shreds by the lobsters outside of town. Drunk pirates get limbs torn off? It'll make the rest of them think!
Also that the Lobsters should have some sort of loot value, that way the fight outside can then degenerate into a mass brawl once the creature is dead. Most entertaining.

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Admin on Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:23 am

Thanks guys,

The portal idea is a possible - well at least a tent the monsters could appear from. The only access to town other than the militia gateway is the spiral staircase which were behind the portaloos and its just not safe to try and negotiate them in a costume such as the lobster suits. The second lobster attack included purple smoke by the way but in the excitement I bet noone noticed.

Well the first Lobster attack pretty much followed a lot of your ideas Troy. It began with two militia men leading a prisoner across the outer arena. The judge repeatedly missed his cue to let the pirates know this was happening (he was mid trial). He was briefed and reminded just four minutes earlier but got carried away with being the judge. Consequently very few pirates got outside in time to see an arm ripped from the prisoner by one of the lobsters. The lobsters then moved on and were smegged outside the gate. Because of this failed cue the action was moved into town for day two and the arm ripping was dropped. Pirates desperate not to miss the action then wellied in like mad things and we had the scrum in town. This shows the problem with scripting too. Even if we had the script as you suggested I would wager 100 coin that a bunch of pirates would ignore it and leap in to start bashing the monster.

There will not be an arena outside town next time if we have enough re-enactors for an LHE so we need to rethink.

It may be as simple as looking at the layout of tents etc to create an accessway or two into town that isn't normally used and that runs straight into the central arena. Better use of the PA should help too.

Any more inspired ideas.

It won't just be lobsters by the way - there is definitely something going on in Widley town. Laughing

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Emma on Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:35 am

what's an LHE?
I guess that's another call for a summary of terms used.
Smile

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Admin on Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:31 am

LHE is the living history encampment - the term was explained in the companion thread to this one which was created a few posts ago:

http://thepirates.forumotion.net/general-discussion-f1/trading-games-re-enactors-and-public-ideas-needed-t19.htm

Sorry if it seems convoluted but best to read around a topic if possible to save repitition.

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Lobsters!

Post  Troy on Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:52 am

Even with the LHE and the removal of the outer fight area I'd still say that there needs to be a split to allow one suit to grand stand without being completely surrounded.

Maybe a play to the wild nature of the pirates, getting them to hare off after a more distant and obvious target... Lobster attacking pirate camps on the lower ridge line? With few pirates still around the militia can keep the rest back by forming a firing line on the lobster. People should definately be interested in keeping clear of that!

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Admin on Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:16 am

Even with the LHE and the removal of the outer fight area I'd still say that there needs to be a split to allow one suit to grand stand without being completely surrounded.

Sorry I am not sure I understand you?


The guy in the Lobster suit on Monday said he could not beleive his eyes when he turned away from the pirates to find he was facing two ranks of militia, one standing one kneeling in perfect order with muskets levelled Very Happy

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Grandstanding

Post  Troy. on Thu Jun 04, 2009 9:26 am

I was trying to say that one Lobster (plus escort) should get fed to the pirates for what I can only describe as the "monster mash" or circle of Paggering death. The other needs, by hook or by crook, to get to the town square, while the militia keep everyone back, for a little show fighting with a minimum number of opponents, followed by messy gunline death.

As you say, 8 militia with leveled muskets, front rank kneeling, make something of an impression. Smile

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Admin on Thu Jun 04, 2009 9:30 am

Oh now I'm with you.

BTW I am hoping there will be a lot more militia next time.

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At least one more!

Post  troy. on Thu Jun 04, 2009 9:47 am

Sam and I have recruited at least one new militia man!

Can there be a prize for the person who brings the most new players to each event? It'd certainly encourage people to spread the word. "Tell'm Troy sent ya!"

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  Admin on Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:14 am

There ought to be a bounty for militiamen recruiting fellows paid in coin at the event. I'll talk to Martin about it. (I am keen to see the press gangs and maybe even a recruiting party too - slipping king's shillings into beer maybe - I have some pewter kings shillings that would be perfect for the job)

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but how to play with the public

Post  All Seasons Jack on Thu May 27, 2010 5:22 am

THe Admin had asked for ways in which more interaction with the public could be encouraged in a way that was more enjoyable for all concerned, which is an issue i've been thinking about since i agreed to come along to the next event.
I've come up with a number of ruses to involve the public, they are related to my main character concept as a "disaster of Disguise" but i don't really want to give them away here, for fear of allowing rival crews to benefit from my scheming.
So how do i ckeck that they will go down well with the public?
Personally i've been checking with other parents of small children to vet on scales of scary/silly, dull/inappropriate and binned ruses not passed by all.
I'm curious though if there is an opportunity to talk to a ref/organiser to run schemes past them before engaging the plans?
if there isn't should there be? so that the enactor involved can feel confident playing up to the crowd?

No-one wants to offend the public and lack of certainty as to boundaries is i suspect a main issue here. (apart from those who would rather just not)
With another hat on, i'll probably be the public with my small children at the Fort amhurst event and know they would love to be entertained by all and sundry, so will happilly support all efforts to increase the chances of that happenning.
See you on Friday you fellow scum

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Public wanna play too!!!

Post  Hassan (Barbary) on Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:17 am

Last event at Plymouth I observed that the public especial the childern wanted to get involve, this is great but we need them to understand the rules of play.

There need to be a understanding that the coins are not theirs to keep but game tool to get invoved with.
They need to understand that we will mug/ extort and collect this coin ( give it up fairly).
They need a way to collect bounty without getting in the way of game play.
They need to know about some health and saftey information to stay at safe distance when asked.

I think that the public should be given a basic rule and H&S crib card (one pre family group) explain the above.
the other side could have blank 30 boxes and spaces for bounty hunting?

The pubic must find a out law, and make a bounty arrest, the outlaw will acommpony the public to the majaster office,
where the offical will fill in the name of outlaw and stamp a box.
the out law will then go back to the game.The public must collect stamps
10 stamps a small pin badge
25 stamps a pirate pen
50 stamps a cuddly pirate toy
you get the idea?

What do youn think get the public playing, they wanted to anyway and spent loads of time cause many pirate to hide ( usally the younger players)
that was less fun for then.


What your thoughts
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Need some safety guidelines with this level of interaction for all sides

Post  BoredSeaDog on Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:40 pm

Curiously it seemed to be some LARPers were more intimidated by the public rather than vice versa - perhaps feeling a little unsure over people observing their private pastime and unaccustomed in playing to spectators. The public were on the whole enjoyable to interact with, adults quite receptive to piratey discourse and younger children excited by it.

Some guidelines for all players and public might be worth highlighting however, for health and safety purposes.

For Players safe combat areas needed to be observed a little more; combat and scuffles were breaking out in central areas or pathways. Predictably, with many members of the public then having to dodge running players or nearby fighting. I heard from some concerned players about others swearing in earshot of families, children etc. Whether IC or OOC it (while being simple manners anyway) all of this ought to be reiterated is not acceptable.

The public did want to get more involved, the children especially. With Pirates all around them and many having their own foam swords they did get very carried away. From a personal experience, I had my hat booted across the green and the obnoxious kid then proceeding to lean (at my horror) tip first on my LARP sword that he managed to wrestle from my belt. Well, my annoyance was lost on him but his father I think knew it was a bit too much, to which the child's protest was (to paraphrase) "Its OK, that's what I'm meant to do/that's what he's here for".

Negative experience aside, it does highlight a need for a basic set of guidelines on how the public and players should be interacting. From this and a number of other observed incidents, the children were in possession of a number of foam, plastic and occasionally latex weapons. At a fundamental level, the public should never be engaging in any kind of combat with players or monsters, but the example above and a number of others which actually saw players fleeing the scene after being pummeled repeatedly by children, I wonder how realistic it is to avoid those situations. I mean - the children see the Pirates interacting on those levels, and many have their own weapon of one form or another and want to do it too. I know that I and many others were unsure of how to react or deal with unruly public while remaining IC.

Regarding the public giving up coin, many were unwilling, possibly due to some traders or attractions requiring coin to participate/purchase. People were not always ready to give up their effective "tokens". I overheard a family discussing how they could "buy" more coins, presumably because they had been pirated already, or used on the stalls. Some wanted to keep some as souvenirs (while some were US quarters, others were Doubloons)

The mechanics of bringing in Wanted Outlaws (for reward or more coin) needs to be made clearer to them, as well as other (safe) ways to interact with Players. Players need to understand this too and allow the public to interact with them on this level.

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Re: Playing with Joe Public? Good or Bad?

Post  master_flash on Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:36 am

While I personally didn't have too much trouble with the public during the weekend (save a couple of kids who followed me to the beach and then tried to rob me as I was waiting to get on the boat) my wife and stepson did have some more serious issues, all relating to wanted posters.
When my wife went to register she had her photo taken with our puppy and waws talked into getting a wanted poster printed for the dog. When the public started cottoning on to the bounties and the kids started running around trying to arrest outlaws they started trying to take her in, as you can imagine this terrified the poor thing and when one group were too persistent my wife, politely, told them to get lost and stop scaring our hound, at which point the mother of the little buggers accused her of spoiling their day. Needless to say the posters for the dog were taken down pretty sharpish after that.
Immediately after that incident when my wife was talking to her son about it about half a dozen kids rugby tackled him to the floor (literally) to try to claim the high bounty he had managed to attract.

I'm sure we weren't the only ones to experience this and it was by no means all of the public getting too involved, some of them did the sensible thing and reported outlaw sightings to the militia/town guard, several times I had kids asking me to point out militia/guardsmen so they could make a report. Perhaps in addition to informing the public on their way in wanted posters should carry a warning to not engage the outlaw and report any sightings to the town authorities.

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