KapCon 19: Summing Up

KapCon XIX was the best KapCon I’ve been to.

I have no real complaints.

I liked all the little changes this year, esp no duckling walk.

I thought the range of games and the quality apparent from talking with other attendees was at an all-time high.

I think there are going to be some interesting decisions about where to take KapCon from here. The push over the last few years for more people to GM has meant more GMs running fewer games with a correspondingly higher level of time and energy per scenario, increasing the quality. That’s my theory. I don’t think there’s much scope to grow the con – I expect another 5-10 people next year, but nothing massive. I can’t think of any real administrative changes that would help. The LARP is now apprently consistently about as good as a game can be.

My main hope is to increase the participation in the SDC. My game this year ran well 99% because of entering it in the SDC. The level of prep and thought that went in, and the time I spent was not dramatically more than usual; Horror Victorianorum took about this much time, Spirit of the Tentacle took considerably longer. But it was more focused. I will probably run poorly prepared games again in the future, but for Fright Night and KapCon the real temptation is to write the game as if for the SDC and then start the play-test cycle. It is easier than how I used to do things, and it is better.

It delivers a much more predictable experience from the get go. My two worst games were Horror Victorianorum and Death on the Streets, each of which ran about 5 times total and no two runs were remotely similar, and which had wildly different timing. All 3 runs of A World of Possibilities were more or less to time and had no real difficulties in the execution (unlike HV, which was something of a disaster 4/5 times).

So, that’s KapCon.

My thoughts now turn to Fright Night. Goal this year is to run something truly nasty.

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17 Responses to KapCon 19: Summing Up

  1. jarratt_gray says:

    I disagree with your LARP comments. You can go in other directions with it. It is a goal-orientated mass-participant social-intrigue LARP. They are the simplest form of creating a LARP, you give people goals and see what happens, though I’m not saying they are the easiest to write (50+ characters with goals and interwoven story).

    What I am saying is that they can be different. At the moment I know what I’m getting with a Kapcon LARP and I’m not that interested. Sure they seem to be very well crafted affairs over the last 3 years or so from all accounts, but it would be cool to switch up the style and try something new or different.

    But that said, given that people know what they are getting from a Kapcon LARP and enjoy that style thoroughly, why change what works right.

    And of course I never come to Kapcon because I am too busy with work. Which is sad but just the way it is. My head is always in the wrong space at this time of year, so all I can do is live vicariously through others. πŸ˜€

    • wyldcard says:

      I know exactly what you mean.

      I may have a word to you about an idea for next years Kapcon. Of course, if you can’t make it, that would make things difficult.

    • adrexia says:

      It is a goal-orientated mass-participant social-intrigue LARP.

      What would you suggest instead? I’ve played other types, but none of them seem like they would translate well to larger scales. There are other types run in regular sessions at Kapcon.

      There has been a distinct shift in Kapcon Larps away from the pulpy Larps that used to be standard. Story and character-wise they work quite differently now. The dynamic that I like the best is when most characters are heavily invested in their own sub group (of around 8-15 people) with some plots outside that sub group/working to further the interests of their own group (or destroy it).

      • exiledinpn says:

        I’ve played other types, but none of them seem like they would translate well to larger scales.

        I agree; “discourse-based” (the “Serpent of Ash” style) is really for small groups, while we can’t go with live combat to aid immersion because of the venue (and there’s no room to swing a sword in there πŸ™‚

        Though “Sanctuary” did move a bit away from goal-oriented to push more at internal character stuff, which I appreciated. This one also seems to have hit that note for some participants.

        There has been a distinct shift in Kapcon Larps away from the pulpy Larps that used to be standard.

        Yes, and I’m happy about it. Mash-up doesn’t do it for me any more.

      • adrexia says:

        This one also seems to have hit that note for some participants.

        It certainly did for me. I had goals and achieved them all, but the fact that there were goals written on my character sheet had little impact on how I spent my night. My motivations were pretty clear to me just from my character background. I spent a lot of the night trying to restore the honour of my family through any means I could. The rest of it involved angsting over my own parentage doubts, angsting over how to break the news to my father that my mother was unfaithful (and that she had been plotting against him) and alternating between yelling at my mother, avoiding her, and then finally saying goodbye to her as she plugged herself into the machine. I also got married somewhere in there… It was pretty damn immersive as far as Larp experiences go.

      • jarratt_gray says:

        What would you suggest instead? I’ve played other types, but none of them seem like they would translate well to larger scales. There are other types run in regular sessions at Kapcon.

        I think some of the small scale LARPs are designed to be just that. But I think others can really be translated to have more people. The difficulty of course is the crew required to run something different with a large scale cast.

        I do think having smaller knit groups that interact within a larger social game is a good way of running a social LARP, much better than stuff in the past.

        Basically my two thoughts are either, if you have goals then the story needs to be the most important thing and the goals needs to all play out in that. This is a more driven goal orientated story that actually has momentum rather than 3hrs of socializing, or you need to remove the goals altogether and go in a different direction.

        I do think other stuff is hard to achieve with large scale groups, and yes you do kind of want to get it right at Kapcon, so going with what works is good.

        My other thoughts aren’t constructive as they really only relate to large stuff I played in a while ago. So current LARPs may not draw on the same cliches.

  2. exiledinpn says:

    There are definitely other ways to do larp, and the style used by KapCon is just one of many possible styles. But its what the audiance currently seems to want. If we want them to shift away from that style, then we’ll probably have to show how else it can be done, and give people a bit of a taste for that.

    Hopefully some of the stuff NZLarps Wellington is doing wil help with that.

    • mashugenah says:

      Presumably though, once selected, the LARP team have a lot of freedom to run the style that appeals to them?

      • exiledinpn says:

        Pretty much. We just expect them to run a game for X players, and to follow the usual principle of disclosure we have for games.

      • mashugenah says:

        Which means that whoever sticks up their hand can shake up the format if they so choose. Which is for the good. I suspect that in the next couple, you’ll see a big shake-up of the format, just because the escalation is not sustainable infinitely.

      • exiledinpn says:

        Yes, provided they tell people roughly what they’re getting in for and it caters to a wide enough audiance.

        Escalation? I take it that’s a reference to the vastly improved sets and costuming in recent years?

      • mashugenah says:

        Yeah – it looks like the quality all-round for this format is slowly improving; but surely can’t improve forever. I don’t know. I don’t really do the KapCon larps, so this is all slightly speculative and distinctly ill-informed.

      • exiledinpn says:

        Well, from an organisers view, its a question of how much money we throw at it (and how much the larp orgs spend by themselves (!)). In the past, we haven’t given them enough. We’ve recently woken up to the idea that more budget = better larp experience for the participants, but there’s a limit to how much we can do set by the cons other costs and current prices.

        (We’ll be looking at this as well in the usual wrapup, but we’re not going to get silly about it).

      • mattcowens says:

        Traditionally time and team size and priority have been the primary limits on larp set dressing, not $. Of the past 7 larps I believe 4 came in under budget without wanting to spend more (K14,15,16,17?).

        If you have the happy coincidence of having someone volunteer to do something cool (make a big machine, pull someone’s guts out etc) AND having enough money, you’re away laughing.

        Of course, if you’d thrown several thousand dollars at any group of larp organisers I’m sure they could have thought of fun ways to spend it πŸ˜‰

      • adrexia says:

        If Sanctuary came in under budget it’s because the writers swallowed the costs. I’m pretty sure we spent our whole budget though.

      • mattcowens says:

        Absolutely – sorry I tacked 17 on the end and left 12 off the start!

        From all accounts Sanctuary was a big leap up in production values. And while I still haven’t seen any pictures I understand there was some lighting and a big machine at this year’s larp?

        I only meant to point out more budget doesn’t equal a better experience if the larp organisers don’t have ideas, time, resources etc to make use of it. That was the case for some of the Kapcon larps.

        Of course, now that larp teams have done cool things with $ it’s likely that future teams will too πŸ™‚

      • mattcowens says:

        And Mike might disagree on K14, too. I can only really say that K15 definitely wouldn’t have benefited from more $, and K16 appeared similar from an organiser perspective (ie Nick didn’t spend all the money I tried to give him).

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