The blog hadn’t been seeing a lot of action. Visits were down. I figured people were sick of the salt. And then ….
Let’s pick up where we left off: discussing whether or not a chronicle reset will fix structural inequality in your game, which continues to stumble along like a wounded gazelle.
It’s been one hell of a summer. America’s political system is literally catching fire, as is the state of California. Russia is reminding us that there are places even more evil than America, and England decided it bloody well doesn’t need business and can subsist on the grainy starch of populism while good ol’ Boris continues to lose color like a bleached cod. Also Syria continues to stupefy us and remind us that we’re all barbaric scum beneath the surface.
But LARP. LARP continues its perfidy.
Last time we discussed why plot is structured in such a way that newbies will starve and the plot-bloated upper crust will continue to grow wealthy on unique items and hand-made NPCs. Two options seem to hover before us, in the face of this classist LARP regime: the plot reset, or the status quo remains.
The Status Quo: Negotiable Failure
There’s an argument to be made for allowing a chronicle to continue. Those veterans that aren’t jaded, insufferable manipulators will go through the organic process of mentoring newbies. New plots will be built on old plots, which have a nonzero though slim chance of maintaining relevance. And everyone gets to falsely lean on the crutch that their success or failure is the result of relative exp and character strength, never requiring closer investigation.
There’s something to be said for keeping the devil you know. What might a reset unleash? Who might be hurt? What might be lost? If the status quo is failure, it’s navigable failure. It’s comfortably numb failure. It’s failure that doesn’t ask for much of you. Why risk something worse?
Plot Resets: Failure Delayed
That was a trick question: anything has to be better than kneeling before the same douchebags you’ve knelt before a thousand times. Right? So obviously the better option seems to be a reset.
Now is a good time to mention the terrible drawbacks of chronicle resets: the pressure each player faces to find a meaningful ending for their character, the scrapping of people’s hard work, the flooding of ST inboxes, and the risk of losing your players who are literally so attached to fiction that its absence will send them back to reality, which seems paradoxical but is, surrealy, possible.
But it’s done. Everyone is on the same playing field again. Those held down by mechanics have the chance to rise up, and those kept aloft by mechanics have to fight their way back to the top.
Only it’s doomed to fail, because the reset doesn’t reset structural problems.
Those with an adept grasp of mechanics are, with every reset, better able to prioritize character creation, progression and stats on the next arc. If they are bullies, the structures of social pressure they have created remain. If they have captured an ST’s attention, or are an ST, or are sleeping with an ST, they are merely delayed in retaking what they want.
The newbie or the purist will blindly believe that the reset has leveled the playing field, which only adds weight to the argument of the abuser that they aren’t abusive. They can now claim to be Meritocratic, rather than Oligarchal, Plutocratic and Autocratic. The process is proof enough. Why dig any deeper?
Option 3: Vigilance
Someone out there will start talking about how their game is BUILT to avoid structural inequality. Some jackass will always point out a rule or convention that separates their Utopian LARP from the Road Warrior barbarism of another.
“In my game,” they’ll begin, “we let kindly Steve lead all the newbies into a pasture, where he slowly teaches them the names of the constellations in the sky, and how to build their characters to be successful. And plot is sent out on the wings of doves, so that those who are gentlest may pluck it from their feathers without bias.”
That guy is full of shit.
Only one thing keeps the cool kids from literally shitting on everyone else, mouths agape to ingest plot, legs spread for maximal fecal diffusal. Only one thing will keep rules from being lawyered and abused against their design. Only one thing will keep the newbies safe.
Constant fucking vigilance.
You can’t build a culture, a game or a community bigger than 7 people that is safe from abuse. Not without androids programmed not to be douchebags. Instead it requires vigilance, above and below. Vigilance against favoritism. Vigilance against bullying, abuse, manipulation or drama. Vigilance against bullies pretending to be vigilant. A willingness to critically self analyze in the face of every attempt to gaslight and pretend. A willingness to stand up to staff, or quit.
Good thing LARPers are really good at vigilance. Like the American electorate, they cannot be fooled. They cannot be placated. And they cannot be bought.
Share this post on social media, so that more people can be upset, paralyzed by indecision, and generally angry at uncomfortable truths.
For more thinly veiled American Political fanboying with LARP as an excuse, doomsaying and paradoxical dilemmas, follow me on Twitter: