In this post I talk a lot about the process of pitching a game to Fastaval, read more about what that is here.
So some time ago I published the first, very rough, rambling draft of my synopsis here. When I finished the synopsis and sent it in, I was quite pleased with myself, it’s not a perfect case study of an synopsis, but considering what it looked like before, it’s a big improvement. And it got in. Now it’s important to note, you can write the perfect synopsis and still not get in, if you just happen to pitch a game in the same genre or style as a lot of others. Simerly a rough synopsis can get in if the game being pitched is something the program needs. You never know, but you do know that a well worked out and clear synopsis helps a lot.
I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous about a synopsis than this one. “The Courage of Teddies” meant as much to me as this game, but I was more sure I would get through as it was a very clear and traditional game. “…And that it” I know sounds strange and it was very hard to describe what the players will be doing and why that is cool, so I don’t think I have spent as much time on a synopsis as for this one.
So this is how the synopsis ended up, if for nothing else, it can be used as a case study of how much a synopsis can change from draft to finished text.
…And that’s it – Synopsis take 4
Humanity has been wiped out by the grey plague, now the last group of survivors have settled down and slowly begin to hope that they have survived it and can begin again. Then the plague strikes, and they know it’s all over, that’s it. We follow the last days of this last group of humans.
How do you put the loss of your friends, the loss of relations, your own eminent end to words? It’s impossible, but through the childlike act of drawing, we can get just that little step closer to expressing and reflecting on these thoughts. That is what this larp aims to do.
The focus of the game is three things the characters will lose during the game: them as an individual, their relations and the group. From attempting to deal with these losses comes most of the play. As you try to face your own end, as you try to sort out your relations before it’s too late, and as you see your group dwindle and try to connect to the few that are left.
Visual creation as communication and reflection
The central tool in this game is visual expression, like drawing or painting. The characters express their thoughts through visual means rather than verbal. Talking is allowed but the culture and workshop will make sure it’s greatly diminished. Drawing is used for communication and as a means of reflection. By expressing your thoughts as drawings, you focus on the subject in a very quiet and intense way. This makes the game a very personal and immersive experience. It will also be a very different way of documenting the larp.
This means that during the larp the players will often be sitting around quietly and drawing, alone, in pairs or as the whole group. They will be talking, often using the drawings as a starting point for the conversation. The end result is making an already emotional game more intense as the players are focused on their emotions and thoughts and not what the right thing to say or do next is. It’s important to note: drawing happens ingame, it’s not a metatechnique, it’s the characters trying to handle their situation through drawing.
- Act 1: They dare fearfully to hope. Gradually they think of a possible future, they dream. Act 1 ends with the first sign of the plague.
- Act 2: Now they know they are going to die, there is no escape. They try to handle their end, they try to reflect over what this means. Act 2 ends with the first death.
- Act 3: They die one by one, they say their goodbyes until the last human on earth closes her eyes. Act 3 ends with the last death.
During the game the GM will play a grey spirit, representing the memories of what the characters have lost to the plague, being touched by this spirit will bring forth these memories. This is also how the grey plague spreads, with the GM putting gray marks on the players. When you have three, you have minutes left to live. Will this touch be the one that dooms me?
As the characters die they also become grey spirits that represents the memory of that person. They move around wordlessly, longing to be remembered, but only through concentration can they connect to the living and be remembered. They can sense the other spirits around them, and if they try hard enough they can connect with them for a fleeting moment. When the last human on earth is gone, the spirits linger for a moment more, looking at what they left behind.
The workshop will focus on the three things mentioned before: Individuality, relations and the group. The workshop will also teach the players how to express and reflect visually. The workshop is very structured and run by the GM.
- Individuality: A character’s starting point will be the player picking a physical item, that one thing they still have with them from before the plague, something that really defines the character. From the question: “why do you hold onto this item?” the players brainstorm with drawing and via a range of exercises go from wild ideas to a playable character.
- Relations: Relations are also created visually by pairing the players up, looking at each other’s visual character sheet and drawing how the other character sees your character. This will then be added to the other’s characters sheet. That way you create the others impression of you, but it’s up to them how to interpret it.
- The group: Each player draws her impression of the group, and present it to the others. From this the GM helps the group create three routines that honors: the individual, the relations and the group. These three things forms the traditions of the group, it’s what binds them together.
- The game is roughly finished.
- It has been playtested once at Østerskov Efterskole, where among other things the grey plague mechanic and the visual creation tool worked great.
- During Larpwriter Summer School the elements that worked less well (for example the use of mood boards and the way the grey spirits worked) has been redesigned and the game is ready for it’s second playtest.
- Type: Larp
- Genre: Tragic beauty (Grave of the Fireflies, Mary and Max)
- Number of players: 10 til 20
- Number of GMs: 1 or 2 for very big groups
- Run time: 5 hours
- Language: Danish and English
- Writer: Simon James Pettitt
- Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone number: +45 26811833