A few months back, I talked to a very excited David Zoltan about joining a new Werewolf LARP. The first session went well and he was excited to continue with the troupe. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse.
I followed up with David this week to find out what happened.
CGG: Are you ready to tell me about your experience? I see there’s been some activity in the FB group.
There’s a lot of consternation about the hard reset (a complete restarting) of the chronicle.
Part and parcel of that is the problem that the ST of the game hasn’t respected the players and the time and effort they’ve been putting into the game. He’s seen it purely as a playtest whereas the players have been actually playing the game in good faith and investing themselves in their characters.
He hasn’t organized his staff in any way which is a part of that disrespect. He hasn’t invested himself into personal storylines, into downtimes, into fleshing out the world beyond the plot points that he wants to push for the purpose of playtesting. Though to be honest, I could imagine far better ways to playtest the system.
When there is misalignment of such magnitude between the head ST and the players, conflict is inevitable. Either in the form of revolt or in the form of people walking away from the game.
CCG: What was the first thing you noticed that felt off?
Being told by the ST that he hadn’t read my background stories and probably wouldn’t.
You can’t build a game built on personal and grand horror without understanding the characters involved.
CCG: How long had you been playing by that point?
A couple of months, I believe.
And, as you note, it was the first thing I noticed.
On its own, it can be forgiven.
People are busy. STing doesn’t pay anything. Some STs can craft great stories with very, very little.
But it was the first of many problems.
CGG: In the earlier interview, you spoke about how the players really engaged you in the first session. Did that help the situation with the ST’s or make it worse? How did the rest of the players respond to this environment?
The players are largely fantastic folk. They are the main reason I stuck around as long as I did. I’ve made a bunch of friends among the players, and it frustrated me for a long time how things were run. Especially as I started seeing people drift off as games were cancelled due to lack of ST structure and initiative to find alternative sites. The ST failed to ban a player who was regularly sexist, racist, and slightly abusive because the player was a friend. Scenes were abandoned because the ST wanted to run a giant combat that was then limited from many people from even getting involved, grinding the game to a halt despite other members of his staff being around but having no plot kit details or at least being able to help run the combat faster.
My last straw was that he introduced major metaplot information when the PDF of the new rule book was released, but when I asked a simple question of how did we get this news and why was it confirmed now, he flippantly gave a three-word response. Not “I can’t answer right now because I’m busy” or “I’ll let you know as soon as I have a chance to think about it some more”, just an answer that showed how little he gave a shit about our experiences.
Now, the other players are mad because they are finding out that their characters that they’ve been invested in for a year or so and build histories and packs and connections around are not going to have any real chance to have their stories fully told all because this ST wants to take us into a networked game instead of continuing the story we started.
And rightfully so.
CGG: What, in your opinion, should the STs do now to rebuild trust?
The way that they got into trouble in the first place was that the ST didn’t listen to the players and treated the players as incidental to the ST’s goals. I would be pleasantly surprised if they stopped and turned that around to regain our trust, however that will take drastic action at first and rebuilding of trust over time. More likely, I think you’ll see players just walk away or implement drastic change in spite of the current ST.
CGG: Do you know what they are doing?
I’ve heard a lot of grumbling and talk, but I don’t think anyone knows what is going to happen just yet.
CGG: Do you give the game much chance of survival?
I think there are a number of people that are dedicated to the game and want to make it work somehow. It’s going to morph somewhat one way or another, but we’ll see what happens.