In 12 minutes a ref earned the nickname Turbo Hitler. Someone may or may not have killed 15 out of 18 players on a linear. It was brutal, fair and his plan all along (thankfully we woke from the nightmare but ignorance was not bliss for the players who thought they’d been massacred.)
The three that lived was me (barely), playing Tomec – the face of the group. Second was my housemate and pragmatism incarnate, Lisbet. Finally the freshly genned professional knife boy, Benrick. Now – this linear required hard skill and tipped a lot of our younger souls upside down. On the eve of our final session I thought I’d share with you how to survive a panic Linear.
WHAT DO I MEAN BY A PANIC LINEAR Anything where you do not know your end game, you are out of your comfort zone for any reason and you are under mortal threat. Not necessary a linear you transport out to but often you find yourself here most.
CONTEXT: 18 players transported out to get the Dark wombat spoon. Dark is affiliated with knowledge and death. On arriving they met a monster with a lantern. They are in a pitch black forest.
Learn the dangers Monster approach from all around. Putting one down it got up again (We know they have regen – not good). I executed it which is no save perma death after 30 seconds rp. It no effected the execute. This was my first clue that my end game was not kill everything. It was also a massive hint that out pacing things was more important than out fighting them.
Think Big: The Lantern bearer told us for free we needed to collect all the plaques. Not how many, where or what they looked like but would barter for memories. Likewise he’d shine the lanterns on enemies and keep them at bay for emotions. For rp reasons I would not give those but I have a spell that gave a short term buff. I traded a cast for a look see at the mcguffin – he showed me the one he had. More importantly I LEARNED HE WAS MORTAL AND HE HAD A PLAQUE. An immortal beasty would not care for that kind of buff.
Share intel: In Larp the worst thing you can do is hoard info – especially in a panic. With that in mind I started to spread what we were looking for and that fighting was pointless. When sharing info in a hard time you need to make extra effort to get it into people’s minds as they will hear your words and not take on the meaning. Repeat it, get it to say it back and repeat it later. Be objective focused.
Go for gold: At a glance we couldn’t see the black cardboard in the dark forest. We’d been briefed no torches and we were donutted in by monsters that wouldn’t die. If you know your goal is out there and your survival depends on it don’t hesitate. Me and Lisbet broke out, sprinted and started looking for cardboard in the dark.
Lessons from Lisbet
Never drop your guard: Now we were running it was a case of dumb luck and speed. Lisbet never stopped looking around and picked out a lot of enemies. We managed to pick a route around them.
Know when to quit: We could see the third plaque but also the most dooming monster there. If you’re dead you will never win. We ran back to the party.
AND THIS WAS WHEN THE MURDER CONGA HAPPENED
The murder conga was when things got hot and a player dumped memories into the lantern to earn us a reprieve. People let their guard down in the hissing monsters and made a long, slow moving line. This lead to the back being picked off and the mid section, who went to help, getting killed trying to save them (And the dead players added to the monsters and compounded the issue.)
While it is admirable to go help and for roleplay reasons sometimes you might want to this brings me on to a hard but important lesson from Lisbet who stopped me from piling into that when I heard some monster punk half way through a execute count. “They’re already dead”. Sometimes, and only very very rarely, do you have to accept someone is gone and you need to push on without risking your life.
Meanwhile. Lessons of Benrick
Where the fuck is Benrick? A question I asked more than once. Often shortly before murder rained down. Benrick was stated as an out of the line character dependent on getting a blow unnoticed to trigger his abilities. As such he spent little to no time with us and was working hard to keep himself up and the monsters down. Knowing your place in the fight and knowing the fight around you is critical. No use being a healer/mage at the back if your back has been enclosed with monsters. No use being a shield bearer stood still guarding a clump of squishies if the only threat is a ranged source you are not advancing on.
I would love to report more on what happened for a large portion of this adventure but I spent it recouping from unconscious by a tree. It’s almost like I did get captured in the end. I did not get killed which leads me on to Tomec’s final lesson
Tell a story Numbers and hard skill will make your life easier but sometime this is your saviour. I knew the big bad in the woods. He wanted a kill stella hard and would impregnate people who would die of open wounds and a child appears so many minutes later. I managed to swipe a child and barter with it for a plaque piece (more or less). This bought us some time free of big bad pressure as he was searching the spots he knew the plaques were in.
The second way this saved my ass was when the big bad dragged me off – he stabilized me so he could terrify me (and was ooc very effective.) Then he left me, paralyzed. against the tree as he only wanted to make me bear him a child once I’d lived a full life, had many joys, made many friends so he could give me a special kind of torture when he ripped that all away from me and made me give him a child born of a truer hate. So – why did I get this five star service and a second chance? I had roleplayed violently at him when he was first out, spent our downtime sessions on the hunt for him and given him his child. I understood that monster role so well and testimony to the good writing and roleplay of the peeps running it they understood Tomec’s drive to get him. He was a true nemesis of hers and this was too tasty – possibly my favourite story telling moment since the Death of Dredd. So yes. I got to live because it was a better story that way. Make your game about telling stories. Benefit from it in every way.
Meanwhile Lisbet was alone. Benrick and I were busy bleeding to death and being saved by chance. She was not even downed.
Running is a-okay sometimes Lisbet had clocked which was the wind was blowing and had decided to bug out. She buried the plaques she had nearby so we could solve the plot and snuck to the transport beacon out. She knew pretty much everyone was gone and the wombat spoon was not as good as the cost. She made it to the beacon and it didn’t work. That said, this gem of wisdom should not be ignored. Turning back is a choice best made sometimes.
Choosing to wait is a choice you have taken – chose: don’t hesitate. So Lisbet had found a dear friend of hers seconds from death. She had hands on him to hold her wounds but it was so touch and go if she left his side or let go he was a gonner. She could only wait for a healer and hope so played dead. No healer came. A monster did who decided to try and execute her friend. Now – that execute would kill him but only after 30 seconds and the call might raise awareness so she held hard and fast. On execute 28 she broke to put the monster down and try and make it back in time. It was painfully close but the player died. Without her it would have been minutes sooner. She gave that player a precious gift: a chance.
We managed to win the linear with some skill, bullshit and a smidgen of luck. I’d finish the story but it is much better told in person. This blog is all about taking the lessons to learn and highlighting them.
Three survived but I would like to take a moment to give an honorable mention to a comrade who fell. A young soul we call Shadow took Go Big or Go Home to heart. In the wake of the murder conga he had the guts to shake the Lantern monster. He offered all he was for enough light to pick up all his friends and it was accepted. This gave the players a 30 second breather to scurry about and heal as though their lives depended on it. I’d always advise keep something in the tank (with no memories left he no longer had anything to barter) but he had the sense to do something.
So. In summary
- Learn your objective and interact with anything special you can
- Not everything is solved with just swords
- Keep you friends close
- Accept the hard truth you cannot always save everyone (and if that means you leave them or die trying to save them.)
- Make everything you do a conscious choice
- Keep loud, proud and aware