The Darkest Space: Disease mechanics

Note: This post applies only to the upcoming Fanseeth prequel, The Darkest Space.

At The Darkest Space, there will be a disease beginning in Act II. The disease involves marks on the skin and an envelope with a symptom list. If you are infected, you will not escape as your character from the doomed ship. Basically: if you agree to be infected, your character will die.

At check-in on the day of the game, you will be asked whether you wish to be infected. This will be marked on your name tag using a piece of string or ribbon. Possible answers are “yes”, “no”, or “ask me when the time comes”. It is perfectly acceptable to say “no” to this, and there are no consequences in or out of game for refusing. You may choose for your character to escape in the final act if that’s your desire.

If you have consented to be infected you will be told when/if you are infected by an NPC (portrayed by a doctor who will be investigating and attempting to treat the illness in-game) and you will be given the envelope with the symptom list we are proposing for you in a progression format (basically “you will develop these symptoms, and then these, and then these). If you don’t like the specifics, make up what you are comfortable with, but please try to keep with the “feel” of what you’ve been given. If you don’t want your skin marked, or only are comfortable with it being marked in specific ways, just let the doctor know. On our end, we’ll be using body-art pens for marking your skin.

You may also choose to approach the doctor and ask (out of game) to be infected any time after people begin to show signs of illness.

Example symptoms

Early stages

  • Mild paranoia (you think people are out to get you, but not in the “oh gods I need to run” over-the-top sort of way)
  • Being unable to read, suddenly, or reading things that aren’t there (subcategory: benign things, for example you convert a list of equipment to a list of ingredients for a cherry pie)
  • Marks on the skin
  • Weakness
  • Irritability

Middle Stages

  • Sporadic vertigo
  • Hydrophobia (fear of water—but please stay hydrated from an OOG standpoint)
  • Disorientation

Late Stages

  • Sporadic panic attacks
  • Avoidance of crowds
  • Spontaneous bursts of agitation, anger, fear
  • Death

None of these should be continuous (except death, naturally). They should come and go once you enter that phase. You may be aware that this is not your usual behavior—it’s up to you to play it either way.

From an OOG perspectives, some things need to be emphasized:

  • If you are infected you do not get to survive the end of game. You can die before that point, but if you aren’t dead by the end of the game, your character will be dead after that.
  • You cannot be cured. There is no cure in game at this time.
  • If you aren’t having fun with it, feel free to change your symptoms around. Symptoms changing are completely in keeping with the nature of the disease and you won’t break the game, even if your symptoms stop appearing entirely (asymptomatic != cured).
  • The specifics of the disease—where it comes from, etc—aren’t a solvable problem in (this) game, but you should feel free to investigate them.
Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth: Transmission from Aiye Titun

<TRANSMISSION OPENS>

Aiye Titun Shift 5 Bravo, Day 120, personal account of Jing Myneer:

We started a search of Protoclade 1537 today. The protoclade itself is on the older side, but initial dating indicates that it was one of the last abandoned, and there are still some rooms that look to be fully sealed. We preparing extraction teams now to make sure that there’s no damage to the interior when we breach them.

In the opening chamber we found some old fragments of pottery—they look like ceramic tablets—with writing on them. Who would have thought that buried in all of these old ruins from the earliest settlements we’d find records engraved on pottery? Why would they write anything in ceramic at all, let alone produce a ceramic tablet for writing? We haven’t found anything like that in the other protoclades we’ve entered.

The shards are broken and partially fragmented, it looks like maybe they were slammed into by something blown by the wind, but they are certainly still legible. We’re sending the text over to the lab to have it analyzed, because none of us recognize the language it is written in. The tablets have been the most excitement we’ve had in a while around here.

Like in some of the other last-abandoned protoclades we did find some remnants of skeletons, mostly eaten away by the elements. Per protocol, we’re sending those remnants back to the labs on Kala Station, for whatever good that will do. We’re hoping to find more information on what may have killed so many in some of the sealed chambers, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Two more 30 day cycles and I can get off this rock and go home.

</TRANSMISSION CLOSES>

Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth Economics

The Fanseeth use a representative currency. You may have a slip of paper, but what gives that slip of paper value is the fact that it is backed by something more concrete, and could be exchanged for some backing commodity at any time.

There are two different economic units of account that can be freely exchanged for fixed amounts of what they represent. Those two units are the Kilocalorie (kcal, usually stored in either a mechanical or chemical battery or in the form of glucose) and the Gram of Gold (gg, exchanged as coins or as bars for larger quantities).

Kilocalories are (usually) represented by a paper currency); gold is generally represented by coins of (usually) non-precious metals or other forms of physical token.

In day-to-day transactions, especially those involving a transient good—going out to a restaurant, by way of example, or finding fuel for a spacecraft—the kcal reigns supreme and is widely used as a base unit of currency. Most people with jobs are paid by their companies in kcal for their salary.

Grams of Gold are considered a long-term, more stable unit of value. Often when purchasing non-transient goods (e.g., a chair, a ship) the payment will be in in gg. If a job offers a retirement plan, it is often in gg.

At least, all of that is the theory. Government policies are implemented around this assumption, after all, so it has to be at least somewhat true. Right?

Economics and Culture

By and large, kappi and hakal work almost entirely in kcal currency and will do so even for more permanent goods. They often end up not owning their homes in a classical sense, since it is easier to rent when your income is in kcal.

Vordur are the opposite of this in a lot of ways, storing generational wealth in gg which they frequently pass down. Even when they don’t have a lot of gg, this is how they tend to measure their own wealth.

Bondi follow the intended pattern as closely as any group. They tend to have long-term wealth which gets converted into housing and used for retirement. Then hopefully there’s some left over to give to their children or to use to invest in their child’s education.

Conversion

There’s a conversion rate between gg and kcal, but it fluctuates over time. We’ll have the exact exchange for the Fanseeth prequel event up in early January. In common practice, gg can always be exchanged for kcal, but the reverse is not always true.

It is theoretically true that you can reverse the transaction, but that requires a buyer and access to the exchange markets to make the sale. A lot of groups who are willing to do the currency conversion from kcal to gg similarly take a small cut as a handling fee for their difficulty in managing it on the monetary markets.

Representation in Game

For the most part we are going to be giving out kcal currency for this game in the form of paper scrip. You can also feel free to print your own if you think you’ll need or want more. But, if you want to bring gg into game: bring any non real-world metal coins that you want to use. Our standard will be the sort that you commonly see sold for, e.g., Stonemaier games and metal doubloons meant to represent pirate treasure, but any coin will do (be aware that if you acquire ones for ongoing games they probably aren’t going to be legal to spend in those games after trading them here).

But fundamentally that is more to throw around and make an impression. Every good or service sold by NPCs in the Fanseeth game in January will be available for kcal.

Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth: Clades, Class, Career, and Culture

This document is a bit of a miscellany of some of the elements of the Fanseeth that contribute to their culture.

Clades

Clades represent groups of people who live in the same habitat on a moon or the same area of one habitat on a station. They are the towns or (more rarely) the cities of the Fanseeth.

Miners and pilots in particular will frequently have jobs that take them away from their clades for stints of time, but they will return to their clades between their jobs (e.g., a miner goes out to a moon for some significant period of time, then has a significant period of time off).

Clades are usually pretty mixed groups. There will usually be a small segment of each of the four predominant cultures in every clade, though how much that matters will change.

For example: A vordur politician living in a clade of mostly miners may be looked down upon by other vordur, but they still have the political connections. They still will likely send their child to a more vordur-centric group for education and friendship-building.

Class Mobility

Class mobility technically exists among the Fanseeth, and there are no rules that prevent, for example, a hakal miner from being elected to the position of Warden.

But it isn’t that simple.

The four predominant cultures of the Fanseeth are strongly tied to the socioeconomic class of the group. They represent who you “rub elbows” with. Which parties you get invited to. Which schools you attend.

Even if you can change your economic situation, it’s hard to develop the connections of someone who was born in that group. Someone who loses their money still has a network of connections and will often make significant sacrifices to ensure that their children maintain those friendships. It can take generations to fully move between two different groups.

There are significant cultural forces in play that make this movement difficult—in both directions. It’s hard to learn everything you need to know about mining on the job if you didn’t grow up around it. It is difficult to know the ins-and-outs of a political system if you weren’t raised among people who are fairly political.

But it absolutely can happen.

Theoretically.

Careers and Other Jobs

As mentioned in the section on class mobility, there’s nothing really that prevents someone from one group from doing jobs commonly associated with one of the other groups, and it even happens. A bondi family that is hard on their luck ends up with one of their children becoming resource harvesters. A vordur child has a large inheritance coming eventually and wants to spend some time to “find themselves” so spends it doing odd jobs aboard ships and then goes back and writes a book about the experience.

In general, however, you see people of the cultural groups in the jobs that are associated with the groups.

So usually a pilot will be a member of the Kappi. But that kappi pilot likely has a family that includes younger members who are doing odd jobs to learn the ropes or working as mechanics aboard ships or for different clades.

A high level bureaucrat is probably a member of the Bondi, but their family (and indeed, their own history) likely includes everything from janitorial work to selling tickets for liners to tour the moons.

These “lower level” jobs are also where you find the most mobility between the groups. It is very hard to become a pilot without the correct set of connections and experiences, but working on a moon liner in some role is a relatively straightforward proposition.

In general, however:

  • Vordur will do a lot of managerial jobs at different levels of prestige. They will work as marketing directors for corporations, entrepreneurs finding new creative ways to invest money, and other such things. When younger it is pretty common to see them apprenticing to higher level vordur and doing a lot of odd jobs for them.
  • Kappi do a lot of jobs associated with ships and shipping. Everything from logistical planning to cleaning ships to mechanic work to piloting.
  • Hakal are often associated with mining, but they’ll also do a lot of the work related to resource extraction and preparation. Extracting metal from the ores or purifying gasses to be used, and maintaining the equipment used for these tasks.
  • Bondi fill in the gaps inside of the clades. They are farmers, craftsmen, programmers, and frequently low-level executives at companies.
Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth: Knife Fighting

There have been a lot of diffusion of knifefighting styles among the Fanseeth over the ages, so you’ll find every style among every group in different degrees. These usually also involve arguments about what each version does or does not show, or how much it represents reality, or how it isn’t supposed to represent reality, whether and to what degree it can be used to settle disputes, whether it is a reasonable way to spend one’s time, or any number of heated debates on the dueling traditions (and if it gets heated enough, the debate itself can lead to a duel).

Most children among the Fanseeth grow up with a least a passive knowledge of knifework, though how much they’ve actually practiced varies widely.

Thrusting is usually frowned upon for these styles, since it is so often highly lethal when done with an actual knife.

There are four primary arts used in duels, but each has a lot of individual variations: Gisal, Takni, Jasha, and Bowwi.

(Note to players: These are starting places only. Feel free to add, subtract, multiply, or divide as needed for your play preferences. If you want to engage in knife-fighting at the upcoming Fanseeth event, please review the knifefighting mechanics for The Darkest Space.)

Gisal — The Tournament

This style is popular for entertainment and for betting. It originated as a spectator sport for the Vordur, but now all of the cultures enjoy a good Gisal match. It is among the oldest arts found among the Fanseeth, but has evolved significantly over time.

An area is cordoned off on the floor, stepping outside of that area is a loss of the round. All cuts to critical spots (defined as inside of the arms or legs—but not the outside—along with any cuts to the torso) are considered “points” and after each point the participants reset to opposite sides of the field.

Usually done to a best-of-n-rounds, though sometimes different values of points are awarded for each area, and instead of stopping to reset, they continue fighting until that number of points is reached.

Betting is frowned upon in polite company but is perfectly legal and very, very commonly practiced.

Takni — The Academic Art

A common sport among young, educated Vordur that have a lot of money and not a lot of sense, the goal of this fighting is to lay a small, shallow cut with a specially modified knife along the deltoid (most commonly) of the other person. It is widely practiced in schools, sometimes with official sanction (the Fanseeth equivalent of a gym class). In this style it is very common to use a cloak or half-cape in one’s other hand, which is used to bind the opponents knife for a more effective cut.

This cut will sometimes be encouraged by the recipient to scar over, resulting in what is called a “smite” which may be displayed. These are often considered a mark of honor, at least among participants.

The art is studied heavily and treatise on the proper way to engage in it have been evaluated in depth.

Jasha — The Dance

In the early days of Fanseeth, knives were forbidden to prisoners. Additionally, before the advent of safer blades and more sport-like versions, fighting in general was considered a waste of resources.

In this style two opponents move at a roughly equivalent speed, working to match speeds with one another while they make cuts and thrusts at the other person, never actually landing the blow.

The goal is to make an attack on the other person that the person acknowledges as having gotten past their guard.

Almost never done for tournaments, this form is almost exclusively practiced by the Hakal and in mining-focused clades.

Bowwi — Settling Disputes

Based on an old legend from the origins of the Fanseeth, this is a form of duel that arose as a way to rapidly settle disputes between clades and is still widely used for dispute arrangements, especially friendly ones. It’s also frequently used as a legal resolution to difficult problems between clades that don’t want to get a higher level of government involved.

Two fighters either clasp hands or hold on to a piece of cloth and then attempt to land a designated number of cuts (or touches, or whatever equivalent) on the opponent.

These cuts are usually limited in where they can be landed—never on the arms that are bound, nor on the leg on that side—and is often fought with each fighter’s primary hands being so bound, leaving the blade in their off hands.

Written by: David H. Clements

The Darkest Space: Knife Fighting Mechanics

For today’s #MechanicsMonday, let’s talk about what knife fighting will look like in the upcoming Fanseeth game!

See, knife fighting is sort of a thing among the Fanseeth. Actual dueling with actual knives was outlawed in the early days, but there remain multiple competitions and sports that involve it, as well as duels to settle issues—especially between young people and between clades. These duels are seldom done with real knives, and even when they are the consequences are rarely directly fatal. Often ways of simply marking the opponent are used, with some agreed-upon bet set ahead of time.

We’ll talk more about the hows and whys of these fights in an upcoming #WorldbuildingWednesday, but for now: let’s talk about the out-of-game mechanics of knife fighting for the upcoming game, The Darkest Space.

For the purposes of the game there are four guiding principles:

  • No real weapons. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. No real injuries. Weapon approximations should also total less than one foot (12 inches) in length (pommel to tip).
  • All fights *must* be with “lightest possible touch” as the guiding principle, and no thrusting with weapons is allowed (this is cultural as well, more on that later). No cuts to the head, hands, or neck either.
  • Any contest has to be agreed to by both parties, and the blades or blade facsimiles you are using must be both inspected by the opposing party and approved of. You assume all risks (we as the LARP organizers don’t assume them), so make extra sure that you are comfortable with the person you are fighting, the rules of the engagement, and the weapons being used.
  • Any fight needs to have at least one volunteer stand by as safety marshal who is briefed on the engagement, consenting, who has inspected the “weapons” and consented to their use as well, and who can be trusted to keep people out of the engagement (if you negotiate a party barging in that’s another matter, but they should be apprised of it). IG they can have a role as a second, a marshal (so they are a marshal both IG and OOG), or even as a bet taker, just so long as their focus is on the fight while the fight is taking place.

Basically: the emphasis is on small, light cuts. Frequently to called targets and/or at reduced speed and/or with other restrictions that are more IG than OOG.

We’ll talk more about the IG culture and rules in a later post, but for the purpose of this post: Before you challenge someone, make sure you have an out-of-game consent negotiation as to what you are going for. What the rules of your contest are, what the potential outcomes are, and what you are going to be using.

Examples of good choices for weapon facsimiles, depending on what you are doing and who you are fighting:

  • Padded boffer daggers from basically any of the local boffer LARPs. This is probably the best choice for the majority of our players.
  • Rubber, plastic, or even wood practice blades (talk to the LARP organizers if you want recommendations).
  • Sidewalk chalk! This is extremely effective for showing “cuts” and works exceptionally well if you think of it as “showcasing a duel of skill” rather than “representing a cut with a real weapon.”
  • Latex daggers, of the style you see in basically any local boffer LARP tend to not be great choices for this style of fighting, but you can use them if both parties are comfortable.

You may want to bring multiple types, so that if someone isn’t comfortable with one type you can use a different type.

If you are looking to duel, depending on the style that interests you (or that is used in your clade), you may also want to bring:

  • A piece of cloth for both parties to hold in their primary hand (while trying to cut with a blade in their offhand).
  • A few lengths of rope (I like P.O.S.H. rope for this purpose, but any rope will work) or other form of marker to designate an area that the fight has to stay within.
  • Marker flags for “keeping score.”

Poor choices of weapon facsimiles (consider these banned):

  • Metal practice blades or SCA-style metal daggers.
  • PVC with no padding or just wrapped in tape.
  • Permanent marker, since it tends to get into people’s clothing.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas for the upcoming game! Let us know if you have any questions.

Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth: Religion

The Fanseeth’s religion is tied very much to the place and the people. It is tied heavily into the moons they inhabit and to the history of the Fanseeth. They also have a lot of rituals, usually administered by a lay-priest (someone who is a member of the population at large who has chosen to administer the rituals) but sometimes by people for whom that is their full profession. This collection of beliefs, rituals, and practices is called Vaettirveg by non-Fanseeth scholars, but for the Fanseeth, it’s just the way things are.

Every individual clade and moon will have their own specific regional spirits and structure. Everything is viewed to have a spirit, called a vaettir: every ship (skipvaettir), every station (starvaettir), every moon (tangvaettir), every mountain on that moon (landvaettir). Some of those vaettir are called Light or Dark, but in truth all of them are viewed to be entities with their own agendas, and none can be considered wholly good or wholly evil. Many are also thought to have both Light and Dark aspects: what they give in one hand, they take away in the other, for good or for ill.

Each clade or group will give offerings to the vaettir in their own way, with the most common offerings being of cool, clean water. They are most frequently offered to the vaettir—who then consumes the essence of the thing—and then consumed by the offering parties (assuming that the thing being offered is something that can be eaten), who partake of the physical essence of the thing. Nothing is wasted, nothing is lost.

Vaettir

Vaettir—no matter their aspects—should not be viewed as wholly light or wholly dark, but rather as beings of varying complexity with agendas of their own. They are often said to embody the spirit of whatever it is they represent, which may be very simple or very complex in its nature.

It isn’t entirely certain to any observer or practitioner whether the vaetter actually exist in a literal, tangible sense, but they are widely accepted to exist in some psychic or spiritual form, and rituals to honor and placate are deeply woven into the Fanseeth culture. For example:

  • Offerings and prayers are given before an expedition is undertaken and again when it comes to a conclusion.
  • Public ceremonies mark events of public importance (everything from elections to births) and also mark out the Fanseeth concept of a year, providing a shared community and continuity of culture.
  • It is generally viewed that the Vaettir will hear statements and may take them as a challenge, and so better to soothe things over with offerings (the way in United States culture we “knock on wood”).

Light and Dark

Light and Dark are important aspects to the Vaettir. A Light Vaettir embodies the principles of light, heat, and warmth. A Dark vaettir is associated with cold, darkness, and death. Most vaettir are categorized into one or the other, but some—especially greater vaettir (more on that in a moment)—may embody both principles in what are called “aspects.”

While in general life is associated with life and darkness with death, it is important to remember that heat can kill. Light can sear. Coolness and even death can be a blessing. To the Fanseeth, these are inherent traits rather than moral judgements.

While these forces work against each other and the Light vaettir tend to be more friendly to the survival of the Fanseeth people than the Dark vaettir, balance is always necessary and both aspects are necessary.

Ancestor Veneration

The Fanseeth do not practice ancestor veneration in the same way as, say, the Children of Earth do, and there is nothing in Fanseeth practice that would be considered in the same genre.

Pantheon

There are a few vaettir who could be thought of as deities to the Fanseeth. These can be thought of as the vaettir of concepts and are referred to as Greater Vaettir.

Some of the major and widely recognized ones are:

Kanshar, Lady of the Rulers

Lady of the Rulers. Guider of the Wardens. Protector of the People. She is considered to be a severe deity who is called upon in times of hard decisions. When survival is on the line and each decision may be life or death, she is frequently given offerings. She is also the one called upon in the election of a new Warden. Offerings are usually purified water and the meals eaten before decisions are made.

Her light and dark aspects are extreme, but she is generally portrayed as being between the light and the darkness.

Feix, Keeper of Spaces

Keeper of Spaces. Ey guard hearth and home, providing shelter and refuge for those who are accused or those who are hard on their luck. Ey watch over births and deaths and all familial or in-clade disputes. Ey also are said to protect the doors of the clades, keeping out unwelcome elements and influences. Eir domain also extends to sex, protecting children, and are said to love music and dance.

Ey are usually portrayed in their light aspect; eir dark aspect is about barricaded doors, protective shields, and keeping out undesireable elements. The dark aspect is usually only taught as part of an esoteric tradition that few practice.

Shenwa, Guide of the Dead

Ruler of the Passage, Devourer of Corpses. He takes as an offering the essence of bodies before they are reprocessed. Said to love the scent of tree resin, he is particularly drawn to the smell of myrrh. Also the Lord of the Outcasts, he ensures those who are lost to the community are not wasted and is called upon for guidance by those who have been outcast from their clade.

Usually portrayed in a dark aspect, his light aspect focuses on new growth from decay from the recycling of the physical body and its spirit.

Written by: David H. Clements

Navigating Consent-Based Play

Temet Nosce is a consent-based larp where we strive for collaborative story built out of mutual trust. The design emphasizes the principle that players are more important than games: the emotional safety of players is more important than story, plot, or consequence. At all four prequel events, we will workshop consent mechanics which are used to pre-negotiate interpersonal conflicts, romantic interaction, and other intense scenes.

One question that we hear from larpers with a traditional U.S. boffer larp background about consent-based design is this: “How do you make someone fight with you?” The answer is: you don’t. You ask or negotiate it, and they can say no. Then you get to choose some other approach.

In traditional U.S. boffer larp, sometimes it feels like “staff versus player”; in many U.S. parlor larps, it can feel like “player versus player”. Staff is out to kill your character and you’re trying to survive the game world; even if that isn’t actually staff’s intent, it’s often player perception. Players are out to get their character to become more powerful, often at the expense of other characters – even if, again, that isn’t the design or intent. This competitive style of play can be exciting, satisfying, and enjoyable for many people. But this is not the design of Temet Nosce.

In consent-based larp design, staff and players are working together to maximize play and story. The focus is on the story, character development, character relationships, and the emotional experience. No one is killing your character without your permission. So what do you want to happen to your character, and how can you collaborate with others to achieve that? What experiences do you want to have, and how do you make that happen? If you didn’t get the experience you wanted or it wasn’t what you expected, how do you handle that?

Player-staff responsibility

Staff responsibilities in Temet Nosce involve providing workshops to facilitate character development and story negotiation, as well as to train players in safety and consent mechanics. Staff also facilitate debriefs after the event to process the game experience.  Beyond that, staff are there to mediate out-of-game disputes, hold players to the code of conduct, and provide non-player characters, props, setting material, and player character information.

Player responsibilities are being aware of their personal boundaries, needs, and wants to the best of their ability, and communicating these as needed in a clear, direct way. Players are expected to use and respect safety mechanics. in order to participate actively in the game, players have the responsibility to initiate story interactions with the game environment and other characters. In other words, players are as much responsible for their game experience as the staff are, if not more so.

Limits of consent-based play

Obviously no one can control everything that happens in the game environment. We cannot create a safe space, only a safer space. You can only allow or deny consent for what happens directly to your character – so you can choose for your character to survive the whole game, but another player might choose for their character to die halfway through, which might impact you or your character emotionally. Two characters might get into a heated argument in your presence when you didn’t want to be around an argument. These are limits to consent-based play.

What you do have power over is how you choose to engage. If two people are arguing, you can find an in-game reason to leave the room – or you can simply use “lookdown” to remove yourself from the room. If a character died and you aren’t up for engaging with that, you can choose for your character to not care much about it, or to avoid dealing with the death – even if what you think your character would be most likely to do is cry over the body.

Any person has multiple ways they can respond to a stimulus. Even as an immersionist player (some people know this as simulationism, but current larp theory describes it differently) who plays as close to your character’s essence as possible, there is more than one option for how your character would realistically respond. You can steer towards what is most interesting for you, for the story, and/or what is most enjoyable (or least stressful) for you as a player.

Making the most of your game

If you get to choose whether your character lives or dies, and the major things they succeed or fail at… then how do you make the most of your story?

  • Know what’s fun for you, and play towards it.
  • Know what you don’t enjoy, and steer away from that.
  • Play generously. Learn what other players want and look for opportunities to help them with that. Invite people into your story, and be interested in theirs, too.
  • “Play to lose”, or at least play to maximize story. Play for drama. Failing at things, struggling with goals, falling down before you reach the metaphorical finish line… all of this makes for way more interesting story and roleplay than succeeding easily at everything.
  • Ask yourself: What do I want from this scene or interaction? Ask that of others if you feel stuck, too. If you make a scene request, it’s also the first thing staff will ask you. You can say “surprise me”, or something vague like “emotional intensity”, or something specific like “I want to find out more about the creepy artifact”. You might not always get exactly what you want, but you’ll get closer to it than if you don’t ask at all.

Play the game you signed up for

The game is designed to evoke a certain mood, theme, and experience; this is spelled out in the event sign-up page and the design document. By playing the game, you are opting into those themes. Play the game you signed up for; help enrich the experience of everyone around you by staying in-genre and playing up the game’s themes with your character. Characters were written to evoke the game’s stated themes, and the events of the setting add to that.

If you want a cyberpunk revolution sort of adventure, play Operation: ReForge, the Etamui event in March. Don’t expect the horror/mystery game The Darkest Space (which you can register for now!), set in the Fanseeth system, to fit that desire.

In summary…

  • Players are more important than games.
  • Know your limits and don’t ignore them.
  • Communicate your needs, wants, and boundaries.
  • Absolute safety cannot be guaranteed, but we can collaborate to  create as safe an environment of trust and consent as possible.
  • Collaboration over competition.
  • Play generously.
  • Play the game you signed up for.
  • Embrace ambiguity and uncertainty.
  • Play to lose, or at least play for drama.
  • Players are more important than games.
Written by: Dani Higgins

Temet Nosce Prequels: The Pilot Episode

One of our priorities at Temet Nosce Larp is providing strong expectation management. We do better at this in some areas than others, and the feedback after our first prequel, Children of Earth: Grand Assembly illustrated where we needed to expand our expectation management and communication.

We are running four prequel events, each centering on a different primary world in the Temet Nosce universe. The first, Grand Assembly, focused on the Children of Earth. The second event is January 27, 2018 and centers around the Fanseeth; registration for The Darkest Space is open now. Operation: ReForge, all about the Etamui, is scheduled for March 31, 2018; the as-yet unnamed Nurani game is planned for sometime in summer 2018.

The purpose of the prequel games is multi-fold:

  1. Set up the story for the main event: a short series of beta events in 2018, and then the official opening of Temet Nosce after the beta events are complete.
  2. Establish player culture through workshops, debriefs, and story-intensive events.
  3. Provide an opportunity for players to have an in-depth experience with all four worlds so as to better understand the setting and get a feel for what they want to play long-term.
  4. Elaborate on and worldbuild the four different worlds, and provide an opportunity for players to invest in and contribute to the worldbuilding.

In this post, I’m going to elaborate on the first point: setting up the story.

A player commented that Grand Assembly felt much like the pilot episode of a sci-fi television series: setting the stage for future episodes, providing glimpses of a greater threat, revealing the presence of mysteries but not solving them. This is a perfect metaphor for exactly what the prequel events are intended to be.

The four prequels can be seen as a four-part pilot episode for Temet Nosce.

“Television networks use pilots to discover whether an entertaining concept can be successfully realized. After seeing this sample of the proposed product, networks will then determine whether the expense of additional episodes is justified. They are best thought of as prototypes of the show that is to follow, because elements often change from pilot to series.” –Wikipedia

The prequels are both episodic (fully closed stories with their own arc) and serial (setting up an overarching story). You should be able to complete your character’s story arc within the single episode of the prequel, as these are not designed to be repeatable characters, but the arc of the setting will not be closed in the prequel.

As an example: in Grand Assembly, the gathered Children of Earth from three different ships and factions arrived, met each other, traded stories along with futures, options, and stocks, developed romances, and arranged transfers between ships.Two characters died during the Grand Assembly and a memorial service was held for them. The Assembly ended with an announcement of the new trade routes for each ship. The episode arc was the Grand Assembly itself.

However, mysteries were building in the background. Reports trickled in of ships lost in space: missing ships, or ships that showed up with their entire crew missing, or ships with their entire crew braindead and comatose, all across the outskirts of the major star systems. There was no resolution to this in the episode itself, and there was no way to figure out what was behind these strange tragic events. That was intentional; this creeping mystery is a setup for future games.

In The Darkest Space, expect there to be both an episode arc and the setup for the serial arc. There will be mysteries you can’t solve neatly in a single episode, and there will be problems you can solve within the episode. Look, however, to your character’s arc, as you have the power to choose much of what that single-episode character story entails. What do you want to accomplish in that time? What experiences do you want to have? Work with your fellow players to work towards those goals. Or, if you’re more of a seat-of-your-pants sort of player, just play with what comes up in the moment of the game, though we strongly recommend at least planning some character dynamics with your fellow players ahead of time!

Fanseeth: Moons and Settlements

With a few important exceptions, the Fanseeth live on a variety of small moons orbiting a gas giant.

There are numerous such moons and some of them are only barely inhabitable, requiring planetside stations to render them at all livable. Some of the larger moons maintain a thin but breathable atmosphere. Their environments are all rather hostile to human life. Most have a population ranging between a few thousand (though smaller “enclaves” do exist, they are generally not permanent settlements) to—in the case of the Nijan Hala—roughly 200 million (with tens of millions more in the station around it).

Following are some of the major or more important settlements.

The Nijan Hala (“Nijan”)

The largest moon and the primary Fanseeth settlement is called the Nijan Hala. Surrounded by a habitable ring station and protected by a magnetic field from the moon’s metal core, it provides a relatively stable surface environment (by Fanseeth standards).

It is from here that the Vordur oversee the remainder of the Fanseeth. This is the seat of the Warden and is also by far the most populous of the Fanseeth’s moons.

The population on the moon is divided into a series of clades—all relatively small (the largest is a few million people, and most are under ten thousand). While they are ostensibly allowed to elect their own leaders, most are functionally overseen by a member of the Vordur.

Life has a tendency to be rather political on Nijan Hala’s surface, and as a result of violent Fanseeth politics, lifespans tend to be shorter than they might be otherwise.

The ring station, known as Omnira Prime, is almost entirely populated by Hakal, Kappi, and Bondi who do not like the deeply political nature of living down below or who have jobs that routinely take them away from The Nijan Hala. It is a working station, with ships routinely docking and leaving to the other moons. When the Children of Earth visit, this is where they tend to focus their trade.

Aiye Titun

The first home of the Fanseeth, before they were the Fanseeth. This is where they settled before staging off to the other, more habitable, more hospitable moons.

Aiye Titun is a barren, volcanically active moon whose atmosphere contains significant amounts and carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. There were stations on the surface left behind that have largely rotted away with time and lack of maintenance. There are also some underground habitats that have long since been broken open to the elements.

It is now uninhabited.

Mostly.

Veen

Veen is an icy moon dotted with cryovolcanos. There are habitable stations covering the the surface, each with a small population and connected to the others largely through subterranean tunnels. Most of the population here are members of the Hakal, though the Kappi also have a significant presence.

They mostly harvest resources from their own moon and send it on to the rest of the Fanseeth, producing a non-insignificant amount of the fuel used by the Kappi’s ships among the rest of the Fanseeth.

Veen maintains a semi-autonomous government from the rest of the Fanseeth, established in their Charter. While still falling under the auspices of the Warden, they answer first to an elected member of their own referred to as The Watchkeeper. Each individual clade on the moon sends a representative who then collectively vote on the Watchkeeper, who remains until the representatives come together in a vote-of-no-confidence. They also may not serve longer than 20 years.

Coincidentally, they are also the only group of the Fanseeth outside of the main government to maintain an organized military (mostly in the form of a navy). Just to maintain tradition, of course.

Kala Station

One of the only permanently inhabited space stations of the Fanseeth, Kala Station orbits the Fanseeth gas giant in a high polar orbit. It has a lot of room but a low permanent population (mostly of Bondi), serving mainly as a rendezvous point for Hakal miners on their way to an uninhabited moon or asteroid for a multi-month stint. They travel out to where they will be doing their mining—carried by Kappi pilots—and come back to here before returning to their home moons.

What Kala exceeds at is processing. They have extremely efficient processing facilities to refine and store the elements brought back by the Fanseeth, and manufacturing facilities for turning the raw materials into resources suitable for transport to moonside, along with the magnetic catapults necessary to send those resources near enough to the moons to be picked up by the Kappi.

Others

Many of the moons of the Fanseeth have some presence—be it small or large, permanent or transient—but for the majority of them that presence is entirely transient, miners who are cycled in and out for short stints.

Above are just some of the more major settlements, but it certainly isn’t an exhaustive list. Some of the major features of Fanseeth settlements tend to be:

  • A mixture of Hakal, Kappi, and Bondi groups with a few members of the Vordur.
  • Population is divided into a series of smaller clades which live together. These are not split along family lines, but frequently do fall largely along cultural lines.
  • Usually a Vordur leader, but when that leader is not Vordur they are almost invariably a member of the Bondi. Veen is a notable exception in this regard.
  • Clade decisions are kept local to the clade. Moon decisions are kept local to the moon. Decisions are usually handled as locally as is feasible and bringing in outsiders to a dispute is frowned upon. Periodically different clades in one region (up to the size of the entire moon) will come together to discuss some situation or to trade, swap news, or otherwise make routine decisions.
Written by David H. Clements