The 16% Question

jsegraves

Newbie
Ray,

First point, is coming from me as a PC, when I PC I play a high make race as my primary character. It is would be a pain to come in the middle of my PCing and changing to an NPC. I am like the few others that posted when I staffed a chapter and PC another, I wanted to PC at that other chapter that's it. If I have free time which isn't often, I am resting to get my second wind. Also, one, I am not a morning person to get early shifts and two, the shower normally comes right before my head hits the pillow.

There was mention of add $10 or decreasing 10$ for someone that NPC or not. Who would have time to keep track of that? I would not want that job to keep track of it and enforce it. What if my PC just fell face first into awesome plot and I miss my shift. What you are going to do charge me 10$. That would not be good customer service or PR for that chapter.

Question, how would you keep plot close so PCs don't hear what is going on. Sometime you drum up something that will WOW the PCs and when they see it they never would have thought that would have happened. Those surprise are great to get as a PC. How would that be controlled so awesome surprises or props don't get seen or heard?

Having incentives for people to jump fence is a solution then making it mandatory.

Being on staff at Crossroads when I first heard the ratio 3:1 was going to be used I was a little nervous that there would be to many PCs and some PC would be asked to NPC because the ratio was to high. During the whole time I staffed I never heard of that once coming up. I honestly believe there were people that came to NPC because the NPC camp was a fun place to NPC as well. Crossroads provided a great time for everyone to explore what they wanted to NPC and PC. Also NPC had to pre-reg which would allow for staff to know how many people will be there and on which side.

If a chapter uses a ratio like Crossroads I would recommend making sure you use the NPCs wisely. Mods and stuff were written to support the ratio. It is not just making people NPC it is using them correctly that makes the game what it is.

It looks like you are trying to solve the ratio issue, I commend you for taking this on and coming up with a way to fix it. However, I think making anything required/mandatory would turn people off. The model that Crossroads used works. I would recommend building on that to try to solve the problem. Also having incentives for people to jump fence is another solution.

Jill
 

Pantzike

Scout
jsegraves said:
There was mention of add $10 or decreasing 10$ for someone that NPC or not. Who would have time to keep track of that? I would not want that job to keep track of it and enforce it. What if my PC just fell face first into awesome plot and I miss my shift. What you are going to do charge me 10$. That would not be good customer service or PR for that chapter.
I picked out this problem because I feel it has an easy solution. Give a credit to your next event if you perform a NPC shift. That way if the $x off idea can work in a particular chapter, instead of risking "missing a shift", have the incentive be more of a coupon that you receive. You can even put an expiration on it (good until end of season, etc)

Just my two cents on a small issue.


As far as mandatory NPCing goes. The fact that it sounds like other LARPs are already doing it seems to show that it can be done. There has been alot of pushback from the posting public on this issue, but over my decade of playing I have seen just as many people post in advance of events their willingness as players to "hop fence as needed" so I feel that, overall, a large part of the player base has a willingness to jump for a bit, they just aren't posting in this particular thread. What seems to be rubbing people the wrong way is simply the word mandatory, I understand this. I was raised in NH, the Live Free or Die state, my free time is mine and "The Man" won't tell me what to do. Mandatory is the wrong way to think about it. If it is instead pitched as a "requested time donation" it may go differently. I've been to museums etc that have requested donations up front. At different times in my life I have a) paid less than (or nothing) due to available funds. b) Paid just the suggested donation c) Paid more. If a chapter feels that a "suggested donation" would work for them, those that don't want to, don't have to. However I feel that many will, as I can tell you I felt guilty and "hope nobody noticed" when I wasn't paying my fair share.

I think if NPC camps were to know / expect a large number of "passing through" npcs each weekend, it would be very easy for them to come up with a way to cater to that resource - it would be unique for each chapter and that is just fine with me. If a chapter doesn't need that resource (as some people are claiming) then they can put out a "Full time NPC's only" sign out. However I know of one that often puts out the "we need NPC's" flag (a system I helped develop a few years ago to address this very need) and could use a few ideas for better "NPC infusion" however that comes.

Long story short, I think "mandatory" is a harsh word, and all the OP is looking for is a way to see if it is possible to get a culture shift towards "suggested donations" of time to help make the game better.

Carrot/ Stick it's all a way to shift the game culture.
 

phedre

Squire
RavenSis said:
As kitchen staff in Caldaria for two years, we had sign up sheets for folks to help us in the kitchen - folks would sign up, not show up to the shift, and the same people would have to do the work anyway. Nothing ever runs on time, both PCs and NPCs alike lose track of time, and trying to keep up with who contributed and who skipped out (especially if you're having to factor in event cost to all of that) - it would be a nightmare.
Truer words and all that! People often do things with good intentions, like sign up for shifts cooking/cleaning/setting up or breaking down. Then things happen. You get pulled into a mod that turns into a 2.5 hour puzzle-a-thon. There are 17 waves to fight. Intense RP begins and things don't go as quickly as planned. You oversleep or overheat, or get hurt.

Take an event a year per chapter and NPC, and one or two other events, donate some food/drinks to NPC camp. If it's cold? Bring a crock pot, throw some stew in it, and after a late-night set of mods, give them the ability to nom and recharge a little.

If the NPCs get respect for the work that they do, and a little of it is reciprocated via cleanup help or donations, it goes a long way in making them come back. Always thank them after a mod or battle, and at closing ceremonies.
 
jsegraves said:
Being on staff at Crossroads when I first heard the ratio 3:1 was going to be used I was a little nervous that there would be to many PCs and some PC would be asked to NPC because the ratio was to high. During the whole time I staffed I never heard of that once coming up.
While I do tend to be a supporter of forced ratios, I think one of the primary reasons Crossroads never ran into the problem of telling players they couldn't PC is because of the level cap. I can't speak for everyone, but whenever I'd play there I'd always NPC because my character was above the level cap, and I wouldn't want to put the effort into making a new character. I'd bet there are a least a couple others that felt that way, too. Not to say that a forced ratio wouldn't work in an un-capped game (like I said, I support the idea), but that roadblock will eventually show up.

Pantzike said:
Long story short, I think "mandatory" is a harsh word, and all the OP is looking for is a way to see if it is possible to get a culture shift towards "suggested donations" of time to help make the game better.
I like this particular quote a lot, among others from your post. While I definitely like many of the ideas so far in this thread, I don't think forcing people to NPC a percentage of events is really the best way to go. Having strong incentives to NPC, though, is a good idea. Giving out a ~$10 off coupon for doing a shift is an excellent idea, although would you award a full-event NPC in the same way? Let's throw out some more incentives for people to hop-fence for a shift; I like the ones so far discussed.

- Connecticut, for example, awards PC's that hop-fence by giving them small buffs for the rest of the weekend. I like that a lot, and I try to take advantage of it as often as I can.
- I like having double-hooked mods, where one group NPCs for the other and vice versa.
- Giving small tid-bits of personal plot for players willing to hop fence for a shift. I'd be cool with having my character perform an "off-stage mod" during the period in which I'm NPCing.
- Every time I've been involved in a split-wave battle, it's always a good time. They're starting to be used more and more use in the chapters I play, which is a great way to help ratios.
- Giving fun parts to those hopping fence. If they want to play a big beastie for a fight, let them. If they want to do some fun roleplay, work it in.

I'd like to see some of these ideas implemented before a fixed ratio or a forced 4-hour NPC shift gets put in place. I think forcing everyone to take a shift isn't really a bad idea, it could just get messy. Personally, I think that's more intrusive than a fixed ratio, but I'd still be willing to give it a try. Maybe that's just me, though, because I tend to do a shift almost every event anyway.
 

Chasmania

Artisan
Dreamingfurther said:
How bad would it be to charge $10 more if people don't want to pull a 4 hour npc shift. Or charge $10$ less if they were willing to npc that shift? That seems like a pretty reasonable 'soft'please incentive that leaves it somewhat up to the individual
As a full time NPC, I know I might get a little irked at the fact that I'm working for the entire time and being compensated with gobbies, which are great, but then a PC who hops fence for a few hours is going to be essentially paid $10 and possibly other IG and OOG incentives. It wouldn't bother me much, but it could create hard feelings with your full time NPCs
 
They're paying money to play, and taking time out of what they paid money for to do what you're doing for free. If someone NPCs for four hours, they only get to play about 85% of the game they paid for, so giving them a discount makes it so they, essentially, only have to pay for that 85%.
 

Pantzike

Scout
Chasmania said:
Dreamingfurther said:
How bad would it be to charge $10 more if people don't want to pull a 4 hour npc shift. Or charge $10$ less if they were willing to npc that shift? That seems like a pretty reasonable 'soft'please incentive that leaves it somewhat up to the individual
As a full time NPC, I know I might get a little irked at the fact that I'm working for the entire time and being compensated with gobbies, which are great, but then a PC who hops fence for a few hours is going to be essentially paid $10 and possibly other IG and OOG incentives. It wouldn't bother me much, but it could create hard feelings with your full time NPCs
I would assume that whatever perks are offered to "part time" NPC's are also offered to "Full Time" NPCs, along with additional rewards to entice people that full time NPCs time is truly appreciated.
 

jpariury

Duke
Mike Ventrella said:
While I agree in incentives, you cannot give more XP without violating our By-Laws ...
The by-laws aren't written in stone, though. You could always vote in new by-laws to allow, say 150% XP for full-time NPCs. Heck, that alone might be enough of a bribe to increase volunteerism.
 

Mike Ventrella

Duke
Owner
Moderator
HQ Staff
When I first started Ashbury, and later NERO Alliance, and later the Alliance LARP, one of my goals was to prevent abuses I had seen in NERO where the staff zoomed up in levels while players watched. Or else people bought XP with real money, or just knew the right people. I also didn't want to force people to NPC for reasons stated earlier.

My thought is that no one should be able to advance faster than a hypothetical player who attended every game.

So I limited XP. Other than the "monthly blanket" (which can only be used in your Home Chapter) you can never buy more XP than events that exist for you to get that blanket, as if you had attended. If there are two events the same weekend because there are two chapters running at the same time, you can only get XP for one of them.

If we allow for a greater XP reward for NPCs then it creates an exception to this concept. We'll open the door for exceptions, and next we'll be giving more XP for staff who play on a weekend ("Think of all the work I did between events! I spent many more hours than the NPCs who attended that weekend!') and then it will establish a kind of PC verses Staff feeling that does not help the game -- the kind of "outsider verses insider" problem I saw in NERO.

Yes, NPCs help our game. So do paying customers. I want to encourage NPCs as much as possible, but not at the expense of someone who actually shows up, pays, and adds to the game as a PC too. Many of my PCs are great roleplayers who provide their own plots and contribute as much to the game as anyone coming out of NPC camp. There are some players I would rather see PCing because of this -- the game is improved by them being there running Guilds and taverns, performing in the tavern, and leading teams and so on. They are just as valuable to me as my NPCs. And they paid to be there -- don't discount that. Payments are what allow us to keep going.

So I don't want to create a class that is "more valuable" than another. Lots of goblin stamps for NPCing? LCO magic items for NPCing? No problem. More XP though kind of goes against the whole concept.
 
Mike Ventrella said:
When I first started Ashbury, and later NERO Alliance, and later the Alliance LARP, one of my goals was to prevent abuses I had seen in NERO where the staff zoomed up in levels while players watched. Or else people bought XP with real money, or just knew the right people. I also didn't want to force people to NPC for reasons stated earlier.

My thought is that no one should be able to advance faster than a hypothetical player who attended every game.

So I limited XP. Other than the "monthly blanket" (which can only be used in your Home Chapter) you can never buy more XP than events that exist for you to get that blanket, as if you had attended. If there are two events the same weekend because there are two chapters running at the same time, you can only get XP for one of them.
While I am not certain that MORE xp for NPCing in this way is something I would like, I feel that worrying about people's levels at this point is not as necessary. Things seem to have already progressed to the place beyond the orignal and shifting scope of the game, and as players earn significantly less build at higher levels all I could see happeneing is more people getting to the 20's faster.

Another suggestion that I had heard was that you can ONLY receive XP for PCing a certain number of events per year- lets call it 6. I think this is pretty interesting. LOVE to play your character- you still can with all the story, treasure, and interaction, you just won't earn any more XP than 6 events worth per year. Want to power level your character? Play your one event and NPC 1-2 more each month. Shoot up levels like a boss, and also help to make the game better.

What do people think?
 

phedre

Squire
What about, instead of granting extra XP for an event NPCed, the chapter had an event (faire day, feast, full weekend) that could only be attended if you NPCed for a given period of time?

Still extra XP, and if it became known that it was an event that a couple plotlines would hinge on, it would encourage the people who normally only PC to donate some time.
 

MaxIrons

Squire
Oregon Staff
Marshal
phedre said:
What about, instead of granting extra XP for an event NPCed, the chapter had an event (faire day, feast, full weekend) that could only be attended if you NPCed for a given period of time?

Still extra XP, and if it became known that it was an event that a couple plotlines would hinge on, it would encourage the people who normally only PC to donate some time.
This IMO would be even _worse_ because you're not just buffing those people who NPC, you're actively hurting the experience of those people who pay to play, but do not choose to NPC. For a pertinent example, there is a kind of informal NPC reciprocity scheme between Seattle and Oregon. Many people NPC in one game and PC in the other. They do this exclusively and both games benefit from it. With the system you propose, these people who already dedicate a large amount of time to ensuring other PCs have fun would be locked out of important events or be forced to NPC in their "PC chapter".

It also once again leads to division and strife amongst the player base.

I really think that people are looking for mechanical answers to this when the answer isn't mechanical. If you make it more FUN to NPC then you'll have more NPCs. It's really as dead simple as that.
 
I wish it was as dead simple as that, and I hope that we find that it is, but here are the things that stands in the way of that simplicity.

- a huge number of different Larps that people can choose/ have already chosen to go to instead. This thins out available Npc's. I am not sure exactly how many Larps are out west, but I know of 30 + different games I could drive to within 3 hours of central CT. Is it that many for you guys?

- and more importantly 2+ decades of past practice and precedent into how the game is played on the East Coast. Just has it has been brought to my attention that some of the EC problems are not shared by the WC, the solutions may not be the same.

I really hope that all chapters take a look at what is working and use it or try it out. As a Larper who is getting older I am making the decision to ONLY play games with a 3 : 1 ratio or better. Because I hope that can be an Alliance game I am trying to help out at my available chapters by putting these thoughts out there.
 

Avaran

Baron
phedre said:
What about, instead of granting extra XP for an event NPCed, the chapter had an event (faire day, feast, full weekend) that could only be attended if you NPCed for a given period of time?

Still extra XP, and if it became known that it was an event that a couple plotlines would hinge on, it would encourage the people who normally only PC to donate some time.
I like the concept, but there are a few things to consider with regard to this idea, and we've kind of already established that most of this discussion pertains to the EC and how things go down there rather than over here on the WC; so I'm not going to bring up "my experience" cause that's already been discussed.

Anyway...

First, I think good stories (plot) takes some time to develop and a big part of that is experiencing the story. If the story/plot spans multiple events, then the people involved in it run the risk of having their character miss out on the plot arc because they were NPC'ing an event where stuff pertaining to their story happens; sure, you can hear about it, but that's not the same as living it, so I think something gets lost because of that.

However, I think that can be mitigated by some good old cooperation between the plot team and the team/people involved in an affected plot line. Letting plot know ahead of time that you or your team are going to NPC an event ahead of time would, hopefully, queue that plot team to run the impacted event either in a different town or region, or simply pick up or focus on a different element of the world/city/kingdom/etc. and allow the story to pick up again the next event. So I think as long as folks are willing to team up and work together (which I don't see as a problem), this idea could work if you took off the "have to NPC"; more like, "If you NPC for us an event, we'll be happy to hold an event that is focused on your thing." (whatever that "thing" happens to be). Make it an offer instead of a dictatorial thing -- if you do <x> for us then we'll do <y> for you! If not, no biggie, things will go on as they would have otherwise.
 

evi1r0n

Baron
MaxIrons said:
I really think that people are looking for mechanical answers to this when the answer isn't mechanical. If you make it more FUN to NPC then you'll have more NPCs. It's really as dead simple as that.
+1
Honestly we have had bad ratios and now they are getting better every game. As I said before, this isn't an Alliance wide issue, so I don't think an Alliance-wide proposal is appropriate. I have to agree with Mike and say I would much rather have some of my PCs (especially staff from OR) PC my chapter and add to the world with their PCs. They work hard enough making an awesome game for me to PC.

Other games have forced NPCing. We aren't other games. I have played those games and structurally they are very different. I would not be interested in running a game like that and Alliance (at least in OR and Seattle) would have to drastically change to accommodate a system like that.
 

evi1r0n

Baron
The WC has tons of LARPs all over the place. Different styles, different benefits, different drawbacks. We have competitors and we share players with a lot of games. I could find about 25 with a google search within a 2 hour drive. I frequently drive to OR for events so I am sure there are a bunch more. I play Alliance Seattle, Alliance OR, Zombie, and Frontiers. I intend to start playing Oz and Shadow Accord, so lots of LARPs.
 

Agnar

Newbie
As someone who only gets to play a few events a year, and those are usually only saturdays (about 12 hrs), I am absolutely against mandatory time spent NPCing. In fact my friends and I have quit playing games/chapters that made us do so. If I am paying money to play I should not be forced to NPC.

On the topic of NPC compensation, I am not sure what more incentives people want. When I first started playing guess what you got for NPCing. NOTHING. Unless you count bologna sandwiches and kool-aid.
Now you get a goblin blanket, extra goblin stamps, "plot points" and item/component picks. What more is there to offer?

-Steve Babin
 
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