Saturday, February 9, 2013
Crossfire -- Why It Worked
1. We play together a lot. One of the factors is that we all know each other's play styles pretty well, and thus any clashes we may have had in the past have been worked out to where they don't come up anymore.
2. Good sportsmanship. Honestly, this is the key to avoiding conflict between players that would otherwise distract and disrupt the flow of the storyline. Have clear rules, if needed, and use them to justify the other person's shots more often than you use them to justify your own. No "I hit you!" "No you didn't!" Arguments. If they said they hit you, just fall over, whether you think they did or not. Let them win, and roll with it. The more storyline conflict the better.
3. Staying in character. The characters drove the entire story of Crossfire. Secrets, turncoats, and double agents. One important factor was that we all remained in character during the game. That doesn't sound too difficult, until you take into account the fact that there were times when we would pause the game to talk to each other as ourselves or do something for Mother. At one point, the boys planned an infiltration into my bedroom, but like proper gentlemen, knocked on the door first to ensure this course of action had the go ahead. With the game paused, we assured them it would be fine, and then we had to go back to our oblivious characters without taking up defensive positions because techinically, in game, our characters would not have known about the imminent threat. This is what I mean by staying in character. Don't use out of game knowledge to influence your in game character's decisions. 'Cause technically that's cheating.
4. Inclusive teams. We played this game with myself, all the way down to my six year old little brother. If you haven't played with littler kids before -- all kids ages eleven and under count as littler, comparitively -- you know that advanced plots and characters don't work very well when they have to try and maintain a major role. So the key is to be creative and accomodating, while not making them feel relegated or insignificant. Often this can be achieved through creating a Wildcard Team. In the instance of Crossfire, it was the Russian Mob. While not what one might consider main characters in the game, they were certainly major players, and had real effect on the course of the story. Being on their own team also allowed them the freedom to do as they wished, not having to follow the orders of the older kids' teams. As a result, they added a much welcome element of unpredictability that gave the game a three dimensional feel to it.
5. Storytelling to suit. Last but not least, this game was completely unplanned. In some cases I think it's better to not plan IGs, because then the story takes shape around whatever material happens to be on hand, and continues on with a sort of flexibility that sometimes can't be found in planned IGs. When the basic plotline of an IG is already established, there is a certain ammount of pressure to remain within those parameters. Now, I don't think unplanned is better than planned in every case -- planned IGs allow much more depth of detail -- but if flexibility is desired, unplanned is the way to go. Just jump in and go with the flow.
6. Guns over swords. Seriously, this really helped. There's just something about a good ol' invisible bullet firefight. It's much faster, much less unwieldy, and much less dangerous (I cracked my knuckle PVC pipe sword dueling Seph, once). Plus we did this inside, so swords were already out of the question.
That's pretty much all I can think of at the moment. Hopefully it's a little bit helpful to those other big families that like to still play shoot 'em up in the house every now and then.