This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue.
I don’t know how Traveller fans feel about Live Action Role Playing in general. I can’t say I’ve come across very much, although I’ve read about it. The TravCon convention certainly tends to be very much table based. It was thus, with a considerable amount of uncertainty, that I thought I might introduce not one segment, but three to my second attempt at refereeing. I’d long had the idea of getting the PCs to tell after dinner stories, but why not have the players themselves deliver a minute or two of their PC’s story? (In the event each took four or five minutes.) I’ve written elsewhere about how astonishingly well that went and I’ve certainly not ruled out revisiting the idea if I revisit the characters. I’d also thought it would be fun to actually serve up one of the courses and have written in these pages concerning how I went about doing that – although I only committed to it fairly late in the day.
In between, I’d thought it would be interesting to have the very very wealthy PCs encounter a beggar in the corridor of a starport and see how they reacted to him. Rather than just announce the incident in play and get six nearly simultaneous reactions that might or might not be influenced by the others around the table, it occurred to me that there was an ideal corridor in the TravCon venue and that with the right pretext, the PCs could be sent off down and encounter the beggar for real. Their reaction would influence certain events later on. The only snag was in trying to run that and the game. In one game I was able to prevail upon another harried referee sitting a session out in the lounge so he could finish preparing his own game for the next slot. In the other game I made my excuses, handled the first player and then got him to stay put in the corridor and perform for the other five as they took their turn. Fortunately, they all had enough reading of handouts and preparing of their after dinner tale that the whole process, which took about half an hour, didn’t hold up the game awkwardly.
The storytelling was definitely worth it; the food and the beggar I’m not so sure about. Not because they didn’t work at the time – I believe they did – but because of the logistics of organizing them and the added stresses they put on me at a time when I had quite enough going on. I’d love to run the adventure again another time, but I dread the toll it takes in managing it! Next time perhaps I should poll the players after the event about just how much they feel it added to their experience. But next time I’m thinking I will just have a couple of handouts and I’ll take it easy with no added live action. I can certainly see why it’s not something I’ve encountered much.