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[Lacuna] Preparation is Everything

Rain242

Refugee from Reality
Validated User
#1
Last weekend, I ran Lacuna at Furnace 2010, which I thought went down pretty well. As I've seen a few threads in the past asking for advice on running it, I thought I'd share what I did with it.

Drawing inspiration from this post by MountZionRyan, I firstly prepared a manilla folder for each of the players, each containing:

  • A blank character sheet printed on acetate
  • A rules summary, littered with spelling mistakes, blacked-out text, etc.
  • An A4 sheet of paper containing (seemingly) random dots, numbers and random text. Overlaying the acetate reveals the character's stats. Credit where it's due, each of these was created in GIMP by Peter 'Pob' Holmes.
  • A random Wikipedia article.


The HP profile was also included in one of the folders, chosen at random (there was originally a photo in the blank space, ImageShack won't let me upload it, though, for copyright reasons).



Also included was a Mystery Agent badge (of the age-old cardboard and safety pin design) and a sticky label with each agent's Pseudonym (to be worn as a name badge).



Each folder was placed on the table closed, with no identifying markings, ensuring random character allocation.

Accompanying each folder was a dry-erase pen (for tracking Heart Rate on the acetate) and a ziploc bag with eight dice in it - seven red and one black. The black dice would've added Static each time it was rolled. That said, none of my players rolled one. :mad:



Finally, each character folder had an unlabelled, sealed bottle of water next to it. Opening a bottle increased the Static by one.

I also distributed four laminated handouts around the table. Three of these were created by erithromycin, included in the zipfile he posted here. The final one was the email from page 29 of the rulebook, included to give players a bit more information on the setting and their ultimate 'goal' in the game.



To assist me in running things, I prepared a brief scenario outline (more a list of possible locations than any sort of 'plot'), a list of causes of Static and related events and a tracking sheet, listing the PCs Attributes, Talents, Techniques and Heart Rates for my reference (again, ImageShack issues - Dunno why it's been rotated).



Once the players arrived, I began the session In-Character as Control, stating "Please remove all unauthorised items from the briefing area" and dropped a gemstone (representing Static) into a glass. They got the idea, and during the game, when anything was placed on the table that I hadn't provided (including things like dice, pencils, even cups of coffee), this reoccurred.

Once the characters were inserted into Blue City, I began the soundtrack I'd prepared - four hours worth, featuring Colleen's Everyone Alive Wants Answers, NIN's Ghosts I-IV, and the soundtracks from Inception, Moon and The Social Network. I also included several recordings of Numbers Stations, taken from this site. These became more frequent as the game progressed and, by the end, were appearing every other track. As each of these began, Static increased. I also used this online metronome at some points, increasing the speed each time I did. The soundtrack was discussed in this thread, which also features a lot of other great suggestions that I didn't end up using.

Anyway, I had a blast running it and the players seemed to enjoy it. It was a lot of prep, but definitely worth it.

If you'd like to use any of this stuff in your games, I have a Zipfile including all the handouts, character sheets, GM notes, etc.). PM me your email address if you'd like a copy.
 
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#3
That's fantastic. I agree that a good chunk of setting the game is the mood and the props, and those are awesome.

And the soundtrack/audiocues are brilliant as well. Last time I ran a Lacuna one-shot, my phone battery was dying and halfway during the game it started beeping every couple of minutes. The first time it did that I just put a hashmark on a piece of paper in front of me. Didn't have anything planned for it, just did it. The second time I put another hashmark, then the players started to get worried. By about 8 hashmarks they were TERRIFIED every time my phone beeped. They were sure I'd set up some kind of timer but it was really just running with what was environmentally given to me. It also helped that there was a HUGE spider circling on the ceiling over the table the entire time.

Also the next time I run a game of it, when the session ends I'm just going to stand up and walk out of the house/place we're playing and go home. Immediately. No post-game chatter, no "thank you for playing," just wrap and walk.
 

The Dragon Master

just this guy, you know?
Validated User
#4
That's fantastic. I agree that a good chunk of setting the game is the mood and the props, and those are awesome.

And the soundtrack/audiocues are brilliant as well. Last time I ran a Lacuna one-shot, my phone battery was dying and halfway during the game it started beeping every couple of minutes. The first time it did that I just put a hashmark on a piece of paper in front of me. Didn't have anything planned for it, just did it. The second time I put another hashmark, then the players started to get worried. By about 8 hashmarks they were TERRIFIED every time my phone beeped. They were sure I'd set up some kind of timer but it was really just running with what was environmentally given to me. It also helped that there was a HUGE spider circling on the ceiling over the table the entire time.

Also the next time I run a game of it, when the session ends I'm just going to stand up and walk out of the house/place we're playing and go home. Immediately. No post-game chatter, no "thank you for playing," just wrap and walk.
Wish I could try that one, unfortunately I'm the ride for about half the group which would make such a move... ackward. ;)
 

Rain242

Refugee from Reality
Validated User
#5
Also the next time I run a game of it, when the session ends I'm just going to stand up and walk out of the house/place we're playing and go home. Immediately. No post-game chatter, no "thank you for playing," just wrap and walk.
I've read about a game where the GM did just that. In fact, I actually toyed with the idea of doing that myself but, since the game ended at six, I figured the players were probably going to be in a rush to get food before the next gaming slot at seven. Besides that, having to ask two of them to move from their seats to let me out of the 'cell' we were playing in might've killed the mood somewhat.

Oh, those of you who've requested a copy of the files for this game should receive them some time tomorrow. :)
 

Rain242

Refugee from Reality
Validated User
#6
Having just emailed the files out to those of you who requested them, I thought I'd upload them to MediaFire should anyone else like to see them.

Admittedly, I've never used MediaFire before, but you should be able to download them from here.
 

Bankuei

Master of Folding Chair
Validated User
#7
Also the next time I run a game of it, when the session ends I'm just going to stand up and walk out of the house/place we're playing and go home. Immediately. No post-game chatter, no "thank you for playing," just wrap and walk.
Yeah, I'm not a big fan of that move. I think it'd be more interesting to leave with something that definitely lets the players know it's over... but with an extra mystery.

Like maybe put up a file online somewhere that gives extra "high clearance documents" and print the download site on a few business cards.

At the end of the game, "Thank you for your participation in the Lacuna project." and hand everyone a card and don't say anything. Just let them go look it up, and have the files be stuff that completely flips everything they just did on it's head in some way.

That way, there's a bit of the game that hits them after the game is over.

Chris
 

whiteknife

UnafraidStephen
Validated User
#8
Sounds totally awesome.

I've played a fair amount of Lacuna using similar techniques and I can say that it's a hell of a lot of fun when done full-on like that.
 
#9
(...)and dropped a gemstone (representing Static) into a glass. .
I've used that trick to good effect in Lacuna -- admittedly with spare d6s -- and there's something about the sound of the first one in the glass, pinging and rattling around, that just sets teeth on edge. Lonely, yet foreboding.

Excellent post -- when I run Lacuna again I will be drawing upon your experience. Cheers!

~Madu
 

DannyK

One Shot Man
Validated User
#10
If you can reveal at the end of the session that you were actually a remotely operated animatronic robot GM, that would be really cool.
 
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