VISION FOR SWORDCRAFT
Overarching Vision: To develop a massive LARPing and battlegaming community in Victoria and Australia, through a game that is fun to play, regular, welcomes players from different background and has the potential to grow and scale up to an enormous number of players.
The foundations of the Vision are:
Building a strong player culture is essential to the future of Swordcraft, but we aren’t there yet. Only through commitment by all can we build the culture we need to create an awesome game, atmosphere and community. The four essential values of our culture should be based on are:
Focus on Fun
Focus on Safety
Focus on Community
Focus on Immersion
FOCUS ON FUN
We believe that that first and foremost, the most important thing we can have in our game is a strong culture of playing the game for fun and never taking it too seriously. To us, this means that we focus on what we love about the game, not what we hate. This means finding what attracts us to the game and enjoying that. It also means not getting caught up with imperfections, not constantly poking holes in the rules and most importantly not demanding that things always go our way.
In a game where there are hundreds of actors all with different agendas, nobody gets their way all the time and random things happen constantly. This means planning, enjoying the surprises but not getting upset when things don’t go our way. It’s about relaxing and enjoying the game for what it is, not what you might want it to be in a perfect world.
Remember also that humour is critical, we should be able to laugh at ourselves when we wear tights and take a joke at our expense. This is a game where we look silly for kicks – never forget that!
FOCUS ON SAFETY
Safety is incredibly important in our game. Training to play safe is something players need to get together to make happen. The organisation will police it as best it can, but in a game where there are hundreds of locations of action, it isn’t possible for the club to monitor everything. It is up to players to get together to train and to influence each other to play safe. Respectfully giving and receiving feedback to both teammates and opponents is critical here.
We also need to keep safety in perspective though and we need to understand that people will get hurt. This is a rough game where people hit each other, run around and often get caught up in the moment of action. Like any form of physical recreation, injuries will happen and players need to be prepared for that. Safety gear can mitigate this to a degree and is strongly encouraged.
FOCUS ON COMMUNITY
While there is an organisation that runs Swordcraft games and events, we are all members of a growing community. That community hasn’t yet reached its potential in terms of size or behaviour. Our community should be welcoming, respective and not be focused on the negative. When new people come along, welcome them into the fold. When people disagree with your opinion, take that as an opportunity to learn rather than as a personal attack.
It also means that there are people out there with different desires for our game who we haven’t met yet and we need to remember that we are building something for them too, not just our existing player base. Constant bickering sends the message to new players that this isn’t a good community to be a part of. Unity, respect and open-mindedness is essential to us building the community we all want.
FOCUS ON IMMERSION
One of the most important aspects of our culture should be to create an immersive world. Whether that is through costume, gear, environment or behaviour, we all contribute to the atmosphere. We can never create something completely like what an actual fantasy world would be like, but we can create something very cool and fun to be part of (remember the point about humour). This takes effort from everybody to create the world we want to walk in. Let’s make this more like something from a movie than something out of a primary school pantomime.
As something that is played on a weekly basis, the game design of Swordcraft should be focused on something that doesn’t require hours of prep time for organisers, is fun to play on an ongoing basis, is easily accessible to new players and scaleable to accommodate thousands of players.
The game designers do their best to get the rules and game structure right, but it will never be a “perfect system” as compromise is always necessary and every complex system has its holes. Game and rules designers also aren’t perfect and people will always think that there is a better design out there. This is where our culture needs to kick in. If it isn’t what you would create, that’s ok, don’t worry about it and make the most of it anyway and just have fun! If you’re committed to building a better game, do it and we will support you and try to learn from your experiences.
The setting of Swordcraft should be accessible to a broad range of people. We picked a fantasy LARP as most people have a strong concept of these already. Our aim is to have a world which is engaging and yet not so alien that a new player won’t “get it”. The world needs to cater to the imaginative role-player, the person who just likes to whack stuff and the re-enactment enthusiast. We are currently doing work in this area to create a more detailed world, with maps literature and backstory, so stay tuned to find out more.
Swordcraft is committed to maintain a weekly game in Melbourne, but hopes to expand these nights to include entertainment, food, drinks and non-combat activities to engage in . We hope to make these nights something to go out for, not just somewhere to have a bash. We also hope to have weekly events in other parts of Melbourne, so that it is not necessary to travel to the centre of town to play (The Uni clubs are the first step in this regard).
We also hope to make our week long Quest events even better. Our volunteers have put in a herculean effort to make previous Swordcraft Quests awesome events and we hope to build on their efforts to ensure these continue. We would like day games and weekend events happen more frequently, but this will depend on organisational constraints. Swordcraft Quest will continue to be a place where people can roleplay, build their character, fight in battles, engage in quests and socialise in a fun fantasy LARP environment.
A large yearly or bi-yearly event is something we have always wanted to make happen. Our goal here is to create a massive festival that people from far and wide travel to attend. We want this to go for multiple days and be the most fun thing to do all year. It would be like Quest on steroids (or maybe a strength potion). We hope to have the first of these soon and are laying the ground work for that already.
As the community grows other events will also start happening. In the past we have had masquerade balls, and we expect more and more of these player driven type events as we grow and they will provide more and more things for people to get involved in.
Currently Swordcraft is run by volunteers as a not for profit unincorporated association. This work has primarily been carried out by a team of 7 executive members, quest organisers and a pool of volunteers. All these people have put in significant effort which has allowed us to grow from nothing to the strong player base we have now. To grow further and to attract the thousands of players we hope to see in the future, we need to improve the way we are organised. How we can set up a stable structure which supports the other parts of the Vision is key to this and we are currently investigating ways in which this can be done. Whether this is done through a larger structure of volunteers, permanent staff or through the engagement of professional services, players can remain confident that they will always retain their voice and that Swordcraft will always be governed by players.
Because the player base has grown faster than the organisational structure, please bear with us as it means we cannot make changes happen as fast as we would like. Rest assured though, this is going to improve as we restructure.
Players can support the organisation by continuing to volunteer where they can and providing thanks to those that put in the work to make their game possible. It can be a rough job making the games happen and remember the marshals are giving up their time to oversee the games when most would rather be playing. Arguing with them and abusing them is seriously uncool and getting things way out of perspective. Remember also that the Board does listen to what players say, but they can’t accommodate every suggestion or point of view. Respect and appreciation for those that volunteer their time can really help make the culture and organisation of Swordcraft strong.
Oversees, where there is one great LARP group, there are often many. An essential part of the Swordcraft Vision is to encourage other groups so that the broader LARP community can grow. This is part of the reason we committed ourselves to running weekly games as we realised that only through persistent attendance could we create something that people do as part of their lifestyle rather than something that people do a couple of times a year or only tried once. Swordcraft then can be a focal point, but doesn’t need to be the be-all and end-all of LARPing in Victoria or Australia. Some people won’t like that kind of LARP we do, but that’s ok, because they can come to Swordcraft and meet other people who they can then form spin-off groups with. If Swordcraft is superseded by something better, then that is great as we will all have something better to participate in. In the meanwhile, we can focus on what we have, what we could be and use Swordcraft as a springboard for creating a diverse and vibrant LARPing community.
We support groups that are directly associated with Swordcraft (like the Uni clubs), but are also committed to supporting those that aren’t.
FINAL STATEMENT – Our Vision is to be the foundation stone of a large diverse LARPing community in Australia. We aren’t there yet, but with your support, we will get there. The result will be well worth it.