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Why You Never Let a Flurb Run a Quest
[01/27/2003] [Arminius]

Flurbs are notorious for not having a full grasp on the game and the way things work within its dynamics. Whether it is for a local group, a kingdom event, or an inter-kingdom event, one should never allow a flurb to run the quest. To illustrate this point, I go back to my own period of flurbiness, and tell you the story of my first kingdom event, and also the first quest that I ran.

Like so much in Amtgard, the story starts with an idea. The idea was that Golden Plains Proper, the Duchy of Irongate, and the Barony of Dark Oasis would split the work of the Kingdom Midreign, and in turn, split the profit made as well. Golden Plains took the job of running a Dragonmaster, Dark Oasis took the feast, leaving Irongate with the quest. Meanwhile, in Irongate, Marquis Armand and I were sitting in a local diner and discussing Amtgard and various other things, and somewhere along the way, we start discussing how to convert the “Wizard of Oz” into an Amtgard battlegame. We had decided that it should be for a large-scale quest. We turned Dorothy into our own version of Xena, the Cowardly Lion into a bully, the Tinman and the Scarecrow into homicidal maniacs, and made Glenda the Good Witch a snob. We gave Toto rabies, created Flying Monkey by giving goblins unlimited flight and throw poo, and created an “Evil Warlock” to be the stepbrother of the Wicked Witch of the West. And we did all of it by just tailoring the character around a class or monster that already existed in the rules. We were going to divide the teams by those who see their personas as evil and good. The good guys would follow “Dorothy on Steroids” and Toto and the evil ones would side with the Warlock and some of his Flying Monkeys. The Lion, Tinman, Scarecrow, and Glenda would all be wandering neutrals. Though I wrote down these abominations we came up with in the early morning after too much tea and too many sundaes, I never really thought I would use it…

That Sunday, the plan on dividing the event was announced, along with Irongate holding its Coronation with the event. Then the question came: “Would anyone like to run the quest?” I timidly raised my hand and said, “I’ll do it. Armand and I wrote one a few nights ago. I think it will work.” It was voted on and agreed that I would run my quest. I had volunteered to do this thinking that since we had such a “large” kingdom, the event would be huge and the game would flow easily. Little did I realize that at that time, our kingdom suffered great apathy and relatively low numbers. I spent the next month polishing my “baby,” clarifying effects and simplifying wordings. I thought this would be my finest hour, yet my great blunder was about to begin.

When the day and time of the quest rolled around I found myself confronting some major problems for my game. First, I had two distinctly female roles, Dorothy and Glenda, and no female combatants at all. Second, I had a game designed for a minimum of 30 people, but I had only ten questors, counting the two minors I had to beg the monarch to allow them to play. That was just enough to fill my monsters. There was no way around it: I was screwed. So I did what any flurb would have done. Rather than scrap my precious game and quickly devise something new that would work, I improvised. I formed a team consisting of the Lion, Tinman, Scarecrow, Toto, and Dorothy (who was skillfully portrayed by Viscount Vagabond) to be the heroes. I got Sir Balisk to play the Warlock, and three flying monkeys to aid him. Finally, all that was left was the neutral healer, the role of Glenda. For this role I cast Sir Kamal. As reeve of the game, I moved to the middle of the field and called for the combatants to get ready. While the gathered together I silently prayed things would work out and everyone would have fun.

Then I witnessed a sight I would never forget. Sir Kamal, my Glenda the Self-Absorbed, comes marching onto the field sword and board. For those who have not met Sir Kamal, he is roughly six-foot four-inches in height, about 280 pounds, has long curls of blonde hair and a full beard. Sir Kamal begins to chant as he walks onto the field, “I am so pretty. Pretty, pretty, pretty…” Once my laughter died down a bit, I called lay on. Throughout the entirety of the game, Sir Balisk, leading the team doomed to fail, kept using corny pick-up line after pick-up line on “Glenda.” I believe my favorite is still, “Hey baby, why don’t you and me find a dark room, so you can show me that white light of yours.” Despite the inherent flaws of my game, everyone did have fun and enjoyed the game, though all were quick to say not to run it ever again. Later that day, at court, I received my first kingdom rose, for running the quest.

Now that I have been around for a more than a couple months, I look back at that battlegame and see every mistake I made. First, it is never a good idea to run seven different monsters for a small event, especially when these monsters average a 4:1 ratio. Second, balance is a key part of every quest. Pitting five high-powered monsters against the equivalent of a 6th level wizard and three goblins is nowhere never balanced. Finally, if the situation calls for it, don’t be afraid to adjust monster levels to help create balance. Three 1st level monsters on one side don’t stand a chance against 4 3rd level or higher monsters. Unfortunately though, as I have learned these keys to battlegame design, I still have not been able to capture the level of enjoyment those who participated experienced. Players have had fun, but there always seems to be some aspect that is lost, even though the battle runs smoothly.

Now that you have read the perils of allowing a flurb to run your quest, I hope you understand why I say not to allow it to happen. People will have fun, the flurb will learn more about the game, and everyone will gain blackmail material.

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