Inside character design: Romances
are no romantic feelings between them; they might just be friends. Or a character might have a partner among the survivors on one of the other ships in the fleet. In these cases the romance is not a theme we expect you to play, but the npc is someone whose fate your character would care about. There are also characters who do not have any kind of a romance at all, past or present. All examples above are considered not to have a romantic contact in terms of casting.
Roughly 50% of the characters have some form of a romance as a supporting theme, and about 20% have romance as a main theme. What we mean by “a main theme” is that it doesn’t mean that these characters don’t have anything else to play, but in most cases their romantic partner is their closest and most important contact, and in all cases it is mirrored so that the romance is the main aspect for both characters. Romance as a supporting theme means that the romance can be a relevant aspect in the game, but if it doesn’t play out, there are lot of other interesting themes to explore. In these romances, there might be some imbalance concerning how important the romance is for a character (e.g. a triangle drama).
A little bit of insight into our larp culture: in Finland, it is very common that characters are written by the organizers and all the plots, themes, and contacts are ready-made. Larps in which you write your own character and create your own contacts are still a minority in Finland. It is very common that there are quite many romances written into each game. Most of us are used to writing and playing these themes. Within the past few years, it has become a standard to talk with your contacts about their boundaries and the experience they are looking for. Since we have a tradition of prewritten contacts, it is very much frowned upon to do ‘contact shopping’ to choose the players you want to play with while ignoring others. This doesn’t mean we expect you to play with someone you do not feel comfortable with or someone you feel threatened by. What we want to say is that if we can imagine we are in a distant spaceship instead of an elementary school, we can also imagine that our character is attracted to someone we are not. Romance is just one way to create meaningful links between the characters, and the same applies to friends, families and colleagues.
Since we have people coming from all around the world and from very different larp cultures, we want to highlight a few things concerning playing romances to create a safe and pleasant experience for everyone. These are pretty common sense things, but it is still better to state them:
Romances can provide extremely intense and meaningful experiences in a larp. Even if you have some doubts on playing romance, I would encourage you to embrace with an open mind all the plots written in your character. However, your safety and your preferences are our priority, and if you have any issues or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us!
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
Pictures by Axelle Cazeneuve, editing by Laura Kröger
Team behind the Odysseus
Our second big team meeting took place a week ago. We have a team of over 50 members by now, and more are recruited through spring! Even though it was not possible for all to attend the meeting, over thirty of us gathered together to enjoy good food and to get to know each other better. We had a chance to share ideas and to present each department’s progress with the others. And now we want to share some of that progress with you and to introduce our teams!
The organizers of Odysseus can be divided to five teams, though naturally there is a lot of overlap. And it is up to the producers to ensure that the teams communicate with each other and that the overall vision is followed. Here are the teams plus a little sneak peek of what we have done so far and we are planning to do!
The production team is probably the least coherent group, as it takes care of pretty much everything concerning practical arrangements and project management. To this team belong the widely varying subjects of communications, safety, player management, finances, food services, etc. We take care of the players and make sure that everything goes smoothly, and that all the relevant information is available both within the team and for all the players.
security team (as well as the game masters). They also work hard to stream land missions for everyone to see. The team is responsible for creating the integration to the Empty Epsilon space simulation software as well as the scenarios we use within it. And much more that will be revealed later on a blog post of its own!
This team takes care of all the lights, sounds, and other effects during the larp. They work closely with the prop and IT teams to create the feeling of actually being on a starship. It is up to them to create proper lighting to support the function of each room and to visualize the different states of the ship. The ship will have at least four different states that all have a distinct feel created through lighting, sound effects, and information provided via info screens. For example hyperdrive jumps (which happens on set intervals) will be clearly visible by sounds and lighting to everyone aboard, not just the bridge crew issuing the commands. Our technology team will be in charge of not only planning but also the acquisition and installation of all our technology. More details on our technology will be available on a later blog post!
Our story team is responsible for creating the narrative as well as planning and writing all characters in the game. Every character is pre-written with a background, agenda, and meaningful contacts. We have thirteen writers and a few backup ones to create an unforgettable journey for everyone. Our story team plans the overall story arc of the larp and each individual event, mystery, and dilemma to be solved within the game. You will definitely hear a little bit more about the team later on!
This will not be an ordinary run-of-the-mill starship. Our props team plans all uniforms as well as helps in drafting ideas for civilian costuming. The team also creates all the graphics for the game, including all details such as ID cards, posters, instruction guides, and so on. There will be much more information and sneak peeks to the amazing job our props team is doing!
We are all super excited to create this experience for you all, and we hope that you are equally excited to embark on this journey!
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
Photos by Essi Vallenius, HANSCA concept by Janne Koponen and prop concept pictures by Mia Makkonen.
Behind the Player Selection
Selecting players is one of the hardest parts of creating a larp. We would love to take everyone on board! Since it is not possible, we want to describe how the players were selected to Odysseus to make the process as fair and transparent as possible.
Altogether, we had 357 sign ups (94 were sponsor ticket purchases). That is an absolutely stunning number! If we had proceeded with the original plan of two runs, we would have been forced to leave 150 people out. With the decision to have a third run, we were able to pick most of you aboard.
However, most is still not all, so I’ll start with why cannot we take everyone. In each run, we have 104 characters, each of whom has a basic concept, a story, and contacts that fit to the style and themes of the larp. Adding more characters would mean a lot of extra work and risk breaking the consistency of the game. Rather than increase the number of characters, we want ensure that all existing characters are given all the creative energy they need to be as good as possible.
The second main reason not to increase the number of characters is practical. In every larp, there are cancellations. Life will inevitably get in the way for some, and in a pre-written larp, having no-show characters could ruin the game for many other players and characters. In our experience, the number of cancellations tends to total around 10% of the players, and with three runs and over 300 players it means roughly 30 spots that will likely need to be re-cast at some point.
I know it can be disheartening to be unlucky in the initial lottery, but the first wave of cancellations is just a few weeks away as the deadline for ticket purchases kicks in. So even if you were unlucky now, the chance of getting aboard at a later point are pretty good! We will offer empty spots to our waiting list first; only when the event is drawing very close, we might look for players also elsewhere.
How was the initial casting done? We entered everyone to an excel sheet and generated a random number for each player. Based on these numbers, we first randomly filled the local run, then the first international run, and last the second international run. As we stated before the sign-up, those who had chosen only or preference for the local run had a higher priority in local spots than those who chose to prefer the international run. As there was more interest for the local run than spots in the game, those who preferred the international run were not considered for spots in the local run.
Our limit of 30 Finnish players for each international run were not exceeded in either of those, so we didn’t have to exclude any of the Finnish players based on that, but we did come pretty close in both runs. The same methods were used for the discount tickets. The chance for getting a spot was slightly worse with the discount tickets than with the standard tickets, but not much.
We left a few spots unselected in the lottery and went through the ones in the waiting list and picked some who had never larped before or had very little experience to join us. It is our firm belief that first-timers should be given a chance to participate to increase the number of larpers and awareness of this great hobby. We hope you all agree with this one!
After we had selected all the players, we went through the wishes on whom the players wanted to participate with, and swapped players from one run to another to make sure that as many of you as possible could play with your friends and spouses. In cases where your friends were unlucky and did not get a spot, we did not remove you if you had a spot (unless it was explicitly stated that you would only participate if the someone else was also included).
We cross-checked the list quite a few times, but if we still managed to miss something, we’ll do our best to fix all issues!
I hope this opens up our selection process, and I truly wish that all of you who didn’t get a spot and really want to be a part of this experience will be able to jump aboard later through the waiting list!
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
Blog is written by several members of the production team.