At March 4, 2015, I facilitated the game The Tribunal, which was the winner of The Larpwriter Challenge 2010, and it was wrote by J. Tuomas Harviainen. The game is about an army unit where two soldiers are accused to stole bread, but they are innocent. I wrote a post about the game when I played it, so if you don’t know about the game check it out here. This time I facilitated the game with few alteration from the original larp.
Before I played the game I was expecting an army environment, but this is not actually part of the game. I remembered that when I played when the Officer in charge entered the room some people not even stood up. So, I decide to input army elements into the game. First I incorporate a very different workshop to the game. The game manual suggests players to role-play a scene with the two accused characters; I’m not sure how much this add to the game. The workshop I designed has three main goals. First, I intent to create a smooth transition between player into characters, and also player stop to see me as the facilitator and start to see me as the officer in charge for the tribunal. Second, I want to introduce the army atmosphere. Third, I want to train the player in basic army positions.
The workshop started by split up the12 players in two lines of 6 facing each other. As they look to the person in front of them, I suggested to think about what kind of relationship the character has with the person in front of them. Every 30 seconds one of the lines change, and when all possible partner up was achieved, I asked to both lines to slip up in two other lines of three people. Basically I repeated the exercise until everyone has the chance to have a 30 seconds with another character. Throughout the exercise I slowly became more bossy and authoritative, so I basically was changing from facilitator into the oficial in charge. The second part of the workshop was the basic training. I asked player to make four lines of 3 people each. I ask them to do the Attention position, and correct the mistakes. The second position I instructed was the At Ease; as before I corrected any mistake, and made them practice between the two positions. Finally I instructed them to every time I show up in the room they must be in lines and in the Attention position. I also carried a gun(fake) in my waist to create the sense of power and oppression.
Every time I entered the room they all ran to find a place in the lines, and most of the time they took a long time to organize themselves, which resulted in a punishment of 10 jumping jacks; throughout the game they did at least 120 jumping jacks. Sometimes I ordered just one player to the punishment since s/he was the only confused.
I notice a pattern among every run of this game: since the accused soldiers are innocents, the players tend to say that nobody committed the crime. Since the game talks about oppression systems, I decided that during the private chats if a player says nobody committed the crime, they are saying their own name instead. This little alteration created a sense of unfairness, which made the characters mad, and that was my intention.
One of the characters confessed. I pictured my character as an external officer asked to conduct the tribunal in this company, and I clearly could imagine someone taking the blame to protect everyone else. So, I decided to continue with the private chats, and gave the opportunity for everyone to state their opinion.
Hawk, the last soldier I had the private talk, got really upset about to put his name own the line if s/he doesn’t give a name. So, when s/he went back to the room s/he tried to start a revolution and complain about. I put my gun on her/his head and gave her/him the order to go back to her/his position on the line, but s/he didn’t obey me and I shot at her/him. Another player grabbed my arm, and I shot at her/him too. Both players were carried outside and had to wait until the end of the game.
In the end the character who confessed was responsible for the crime according to the votes. I asked Wolf to handcuff s/he and bring s/he outside. As I got back to the room I explained that in two minutes I will be back and ask openly if someone change their minds. Since two characters were dead, when I got back to ask, they started to say the name of the two dead characters. So, I skipped the open vote and brought the accused into the room, ask her/him to kneel and shot at the back of her/his head, and left the room. I left the player for two minutes with the body on the ground. The most impressive moment was when I entered the room again, none of them actually moved, they were in the lines position.
Most of the players never played the game, and they couldn’t see the game without the workshop I add to the game and also the formation.