Empire: First Thoughts

So, last weekend I attended my first event of Empire, Profound Decision’s new “Not Maelstrom” game. I’ve written previously about what was my growing disillusionment with LARP – something I put down to occasionally needing to take a break from the hobby. I kept my hand in with smaller scale LARP, but in all honesty I took a break from the hobby of about eighteen months, cleared my head a bit, so this was going to be a fresh start in many ways.

Others had commented many good things about Empire, others bad things, but there didn’t seem to be any informative middle ground. Having talked to others the third event seemed a good place to start, although it was understood that it would probably require a second stab afterwards to truly decide if I was going back full time as it were.

So, thoughts on my first event.

The Good.
– The group I’m with are all genuinely lovely people. LARP can be made or broke by the group you’re with and this seems to be the right group. Felt welcomed by everyone and looking forward to seeing them all again.

– PD seem to have struck the potential of gold again. I say potential as there are a few rough corners that still need working, but this looks like a promising start. Given that it’s only two events old, the system seems robust enough for very little to be changed.

– Monstering is great fun. I’m sorely tempted to get myself my own mask (the PD ones are fine, but it would make life a little more pleasant) and do two or three turns of monstering on a day. I’ll certainly be getting a bit of monster ready kit for the next time to differentiate (perhaps PD should make a note of this somewhere so that new players are aware).

– Everyone seems committed to making it work, and PD have upped their game on the administrative side of things. Processing at GOD was pain free, nothing was a problem. The livery for Ref’s is a superb touch and actually makes it easier to access PD when needed.

– The levels of costuming are constantly improving and encourage everyone to up their game. The kit made available to monsters is superb given the resources this must have required in terms of investment.

– Kids. I was unsure as to whether letting kids on the field was going to work but I now feel that they’re a great addition. I’d like to know that there’s enough for them to do, but mostly I’m positive about their presence.

Promising, but not there yet…
– The various nations going to war are brilliant, but for all the time that appears to have been spent creating a different look for each nation seems to have disappeared on the battlefield as everyone metals up to get the immunities. There didn’t seem to be much individuality to nations on the battlefield, perhaps something like the Navarr getting the immunity to Impale from Medium Leather Armour (without gaining the extra universal hit point) would address this and play to the supposed strengths of each nation –although how you’d balance this I’m unsure.

– Impale. At present it feels a little overpowered and could be triggering the “metal up” problem. I do now understand why Marksmen was so many points to buy at creation though, and an army that could field over a third archers would be terrifying. There could be balances to this that I’m not aware of yet, but this is very much the first impression.

– Site Set-out. I understand that putting all of the general areas in the centre makes a degree of sense logistically, but I wonder if spreading things out would lead to people getting to now other nations more? Put the Arena on the edge of the field next to the Orc Encampment, the Senate opposite the gate and surrounded by High Guard – break things up so it feels more like a living, breathing place than a series of camps around an unsupported town in the centre. Make people use the whole of the field to access the various IC services.

– Likewise, the woods are big enough that a section could be opened up to players for use throughout the day. Even a small section could lead to secretive meetings, a spot of murder and the like. They don’t need to be monstered, they just need to have a small bit accessible.

– The IC economy needs balancing a little, festival prices have always been a bug bear with festival LARP and now there’s a civil service some sort of sense needs to be applied so that trading doesn’t become the default for anyone who wants to get anywhere. Players will vote with their wallets, and I’m aware that this isn’t something everyone has comments on.

– I miss the PvP. Not being constantly gate-camped is great, but outside of the battle field there feels very little threat. Assassins working for the barbarians targeting dangerous individuals, orc sympathisers, all of these could add colour to the game. Yes, it’s still PvE, but it could be used to generate PvP.

The Bad.
– For all of the money that has (undoubtedly) been spent on the IC infrastructure, not getting the OOC toilets right smacks a little bit of misplaced priorities. I work on building sites and the toilets were quite frankly worse than anything I’ve encountered in the building industry. This really needs to be sorted out.

– There are some things you can turn a blind eye too, cut-off jeans and modern tee-shirt aren’t one of them. Whilst the general levels of costuming have improved greatly, the worse elements of costume have got worse. Yes, I understand that PD are trying to be inclusive, but there are times when they need to step in and comment as to what’s acceptable.

Overall my feelings are positive – I turned up with little in the way of goals (other than have fun and hit things) but that seems to be enough. I do get the sense that I need something secondary to hitting things, but that should come with time. I’ll certainly be giving it another go, and really only the first of the bad points remaining unsorted will be a deal breaker for me for future events.

2 thoughts on “Empire: First Thoughts”

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