Weekend campaigns don't need to be big

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How many people do you need to do a weekend-long campaign game? Sizes have varied over the years: Teonn was a hundred people, Crucible 150 - 200, while more recent “big” games have for various reasons gone for a smaller format of ~45 players and as many crew as they can get. But how small can you get? @Ryan_Paddy sent me a copy of the first issue of Immersion the other day, and the Mordavia retrospective had a shocking statistic:

The first Mordavia event was attended by 12 players, 10 crew and 2 GMs.

It grew to 50 people by the end, but in the beginning it was just two dozen people. Venues were cheaper back then, and production standards lower, and their budget was very, very tight - but it does give some idea of a lower bound on size.

(It would be interesting to know what size some of the other games around at the time were…)

Let's read: Immersion

24 people, and even smaller numbers, are totally viable for a weekend game. If the tickets will pay for the costs, of course.

That particular event was the first weekend event we had run, so we lacked the learnings that came later. It was quite linear, and the PCS mostly travelled about staying together and doing everything as a party. That was probably partly because of the small numbers, but likely also because we didn’t know how to design it otherwise. These days I would try to split the players into around 3 groups of 4 and give them some reasons not to cooperate, so they have more varied interactions and can do some things in smaller groups. Same with the crew, I’d try to have more things happening in parallel now.

On the other hand, even with small numbers the players did a lot of epic stuff. Made a deal with Baba Yaga (they reenacted a historic event to help her see into the past), raised the body of the land’s greatest hero and defeated his undead legion to claim his holy weapon, and then used it to defeat a nest of vampire lords. Plus we got the unsavoury atmosphere we wanted across pretty effectively, and lots of smaller events. So smaller numbers don’t really limit the sense of scale.


If you’re doing basic fantasy, how much space do you need? I get the impression some of the Mordavia venues weren’t very big.


You don’t need that much space, actually, if you’ve got enough plot. But you really have to structure your weekend around the location to make it work.


A weekend campaign has looked very different in my 9 years of LARP, and I’ve enjoyed participation in each of them, regardless of the size.
I think the factors such as number of people, venue size, budget and number of player characters vs crew combine in unique ways to allow for completely different experiences.
Where the Auckland community is at the current moment focuses a lot around the story of the individual character, with GMs weaving player generated story into their overall narrative. This lends itself to smaller games with fewer players, but a more intense experience for participants overall.

TLDR; If we build the game for what we want to present and what our participants want to experience, we win.


All the Mordavia weekend game venues were large. Most often Motu Moana, back when it was cheaper and easier to book (but also had fewer halls / was less developed). You could run a fantasy weekend in a smaller venue, but it feels more on-genre to me if you’ve got some forest paths to wander around.


I think its definitely good to have some space to roam, and a variety of terrain rather than just a field.

We really need to check out some of the other Wellington venues sometime. I know @Scott looked at a few of them when selecting a site for Hydra, and Brookfields is great (lots of different indoor spaces, plenty of outdoors, and some variety). But it would be good to see what else is out there.


Yes, I went with him to check a bunch of them (there were a lot, but that was ~8 years ago now). Brookfields was far and away the best for what Hydra is, but the others would suit different sorts of campaigns. It’s hard to remember which venue was which now.


I just went to have a look at where Camp Wainui is the other day because we’ve got a car this month. But there’s a sign in large friendly letters saying you need an appointment to take a look at the actual site. (Meh.)

From what I did see it’d probably be quite nice for fantasy-themed things. But I’d have to get that appointment to be sure.