Last weekend Mo and I attended The King’s Musketeers, a weekend long game set in the swashbuckling world of Cardinal Richelieu and Queen Anne, of D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers, of the Duke of Buckingham, Rene Descartes, and Cyrano de Bergerac. I was Count-Duke Olivares and ruled Spain and Mo was Count de Soubise, a scheming rebel hero.
The King’s Musketeers is played very much like our murder mystery games – but much, much bigger:
- The game lasted all weekend, from 8pm on Friday night through to lunchtime on Sunday. The game was broken into five periods each of four hours (that works out at about 20 hours of game time). Game stopped at midnight each night, which meant it was time to retire to the bar and catch up with old friends. “Time in” was generally about 9.30 each morning, giving scant time to eat and sleep.
- The game had over 80 players and six “directors” (what we would call hosts).
- Character sheets could be many pages long – mine was about 7 pages long with many, many objectives and goals.
- The rules were even longer, and covered duelling, romance, politics, scandal and more. I was particularly involved in the battle rules, which involved moving armies across Europe and into the New World to conquer and defend territories. I didn’t get into any duels, unlike Mo.
- Each character had various abilities which were broken down into combat abilities (that covered duelling), romance abilities (for when you lost your heart to another) and general abilities covering a range of uses. The abilities tended to be a bit more powerful than the ones we use in our games, and can potentially have a big impact. (For example, I had one that let me break the rules!)
- The King’s Musketeers was held in the West Retford Hotel, pretty much in the middle of England. With over 80 players and taking place over a weekend, it’s not something that you can really host in your home.
Although there were murders in The King’s Musketeers (several!) it’s not really billed as a murder mystery game. Instead, it’s a kind of “LARP”, which stands for “live action role play” which spun out of the roleplaying games hobby (such as Dungeons & Dragons). In the UK and Australia this kind of LARP is known as a “freeform”, while in the USA they are better known as “theater style larps”. Whatever you call them, the emphasis is on playing the character in whatever the setting may be – and a murder is optional. At Freeform Games we take some elements of freeforms/theatre style larps and turn them into murder mystery games.
Anyway, both Mo and I had a wonderful time playing our characters – although because the game was so big and we were involved in very different plots, we barely spoke to each other at all.
By some measures we might not appear to have had a good game – by the end Spain had barely half the power that it started with and Mo’s character died on the Sunday. But we don’t judge the game on whether we succeeded in our goals or whether we survived, we judge these games on whether we had a good time or not – and we both had a great time and are looking forward to the next one!
The King’s Musketeers is being re-run in October 2013, in the USA (on the East Coast somewhere). When I get details, I’ll post them here.
Here in the UK, 2014’s weekend freeform will be Cafe Casablanca, which is based upon Casablanca and lots of other Humphrey Bogart films (and more!), and is already full! We’ll tell you all about it.