Last month Mo and I attended the annual Peaky freeform writing weekend along with 27 other like-minded writers and players of freeform roleplaying games. We formed into six groups and over the course of Friday evening and Saturday each group wrote a freeform. On Sunday we played five of them. It’s a fabulously intense, creative weekend and it’s one of the highlights of my year.
(A quick aside – a “freeform” is a type of live role-playing game. There are different flavours of freeforms and many are very like our murder mystery games, although they don’t necessarily contain a murder and they tend to be more fantastic than our games.)
The Peaky writing weekends started in 2001. The first few were held in Edale, in the Peak District, and that’s how the weekend got its name. In 2004 we moved to Upper Rectory Farm Cottages in Appleby Magna and since 2006 that’s been our permanent home.
If was building a venue just for Peaky, I’d probably end up with Upper Rectory Farm Cottages. It’s perfect – eight or so interconnected but fully self-contained holiday cottages, plus a large refectory. This gives each group space to write, plus a large space for communal meals and playtesting.
This year I co-wrote Venice, a 15 player game of families, politics and power set in 16th Century Venice. Mo co-wrote What Happened in Blackpool, a very experimental game for 12 players set the night before a wedding. Other games were based on M*A*S*H, the villains of James Bond and Old Harry’s Game (a Radio 4 comedy set in hell).
Peaky also publishes some of their games – you can find them here. A word of warning, though – they are less refined in terms of instructions compared to our games (they assume you know how to host a freeform) and they aren’t as flexible with player numbers. Oh, and I wouldn’t run any of them for a very conservative group. But they are cheaper, and if you’ve played one of our games you should find everything pretty familiar. I should note that I’ve had a hand in all of them at some level, whether as co-author or proofreader.