Quiet Combat

Today is our final post in our series on “simple rules increase immersion.” We’ve talked about persistent locations directing you on how to interact with the game; we’ve talked about one single attribute to cover both your health and skills, and today we want to talk about what we describe as “Quiet Combat.”

Quiet Combat involves uncomplicating damage. Like most boffer LARPs in New England, we will have different types of damage. However, instead of calling “4 Damage” or “4,” we have static damage based on the type of weapon used. A melee attack is “1 Damage,” a ranged attack is “2 Damage,” and a firearm attack is “3 Damage.” You do not need to call your damage when swinging, only call out “Effects.” The reason for this is to have a quiet game, where calls and verbiage do not get in the way of the scene.

In daylight, you should be able to tell the difference between an arrow, dart, or melee hitting you. At night it will be tougher, however, we believe that many people shouting “5 Damage by Fire,” “3 Damage by Pain,” and “2 Damage by Electricity” constantly is just as confusing. Furthermore, the weapons used will be immersive, and our magic system is rather low, so it is less necessary for you to call “By Fire” or “By Fear” attacks. If you hit your opponent with a torch prop, they should react accordingly. If you are shouting intimidating words at them while you are in combat, they should react accordingly (granted they are actually afraid of what you say).

We want to be clear: our game does have combat calls. However, these calls are few, and they typically carry a cost to use those skills in combat. In a fight, you can only use as many skills as you have Essence, and mostly every time you are hit with an attack, you will lose Essence so you must be cautious about using skills.

This is intentional. If you are in combat and want to use a skill like “Disarm,” you must weigh the effect of the attack against your Essence. We want players in combat to know there is a risk to trying to “Disarm” someone rather than attempting to harm them. Perhaps getting someone to drop their weapon will allow you to sneak in a few extra hits, but is it worth the cost of Essence?

Let us know what you think about Quiet Combat in the comments below.

Persistent Locations

Last week we talked about one of our core tenets – “simple rules increase immersion.” Today, we’ll talk about another aspect of immersion in Ashwick Plantation: persistent locations.

Many LARPs utilize the town structure – a tavern, a shop, places for sleeping. At Ashwick Plantation we are attempting to take that idea a step further to further enhance players’ experience. We are weaving skills, the economy, and your refresh mechanic into the town in a seamless manner.

Want to pick crops using your Gardening skill? There is an actual garden on-site. Want to craft tools and weapons? Head to the era-authentic blacksmith to use your skill and put together that wheelbarrow you’ve been working on. Need to get a few cords of wood for the next shipment going out or to simply stay warm for the winter? Bring your axe and make your way into the woods. It’s safe out there, right?

Unfortunately, we can’t have you out there with real steel axes cutting down trees, but we intend for these areas – the garden, the blacksmith, etc. – to replicate a truly immersive experience that will make the game more enjoyable and realistic.

These locations will also be used for community building through interactions with people and the economic structure. Most events will take place during a ‘market day’ where travelers bring in their wares from near and far. Farmers come in with new crops; merchants stop by to barter, and craftsmen find work and ply their trade. The meeting area will be a place to trade local gossip and goods alike while the dock brings opportunities from around the world.

As we discussed last week, skills typically cost Essence. If you go out and cut down a tree, or spend time in the garden, or perhaps you were laying out traps to catch game, you use up Essence. To regain it, you must spend time at specific locations within the town where you can regain what you have lost.

In the schoolhouse, you can spend time reading the bible to contemplate the Holy Word and strengthen your soul. At the cemetery, you can grieve for lost loved ones who hopefully found their way to Heaven and lessen the weight upon your shoulders. At the pillory, you can shame petty thieves and other criminals to increase your vigor.

Yes, in many colonial towns and villages, a widely used form of punishment for crimes was ridicule. At Ashwick Plantation, it just so happens that there is a pillory on the premises, and we intend to use it. Who will be the first to bow their head to public humiliation?

So what do you think? Feel free to comment on how persistent locations help you get immersed in a LARP.

How do you intend to interact with the economy? Do you want to focus on Crafting? What about gathering skills like Logging and Trapping? Will you spend your free time at the pillory shouting at a criminal in an effort to help deter future crime, or will you sit quietly in the schoolhouse reading a chapter from the Old Testament?

The choice is yours.

Essence

Character Creation is simple in regards to stats: you have Essence and you have skills. Bonuses will be available for submitting your character a month in advance of your first event and working with us for determining your background.

Essence is the core attribute of Ashwick Plantation.

Essence measures your health. Every damage you take throughout an event reduces your Essence by 1. If you are reduced to 0 Essence, you begin “Bleeding Out.” We will have more information on “Bleeding Out” and our death mechanic in the future.

Essence also measures your ability to use skills. Most skills cost Essence to use. When you are reduced to 0 Essence, you can no longer use any abilities – whether they do or do not use Essence – until you regain at least 1 Essence.

Some game effects can Reset and / or Refresh exhausted Essence. Your Essence also Resets at the beginning of every event you attend.

We want to be clear: Essence does not measure your personal capabilities nor does it limit you to perform tasks that involve anything that is not tied to a skill. It is only a limit to the skills you can use. As an example, you are not limited in your ability to pick up heavy objects or run long distances, but you are limited in how many times you can use the Logging Skill before your character is exhausted.

Thanksgiving

The harvest feast has been a key component of many cultures and religions throughout history. It is a time of contemplation, of readying one’s self against the coming winter, and of enjoying the fruits of a year’s long labor. For us, we wish to thank our supporters – family and friends; we also wish to give some background on how Thanksgiving features into our world, and reveal a little bit about our game to show our appreciation to you all who have followed us over the past year.

The history of Thanksgiving is directly tied to Ashwick Plantation. The Pilgrims of Plimoth Colony and the Wampanoag tribe came together for a feast in the fall of 1621. Upon first landing in Plimoth, the Pilgrims had many interactions with tribes throughout their first year in what would become New England. Led by Massasoit, their Grand Sachem, the Wampanoag assisted the Pilgrims in creating a sustainable colony, and at this Thanksgiving, ate alongside these Calvinist Separatists. Though an alliance was formed, it was tenuous at best as Plimoth grew into Scituate and Yarmouth and Swansea while the Wampanoag lost thousands to disease and wars much like other tribes in the area.

Massasoit – a dear friend to the colonists – died in 1661. His eldest son, Wamsutta, would take his place as Grand Sachem, and after his own mysterious death – possibly at the hands of the Pilgrims – only a year later, Metacomet, Massasoit’s second son, would succeed Wamsutta and bring vengeance upon the land. This is the setting where Ashwick Plantation resides. From a father’s uneasy yet generation-long peace and friendship to a son’s revenge and a colony’s betrayal. To the colonists, the tribe had broken an economic pact by selling land to Roger Williams and the leaders of Providence. To the Wampanoag, the colonists treated them as inferior and possibly murdered their leader. War was on the horizon.

Today, however, Ashwick Plantation gives thanks. We thank our family and friends who have stood by us this past year. We started this project with a simple question: “What would a Colonial New England LARP look like?” You have stuck by us all year long to let us explore exactly what that could be. Thank you.

Thanks goes as well to the Salem community. We are a small, new operation among many others with strong, embedded foundations. We have received nothing but support from the people of Salem, and we cannot wait to work alongside you all over the coming years.

And lastly, thank you, readers and patrons. Hundreds of you have stopped by and taken a peek at our page. Ashwick Plantation is on a slow but steady pace, and we are so thankful you have decided to stay the course with us. We cannot wait to create incredible stories with you.

The next few weeks and months we will be ramping up for our first playtest – May 6th. We ask for your continued patience as we venture forth. In the meantime, we have a small release of information as a thank you for your support:

 

THE ESSENCE OF ASHWICK PLANTATION

We started Ashwick Plantation attempting to create a simple rule set with the idea that the less you need to think; the easier you will be immersed. The more immersed in the setting and character; the more bleed easily can occur. The more you bleed; the more effective the horror.

With that being said, we decided on one core attribute: Essence.

Essence measures your health. Every damage you take throughout an event reduces your Essence by 1. If you are reduced to 0 Essence, you begin “Bleeding Out.” We will have more information on “Bleeding Out” and our death mechanic in the future. Don’t you worry.

Essence also measures your ability to use skills. Most skills cost Essence to use. When you are reduced to 0 Essence, you can no longer use any abilities until you regain at least 1 Essence.

Some game effects can Reset and / or Refresh exhausted Essence. Your Essence also Resets at the beginning of every event you attend. In some cases, you may even permanently gain more Essence.

We want to be clear: Essence does not measure your personal capabilities nor does it limit you to perform tasks that involve anything that is not tied to a skill. It is only a limit to the skills you can use. As an example, you are not limited in your ability to pick up heavy objects or run long distances, but you are limited in how many times you can use the Logging Skill before your character is exhausted.

We hope you enjoyed this small look behind the curtain. We promise we have more in store for you over the coming weeks.

 

Thank you, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

feast

Ashwick: An Introduction

Greetings,

Welcome to Ashwick Plantation, a world of survival horror encapsulated in the woods of New England.

Ashwick Plantation takes place during a most troublesome time in colonial history: King Philip’s War. It is 1675, and the Great Sachem Metacomet – known as King Philip to the English – is about to begin a two year reign of terror through the southern and western towns of Massachusetts to repay the colonists for their treacherous role in the killing of his brother, the previous Great Sachem, Wamsutta. King Phillip’s War would unite many native tribes and bring great destruction upon the English. Ten percent of the colonies’ fighting-aged men would die, more than half of New England’s towns were attacked, and many were destroyed. Alas, the war would hit the Native Americans much worse than the colonists as the tribes of Southern New England would lose forty –  yes, forty – percent of their population due to warfare and disease. It is a harrowing time indeed.

There are rampant accounts of epidemics and natural disasters during this time. Floods and tornadoes – even earthquakes – were known to have affected the area. Smallpox, typhus, and measles would come in waves of mortal ruination while influenza took children and elderly whilst wantonly destroying even the most God-fearing families. The conditions of everyday life in the New World were quite terrible: malevolent forests filled with deadly flora and fauna, an entire continent brandishing a severe lack of medical supplies, droughts, floods, and some of the harshest winters recorded in the area.

And did I mention the witches?

We started the idea of Ashwick Plantation with this goal in mind: to create an immersive game that captured both the horrors of the supernatural and the mundane. Horror – in our eyes – comes from external and internal forces. The former is that of slasher films and monster movies – the awful things that chase you through the woods and go bump in the night: being chased by a monster you can’t see, you can’t fight, and you can’t kill. The Other.

We also want to examine internal horror. Internal horror is coping with the idea that you – or the society you are a part of – are the monster: Oedipus ripping out his eyes after uncovering the truth about his incestuous relationship with his mother, Simon realizing that it’s not a creature he should fear, but the beast inside the boys around him in Lord of the Flies. That is the horror we hope you find within yourselves.

These are the waters in which Ashwick Plantation will sink or swim. We will delve into the larger issues of humanity (war, religion, slavery) as well as the intimate (family, community, personal identity), but we will also mine the mystical elements of a world where fear, superstition, and panic control much of the human psyche – all through the lens of the New World in the 17th Century during a war that would shape much of our future. We hope you will enjoy collaborating with us.

In the coming weeks and months, we will slowly be releasing information as we ramp up for our first playtest on May 6th. Rules, lore, and mechanics will all be released in due time. For now, we leave you with this wonderful scene from one of our favorite short horror films:

Hartford Village, Connecticut – 1662

Three men dressed all in black trudged up Main Street. All but one clutched bibles as the throngs of villagers parted like the Red Sea in Exodus. The sky was dark and heavy, threatening to downpour at any moment. As the three turned off of Main, they entered the meeting house yard where a hastily built gallows waited. They marched up to the gallows where the condemned stood. Goodwife Ayres waited – flanked by militia – a sick, crooked smile formed on her face as she saw the men approach. Her eyes met Magistrate Olmsted’s. The two other men looked away and then quickly cracked their bibles open in hopes that it would shield them from the witch’s glare.  

“Goodwife Ayres,” yelled the Magistrate. “Ye have been condemned of witchcraft and colluding with the Great Deceiver. Make peace with God Almighty and prepare to be hanged from the neck until death!” Olmsted and the rest of the crowd stood silent, almost as if they were waiting to hear Ayres’ retort. It never came.

The body was left hanging on the rope for a hour to ensure she was dead. They couldn’t be too safe. As the sun set, the magistrate ordered the men to cut her down and cart her off. With a thump, the body smacked the muddy ground and fell in an awkward pose. Magistrate Olmsted left once the cart pulled out of the meeting house yard.

The rain began its tumultuous descent as Olmsted walked home. A gust of wind blew his hat off his head and shot it into a puddle a feet away behind him. He turned to see Ayres’ figure floating above him. Her head cricked to one side with that same sick smile twisting  across her face. He tried to take a step back, but in seconds he was on the ground. Ayres’ hand rose slowly up as did Olmsted’s thrashing body. Her other needle-like hand clutched the air in front of her as Olmsted’s neck started to tighten. His arm shot up; his fingers clawing at the air around his neck in a vain attempt to save himself. The witch’s eyes sparked to life as two green embers burned in their hollows. Revenge was at hand, but before she could end it, a shot rang out. Her floating body went tumbling across the air. Olmsted fell to the ground. It was the town militia captain. While on guard he must have seen the unholy spectre assault Olmsted.

The captain dropped the butt of his musket to the ground and started reloading: first the powder, then the ball, packing it all down with a ramrod, then shouldering the firearm. He fixed the ember on his matchlock and tested the match’s strike. His eyes scanned the road. The magistrate was still on the ground in panic, but the ghost was nowhere to be seen… until he looked up. The crooked face of the witch stared down at him as she swam in midair. He jerked the gun up quickly but it was too slow.

Magistrate Olmsted looked over as the second gunshot rang out. Smoke and fire emptied out into the air just as the gun crashed to the ground. The good captain went flying into the air thrashing. Then all at once his body stopped moving; his arms and legs went limp and his head bent into an unnatural angle. Then, like a discarded toy, the body was flung off the road. Olmsted quickly tried to run but there was no use – she was always there, right behind him.

The next morning, alarms were rung. The captain of the town militia was found dead in a ditch, and the magistrate was found hung from his foot in the hastily made gallows. Both of their faces twisted in terror.

Most claim it was the Natives who killed the men, but some know what really happened…

Never kill a witch, unless you plan on killing her twice.

witch

May 6th Site And Game Test

Hello everyone!

May 6th we will be doing a site test. This will be the first time anyone has used Salem Pioneer Village for a LARP, and we want to understand all the elements that will come into play!

Also we will be running a game test. We will have NPCs, plot and other elements to fully test our rules and sort out any bugs with the site. We would love if you came by and tried our game and our site out!

If you wish to join, first Like us on the Ashwick Facebook Page, we will update it so you can stay in the loop!