Here are the texts of the various messages that we sent to players while preparing the larp. All were bcced to all players, rather than exposing their email addresses to each other.
Three months before – About the smoke machine
First of all, thank you for signing up (or waitlisting) for None but the Brave, Saturday evening at Consequences! We hope you’ll have a great time at the game.
We have a preliminary question. Because the game is about firefighting, we were thinking about using a smoke effect for part of it (one section of the game involves the crew fighting a fire). This will take place in a chalet, in reduced light, and we were considering making the air cloudy with a smoke/fog machine.
But of course we won’t do that if any of you have the sort of respiratory conditions that would be adversely affected. If this is you, please do let us know – and if there’s any difference depending on if it’s dry-ice based or smoke-fluid based.
Also, if any of you are claustrophobic to the extent that being confined with a bunch of other players in a role-played pressure situation will be bad for you, please let us know too.
Mo + Traci
PS. (Yes, we know there will also be potential issues with smoke alarms.)
(As a result of the feedback from this, we decided to use a smoke machine based on smoke fluid, rather than a dry ice one.)
Two months before – Explaining the background
Just a quick note to thank you for signing up for None but the Brave! You’ve already proved yourselves heroic by deciding to give it a go. But this is just the beginning of your flame-fringed adventure!
Because you’ll be creating your own character for the game on the day, we don’t have a casting questionnaire or anything like that. But if you’d like to do some thinking ahead of time about what sort of person you’d like to play, that’s absolutely fine of course.
The game is set in the fire station of a smallish English town, and all the characters are staff who are on duty together, one potentially-momentous evening. We expect everyone to be a firefighter (most at the basic grade, some could be up to senior station officers), but you could instead be an admin person if you prefer to.
A good source of research on how UK fire stations work, and what sorts of characters might be found in them, is London’s Burning. This was a 1986 TV movie (written by Jack Rosenthal) from which a long-running series was developed. The series is more soapy than what we’re looking for in the game, but the original movie (sometimes called the ‘pilot’ on DVDs) is excellent stuff and well worth watching if you can find it. Obviously we’re not expecting you to base your characters on London’s Burning characters, but they give a good idea of the basics of how the firefighter life works here.
There’s a worryingly detailed wiki about the show, with the movie’s page here:
or the Wikipedia page for a short version, including a summary list of the characters appearing:
Of course we should stress that you don’t need to do any preparation beforehand at all, if that’s not the way you personally roll. We will be very happy if you want to go into the game without preconceptions: you’ll be able to pick up everything you need to know, on the day.
Mo + Traci
Six weeks before – About lines and veils
We wanted to contact you in advance of the game to talk briefly about Lines and Veils.
There is a risk with largely improvised games, like this one, that people will unwittingly introduce material that another player finds distressing or otherwise squickening. We feel it’s important that the game be a ‘safe space’ where you know you can trust the GMs and the other players to care about your emotional welfare. So we use this way to flag up certain topics or actions as ‘off limits’ from the start.
* A Line is a topic that you don’t want to be included in the game at all. Perhaps because it’s painfully triggering for you, perhaps because you think it’s generally inappropriate for a game such as this, or for any other reason: you don’t have to explain or defend it. So, to take an extreme idea, you may not want to deal with the idea of suicide in any way at all: this would be declared as a ‘line’ and so will not appear in the game. You might not want the game to involve cruelty to animals. You might not want violent racism to play a part.
* A Veil is a topic that you’re OK to have included in the game, but you’d like a veil to be drawn over its actual enaction, ie. play shouldn’t go into blow-by-blow detail. Again this can be for any reason. A common one is in-game sex – if two characters want to have sex in the game, it can just be declared that they have done so, without them having to play it out. Or in a game like this which will quite possibly involve injury and/or death, you might prefer to not have the nature of injuries described in detail. Or if someone finds a spider, you don’t want it described or brandished about. And so on.
(Note: if injury or death is a Line for you, or if anything involving fire, burning, etc is going to be problematic, then this may not be the ideal game for you: it won’t really work if we take those elements out.)
NOTE: It’s important to be clear that Lines and Veils are anonymous. We’d like you to email us privately with your thoughts, and then we will mix everyone’s suggestions together into one list, together with our own (because we get triggered and squicked too). So other players will not know (unless you choose to tell them, of course) what particular Lines and/or Veils you requested.
It’s also important to note that sometimes when people are improvising freely during play, their memories will not be perfect, and someone may accidentally introduce Lined or Veiled material. This is not a problem – you shouldn’t let fear of transgression hamper you. If it does happen, the people you’re interacting with can if they wish use Cut or Brake to indicate that you should back up and go again. No blame will attach, we are all human. (Hopefully.)
(Cut and Brake, if you aren’t familiar with them, are two common safety techniques for use during play. Saying “Cut” creates an instant local time-out – play stops in that interaction. Saying “Brake” signals to a player that they should ease off the direction in which they’re taking the narrative, and tone things down. We’ll talk more about all this before the game.)
Anyway, so that’s Lines and Veils. Do please mail either of us with your own suggestions for Lines and Veils to include in the game, or if you don’t have any. And do feel free to add to them as time progresses towards the game, if you think of new things.
Mo + Traci
One month before – Lines and veils reminder, and costume
Just a reminder about lines and veils – we’ve had responses back from most of you already (thanks!), but if anyone else has anything they want to say, or to add to what they’ve already said, please do email.
Also, a quick note about costume – the game takes place mostly in the mess room at the station, with characters on duty but not kitted up to fight fires. So, the kind of clothes that firefighters wear under their turnouts: plain, uniform-looking, usually blue shirts or t-shirts, dark trousers. No skirts or dresses. No flammable or meltable fabrics! Footwear might be trainers, boots, or sensible shoes: whatever you feel comfortable in and doesn’t need a load of unlacing to take off quickly.
Mo + Traci
(The line about no flammable fabrics was meant as a joke, but at least one player thought it was a serious request.)
Two weeks before – About the character skeletons
In case you’d like to think about your character in advance (or have already been doing so), here are a selection of character skeletons that will be available at the game.
It’s important to stress that these are just suggestions for you to base your own ideas around, or to treat as idea farms – if you choose one of these, you can change any or all details as you wish.
The letter is the first letter of that character’s name (we wanted them to be all different, for the same of clarity). You choose the rest of the name yourself, ie. if you choose character A, you might be Angela, Alastair, Aamir, Albertine or whatever you like.
(A ‘shout’ is fire-brigade slang for an emergency callout.)
These will also be lying around all printed up at the game for you to read, but we figured with 15 of you it could be quite a sluggish scrum if everyone was starting from cold. So you don’t have to look at these now: but if you do, and especially if you see one or two that might be good starting-points for you, then you’ll be saving everyone time on the day 🙂
No need to reply and tell us which you’d like – you can just pick it off the table at the game.
(And the 20 character skeletons followed.)
One week before – About food and drink
Just a quick note about eating and drinking during the game. It’s set (mostly) in the fire station mess room during quiet stretches of your watch, so it’s totally fine – in fact, it’s expected – for your characters to be drinking tea and coffee, snacking on crisps and biscuits, etc, during the course of play. I mean it’s not like firefighting is a non-stop banquet: that would probably impact on fitness levels after a while. But like most workplaces, non-alcoholic drinks and shared snacks are an important social part of the day’s work.
We will be bringing the basics, but if anyone wants to eat or drink anything unusual or special during the game – or feels that their character might – then please do. (And be prepared to perhaps be a little teased by colleagues, if it’s something ‘poncey’.)
Mo + Traci