‘No Middle Ground’ is a game about power. It puts a spotlight on the people who wield considerable power over nations, and on the choices they make about when and where to apply it. On the sacrifices those people have to make, and on how hard it is to stay true to your own ideals when bigger things seem to be at stake.
The setting for this game is a beautiful Spanish hotel where an international summit is taking place, with several nations in attendance. The official purpose for this summit is to create international guidelines for medicine research and distribution.
Of course nobody is expected to stay on topic for too long: time is money for these people and there are so many things to discuss, both publicly and in private.
Besides, external events and discoveries will also have an effect on both the negotiations and the people in attendance. So do not worry if you do not know much about medicine. Any information that is absolutely essential to start the negotiations will be provided by us. The initial topic is a starting point, a reason to get these characters together in one place. It is not the theme of the larp. The direction of your journey from the moment you first take place in one of the conference rooms is entirely up to you and your co-players.
The delegations that the characters belong to will represent existing countries but the politicians will be fictional. In some cases the dominant parties or major occurrences in these countries may be changed a bit for dramatic purposes. This will become clear from your character sheet and group description.
In this larp you will spend two days as a powerful individual on an international summit. The stakes for your country and your personal career have never been as high as today. You also know that everybody in the room thinks the same way and will not give you anything for free.
This is the time to make the big deals. But you will have to continuously balance integrity and success, your country’s interests and your personal goals. You will have to make decisions that influence others and shape who they are and who you need them to be.
The game is character-driven, which means that most of the things that will happen in the game originate from the characters. You character will have a lot of play- and plot hooks and several relationships. Finding and playing on the difference between this character as a role (‘the press secretary who will stop at nothing to praise his country’) and as a person (‘the man in a burn-out who is still hung up on his divorce and really just wants a moment of peace’) is one of the main challenges of this game. When will you show feelings and when will cold professionality win the day? Who can you trust with information, with ideas, maybe even with moments of weakness?
The characters all have goals and character traits that will hopefully create play and strong scenes for everybody. Besides your personal goals the world will not stop turning during the Summit. Your character will be able to react to external happenings and you can use them to stress certain aspects of your game or your character.
The game will however not have a big sweeping plot that will keep all the characters busy all the time. One of the main pulls of the game is the opportunity for side deals, for getting to know the other invitees and to see what you can use them for. Or whether you secretly love them. Or maybe both.
This larp is not intended to be one big meeting, and we will try to give all the characters several goals on both a professional and a personal level. There will be plenty going on. You can chose to get involved in as many things as possible or care about one thing very intently. If you think large meetings are fun you can attend those, if you like to make one-on-one appointments that is also possible. You can also choose to mainly play on the character’s’ personal life and personality instead of their summit goals. We will create a lot of options but very few mandatory talks.
It is also not intended as a current affairs simulation. If you are very knowledgeable about world politics, political science or various humanitarian crises, try to keep the discussion at a level where all can participate.
Of course these themes are part of the game, and we strongly encourage you to speak about -and play with- what certain political situations will mean for your characters. But try to stay respectful and do not mock other players when they do not know the name of the president of Kenya.
The game should be playable for everyone with an interest in experiencing what it is like to be a powerful decision-maker who has to maneuver between similarly powerful people. In-depth knowledge of world politics should be a bonus, not a requirement.
The majority of the characters in No Middle Ground will be part of a delegation that represents one of the six countries that will attend the summit.
The makeup of these delegations will vary a bit, but each country has a president, and most delegations will have various ministers and diplomats, security personnel and aides or assistants. Those presidents who have partners will have them accompany them to the summit to help in diplomatic negotiations.
There will also be a few lobbyists for various corporate- and other interests.
Approximately 5 characters will be journalists. Their gameplay will be a bit different from that of the politicians. They will not be able to directly influence the decisions, but because they control the narrative towards the outside world they are hugely influential in how those decisions are perceived.
This setup means that the characters will be more or less split between those who wield obvious power (politicians) and those who distribute that power and influence the form that it takes (journalists, lobbyists, aides).
Shortly after you sign up we will send you a questionnaire. We will assign you a character according to the experience you prefer. All characters will be pre-written and provided by the organization at least a month before the larp, including all the character’s plots and relationships. Keep in mind that in order to save some surprises for the larp, a certain degree of secrecy is needed regarding these.
The people who sign up as patrons will get a chance to Skype with the character writers to make adjustments and voice preferences.
We will provide you with the contact information for the players of the characters your role has a relationship to and we will organise preparatory workshops to give those connections a finishing touch before the game starts.
Hotel Elegance Getafe is a luxurious 4-star hotel in Getafe, 25 minutes from Madrid. There will be other guests in the hotel but we will have a floor to ourselves. Most of the rooms will be in-game rooms, and we have some conference space as well. We can keep some rooms off-game if needed. If you have any other special need please contact us before the sign-up.
The food will be provided by the hotel restaurant. Unless you have special dietary needs (please inform the organizers if you do!) you’re requested to not bring your own food.
DATE: 6-7 october 2018.
The workshops will start at 8.30 am and will be finished around 11. Shortly after the game will begin.
The larp will end on Sunday evening, the exact time depends on the game. Afterwards there will be an afterparty in a nearby venue.
There are no more scheduled events on the monday, but there will be time to have breakfast before leaving.
There will be no out of game breaks for showering, eating or sleeping; you’ll be able to do all of that as your character would.
The hotel is close to Madrid. We are looking into options to arrange transport for the players.
Other modes of transport: taxi, train or bus.
Play to flow. This game is designed to offer you the chance to experience life as your character, albeit during a short period of time and in a controlled environment. It will be a successful experience if you flow with what happens to your character. There are no objectives that will cause you to win or lose. The only thing we ask of you is to be in your character’s shoes, to connect with what they feel, to think the way they would think and behave in the way they would behave, all the while allowing your character to make their own decisions. That’s what we call “flow” or “letting go”.
You are your own game master, of course within the limitations of the game- and safety rules. We trust our players to be involved in the whole process, from the character creation phase to the end of the event. That’s why, once the game starts, you don’t need to ask us permission to do something or to decide if your character would think or do something.
Your character sheet is yours. Read it, study it, cry on it, transform it and play it. Do whatever you need as long as you respect the play challenge you agreed on.
What you see is what there is to see. There are no magic ability cards that can save you. All you see will be part of the game and you will have to deal with the consequences. Respect other people’s experiences and safety: avoid any behaviour or attitude that can hurt the immersion or the experience of other players but also keep in mind that safety comes first.
There will be secrets. There are some stories that we want to be revealed in-game. So please be careful about the information you share with others out of game. Every character could have different levels of knowledge about different plots.
The off game use of any kind of electronic devices (tablets, phones, computers, etc) during the game should be discussed with the organizers.
“Verum”. When we say this word we are letting you know that the next sentence is a cue that must be followed up, for example ‘make way for this car’. Only organisers can use it, although we will rarely do so.
Please check our safety document.
Emergency. “Emergency, stop playing”.
Green (or one tap on the shoulder). When someone uses this, it means the rest of the players can raise their game intensity. It is a question, not an order.
Yellow (or tapping the shoulder twice). When someone uses this, the other players have to lower their game intensity. This is an order. Please ask what you need after saying this word.
Red. The scene stops immediately. This is an order.
Comments about the body of the players are prohibited.
This is an out of game space that works as a safety net for the players. If your play is having any negative impact on you, you can come here and eat, rebalance, relax, or get a hug.
ARE YOU OK?
Gamemasters or other players can ask if a player is ok with this sign:
You can reply with:
“Yes, I am ok”.
“Not sure”. This hand signal, which means the player doesn’t quite know how they feel, or that it’s neither good or bad. This should be treated as a thumbs down by the person doing the asking. Please bring the player to the safe space.
“No, I am not”. Please bring the player to the safe space.
“What we have been discussing in the past hour while we waited, what we feared when comparing notes under the fluorescent lights, turns out to be true: they have been in talks with the Greeks. Damn. And from the look of it those feta-eaters have given them a lot more actual concessions than they have given us.
I can see it in their gloating faces as soon as they open the door. Not so much in that of the president, she is a veteran of these things and knows how to keep us in the dark. Ever neutral. But Johns the press secretary, always at her left shoulder like a loyal parrot, is having a harder time of it. He has the smirk of a man who has won the day, even though everybody knows he is a nervous negotiator who can easily be distracted. It can’t have been him.
They have a woman with them that I can’t quite place. An aide? A lobbyist? She is grinning. Now that I notice, she is grinning straight at Dumoulin. I give him a puzzled look, and he looks away. Too fast. What is he up to? We will need to have a good long talk after this.
I feel a headache coming on. Maybe it’s the coffee, or the fact we are pushing midnight.
But I manage to put on my game face. I have not worked for all these years just to give up this easily. The Greeks may have put us back a round, but maybe we can still overcome. Stranger things have happened in races like these.
Maria catches my look and she gives a visible sigh of relieve. We are very much alike, she and I: we see these things as challenges instead of losses.
I try to look unfazed as somebody pours me more coffee. I look the president straight in the eyes and smile my most winning smile. ‘Madam president, thank you for honoring us by taking the time to meet us at this late hour’. She seems slightly surprised at my politeness. Good. Round one has started.”