As Eben announced, I’ve decided to run for the Board! Just as an introduction, my name’s Seamus Reynolds. I’ve been playing Witchwood for a bit over 3 years now, and have been larping as a player, NPC, writer, and staffer for almost 8 years now. Witchwood was the first boffer larp I ever played, and it’s remained my standard that I compare other boffer larps against. In addition to incredible storytelling and an incredible community, Witchwood has been my go-to example for how to create a progressive larp founded on strong principles. Our public financial statements, Code of Conduct, Conduct Committee, and Red Feather Initiative are all things I’ve used as examples, encouraging other larps to implement similar ideas.
However, like any game, there’s always room for improvement. To that end, I’ve written a bit about my stance on two particular issues - Increasing Transparency and Communication Between the Board and the Community, and Improving First Experiences for New Players & New Staff. Both are fairly self-explanatory, but I definitely invite you to read more about my positions on them below. They’re issues that I believe are really important to keeping all of our experiences enjoyable and fulfilling, and I want to make a priority of both of them.
Our game and our community have become very near and dear to my heart over these past 3 years. With the end of Taeo’s story in sight, I want to do my part to maintain and grow this game of ours - make sure it’s something that’s rewarding and fulfilling for all of us: players, staff, and newcomers. I hope you’ll consider voting for me, and strongly encourage you to cast a vote, no matter your preference.
If you’d like to get in touch with me, I definitely welcome any questions, comments, suggestions, concerns, etc that you might have! I can be reached by email at Seamus.Reynolds@gmail.com, and I’ll be at Fall 2 in person. Additionally, if you’re around the Boston area, I’m always happy to meet up and talk Witchwood in person.
Thanks for reading!
Transparency and Communication Between the Board and the Community
So, Red Feather Roleplaying has a very excellent set of values that we share on the website. One of those is “We believe in Open Dialogue”. An excellent example of that is in how the Board publishes RFR’s financial statements every year, promoting transparency and stewardship of our finances.
But, in other areas with the Board, that value has been notably lacking. The Board considers, discusses, and decides on issues that affect all of us, but there are no strong official channels for other community members to either learn about or comment on these issues until after they’ve already been decided and announced. The website does provide some limited contact information, but I feel that it is unclear and insufficient, especially for new players.
There are a number of possibilities for how to address this, but some simple practices I’ve picked up working in other organizations could be very helpful here. Specifically, as a board member, I’ll propose and work to implement the following:
- Publicly posting agendas for Board meetings, with intended topics of discussions, at least two weeks ahead of the actual meeting *
- Publicly posting notes from the Board meetings no more than one week after any given meeting &
- Providing contact information for each board member and/or the board as a whole on the website, along with a description of the board’s purpose and functions
* with an exception for topics that would compromise individual confidentiality
These are fairly simple, standard practices for us to implement, and they would go a long way towards fostering a greater sense of belonging, ownership, and responsibility for the game throughout the community. Many of us, myself included, are fortunate enough to be friends with board members outside of the game, which has allowed us to have personal ways of engaging with the Board. But that’s a privilege that not everyone has - especially new members of our community. No one should need to be friends with a board member to learn about issues that the Board is considering. As our leading body, the Board should embody all of RFR’s core values. I believe improving transparency and communication is a simple and strong first step towards helping our entire community better embody not just our value of Open Dialogue, but our values of Stewardship, Fellowship, Fair Play, and Community as well.
New Staff and Player Experience and Retention
Witchwood has an awesome, tight-knit community, both in and out of character. A lot of us have been here for a year or more, which has given us a great opportunity to build lasting and complex relationships. Coming to Oak Harbor feels like coming home to me, and I bet to many of us.
But traditionally, Witchwood has not been the best at retaining new players. Usually, there’s about one event each year where we get a big influx of new characters. Fall 1 of 2015, for instance, or Spring 1 of this year. Every time, I meet a bunch of cool and interesting characters that I’m excited to have come back. Yet many of them have not come back for a second event, particularly in the past year or two. I want to change that.
As pretty much all of us can attest to, Witchwood has a lot of diverse and unique things to offer to players! However, I think there’s a lot we could do to try and improve the experience for new players. For instance, Nuance and I have already been talking to Beth about forming an OOC Welcoming Committee of sorts - a group of player volunteers who work with staff to reach out to new players, acting as optional liaisons, who can help with builds, backstories, connections, understanding the world, and even just basic logistics like finding things at the campsite.
CP and power level is another area that could be improved for new players. Plenty of us remember starting out with 30 CP and finding ourselves nearly out of skills by Saturday afternoon. With Witchwood turning 4 years old at this event, and older characters nearing the CP cap, that power differential is growing a lot more apparent to newer players, and it’s harder for them to feel like they can contribute. CP and character growth is always a complex issue, and there’s probably no one right solution, but I hope that by soliciting ideas from the community, we can help new players not just enjoy their first event, but be really excited to come back for their second.
Finally, it’s easy for us, as players, to focus on other new players, but staff is faced with similar challenges. Our staff and NPCs routinely pull off miracles to make Witchwood what it is, but I’ve heard from many of them that it just isn’t feasible for them to do that forever. While our NPC turnout is usually decent, our plot-writing staff has slowly but steadily shrunk over the course of the game. It’s the Board’s responsibility, as leaders and stewards of the game, to help staff find and connect with new potential staff, and retain both new and existing staff. Figuring out different solutions we can pursue on that front is something I’ll prioritize if elected.
Even if I’m not elected, I do hope that the community and the Board take heed of these issues, and consider both my ideas and others in how to address them. These aren’t the only things that could be improved about Witchwood, of course, but I believe they’re a good place to start. I think that addressing them will positively impact many areas of the game, whereas failing to address them could cause us additional challenges down the road.
Okay, done with issues and problems. I do want to reiterate, though, how much I love our game and our community, and how proud of it I am. Witchwood started with and continues to actively pursue a vision that is more progressive than almost any other campaign larp I know of. Financial transparency, a code of conduct and a conduct committee, clear and public values - Witchwood was built with these things, while most other larps are only now getting around to adding them. I consistently point to it as an example when helping new writers starting up new games. But as a community, we always strive to do even better. If you elect me, I will do my best to help us grow and improve in the years to come. Thank you for reading!