Harperelle is a very active and widely known player on the Landroval server. She is part of the Lonely Mountain Band kinship and participates and hosts many events, some of them are special events while others are recurring.
Since I’ve been thinking about hosting an in-game event of my own, I decided to interview her to see what tips and advice she has for hosting events.
So here’s Harperelle on…
Time and place is always an issue when planning an event. I think we got it about right now with Ales and Tales.
Whatever time you pick is not going to please everyone. Ales and Tales at Monday night at 1030pm EST is certainly not a prime gaming time for many players. But that’s the time I have blocked off each week with babysitting available, so that’s the time we have Ales and Tales! I’ve seen many people move their schedules around to make the event. So remember, if you build it, they will come! But it takes a long time to build. Our first 10 or so Ales and Tales had less than 20, sometimes as few as 6 players present. That was fun in a different way.
A thornier problem in planning an event is location. Ales and Tales moves every week, and many of the great locations in Middle Earth are just not accessible to all characters. Sometimes its due to being in a high level area (like Tinnudir) and sometimes there might be a reputation gate. One of my favorite Ales and Tales was in the Mathom House. We had a wonderful time puzzling over the various objects downstairs, then went upstairs to a truly Hobbity ballroom for music and dancing. However, I had a twinge of guilt when a player sent me a /tell asking where Ales and Tales was and how they could get in. I haven’t scheduled a rep area since, though I would dearly love to host an event in the Men of Bree area, the Inn League, or the Rivendell rep area. There are also some high level areas I’ve had to cut out. The Haunted Inn would be spooky fun, but would be so very exclusive. So many places in Lothlorien would make a wonderful stage… its just too bad I can’t make them public to everyone for just an hour or two.
We will occasionally get a lone griefer show up and stand on the stage. Sometimes this is just out of ignorance. I remember seeing a Shadow Company kin gathering in Bree when I first started playing. I ran up to the front of the crowd to see what was going on. I never realized until much later that I was probably being rude by barging into their kin event. And so I understand that some people will just wander in. I start by sending a polite /tell. Usually the audience will start heckling them to get down. If they don’t move or start acting rude, then Lyonardo can be counted on to start hitting them with fire and slime bombs from the festivals. That usually gets them gone quick. If they still stick around, I just casually mention, “Feel free to /ignore the cretin barging in on the stage.” And that’s the end of it. They might still jump around like an idiot, but we’ve all hit the mute button. Too bad you can’t do that in RL!
I also experience the problem of having just too many people show up on occasion. Ales and Tales is averaging about 50-70 players each week now. A few weeks back we had over 150 for the Sons of Numenor event. I was kept very busy with many people asking to perform, wanting directions, or sending me their feedback about the event. All this is fine by me, but it can get a little hectic. And I always feel bad if we don’t have enough time for everyone.
On the other extreme–there’s the event where not enough show up. I tried to run a “fish-slappy-happy-hour” in the prancing pony once when the /fishslap emote first came out. It was a little bit last minute and I was the only one who showed up. I gave Barliman Butterbur a couple of half-hearted /fishslaps then beat my way home.
Getting a Turn-Out
There are two types of events, recurring and single. A recurring event needs to be consistent and predictable for its time and location. This is one of the keys to Ales and Tales success. We are the same time each and every week. For a while, you could only find it via word of mouth or searching the forums. I finally put together a lorebook entry with a calendar and that has worked wonders. I see other people regularly directing others to the lorebook entry for the where and when. Having a lorebook entry is a great way for any event to get information out to all its participants, since you can read it either in or out of the game.
For single events, the important factor is to have good advertising. Start about a month out with some teasers. Then trickle out information over the next few weeks. Its good to make promotional posters (screenshots w/ annotations work great) and post them occasionally. The first thing you should really settle on is the time and location. All the other details can change, but set that one in stone long before the event. This is why I didn’t do any Weatherstock advertising until we had decided the date and time in our kin.
For any event, use your in-game relationships to promote it. Talk to kin leaders, bloggers, roleplayers, anyone who might be interested in your event. Kin leaders and officers in particular are good to contact, as they can forward information about your event to their kin. The forums are a great place to advertise, but they are only read by a small fraction of the total server population.
The Hardest Part
The organization before the event is the most difficult part. If you have done that correctly, then the actual event is fairly easy to do. If you have to make changes to the event halfway though then you’ll get chaos. Of course, sometimes last-minute change is inevitable. An instance of this was when we had Ales and Tales in the Hedge Maze at the Bree-land fairgrounds. We began the event and I kept getting /tells from people wondering where I was. I said I was right there in the center of the maze. So were they… the hedge maze is instanced! I had some people trying to yank people into our instance via fellowships, and others trying to reenter the maze. Finally, I sent out /tells and /regional messages that we would all reconvene outside the hedge maze and we all moved the event to the fairgrounds. We managed to waste about a third of the event on these hi-jinx. So, try and anticipate any issues ahead of time. Make sure to visit the location before the event. Do a sound check to see how far /say and music will travel. They are roughly the same distance. Determine if you need to use /shout or /regional for wide-area announcements.
To organize an event, first settle the basics of the event. What is the time and local? What are the primary activities? Who is likely to want to attend? Next, write it all down somewhere, preferably in the lorebook. Then find people to own various aspects of the event. Who is going to advertise? Who will MC? Who will handle vending? Finally, start your ad campaign and start ramping up for the final day. If you do all your work ahead of time well, you will have a great event that will be remembered fondly.