How to run Alex the Great

We’re making Alex the Great publicly available, so that anyone can run it for their own friends, without needing us to be involved. This page talks you through how to do that.

The licence under which we’re releasing Alex the Great is Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Click through for the details, but basically it means that you may not use the larp for commercial purposes; you must attribute it to us; and if you make your own derivative works based upon it, then you must make those publicly available under this same licence. (If you have any questions about the licence, please do get in touch with us.)

Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on Pexels.com

What you’ll need

This website

All of the actual content of Alex the Great is here on this website. You can either make a copy of it, or just direct your participants to come here and use it.

Some forms

We use these four Google forms to help administer Alex the Great, when we run it. You will probably want something similar.

These links are to template versions of the forms. When you click the link, you’ll see a preview of the form, and a button that says ‘Use template’. Click that button, and it will make a copy of the form in your own Google Drive, which you can edit as you wish.

Signup of participants: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1tv6lBkU9mSZsfEiUtRawp8EwNCgLVFQFvHSnjYxIqKs/template/preview

Character creation: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1INiguFtHdWhRQ0AvXZT0NoTyeVvIIzEN6EOn153hIXY/template/preview

Collecting anonymous Lines: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1e42PMJKgUgr6ujZDzXWC8WCfZcsOKYuEC4TpEkMsc2s/template/preview

Voting during the larp: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1FzvvSqGdLmABDIGyis5twds8JV6y7v5I1ugGTaODCuQ/template/preview

Some emails

We send out a series of standard emails during the process. Everyone who signs up gets one of these first two:

  • To confirm a place
  • To tell someone they’re on the waiting list
    (both of these also discuss flagging)

And then subsequently to those who have places:

  • To confirm that we’ve received their created character — this also directs them to join the Discord server
  • To remind that they should submit Lines
  • To remind of the start time of the larp

Something to help with votes

You’ll probably want some way of processing the votes quickly and accurately, so as not to keep the participants waiting between rounds. We use a simple MS Access database, which takes the data from the Google form as input. You can download the template for that from here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/h3t3y9qls3wcwnh/Alex%20the%20Great%20voting%20analysis.accdt?dl=0

Or if you can’t use Access, or you just prefer otherwise, you can write your own analysis tool, or do it by hand: that’s all fine, it’s not complicated maths.

Somewhere to larp

We run Alex the Great on Discord. But you can run it anywhere which allows you to set up video channels for group and pair conversations, and also text channel alongside.

Here’s how we structure the Discord server:

  • Offgame:
    • Text channel for admin announcements (only organizers can post here);
    • Text channel for important messages from participants;
    • Text channel for chat;
    • Video channel for briefings etc.
  • Ingame:
    • As many video channels as are necessary to accommodate the participants in pairs.
  • Meta:
    • A text channel for each participant, to which only they can post, but everyone can read. This is for their Alex’s ‘Facebook page’, where they can build up material in advance of the larp that illustrates what their character is like.

So OK then how do I actually run it?

Well, this is what we did first:

  • Create the website, if you’re not just going to send people here for info.

We recommend setting a date first and then finding people, but if you’re going to run it for close friends or something, then the other way round might be easier. So then:

  • Set a date, and draw up a schedule for signup, flagging, character creation, and Lines, like the ‘pre-larp’ section of the one we have here.
  • Make a signup form, and direct people to it.
  • Once signup’s finished, run flagging, to allow everyone who signed up to express any concerns they have about other possible participants.
  • Allocate places. We would recommend starting small… it needs at least 4 participants, but probably we wouldn’t have more than 10, the first time. After that you can go as big as you like!
  • Make a character creation form, and get your selected participants to complete it. Assign to each of them their Alex letter (Alex A, Alex T, etc) — you can choose these randomly, but we recommend if possible using letters that don’t sound similar over distorted audio, so not both ‘S’ and ‘F’ for example.
  • Once characters have been created, set up your Discord server and its channels and permissions, and direct the participants to their Alex’s personal ‘Facebook’ channel, so they can start adding content to it. Get them to change their nickname on the server (not their general Discord name!) to their Alex name plus pronouns, eg. ‘Alex G (she/her)’.
  • Create the form for Lines, and encourage your participants to use it to anonymously send you topics that they would like to be excluded from play.
  • That’s about it, you’re now good to go!

No but yes that’s fine for how to organize it, but how about running the larp I mean?

Ah yes! Well it’s pretty straightforward. Take a look at the timetable for Weeks 1–4 here. You’ll see that you should:

  • Start by running through safety (details are also on the Practical page) and the timetable. And any other organizer stuff that the participants need to know. Put things like the list of lines, and the casting list (which participant is playing which Alex) in the announcements section of your Discord server, so they can be referred to during play.

Then each of the four weeks follows a similar pattern:

  • Post the pairings for that week. In Week 1, pair Alexes randomly (or as you think they will most enjoy); then in the other weeks, pair Alexes who have a similar overall score. But don’t repeat any pairings from previous weeks — each Alex should talk with four different other Alexes.
  • Also post the briefing notes for that week, and remind the participants that they can look there for prompt questions and a suggested activity. But make clear they know that they don’t have to use these: they are optional, for if people feel they will add something to the conversation.
  • Then tell them to go to their designated channels for conversation, and tell them that they are in-game as soon as they arrive there.
  • During the actual conversations, you shouldn’t have to do much. You may want to listen in, but if so then you should warn the participants in advance that you will be doing this.
  • After twenty minutes, hopefully people will come back from their conversations and rejoin the offgame briefing channel. They might need a reminder — a message, or an interruption of the conversation.
  • Get them to submit their scores right away, before taking a break. That way you’ll be able to process the scores while they are away.
  • Once you’ve processed the scores, post them in the announcements. In Weeks 1–3, we only post the overall scores (the average of the three categories): but you could give the category scores as well if you prefer.
  • Then, once people have come back and had a minute to look at the current scores, you’re ready to post the new pairings for the following week — and so on.

The end of Week 4 is a bit different of course.

  • Gather and process the scores in the usual way, but don’t post them into the announcements.
  • We like to tell the participants to get back into character in the group briefing channel, so that their Alex can react once the final scores have been announced.
  • Then read out the winners, in a TV-announcer’s voice if you wish. We read the top three in each of the three categories, and the top three overall. The leader in the overall score is declared to be Alex the Great.
  • Invite the winner to say a few words, and also any other Alex who wishes to speak should be allowed to do so.
  • Then call the end of the larp, and invite participants to take a few minutes break and come back out of character if they wish to join an optional debrief.
  • We don’t have any specific debrief questions: we just invite any participant who wishes to share their thoughts and feelings, for a minute or so, without being interrupted or discussed by anyone else.
  • Once everyone has done that who wants to, you can throw it open for more general discussion and chat.
  • You may wish to ask them not to start critiquing the design of the game, or the way that you ran it — it might be preferable for them to send you such things later, rather than distract from the conversation about their own experiences in play. Up to you.
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