Hosting

From Gestalt

The Director, or Director, has a combination of roles in a Punklore game. As the bearer of the Rabbit hole, you are Host of the Viewing Party. Between episodes, as the sender of emails and messages to your guests, interrupting their daily lives, you are the Puppetmaster. As facilitator of the episodes within the film, you are Kori, the Director. Ultimately, all of the aforementioned roles are subcategories of Kori, the dragon-god of storytelling.

As Director, you will need to read most of the site (or books) and keep the literature and rules handy. Because the players are by necessity ignorant of the world and their own characters, you bear the brunt of world knowledge, of "nudging" the characters using clues in and out of realities, and of both roleplaying as well as metagaming apparatus. Depending on play mode, you will handle all the dice and your party's top sheets, and manuals like this site.

Hosting

The Viewing Party

Whether your house or not, as Director you are the host because you bring the rabbit hole. For the sake of argument, we'll say your version is a VHS bootleg, and possibly the VCR to play it. The first step is the pregame, where you talk to everyone who is interested in playing about their schedules and inform them of the strange method of play. Encourage them to research their own responsibilities as players. The first step is the hardest and most important. With as much effort as possible, your first group should be made up of people who genuinely enjoy roleplaying or novices who find the idea exciting. If you have to coerce or talk someone into showing up, their lack of enthusiasm moreso than anyone's ignorance of things like rules, will break the immersion. Everyone will ignore you turning pages to look up a gameplay rule, but someone refusing to pretend things are actually happening will bum everyone out. Even refusing to believe the events are real can be immersive, but not refusing to use imagination at all.

Player responsibilities are low and so then should be the threshold to player choice. Their reponsibilities essentially amount to bringing themselves to the location of the first episode already in-character, so to speak, ready to watch a viewing of an obscure film. As their alternate selves, they should build a short backstory of their relationship to the film. Are they curious based on what you've told them, or their own involvement independently? Is this gathering for fans, or are you, the host, the only one who's ever heard of The Realm?

Once these pre-game ideas are settled, the invitations to the Viewing can be sent. This can be as informal as texts explaining the gathering and as formal as wedding invitations with save the dates. Allow your own personality and level of fantasy or film obsession to dictate how serious, silly, formal, or informal this act should be. In any case, at the point the invitations are sent the game has now begun. At the party, players should refrain from referring to the game in any literal fashion, and instead frame all conversation around the movie. Instead of, "this game seems odd, I don't know how it's going to go," players are encouraged to express the same sentiment as, "this movie sounds odd, what if it isn't good?"

As Director, try not to police minor slip-ups using corrective language like, "Hey, guys, try not to talk about the game," and instead enter gaming conversations and subtly guide them toward movie language, leading by example. For instance, responding to the "game seems odd" phrase above with, "I know. don't know how to feel; I'm a fan of the subculture, but I'm afraid the actual film could suck. What if I invited a bunch of people to watch a crapfest?" Their natural response will be more inclined to say something like, "Don't worry, even a dumb bad movie about dragons is pretty good," than to continue talking about gaming.

Once everyone is there, popcorn and other food and such have been served, and everyone is settled into their place on the couch or around the table, the rabbit hole should be opened. In this case, the tape is put into the VCR and Play is pressed. If you like, some form of effect can be done here--as simple as flickering the lights in the room, or prerecording something creepy and atmospheric on the tape. [* 1]

DIRECTING

Episodes

Similarly, your responsibility inside the fantasy storytelling game episodes will be to handle as many of the game pieces and game concepts as possible, and divert or redirect players through example back into the reality of the movie whenever they stray into worrying about rules or gaming. In one of the preferred methods of play, you will handle dice rolls and their character sheets (called call sheets), revealing their characteristics to them in as organic a way as possible. If they find a mirror, you describe what they see. If they ask another player what they look like, show them the description or picture card[* 2], and let them try to describe them in their own words. They will find out their abilities as they use them, when you describe the results. In more traditional modes, they will handle dice and sometimes their sheets, but have a little more of the imaginary baggage.

When directing, you are the only traditional role player. You not only pretend to be yourself and imagine the scenarios and surroundings, but pretend that you are and have always been a form of the god Kori, a shapeshifting nonbinary dragon that can appear Cheshire-style whenever they want and affect outcomes and chance. You roll the dice, but can override the fates at will. You can "nudge" players in one direction or the other, all the way up to and including full deus ex machina, whereby Kori shows up and offers them information. This last tool should be used sparingly if at all. Kori does not like to interfere; a good storyteller lets their characters make their own choices and records what happens. Sometimes, however, your players get stuck or are having a hard time. Any and all interference should be done in the name of making the game more fun, more exciting, faster paced, and positive. In other words, less work, less boring, less slow, and less traumatic. Kori can appear in many guises (signaled by the colors of violet and purple somewhere on the form), to offer If Kori the dragon shows up it should be because your players sought them out intentionally or the game has veered into friend-ending territory. Because players are themselves, this is possible. Friction can be entertaining, but it is your job to know the line and when to step in.

PuPPETEERING

Realities

Between episodes, and if you so choose, during, a good Director will not leave his players to reenter their everyday lives and forget their adventures in The Realm. Strange texts from unknown numbers, emails from fans of the movie who have also been inside it, even physical mail of handwritten letters, props, costume elements, or film memorabilia can and should be sent as clues to a secondary story about the film's curse (the thing that enables your players to enter the movie world) and the various murders and mysteries surrounding it. Our smartphone and desktop apps can help coordinate and time many of these tasks. Prewritten package storylines can be subscribed to and assigned several addresses, and then bought and scheduled using the same app. These services are offered only as optional game enhancers for a more advanced version of gameplay. Most of it is accomplishable on your own for free by setting up fake email accounts and mailing your friends weird items. We recommend waiting until the team is on board with the game and gets the basic gist of it before committing to any extra expenses, so at least one or two episodes before starting a subscription expansion.

These mysteries about the filming should ideally be a) informed by the lore on this site and b) tie into the larger quest your players are trying to compete. The standard larger quest is to heal the movie itself by somehow establishing canon: resolving paradoxes between the movie, its script drafts, and the book manuscript so that its primary storyline can complete. Many of our expansion experiences will easily fit into this idea. You are, as Director, free to make their ultimate goal your own, just as you plan out some loose ideas about what their goals are in each episode. The great thing about games of the imagination is that all rules and game pieces are at the end of the day, optional.

References

  1. The store will eventually have tapes, DVDs, and Blu-ray rabbit holes for sale that include the soundtrack and will time your games with their runtime, and the Punklore YouTube has a free version of the same thing.
  2. Another optional game piece found in the store