The Three Refrains are a part of the Empire player support team - their core function is to work with players to help them get involved in the game and enjoying it. In many ways their role is similar to the Egregores in providing help and support to players in accessing the plot - but unlike the egregores they are not tied to any one nation. Within the setting they are part of an Imperial Sodality - an organization that crosses national boundaries and is made up of characters from all nations.
In order of importance, the core responsibilities of the Three Refrains are to provide plot support and feedback, help the players, and enhance the setting. This page presents information on these elements, so that participants can understand the role and what it entails.
All members of the Three Refrains report to Clare Evans who is in charge of all the player support NPCs. She can help you with any problems you are having and also support you if you are providing help to a player who is having a problem.
- To provide support to plot writers in the form of creating stories, poetry and song to promote plot.
- To deliver these plot hooks and information across the nations in accordance with plot briefings.
The most important function of the Three Refrains is support the plot that is developed and run at our events. On the run up to each event, we have a team of writers hard at work creating plots. Because of the integral role of stories, music, and performance - in our game setting, in common mythology and in LRP in general - it is incredibly helpful to be able to create good quality stories, poetry and songs that either promote the plot. These pieces may contain clues to the plot, they may be exposition, or they may simply be part of the scene that the writer is trying to create.
In these cases the plot writers will call on the Three Refrains as a group to see if anyone is capable of creating the piece they need for their plot. We use a Facebook group for this - which all members of the Refrains team are strongly encouraged to be part. You can volunteer for any project that is posted there and work with the plot writer to get a good understanding of what is need for the plot.
The other half of plot support is the delivery of plot hooks and information across the game. As a plot NPC your character may be directed to do things that are needed by the plot - but that won't be common. We don't usually use long term field NPCs to create plot through their own agendas and actions. What is more common is that you'll be asked to deliver the performance needed by the plot. This will usually be as your character - but in some instances we may ask if you can use your skills to portray a plot character - for example we might ask you to play a fae ministrel or the like.
- To feedback queries to the plot team both during and after the events.
- Attend morning briefings where practical.
A crucial role of the Three Refrains is to help players access the plot - helping them find out what is going on and providing them with subtle guidance that will allow them to get more involved in the game. The Three Refrains are deliberately promoted as a politically neutral organization that provides assistance and help to any budding heroes of the Empire. They are set up this way to encourage as many players as possible to approach members of the Three Refrains to get help with a plot they are interested in.
Player queries will cover a variety of themes and often be related to plots which are in play on the field. In this situation we wish to enfranchise players involved in these plots currently while encouraging others to get involved too. Ideally, members of the team will be well informed about the game and will be able to answer simple queries or direct characters to other characters who can help them. Good examples of these sort of things are:
- "How do I contact this eternal of Summer?" - help this player make contact with the Archmage of Summer and encourage the Archmage to help them.
- "How do I pursue this quest in this villa near Holberg" - explain how the Sentinel Gate works and encourage them to cast detect magic to find a conjunction
For more complicated queries you should tell the player that you will look into it - and see what you can find out for them. Then when you are free and have a few issues to pursue for the players - come and drop by the plot hub in the crew area and talk to Andy Raff or Matt Pennington. Let us know what the players are interested in or trying to pursue - and we will see what snippets of information we can find or create for you to give them.
Queries will also cover things which are not part of existing plots. Feedback from these will enable us to see what players are interested in and maybe write plots based on the topics and/or allow us to feed out existing information (from the wiki or snippets from the plot wiki) to be of use in the future.
The player support NPCs, the egregores and members of the Three Refrains, have a meeting at 9:00 each morning to discuss what the players are doing and any plot that is relevant. As a member of the team you should aim to attend these meetings where possible.
Help the Players
- To support players in their game.
- To encourage players to achieve their goals
- Ideally have a basic knowledge of dramaturturgy and/or the Music of the Spheres.
- To uphold PD policies.
All NPCs are expected to encourage players to engage with the game. New players may be enthusiastic but nervous and unsure how to get involved. Just helping them get started roleplaying - encouraging them to try things and to get involved can make a huge difference to a new player who is attending their first game or two. Live roleplayers, even experienced ones, who are new to fests may expect the plot to come to them as it does in a tabletop roleplaying game - they need encouragement to develop their own goals and become proactive in the game.
Experienced players are more likely to have problems of cynicism that makes them disengage with the game. If a plot outcome goes against them, they may imagine it was written to turn out that way. A lack of trust in the organizers and the game can be corrosive and really undermines their ability to enjoy the game they paid to come and play. These players need support as much as new players - encourage them to try new ways to achieve their goals, and either explicitly or implicitly remind them that Empire is a sandbox game where their opponents are other players. It's down to them to get engaged and make things happen.
All players, regardless of experience, will benefit from encouragement to develop their own character goals, and to engage with the game to pursue those goals. They may also need help understanding the setting enough to pursue their goal. A character who desires to become a senator needs to know how elections work for example - you can introduce them to the people who can help them try to achieve this.
Any member of the Three Refrains will need to develop a working knowledge in the field of where players can be directed to find out more about general areas of interest, eg. Phalerons Library, Seer of the Gateway, etc. If you don't know who can help a character, then you can ask your fellow three refrains or the relevant egregore. Once you understand who these characters are and how they can help players then you can direct other players to them. That keeps roleplaying happening in the field, helps players get involved and engage with the game and also makes our in-game experts feel like experts.
Ideally one or more members of the Three Refrains should have knowledge of dramaturgy and Music of the Spheres. These are magical techniques that ritualists use to perform rituals - both of which involve elements of performance. As an NPC, players may legitimately expect the Three Refrians to be "experts" on these subjects, so it is useful to be able to talk confidently about them - or to know a character who can.
Finally you need to be fully aware of our code of conduct. These are our guidelines for all participants at Empire - they explain the kind of behaviour that we expect from crew and players at events. It's important to know these rules so that you can make sure that your own behaviour follows the rules, but also so that you can support players who are experiencing difficulties with their own behaviour or the behaviour of others. Most of the code of conduct is designed around the idea of aspiration - of encouraging all participants to try and be as immersive and in-character as possible - with their costume, their language, their roleplaying - everything. It's not meant as a stick to beat people up - but they are an important part of the rules of our game.
Enhance the Setting
- 'To encouraging the learning and performance of setting based song, poems and stories across the nations.
- To encourage national styles of culture in performance.
Part of being a Refrain is to help create a more integrated setting by encouraging people to learn and perform songs, poems and stories that are appropriate for the game. You can create and disseminate your own works - as well as encouraging other players to create new pieces for the game. At events you should do what you can to encourage as many players as possible to perform, not just focus on your own pieces (they are here to participate not to spectate!) or the pieces by the best players. Obviously there is a balance to ensure that what is being performed is enjoyable for those watching but basically try and help everyone get involved and perform - if they can.
Each of the ten nations of the Empire has it's own cultural and musical traditions. Because of the challenges involved in creating music in a LRP environment, it is important to stress that music and performance travels widely - any character can use any of the styles described on the main wiki; the type of music presented for each nation represents the ideal for that nation. Part of the responsibility of a Refrain is to encourage players to adopt and perform music that is appropriate for the setting - and especially to encourage music, performance, and celebration which is appropriate for that nation. You can do this by encouraging a player yourself and by introducing them to other like-minded players who can support them.