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The Wizard's Desk

The Wizard's desk is a blog space where our staff and creative leads offer their insight and experience on engaging with DrachenFest US! We're excited to share what we can, so pull up a seat!

Camp Leadership: The Spymaster

This is part of a blog series on Camp Leadership



The Spymaster

Short Description: They form an intelligence & counterintelligence network of rogues & spies. This enables back-channels for diplomacy, sabotage, & intrigue. They also inform the Camp Refs what’s going on with their sketchy actions.


Skills Needed

  • Understanding of consent based rogue roleplay

  • Ability to navigate OOG consent for conflict roleplay

  • Networking


Contest Responsibilities:

  • Organize spies & scouts

  • Collect tactical intel

  • Counter intelligence

  • Attend Thieves Guild briefing on Weds night.


Opportunity Spaces & Domains:

  • ‘Rogue/clandestine’ structure: How is your intelligence network organized? Are you visible or invisible? Ie. are the camp spies all working under cover? Are you the camp’s bakery or shoe shiners? Or do you all walk around in Assassin’s Creed outfits? (Both are viable and fun!) 

  • Intelligence goals: Collect strategic intelligence, such as ‘how many eggs does a camp have’, ‘what are the camp’s current alliances’, ‘what are the names and visible appearances of other camp’s leadership’, ‘which of the camps do you have a good line direct line of communication to?’ These can be thought of, as your classic ‘spy’ quests and provide great strategic benefit to your camp. Share these with your camp leadership!

  • Counter intelligence goals: What is the security system you have in place for detecting spies trying to infiltrate or gather information on your camp? This pertains to your gate protocols, as well as internal security. 

    • A strict out-of-game word of caution: This specific aspect requires finesse! A perfect system comes at the cost of fun and roleplay. As a camp, the way you receive players from other camps is your ‘welcome mat’. A hyper-paranoid counter intelligence system which subjects every visitor to draconian measures will severely impede your diplomatic relations, your own camp player’s roleplay and is ultimately not fun. Finding the balance between fun and function is challenging, but can create great roleplay!

  • Operational goal: Set up a sabotage team. Test them in the field to broaden your camp’s arsenal. Are they able to infiltrate a camp and relay a threatening message? Can they sabotage an enemy camp garden & ritual circle? Are you able to create confusion or sow disinformation? Perhaps a crudely drawn ‘fake’ diplomatic agreement between two third party camps neatly ‘extracted’ from one of your agents posed as a diplomat can sew the right amount of chaos. 

  • A note of caution on disinformation & disguise: Make it good, but not too good. When creating facsimiles, or ‘fake’ versions of other camp’s security measures, or fake documents, or even a disguise to look like a camp gate guard, remember there is a fine line between what is perceived as ‘fair and fun’ and ‘unfair and overpowered’. To combat this, err on the side of ‘fun mistakes’. Add a spelling error to the ‘secret gatepass’ for the enemy camp. Or draw the symbol slightly wrong on a fake gate guard belt flag. Remember when we play to lift, we play to lift our in-game ‘enemies’ as well!

OOG Dangers

  • Player Ego 

  • Forcing ‘sabotage’ plot

  • Overtuning counter-intelligence & disguise/disinformation.


Details:

  • The Spymaster organizes the “rogue” roleplay for their camp. They should personally acquaint themselves with any sketchy characters present. At camp briefings, make sure people know they should contact you to get involved with the camp’s rogue-play.

  • For many players, their first question will be how to join the Thieves Guild. While introducing them to the guild is an option, it will eat up a lot of time for these players and is actually a separate "plot" from what's going on at the camp level. But if you want to be part of a player's "join the thieves guild" plot, our advice is to provide clues and hints, but let them make the final discovery themselves.

  • Collecting Intelligence means gathering info about alliances, diplomacy, egg counts, troop numbers, gate fortifications. Gaining actionable tactical intel about what’s going on and, making it available to interested parties (particularly camp leadership).

    • Think about how this information is gathered. For example, ask your spies to document their findings well. Draw maps. Have a specific location or a tent where you aggregate and synthesize intelligence out of all these findings! Some camps might have a scale map of the camp, with miniatures, others may have chalk/cork boards with pictures, strings and pins. This roleplay is both fun and can provide a great tactical advantage to your camp. 


  • Your role is also to reward and highlight those who are ‘unseen’. Your ‘validation’ play is extremely important here. Don’t hesitate to note the efforts of spies and saboteurs to the avatar and their second as well as the camp leadership!

  • Counterintelligence - requires collaboration with your camp's gatehouse enterprise. System for allowing people into the camp, detecting spies. 

    • Do you have a pass-word system? Or a secret belt flag? Or a sign you make with your hands? Or do you rely on names logged in a gatehouse book? Whatever the system is, keep it simple. 


  • The Spymaster can reach out to the Thieves guild to carry out sketchy actions by proxy. Perhaps you want to have a threat delivered to a camp with force? Or you want to buy information? Or hire a distraction? This option is open to all Spymasters. However, do consider that this comes with a price tag, and the ideal option is to develop these tools internally! A camp’s intelligence network can do everything the thieves guild does, and doesn’t need any fancy guild skills to get it done.


  • Encourage your camp rogues to develop a specialty–a type of sketchy larp activity such as intimidation, info collection, burglary, mugging, assassination, sabotage, complex distractions, shoplifting, etc. 

  • The Thieves Guild holds a meeting on Wednesday night for the camp Spymasters. There, they present the guild’s current services and play opportunities. This list may develop as the event progresses.

  • It’s essential that the Spymaster understand and be able to communicate the principles of “consent-based rogue roleplay - playing for fun, not truly for victory, giving space for enemies to “opt out” or recalibrate conflict, etc.


A word of advice: A well organized troupe of camp saboteurs, with zero thieves guild skills, is far more effective than individuals with the Infiltrate or Assassination skill. The best way to infiltrate a camp is not to sneakily climb over their palisade, but to talk your way in. Maybe you bring gifts? Maybe you’re just here to use the services of the camp’s blacksmith? Training a team to simultaneously create a distraction and carry out a commando operation is an effective way to enable sabotage. In all cases, teamwork always beats any game-mechanic. 

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