Party plans

One month to go before my 50th birthday party!

I created an elaborate web site to use as an invitation. I know it’s a bit much, but I couldn’t figure out what to omit. Chris, a now-distant friend, helped me with some editing. As George Washington said, "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."

A year ago I was concerned about what I would do for the party. I think I’ve resolved all the issues I brought up in that previous post. The party will be like a swimming pool, where everyone can find their own depth for what they enjoy:

  • They can just come and be with friends.
  • They can come in costume if they wish, or not and still be welcome.
  • They can participate in the interactive story, or not.
  • They can play games, either as part of the story or for the pleasure of it. Or not.

The only part of the experience that’s not-entirely-optional is the Bardic Circle. I’ve rented a hall at a local community center, but they don’t like the idea of a "party"; in the past, people who rented the hall for parties would leave the place in a mess. So we have to do a Bardic Circle as part of a theatrical/spiritual experience. I was bothered for a while about being disingenuous, but I let it go; all of my friends understand the concept of "campground rules," and I will not leave the hall until I’ve made sure it is clean.

The rest of this post is a description of how the party will work. Feel free to skip it if you’re not interested in details, or you’d rather learn it at the party. If you’re the kind of person who likes as much information in advance as possible, read on.

The overall point of the story is that there’s going to be a vote near the end of the event. At the start of the event, everyone who wants to participate in the story will receive a pouch with five blue stones and five green stones. By accepting and wearing the pouch, you signify that you’re part of the story; if you don’t want to be part of the story, don’t wear the pouch and you won’t be subjected to people asking you to vote on their side.

One position in the story will be represented by the green stones, the other by the blue. It’s a "relative vote": For example, if you feel that the "blue" side is mostly right but the "green" side has some value too, you can vote three blue stones and two green stones.

You’re allowed to give stones to whomever you choose. You can try to convince someone to give you their stones and trust you to vote in their best interests. That’s where the role-playing comes in.

What I anticipate is that the most charismatic or clever guests will get the bulk of the stones in a short time. How to get stones back from them? The answer: duels.

The rules will prohibit physical contests for the duels (no swordplay, darn it!) so you’ll be left to tests of skill. That’s where the games come in. You can challenge someone by betting a number of stones you possess against a number of their stones: "I’ll wager two of my green stones against four of your blue stones."

When you challenge someone to a duel, it is the challenged (not the challenger) who names the contest. That’s so that no one is forced to play a game that they don’t really want to play.

There are few other fiddly rules, mostly to keep the situation from escalating out of control. For example:

  • You can’t name a wager against more than twice the number of stones that you’re betting; e.g., if you want to wager three stones, you can’t bet against more six stones.
  • A wager can’t involve more than ten stones on one side; wagering five of your stones against ten of theirs is the largest wager you can make.
  • If you’re challenged, you can refuse. But if you refuse three times in a row from different challengers, you become dishonored and can’t vote. This means that your stones would become useless.
  • There are other ways to become dishonored, involving cheating or naming impossible or illegal contests. A strip-tease contest would be cool (I’d always win, of course) but we’re in a public place.
  • If you become dishonored, you become honored again by participating in a duel and following all the rules.

If you don’t want to be challenged or play the games, but still want to be part of the story, there’s a simple solution: give away your stones. If you don’t have any stones, you can’t be challenged.

I’ve made sure there’ll be enough games for everyone. I’ll bring 16 pairs of Button Men badges, which are enough for 32 people.

It sounds complicated, but it’s not. If you just bet the stones and play one of the games, you’ll be fine. It only becomes complicated if you try to "game the system."

What will you be voting on? Ah, that’s the story, and you wouldn’t want me to give it away, would you? Perhaps there’s a hint somewhere.

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