I’m reasonably sure that everyone who writes LARP events has their own process for creating games. What I’m going to do here is talk about some of the techniques I use for putting together a scenario, I’ve found this method particularly valuable on short LARP events – 1 day or evening games. I’m hoping you’ll find this useful. I’m also hoping that if you have ideas or techniques for writing games I hope you’ll share them.
Step 1: The Nugget / Strapline / Elevator Pitch
For me it always starts with a simple idea that can be built up into a full blown situation and story. A couple of my recent ones have started with:
- An Inn – in the middle of the ocean
- 2 Ambitious vampire brothers plotting in a seized farmhouse
Step 2: Chuck the ideas around
Or throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks. Just play with possibilities and see what seems what a good idea. All scenarios need character, story and something to catch the players imagination. Messing around with ideas now will help add a little to all three of those.
Step 3: The Characters
Who are the players going to meet. What is their background, what motivates them, what are their allegiance’s and intentions. At this point I’m not worrying about statistics and game terms I am just thinking about who these characters are.
Step 4 The story
I’ve got characters and ideas so now I work these together. I often see a short scenario as an event that the players get immersed in. So it has to have a life of its own and also respond to the actions of the players. So now its time to work out lots of story components and see how they work.
Step 6 The Story Board
I find a story board useful. These are start of game events, set pieces and a rough outline of when certain characters will enact certain plans. These aren’t hard and fast – as a too rigid a structure rarely survives contact with the players. Instead this is a planning tool to help the crew manage things like preparing NPCs, make- up , props and special effects. The crew always work very hard and any help the writer can give them is worth it.
Step 7 The Stats
This is when everything gets put in game terms. When character stats and abilities are defined in terms of the rules. Rules for me are something to encourage fair and equitable play – not a something to build to and for – so I often leave this to nearly last or last to do. Doing this last also means that I have to take another critical look at everything written – which makes it a great opportunity for spotting those things that made sense at the time but on reflection are a really bad idea.
That’s it – by this time I have everything to run a LARP and its time to worry about everything else (like game logistics).