In part 1 we looked at getting the core concept of the new LARP written down and agreed on. This is our foundation that we need to build things on. Part 2 looks at how the game starts to take shape.
I’ll start with character details and casting. This post is about a game in which the players get a supported character creation process. They are free to create characters that they would like to play with few restrictions. Support is provided by the referees to make sure that the players are creating characters that will work with the plot. It’s a small event so this high degree of ref / player interaction is possible. Support works through channels such as email, messenger and telephone possible. On the day there is only going to be limited time for character briefings so helping out the players now makes a lot of sense.
On the NPC side the characters needed are being listed and also grouped by scene. Grouping by scene is an organisational tool that helps with a Crew shortfall. Should on the night we get a crew shortfall we can immediately with NPCs should be in play at any time, and should help if we need anyone to double up on roles. Since doubling can be confusing to players we’d also need to make sure that these characters are visually distinct.
Character grouping is not a character so the next stage is to create a working of description of who the NPC characters are and what their objectives are. This document has play notes on the types of activity and style of play we need and also goals for these characters. We are now ready for casting.
Casting our Non Player Characters is really important. We have to marry up the right combination of sex, looks, playing experience, relationship to other NPC players and also the kind of characters this person plays well. Its a lot to think about and it is critical to the success of the game. For this game we had a meeting to discuss our crew and what they should be playing.
At this point we have the characters coming along.
Its now time to think scenes in more detail. We already have a basic list from earlier but now…
Games are like a story with beginning, middles and end(s). Although with a LARP things are a lot looser and events can swing a long way from a plan. So the trick is to make sure you can get all the elements you need in play, preferably in some sort of order. You also need to make sure that dramatic impetus, villains and other plot drivers all arrive in a timely manner that the game runs at the right pace.
The right pace is the one that will allow the players to complete the game, not get bored and not feel hopelessly over loaded either. Once again it is a balancing act.
The earlier mentioned scene list is used for this. For each scene I add more detail about what I know I need to introduce and which NPCs are involved. In other words its revising the core list of planned moments for the game. By the end of this there is a working document that explains each stage of the game. When the game is running the crew will be able to refer to this document, look up every stage of the game and know what is expected. One person cannot realistically run a Larp alone and having a central ‘Bible’ for the game allows everyone involved to chart progress whilst it is running.
Working out scenes for a larp is a bit like a cross between writing a book and editing a film.
By this point in this second phase of writing we should information about the NPCs and game structure that puts us very close to being able to run the game.
The image for this post is called Trough the glass and comes from Flickr user Angelo Amboldi. To learn more about this image and it’s licence please click here.