How do you pick a character creation method for a new larp? It`s a key point. Character creation is the first thing helps players get a grip on what they will be playing and points towards the style of the game as a whole.
I’m going to think about this question for The Edit.
What Is The Edit Larp?
The pitch goes like this. A disease has wiped out most of the human population in a short period of time. The structure of civilization is in collapse.
The disease when it hasn’t killed has brought horrific transformations to the minds and bodies of some people.
At the start of the larp, the disease has just started to jump into other species.
The game focusses on groups of survivors who have not contracted the disease. They are trying to cope with these changes.
It looks at group politics, conflict, and people just trying to understand the extraordinary.
The Edit is also a post apocalyptic body and psychological horror larp.
What does character creation need to achieve?
We need the player to understand what their character has become good at over its life so far.
We must also allow for skill growth. Characters are going to be surviving an extreme version of the world. It’s going to be a case of learn, or die. We must be able to periodically confirm what new abilities the character has gained
The modern world that The Edit stems from is complex. As a result, we are all capable of many things. The character creation process needs to reflect that.
Players also need to be able to reconcile the play of their character with its abilities. Whatever is used to define and generate the character must be simple enough to remember. It should also offer hooks to build plot off.
Methods of Character Creation
Points Based Characters
In the UK this is really popular amongst fantasy fest systems. It’s even-handed, as everyone has the same potential. My concern I’ve seen some rule books get complex in order to define things by points. Also the world of The Edit has many skills. So I’m not sure listing these is practical.
Story Based Characters
Essentially characters have a back story and abilities are inferred from it. It’s very roleplay focussed. It’s very flexible.
The bad side is that it is open to abuse. Its openness may lead to people trying to create overly powerful characters.
However, I’ve seen this approach work so well in other horror games that it has to be a possibility for The Edit.
Describe the defining roles in your characters life and gain the relevant abilities. It’s a little more controlled than just writing a story as the archetypes can come from a list pre-defined by the game designer.
Archetypes can broadly define work-skills and with a little adaptation lifestyle abilities. These wouldn’t be ‘skills’ per se. Just areas of ability
I find this idea to be good. It suggests that a foundation for a character can be created, and built on.
Everyone has a foundation of common skills. Like cooking in a local style, using basic technology and so on. Onto this are added banks of abilities based on work and hobbies. The control here is that each character can only have so many banks of abilities.
A bank of abilities, for example would be the medical skills appropriate to a choice of doctor or nurse. Or the combination of survival and combat skills that go with being a soldier.
Adding New Skills
Characters need to grow and gain new abilities. How does this happen in the four systems I’m thinking about?
Well in a points-based system, the character would gain points to spend on skills. Points would be gained per event or on any online play. It’s simple and easy to manage. I want the new or updated skills to reflect play so I will have to think of controls and restrictions that make this possible. The aim is to avoid gaining skills just because the points exist.
Story Based Characters, Archetypes and Specials have one thing in common. Skills can be assigned based on story events. There is not direct connection between points and skills. Everything depends on how the player plays the character.
I like assignment by play That’s the solution. However the problem is recording when a player is due an update. I’ll be looking into solutions for this problem. As I think this ties everything back to story. Its the way to go.
Which method of Character Generation do I go for?
I think it has to be Specials. I need something that doesn’t get bogged down in detail and that lets players differeniate themselves
Also by doing some defining of availale specials and skill banks I hope to achieve an element of scalability in play. By which I mean it’s easy to say yes or no to the question of "can I do something?".