World Building, the art of making settings from your LARPs initial idea. Regardless of what that idea is.

World building puts the focus on the place and it’s a vital part of LARP writing.

Let’s a look at making a world.

Your World Influences Your LARP Site

Set your LARP in a forest idyll and you need a site that reflects this. The same goes for a game that needs a castle or an urban dystopia. A site that can look like your world helps players. If you design a world that cannot be represented by the sites available to you then a lot of work has to go into helping your players in another way.

Compare your planned game world to your LARPs location. The bigger the difference the more you should consider doing to help set the scene.

Your Players

Make up the people in the game world. So let’s give them some help fitting in with your world building.

Costume Guides

I don’t like to say standards, that can feel a little restrictive. Instead, give out guidelines about the people they are playing would look. Unless you’re talking about an armed force we’re not talking uniform. Just get them assembling costumes that stylistically would be worn. The game will good and everyone will feel good.

Societal Rules and Phrases

People from similar places/backgrounds will talk in a similar way know what is and isn’t taboo. If you can illustrate some of these and get players following them then the game world will feel a little bit more alive.

Common Backstory

If it’s one thing that LARPers are good at its backstory for their characters. As well as the things that make these characters unique there will be larger-scale events that all the characters are aware of. Make sure you’re players have an idea of these.

Also when it comes to backstory don’t forget the power of storytelling. I’ve been in some larps were telling a story was entertaining, powerful and relevant to the event. So don’t just bung it all on a website. Consider using oral storytelling to sell the world.

Technology

We live in a technological age. I’ve no idea of what your game world will be like. But I do know that players will wonder what they can and cannot do. Consider saying that these things do exist, but these things cannot exist. Leave the rest up to your game designers and players. The dos lay the foundations. The cannot exist, will structure the world. Most other things can be worked out from there.

Religion

This is another thing that needs to be made clear. Once your players get how religion functions in your world then they will start referring to deferring to it as needed.

The Infinite List

At this point, I’m going to stop listing as there is a myriad of things you could document. It could feel that it goes on forever. The truth some details may well help your game. Others are nice to not know but perhaps not essential.

Create enough information to answer all common questions and then listen to your player’s. Their questions will flesh the world out. Do not stress over documenting everything. The input others can give you just by asking a question is valuable. Use it.

The Ongoing Story

How many stories does your world have? If it’s a one-off game then providing the event is good you do not have to worry about this. For longer LARPs, this matters.

When the first event completes will it end with hooks for future stories? Will, there be stories and arcs that the players will naturally want to resolve?

Before the first event runs, make sure you have ideas for the next one. Then look at what your players have done. Responding to them is critical.

The LARP is no longer yours

If you’ve been successful then the LARP is no longer down to just your creativity. Other people will be contributing ideas. It becomes more communal and more alive. It means you’ve done a great job of world-building

The Building a LARP Series

This is the third in a series of articles about creating a LARP from scratch. Part one, containing an index to all completed articles is here.

As always with this series, if you have experience to share on the topic of World Building please let us know so can pass that information on to other.

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