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?".
First of all, I’d like to point out that this is my first article for Larp Book as you normally see me videoing myself on my YouTube Channel.
So, as I start, please ignore the spelling mistakes and bad grammar as me did bad at English in school!
I’m going to be attending my first Curious Pastimes; Event 3 “The Forge of Norsca” at Huntley Woods between the 19th to 21st July. Now as an experienced larper you’d think that this should be a walk in the woods (pun intended) and that I should be excited, ready to go but in actually fact I’m nervous and anxious.
When it comes to debuting at a new system you have to remember that calls and actions for certain systems can and will be different from each other. I for one don’t want to mistaken a ‘Strikedown’ and pretend to bleed out but it’s actually you fall over and not bleed out (for example). On top of this I will be meeting a lot of new players in a system I’m not familiar with. I don’t have an IC tent so I will be camping separate from my friends in the OC area so my anxiety will be heightened getting from OC to my IC area during ‘Time In’ without being murdered IC (which I’ve heard this happens).
Thankfully going into Curious Pastimes Event 3 having been reading up the rules, know people who already attend and made a character to fit in with the players I know attend and help with their plots. If you’re completely new person to the game and you don’t know anyone then this can be very scary for you. If I were to give any advice for anyone starting a new system, veteran larper like me or completely new to larp, then read and learn the information the systems provide. I’ve linked the Curious Pastimes sites below but if you’re looking at attending another larp system that you’re not been to before then please do your research. You’ll never know you might know someone or a friend of a friend that attends who can help you as larp popularity is on the rise.
If it helps then why don’t you try monstering for an event, I did this down in Cornwall for Chaosgate and learnt the system pretty quickly and got to know players very well. Even have two-character concepts for my next event when I go back there next year.
By all means if you have and issues or questions about a system then please get in touch with those who run the events. Most systems get back to answering questions pretty quickly but obviously expect some delays around event times.
Hope you’ve got something from this article and if you’re as nervous as me going into Curious Pastimes Event 3 or any other Larp event you’re attending then please get in touch. I’ve also linked my ‘Like’ page below and would love to hear from you fellow larpers.
Curious Pastimes References:
Website – https://curiouspastimes.co.uk/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/curiouspastimes/
John Harding References:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TheRockerJH
Chaosgate 10th Event I monstered – https://youtu.be/b40RdcflogY
The image for this post comes from Robs Curious Pastimes Collection. If you’d like to see more of these then follow the link
Larp traders in a field means one thing. Rob will try to interview them. Actually so would any other member of LARPBook.
Of course, traders being who they all have their own things to say. Which is good. That’s the whole point of interview.
So with Rob’s usual stuttery approach, we end with 3 very different conversations. After all, they are 3 very different larp traders.
These interviews were recorded on the Monday morning of ‘Curious Pastimes – The Siege of Ravenburg’. Pretty much one after the other.
Ian Knope of Having A Larp. The talk went beyond larp trading as Ian also runs LarpCon and the UK Larp Awards. You’ll hear plenty about these.
Andy Rimmer of Offa Studio. Offa Studio is part of the Skian Mhor family and you’ll get to hear about that family of amazing makers. Rob’s wandered to the dead character discount. Which is perhaps one good thing that can come out of the worst thing.
Tristan Dowrick of Stardust Larpcraft. We’ve interviewed Tristan before – this is one from What’s Your Game. This time you’re going to see his Booth Babe dance and also some new products he’s been working on.
We’d like to finish up by saying a big thank you to all three.
The Photo for this post
We couldn’t show a traders stand without showing favouritism. So instead we have a shrine at Curious Pastimes.
If you’d like more photos from this event then take a look at Robs new photo page – starting at The Siege of Ravenburg
I’ve been designing a new larp and that has taken me down the route of thinking about the world that it runs in. These are some of my thoughts on constructing a world to run a larp in.
Why World Build ?
Players are critical to any larp; and they need to know quite a lot. They need to know how to costume in a way that creates an consistent feel to the game. They need to know how much things are worth, and what are the social norms.
In any larp we need to find a means that help players tackle these questions. That’s the point of detaling the game world. It allows everyone involved to contribute in way that improves the game for all.
Describing the Big Picture
Talking about a fictional world can be intimidating for both the writer and the reader. So we need to take it in steps. First of all do you know enough about the world to be able in a few seconds to give someone and idea of what it is like.
If you can; then that is awesome – as you have a clear idea of what you are creating.
If not then go back and think some more. Make notes of a few ideas. This way you should be give people your idea with clarity.
Decribing “The Edit”
First some context, The Edit is a larp under development. This is the current state of the Big Picture description.
The Edit explores what it is like to live in world changing in unforeseen ways. The population has crashed. Nowhere is safe. It has become dangerous to live in one place for too long. Bands of people are figuring out how to survive. Disease and disfigurement are everywhere.
A simpler description is that The Edit is a post Apocalypse Horror Fantasy
What do you think of these descriptions. Do they make the world worthy of exploring. If you think the answer is yes then The Edit is looking good.
Develop The Look and Feel
Players are going to need to know how to costume. They need to know what kind of equipment their characters will have access to.
In order for immersion to work well the players must all be developing their ideas from a common base. Make sure you have answers to questions that include
- What does clothing look like?
- What does armour look like?
- Do characters have makeup or facial markings?
- Are there any taboos towards certain kinds of dress?
- What are common technologies emoployed by people?
This isn’t an exhaustive list; but not a bad start. Here are some things that can help.
Use a Mood Board
Mood boards are collections of images that set the tone and the feeling of what you are trying to achieve. The easiest way to do this is to use Pinterest.
Use Fictional References
Tell people which films, TV Shows or books best illustrate the world you are trying to create. If possible provide links to items on YouTube, Netflix or Amazon to help people get there.
Do A Photo Shoot
Get a few people together with a photographer and shoot a gallery of images that shows what you are going for. This will help to solidify your plans.
Applying Look and Feel to The Edit
The edit takes place very soon after the fall of civilisation. A plague is resposible for the fall. Dress is whatever you can get. Most people will wear their normal preferred choice of clothes. Some are wearing protective gear. Some are grabbing practial outdoor or military wear. Its not the full on Mad Max stlye apocalypse gear yet. It is the worn out modern day with some people taking precautions; while others are practical.
Its expected that a mood board will be established for the game.
The LARPs Rules
You may not see the rules as being part of the world, but thing of it this way. Your rules describe how people interact with things. How they achieve things. And if your larp involves conflict; who wins.
Your rules are a key tool in describing your world to the players.
This is never more true than in the case of character creation. The building of characters is an expression of how people live in your world.
Remember this about rules
Terms like no-rule or high-rule are explain complexity but in themselves don’t model the world.
Create your rules as needed to let people understand how the world works.
The Edits Rules
The plan here is for as few rules as possible. Combat should be brutal and terrifying. The combat rules will reflect this by making it easy to be killed. Character generation will be descriptive. Based upon building an archetype. The archtype comes from previous employment, interests and hobbies.
As you can see the rules are not finished. But I do have goals.
The General rule is Iteration
This means that your world won’t be formed first time. You’ll go back and edit and revise ideas. Each time improving things for yourself and others. Like the real world it should be a living breathing thing that never stops changing.
Your Players Understand Things
Never forget that your players are a fantastic resource. How they respond to things will teach you how people interact with your world. Always listen to them. They are a mine of ideas.
Here’s is the idea. Give someone a ticket for a larp that they have never attended.
Before I get into detail I must say that this is not my idea. It belongs to Gideon Lawrence of Wyvernstales, Legends Larp and Myth. You’ll more details on finding his stuff at the end of this post.
The Ticket as a Gift
If you go to more than one larp then you may know people who go to one larp but not the others. So why not help a friend go to a larp they have not tried before by getting them a ticket.
The more larps we all go to the better it is for everyone. Yet sometimes we don’t do this. There can be plenty of reasons. Sometimes though all we need is a nudge. The ticket is the nudge. Plus finding out that you know another attendee is always a good thing.
So give a ticket and help a friend experience more.
The Ticket Exchange
Larp tickets are rarely cheap. Spending a larp amount of money to see if someone likes something could feel like too much. So how about getting into a ticket pact. I’ll buy you a ticket to something I do; if you buy me one for something you do. It’s a simple exchange.
Yes you still spending money. Now though you have negotiated with your friend on what you are both going to do. You know what you are doing and what you are getting.
Raising the question can be the thing in itself. It may be that you decide not to buy each other tickets. That’s ok as now you have talked about the other larps you do. The idea of going to another larp is out there and that is a good thing.
Spreading The Cost
Tickets for larps are not always available. For a larp planned for later the next year, it may be months before tickets go on sale. This means you are giving away a ticket you cannot buy yet.
That’s not a bad thing. It means you can promise the ticket and start saving. Spreading the cost over a period of months. So long as you save some money it can take the sting out of the final cost.
It turns out that a larp ticket as a Christmas present need not feel as expensive as it might.
About Gideon Lawrence
He’s a one man larp machine. He runs a larp company, owns a larp shop, tells stories, educates and pushes the hobby forwards.
Here are some ways you can get hold of him.
The Wyvernstales Website