This is an attempt to explain something that has gone into the LARPBook Facebook group as part of the discussion around or LARP rule book. What I’m looking into for the next update is the removal of points to control damage inflicted on a character. The theory is that is we remove the points basis then there are heading more deeply into a set of rules that works with what a character is rather than relying on an additional later of abstraction.
My idea was to describe this in terms of strength, with the inspiration coming from myth and legend.
Some characters can be described as having the strength of 10 men. Meaning that they are exceptionally strong. What if we extended this to their ability to sustain disease and or physical damage?
If we say most people (male or female) are similar in strength or toughness then we can say the average person is 1 man. We can then in our game universe work our what it takes to injure or kill 1 man and that is the common metric all combat events are measured by.
Now we hit a heroic character who is not exceptionally strong but is exceptionally tough. A good example might by John McClane from the Die Hard films. This character just keeps on going even when he should by all rights stop. So we could say that for damage purposes he is as strong as 4 men. Meaning unless some kind of coup de gras occurs he will keep on going with 4 times the injuries of the common man. He is tough.
Taking this into physical strength we could have a powerhouse of a barbarian adventurer like Conan. How strong is Conan? Shall we say 10 men. As Conan really does seem to be far beyond the realms or normal human strength – so for lifting, pushing and also hurting people he has the output of 10 men.
My third example is a combat one. What of the trained fighter. The boxer or marital artist with a knockout or killer punch. We could say that such a person has the strength of 1 man for most things – except in unarmed combat where he strength of many. How many times more powerful than an average person would be Bruce Lees punch? I’d wager quite a few.
Putting this into practice there is no need for a complex character sheet. Everyone one has a normal strength for their time. We only need to note down when someone is superlatively strong in someway. Instead of a list of stats we now have a description that perhaps sounds a little more like the description of a character in a book or film than in a video game.
Tracking damage is also easy we just apply common sense. Or give a set of examples for the world itself to act as guidelines for people. Players now know how strong their characters are and can play according to common sense or said guides.
What I don’t have yet are a set of calls for allowing one character to know they are about to be hit with above normal strength. I’d love to hear your views on that.
The image used in this post is Hyboria 3 by Flicker user Yan Renucci. Please follow this link for more information about the picture and its licence.
This is a follow on to our previous article on including sex in larps and the discussion in episode 4 of the podcast on the same subject. The first article looks at rules methods for achieving this and the podcast turned into a more of a personal discussion. Here one judged ruled against it and two others judged that it could provide an avenue for more plot but also got very British. That is a bit squirly about anything to do with things involving sex.
Then the LARPBook Facebook page got this comment and it gave me an idea on how to better explore the concept. Let’s start with the comment. I’ll just give it some context. This takes place at a Fest Larp. That is a large gathering or LARPers over that takes place over a number of days. During that time people drop in and out of character as context and mood takes them:
Nah sex scenarios don’t work. Luke forgot the time we were at Mayfest. A harlot was trying to make her way into our group. We were sat around a fire pit and she locked onto Luke. Harlot: so you fancy coming away with me for a while? Luke: I’m not sure my girlfriend would like that? Harlot: It’s ok she will never know. Luke: Well, that might be difficult, she’s sitting right here. Me:HELLO! Hasty exit by Harlot. Giggles commenced around the fire pit!!
The comment was of course from ‘Lukes’ girlfriend and for me it illustrates one of the big Cons with including sex and larps. That is reality bleed. What we don’t want is fictional life having an impact on real life. A man (or woman), going away with a Harlot. That could really upset a partner. Especially if there is no structure to know if this is part of the game or the person playing the Harlot wants some err company. What we end up is with an uncomfortable situation that no one really wants. We’re back to the big reason why the podcast panel didn’t rule enthusiastically about including sex in larps.
But I also know there are places and games where it doesn’t just work but adds depth to the game.
Part of this could be to do with a lack “rules of engagement”. Any game where sex could become part of the game needs a way to firmly say “what happens next is fiction and fiction only”. In fact we’re trying to arrange some podcast guests to properly help us out with that problem.
For the moment though lets assume that we can achieve that, in our above example what does that actually do. Well in our example above what it does is open up plot lines. Here are a couple of quick throwaway possibilities.
- The Harlot needs to raise in game cash for an important reason that is part of her plot. Plying her trade allows this to happen. Is she raising money to pay a ransom? What happens if it isn’t paid?
- The character she is targeting is not going to get sex. He’s going to be taken away, drugged and interrogated. Later he will be found – worse the wear for his experience and now the questions are – what has been found out and by whom.
Clearly there are many options here.
Its also clear that the problem are our prejudices and our own attitudes on the topic. I’m not for a moment going to say all games need a sex mechanic -but is clearly a possibility on improving the possibilities of what can happen in Larp.
We’ll continue to look at this and see what eventual conclusions we can reach.
The image on this post comes from Flickr User: Frank Kovalchek. You can learn more about this picture and its licence here.
After quite a bit of thinking, more delays than I really care to think about the beta version of the LARPBook open LARP Rules book is now out.
Click here to download the book in PDF format
This book is published under a creative commons licence you are free to copy, adapt and use it. The only thing you are not allowed to do is sell it.
As it stands this rulebook is a starting point. I fully expect to release future updates. These will probably contain updates to any typos that have gotten through, amendments to rule explanations that haven’t got through clearly enough and hopefully simplifications and rule adjustments that take this from a first and early beta to something that is truly elegant and useful.
That is the plan anyway.
For those of you who have waited for this – I apologise.
For those of you who want to pass comment, suggest amendments and contribute – I welcome you as your views will hopefully improve this book.
My thanks to Flickr user Judly Klein for the image used in this post. Click here for details of this image and its licence
I’ve been thinking more about the idea of building of mechanics for social reactions. It came to me that this kind of rule needs a trigger. What’s needed is something all players can see, and that could be worn easily with costume (or none if the larp is not particularly immersive). It also struck me that whatever was being worn needed to only be seen when players were close enough to interact visually or talk. In other words – it doesn’t have to be very big.
That took me to pendants. Worn around the neck pendants can be easily made and be shaped or coloured to have meaning.
The rule would work a little like this. Pendants are made for players to convey a meaning in the game. In the pre-game briefing these are handed out and players are told 2 things
- The meaning of the medallion they are wearing
- Their reaction as a character to seeing certain other pendants.
Its best to focus on what each player needs to know. Trying to remember everything could be difficult. Remembering and roleplaying to only a couple of things is much easier. The aim is to always go for quality of play so making the players life easy needs to be paramount. In a large fest style games pendants can be included in a briefing pack with written descriptions. If the game is smaller and more intimate then perhaps a briefing for the player from a game ref would be more appropriate.
Either way the end result is that players are looking for reactions from others to what they are wearing and looking at each other to see if there if something they need to react to. In theory this added need for awareness could improve the quality of roleplay when characters meet.
This can also be extended to almost any other kind of jewellery. Jewellery is worn as a display so why not use that display as a signal to others in a LARP. A cue here can be taken from ecclesiastical rings worn by the clergy. The kissing of the ring is a social ritual – a social mechanic in fact that is part of the modern world. No reason why we can’t use this as an inspiration in Larp
The pendant in the image is one I’ve worn a good many times for a certain character. Its significance was a badge of rank.