I’ve been thinking about the increasing diversity of larpers. Not so much in terms of race of religion. Rather I’m thinking about age. Now larpers are nice and inclusive. The hobby always has been and its something it should be proud of.
However we now have people who have been in larp in excess of 30 years. Also we are gaining new players of all ages young to old.
That worries me when it comes to points based character generation. In my experience (and please write in if you have different examples), points based characters all start with the same number of points. From these character skills are purchased. Its these skills that determines what the character can and cannot do.
This is great when we have a fairly non-diverse group of players. When apparent age, ability etc of the player are in a fairly narrow band. If that then gets wider is it fair? Should an 18 year old have the same abilities as someone in their mid twenties, thirties, or forties. What then happens when the negative aspects of age kick in as players enter their fifties, sixties or seventies.
Now before I go on lets put some clarifications in here
- I completely agree with people role-playing to an age they set. So long as that doesn’t break someone else’s immersion or fun.
- I agree with points as a valid mechanism for character generation – I play at games where it works very successfully
- I also agree with the idea that any character needs to be interpreted and played by the player. It’s this performance that perhaps matters most
Still I would like to see something to help people get into character. Especially if you are new to larp.
So what can we do to help a new player faced with list of skills make them feel as if the skills suits their characters or their age.
Here are a 5 ideas
An Age Handicap
Put simply modify the number of points everyone gets by age. Build into this the effects of age so that actual life experience can be taken into account.
Base Skill Resolution on Role Play
You might be old enough to play an expert at something but doesn’t mean to say you are. Where possible make one of the metics that determines character skill success role-palying. Is the role-player drawing on themselves enough to be convincing as someone who is or isn’t great at something.
Set the Skill and let ability shine through
I think this works well with combat skills. You cannot say you are an expert swordsman in a larp without actually having some skill. So let the rules state you have a skill, then it is your ability that determines the outcomes.
Make it part of the character story
The characters skills are the skills purchased. But if you claim an expertise or lack of build up how you got to where you are in your character story and let bits of this out. So even if you are a 40 year novice – explain it. Perhaps your life has just taken a change? You’ve been put on a different path doing different things
Age has robbed you of skills
Superficially this is similar to the last point but instead of any story element we have a central theme that is really worth exploring. The debilitating effects of age. People do not universally get better with age. There are things we get much worse at. What these are depends on the person but I’d call on the two most known – loss or physical ability or impairment of mental faculties as worth taking a look at. Sure its fun playing the unstoppable know all hero. But a person damaged by their age so that they have experience but little working skill. That’s interesting and also something that as a society we all need to learn more about.
I’ve recently run into two sets of rules. One is an updated rule book for the Croatian Terra Nova LARP. This book is published on Google Docs and according to old friend of LARP Book Ivan Zelac – anyone can make use of it.
The second is a general set of rules of romance in free form Larps.
So that’s two very different premised but since both are potentially very useful its only right that we link to them.
So here is the first of them. The full set rules of Terra Nova. This link gives you the version 2 Beta 3 set of rules. These are current at the time of writing.
Link to Terra Nova rules.
Next we turn to the blog Four Letters At Random. These include a method to specify a characters in game position to sexuality and then follows this up with suggestions on how to play romance.
Link to Romance Rules.
I hope that you find these useful.
The image used in this article is a simple crop of Flickr user Phil Roeder’s image of Recipes. You can learn more about this image and its licence here.
Sometimes on the Internet and you get lucky and this happened with my post about using the old Fantasy Standard of “He has the Strength of 10 men” in a LARP Rule.
Jeremy Springfield on Google+ put in a comment to me that explained the Siege Damage Rule used in a system he plays and it made a lot of sense to me. He has a post regarding this on his blog “A Gamers Life” which talks about this is in 4x LARP. It’s a good idea to take a look at this post: http://www.jeremyteague.com/2015/01/siege-damage-in-4x-larp.html
In the game that Jeremy plays in characters have 1 point of damage on all body areas and all normal weapons do 1 point of damage. This sounds like a system with the kind of combat you want to avoid – i.e. it is easy to get your character injured or killed. It also sounds like my kind of system – I like combat to be a scary and intense option,( I guess that’s my horror LARP background coming through).
However some characters do “Siege” damage. Siege damage is reserved for characters stronger than the average human and is reserved for large weapons. In this case any character hit with such a weapon takes 1 point of damage to all locations. Effectively incapacitating the character.
There is also an option for a sufficiently strong character to catch and throw back such weapons where appropriate – there is a great example of Trolls throwing boulders at characters. Which also includes the options for other similarly strong characters to catch and throw back the boulders.
This means you can simplify my original concept to.
All characters get 1 point in all locations – unless they have the strength of several men when it comes to handling damage
Exceptionally strong attacks can be reduced to a single call “Siege!” or something similar.
I think this could lend itself to
- Games that are very realistic or
- Heroic games where characters are exceptional when compared to the average NPC.
In modern terms perhaps a gun does 1 point of damage but an RPG does Siege damage.
What do you think?
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.