I’ve been wondering how to make magic better in LARPs. The majority of LARPs I’ve played in treat magic with respect but for the purposes of producing an understandable system of calls usually resort to magic being reduced to a list of available spells. This is a tried and tested system that works. Yet to me it feels that there is something lacking. When magic is picked from a menu for me it becomes less magical.

One of the reasons I’m thinking about this is that I am thinking about starting a project via LARPBook to create an Open Source and highly adaptable LARP system. One that would let people pick and choose how they wanted to incorporate it into their own play. As you can imagine I’d like to get magic right.

I like it when magic is that strange and mysterious thing. Something that is powerful and not to be treated lightly. Game play however democratises everything. We need to let players have the opportunity to build characters and we need to let all players understand what is going on. That’s the core of the problem. Mysterious, available and understandable are by necessity mutually exclusive.

So what to do?

Well so far my thinking is this. We need to get back to very basics of what magic is, and that led me to the thought that magic is not about spells. When I strip everything back magic is an ability the alter the status-quo of reality. To take how things as they are now and make them different. Sometimes subtly, and sometimes a lot.

The other thing that strikes me is that magic always feels as if it suits the feel and tone of the fictional / mythical world it is part of.

Magic needs to achieve something impossible and feel part of the world it works in.

For it work in a game we need to be able to describe it simply, feel in context to game world and not allow players to run riot with changing the state of things.

I think now I have a start, but I would love to hear your thoughts – just how should magic work in a LARP context.


The picture used in this post is via : http://www.flickr.com/photos/peteandlynne/5096582280/


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