Saturday, March 26, 2011

A handy guide to one off LARP rules

I spent a year as the head of Anime Punch's Traditional/Tabletop gaming department. It was an awesome experience and one I would have considered continuing if I could have afforded to invest the time that was necessary into it and I hadn't had my driver's license suspended. One of my more popular events during my time serving in this capacity was my "Escape the Colony" LARP.  I wrote (Pretty much) original rules for it and had a blast playing it multiple times with a great group of enthusiastic players. One of those players is taking over the position and was interested in adapting the rules into a LARP of his own. Considering that the original rules died with my former laptop and I cannot find a hard copy for the life of me I chose to e-mail him this handy guide instead which details the ideas behind the rules I wrote.  Considering the fact that posting something to this blog is as secure as hiding it in Fort Knox when you consider the number of readers it gets and that I'd kind of dig being the "father" of a trend of one shot LARPing. I am posting that guide here. If it ever gets read I hope it is enjoyed and inspirational.
Writing a LARP like this is really easy if you follow basic story telling conventions.
     The first thing you need to do is establish your main source of conflict. In the Gundam RP there were two. The background threat of the colony collapsing and the main threat of the traitorous crew member.  I highly recommend having a "Traitor in the midst" for LARPS as it is a great plot device and provides another layer of complexity and pressure on the players. There of course needs to be an over arching conflict that provides a reason for the characters to be there in the first place, but in most circumstances this can take a back seat to the traitor as a primary threat.
    Next we need complications. Complications serve two purposes. They extend game play beyond "Beat the badguy and get the heck out" and they give each character a bit more character.  The characters for a one off LARP should not be very complex right off the bat so that players can add their own quirks to them, but complications and advantages should be written to provide a little info for the players to build those quirks from.
    Next come advantages. These serve not only to help inspire the players to build the character's personality, but also to give the players the idea that there is some hope for survival in the game.  This should be a false hope however. No single advantage should be game breaking. All of them should give either a very minor edge if they can be used more than once or have only a single use if they give the player a major edge. All of them should be circumventable by the Gamemaster/Storyteller.  It is a good idea to have one of the characters, usually a sweet personalitied woman, pet, or little girl know the identity of the traitor as this not only provides great drama but also lends an extra bit of motivation for the other characters to protect them if they are perceived as vulnerable and cute.
    Beyond that there should be an odd number of players each game (Ideally an even number of good guys and one traitor) and the rules should be flexible enough to be adapted should something go wrong.
    I hope this guide was helpful and will provide you with inspiration for creating your own rules and characters. Good luck and don't hesitate to write if you have any questions.

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