Monday, October 19, 2009

LARP Plot Tips: Change the Basics

Anyone who's ever run plot at an event knows that it's much harder than it looks. When running games like D&D, spur of the moment and larger than life plot maneuvers that don't require physical setup, props, and player's physical limitation. Here's a tip for writing a LARP module, stolen from the guys at Exiles (give credit where credit's due) for their end of the year event.

Changing the Basics
Every player has their role. They know their skills and they know what they can or can't do. But what happens when you give them a completely different set of skills?

The original plotline had to do with what you can do as a spirit in the spirit world, but the same thing can be done in any different existence (eg. dream plane, sleep state, parallel dimension).

Give players cards with abilities that reflect their true nature. In Exiles, there are some characters playing supernatural classes that make it easy to show their true nature, but you could simply base it on the character's attitudes and actions as opposed to their actual skills. Characters that are helpful can be given healing abilities, characters that tend to lead can be given voice radius buffs, and characters that tend to protect others can be made into golems - whatever it takes.

Beyond that, you can change the normal way you fight. In this particular mod, everyone was given a vitriol pool (magic points, only few supernatural characters get these normally). You could do offensive abilities by spending them, but the only way you truly died was if you ran out of these. People had to balance spending their points for offense and holding onto them for survival, since some monsters would deal vitriol damage.

Building a plotline like this has the benefit of giving you the ability to make everyone important despite their level. It also makes scaling very easy, since you control the power that's coming into the mod. The tough part about designing that kind of module is that you need to know the players well. If you give a player who only likes to fight healing skills, they may not enjoy the encounter. Likewise, if you make a character less powerful than they normally are, they may be turned off to the module. This was effective in Exiles, because the game is very small, so plot was prepared for anyone who could show up. Characters were spread out so that some took little physical or vitriol damage, some could heal, some could buff and restore vitriol, and so forth.

A plotline like this can really turn heads, especially with established players who feel like they've seen it all.

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