19 August, 2013

A steampunk LARP system

I spent another day yesterday at combat practice for the new Fantasy LARP that has set up in Sydney. There were about 10 people participating, but four of them were new faces. In total there are probably about 30 players who will be there on a semi-regular basis (I've only gone to two out of the three events so far). The LARP has been mostly focused on getting players familiar with the way fighting works, proper "adventures" will come in the next couple of months.

This game is basically medieval, just like most fantasy games. There is no specific epoch, so plate armour might appear alongside quilted armour, roman-style breastplates, and samurai armour.  The only thing that's been specified is that there are no gunpowder weapons...and for the purposes of game safety (and compliance with state laws) no crossbows.

During some of the down-time, I was chatting with some of the other players. Leah and I had developed some fledgeling ideas a few years ago, working along the lines of a steampunk LARP. In most cases, fights would be elegant affairs, duels with rapiers and pistols...but there would be exploring and adventuring as a major part of the setting. I brought up the concept and it was enthusiastically received. For dueling pistols, we'd use NERF guns, the typical kind of thing that you see painted up, modified and fatigued in steampunk cosplay.

The system would apply a premium on the cost of bullets to offset the benefits of ranged weapons. It would still work off a hit point system that was relatively easy to track, three or four hit points per character as a standard level (bonuses for high constitution, or an endurance skill). Each hit with a basic weapon would simply apply a single hit point of damage, while hits with "heavy" weapons might inflict two points. Armour would provide a bonus number of hit points (damage comes off armour first when targeted by normal weapons...while damage would be split one point each on armour and character when a hit from a heavy weapon is scored).

I think the idea of hit locations is good in this type of set-up. Especially based on what I've seen from actually participating in LARP fights. I've been managing to score plenty of hits on the limbs, arm shots and leg shots, but getting into the torso and abdomen is tougher (and head shots are banned, so I don't need to worry about that). Perhaps a hit to the torso provides an extra level of damage; thus light weapons do two hit points of damage when the torso is struck, and heavy weapons inflict three.

Adding NERF guns to the mix creates a new dynamic, and might promote a higher level of costuming. I don't know...but the interest is certainly there.

For skills I'm thinking that a simple toggle system would be fine...

Do you have the "pick locks" skill? No, then you can't do it. Yes, then you can try.
Do you have "heavy weapons" as a skill? No, then you can wield the weapon but it only inflicts normal damage. Yes, now you gain the bonus damage point.
Do you have "etiquette" as a skill? No, then it will be considered bad form for you to speak to the Duke. Yes, then the Duke will be more than happy to speak to you.

This would probably link into the previous thoughts I've recently posted about a LARP campaign.
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