20 September, 2014

Designing a Boffer LARP System (Part 10)

I met my wife Leah through LARP, but over the past few years she has become less able to engage the more physical aspects of the hobby. She broke her back quite some time ago, and now one of her vertebrae is degrading at an alarming rate (it lost 1/3 of it's structure over the course of a year), this means she is in constant pain and runs the risk of paralysis if she does anything too strenuous. Despite this, she wants to engage at some level in a new LARP. I joined a Boffer LARP group last year, and can still hold my own on the combat field against most of the more active players half my age (at least for a short time), Leah hasn't joined because everything has been based on combat and she can't risk permanent injury. Leah wants to join in the role of combat medic or apothecary, something where she can gain advantage through the game in a way that either forces people to come to her, or allows her to slowly, carefully pick her way through a battlefield and avoid the worst.

To those ends, we picked up some props last weekend that might start the basis of the apothecary kit. 

But generally, this brings me to the point of what characters and players do within the game. We know that from an out of game perspective, we have participants who offer their stories, and group of players who engage those stories...but what do the characters actually do within those stories?

It's a Boffer LARP, so there is definitely going to be combat.

It's got politics going on, so there will need to be social interplay at some level (regulated by rules or otherwise).

There will need to be scope for medics (because otherwise everyone will die too quickly and the game will be over).

Research can be long and tedious, especially in a game that operates "real time", so this sort of thing might be best handled between sessions. The same for forging weapons/armour, or other crafts.

Traditional rogue/thief tasks like picking locks, disarming traps, etc. probably require some kind of random chance element (which could also be applied to medical actions, and crafting), they could be handled through player skill, but this is a game of fantasy and escapism...the chance for players to be more than themselves for a little while. Random chance activities need the presence of a formal adjudicator (in this case a GM), and something that determines the result.

I like the idea of puzzles and riddles, but these can be hard to incorporate into a game effectively. Perhaps the randomising mechanism allows extra clues (if successful)...perhaps the mysteries are solved real time in the form of a jigsaw puzzle, or one of those gimmick puzzles found at a novelty store.

This sort of game is heavily about immersion, feeling a part of the narrative universe. The idea of randomisers (in the form of cards or dice) breaks the immersion a bit, but may be a necessity when players are forced to deal with situations they can't perform (but might be possible for their character).

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