16 October, 2016

LARP / Computer RPG crossover

Back in the early 2000s, White Wolf were doing some really interesting things with their World of Darkness lines. Then they went and crashed the whole line to start something new, and I left because I thought it was both a stupid business decision, a great way to alienate existing fans, and generally a step that felt weird. I can understand why they did it, but it just wasn't for me any more.

But back to the good days before the crash. The thing I'm interested at this point is the way the sourcebooks specifically integrated two versions of the rules in them. The background text was exactly the same, but the books provided a way to handle powers from a tabletop perspective, then a separate paragraph (or two...sometimes in a text box) that described how the power should function in their live format "Minds Eye Theatre". The tabletop and live games functioned so differently that there was a distinct need to explain the powers within the structure of each set of rules, even though they wee effectively meant to be different ways of playing the same game. The live game handled things like political intrigue far more effectively, while the tabletop game was awesome for supernaturally themed superheroes (and then there were those few people I knew who played the World of Darkness games "properly" with angst and catharsis and all that stuff).

This has been raised because my current project looks like it could really benefit from the same split of mechanisms. There is a boffer LARP where combat is quick, resolved in real time, and often leaves out complicated bits of the rules in the heat of battle, because people sometimes honestly forget stuff when their being swung at with a sword. There is a computer element that characters can be slotted into, where slippery footing on the ground isn't a physical hindrance, but needs to be simulated through modifiers within the programming, and the nuances of social intrigue seem beyond the scope of mainstream compute games, and are far beyond my programming skills.

That basically brings us to the notion of game design in the mid to late part of the first decade of this century (ie. 2004-2010). The notion that elements of the OSR seem to be rebelling against, and the notion that has seen a lot of critique in more recent years..."system matters". There are two distinct games here, one live, one online. They are meant to provide different (but overlapping) experiences, each game will cater to it's strengths as a medium, but will allow for a diversity of play styles within that format. Everyone doesn't want the same thing out of a game, and a lot of players like to explore the experience a game provodes before deciding how best they can interact within it (these are two points that I just haven't been able to get through to a lot of the local LARPers at the moment).

So, in this project, a single simply format defines the characters, but these characters are slightly modified because the rules their statistics interact with are modified. Basically like playing a game of Rifts where each of the alternate dimensions has it's own rule set and therfore encourages specific types of stories to be told...or like numerous OSR games where different games use the same stat line of six attributes, THAC0, and saving throws, but apply some kind of quirky twist to set themselves apart from similar games, or to claim they are innovating.

I'm not going for subtle shifts here, instead I'm aiming for a mysterious game of exploration in a strange land, and a second game of high intrigue politics as heroes bring the things they've found during their exploration into a settingwhere they can use these tools against one another. It basically functions like the Camarilla organisation's version of Minds Eye Theatre, where there was a separate influence game that handled activity between games while the high stakes action occured face to face during the monthly sessions.

All these ideas, that feel like they've been fragmented for decades, waiting for someone to put them together in a coherent form. I'm surprised I haven't seen someone do it effectively already. Of course, now that I've said that, someone's going make a comment below where they point out people who've been doing this exact thing.
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