Ideas for making the game even more fun

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Ideas for making the game even more fun

Post  Dre on Thu May 28, 2009 3:44 pm

I had an absolute blast at the event, and it left me thinking of all sorts of things which could make the experience even more awesome. Often these are little things, but from my larping background I know through experience that the little things can add up and give an incredible amount of fun to players.

Here are a couple ideas I had, and felt like throwing out there:

- Coin and interaction with the public.
The public seemed a bit confused at times with their coins. Some were disappointed not to be robbed; others complained when they had to give up the coins to pirates. As a means of interacting with the public they are quite effective, but often it requires an extra gimmick to pull off: for instance, offering to show someone around the camp, or making up a story about how you need the money to marry off your daughters back in Scotland.

This worked quite well, and I think that players should be encouraged to create backstories for their characters with which to charm the public. Visitors could be given a leaflet introducing them to the IC town (what is it called, anyway? Widley?) and possibly describing a few of the outlaw groups in broad terms. Just a few paragraphs gives an anchor with which to roleplay amongst the players and thus entertain the public.

- Taking the trading aspects even further.
The 'sale' of sponges and the like was very popular and great for the public to get involved with. What about adding a simple trading game to the rest of the event?
The idea is this: give a coin bonus to different groups for different 'trade goods' they can get their hands on over the weekend. For instance, one pirate faction might be after Tea, and the smugglers might be interested in Silver, and the trappers might have little use for Pelts but a big interest in Iron.
If each player group starts with a cargo of some kind which is worth little to them, and given a list of prices for other goods that are more valuable, it could provide an impetus to involve the public even further by using them to gather information about who has which goods.
Furthermore, trade sparks conflict: some items might be contraband (and thus looked for by the Militia), some might be highly prized by everyone, and on a basic level the deals can go sour, prices can be gouged, lies told, raids conducted... A more dynamic game is more fun for everyone.

- Bringing the Plot to the Players.
I'll be honest and say that I wasn't aware the event had any kind of plot, until the linears were announced, and even after that I had no idea what the plot was all about (except that it involved lobsters?).
Writing effective plot for LARP is incredibly difficult. Linears run by LARP groups tend to follow the 'three dead woodlice' guideline: i.e. if you take your plot and run three dead woodlice through it, and the woodlice have a chance in hell of succeeding, then it's just about likely that the players will figure it out.
I don't believe it is enough to simply say, 'this is going to happen at X time, and you should react in Y way'. Characters need to have their own motivations and goals and ways of doing things. Just because something 'is there' doesn't mean people will react in the intended way by engaging with it.

I suggest two things which could make the plot far more direct and engaging.

1) Have IC incentives for IC events.
When the pirates attacked the town I remember being told that the fight 'would spill into the town' and that we were meant to get involved. I thought this meant that we were going to be fighting a bunch of NPC enemy pirates while the militia were tied up; instead apparently we were meant to side with the invading force. I can understand the desire to put on a rolling display fight, but in a competitive game it is hard to justify, IC, throwing your life away for a group of characters you've never met before.
A solution might be to write in some shared background. Give every player a document telling them how this group of pirates are their staunch allies and that you would do anything to help them succeed. Otherwise, why work together with the pirates of different sash colours?
The other way of doing it is to introduce NPCs who go around the camp gathering information and striking deals with the player characters. "Psst, tell you what - we're going to have a go at this town's leaders, I'll give you 30 coin if you help us out. Deal?" That way you can assess player interest and provide an incentive to act IC.
Similarly, scenes such as these work best if there are characters there to lead reactions to the situation. Having a few militia run around screaming "We're under attack!" can push people to react and roleplay accordingly. The tannoy is effective at warning people about cannon fire (so people can cover their ears etc.) but provides an unconvincing commentary of the battle. I, for one, didn't really appreciate being effectively called a coward by the booming voice, when it was clear that the players wanted to deal with the situation in a way that didn't lead to them all getting slaughered by the militia.

2) Seed the plot amongst the players
A cult you say? If there is a secret underlying plot it is incredibly cool from a player perspective to get involved and to have secrets. Approaching random players with the offer of being involved in a secret plot can enthuse many, especially if there are props and secret win conditions alongside it.
Give players briefs about their cult and how they need to conceal it from others. Give them some sort of secret mark or sign to identify each other, as well as meetings with NPC high priests and the like. They will go to town with it! And inevitably, organically, someone will start to suspect something, or interrupt a meeting by accident, or find a strange mark on their friend... and the best thing is that you cannot predict how it will go. Some key events (like the crustacean attack) can be influenced by how well the cultists are doing, as well as providing opportunities for them to betray their normal comrades. Maybe they need to steal and desecrate holy relics to further their dark gods? Maybe Mortalis is something they covet for their schemes? Who knows...
Basically, all this is just an example, but I reckon that even a very simple player involvement in overarching plot leads to far more interesting scenarios for far less effort than is required to introduce it from the top down. Ground-up, organic plot is one of the strongest points of LARP and I think this should be taken advantage of to give people an extra sense of mystery, excitement and danger.

I'm probably not expressing myself very well as it's hard to get across the concepts on an internet forum. What do other people think, any other ideas for simple additions to make the game that bit cooler?


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