Thursday, February 13, 2014

What To LARP?

Isn't it terrible when you have two or three equally cool persistent campaign ideas where all three run at cross purposes to each other? Especially when it's a LARP game. It's not like you can just end the LARP after a few sessions because "it's not quite cool enough" and then start running the other style. That loses you a bit of credibility. And as they're persistent styles of play, it's not like I can do a few one shots and pick the one that suits my interests the best.

As I have learned while developing my one-shot introductory "The Dark Before Dawn" game in preparation for the persistent LARP game which will follow on from it, a one-shot and a persistent LARPs are two very different beasts in style, delivery and preparation. For starters, you have loads more time to develop a one-shot and that extra Time to Game ratio allows for more intricate planning and propwork.

So what are my three LARP ideas, you ask?

The Court & The Coterie Game

Every month there is a court game (which everyone attends) and a coterie game (which is restricted to members of a certain clan or covenant). The monthly game involves all of the politics, deliberations and court-based information sharing. The coterie game allows for politics (i.e. Invictus board meetings), lived experience (i.e. LARP a "Dark Mass" followed by Lancea Sanctum deliberations) and plot (i.e. Ordo Dracul go and clear out a wyrm's nest). This system allows for a little bit of everything, maximum player choices and creates quite a deep and immersive VAMPIRE experience but gives me fewer horror story moments to shine and creates the possibility that some players will have no other clan or covenant members to play with. Balancing everyone's needs in such a diverse play space can become more difficult as conceivably the game should suit everyone ... just at different times ... and thus there's more encouragement to play a game of tug-of-war. Also, even allowing for two coterie sessions a month people are looking at a 10 week turn around between coterie games.

The Covenant Game

The game is broken up into separate covenants who occasionally meet every three months. Since I'm only one little Storyteller, this would likely involve only two covenants (Circle of the Crone and the Ordo Dracul) though other Storytellers might want to come along for the ride eventually and run the other covenants. This means that everyone gets a more focused game, finally you can play in covenants with all of their positions filled out (even with only 15 players most would be full) and you can experience what it's like to truly be in a covenant. As a more heavily occult game, I can intersperse the lived experiences and political spaces with investigations that most folks can participate in to some extent. While covenant politics would still be a thing, most folks understand that killing off other covenant-mates or playing too hard with those in your same posse is a bad idea (especially as the covenants wouldn't be big enough for semi-anonymity) so it would be less of a brutal political game. Unfortunately players would be more limited in their character ideas, though there would still be space to have someone with dual covenant status due to the nature of the Adelaide setting - a Carthian might take sanctuary with the Crone or the Ordo Dracul. Still such characters would have to be rare. As a benefit and a detriment, only certain types of players would be best served by this style of game which again allows for more focused play but also limits the prospective pool of players potentially.

The Highly Focused Covenant Game

As before but just focus on one covenant and have the other session free for whatever needs to happen. This would most likely involve the Ordo Dracul as they mix a highly structured covenant with obvious work divisions, internal politics and an external focus on orchestrating change. This would allow for sessions where a coterie of guardians checks out a wyrm's nest while the other available and interested players assist with NPCs, storytelling and scene changes. The trick would be ensuring everyone has their chance for involvement as a core PC in this. Also, it's the most restrictive style of game, though that's not necessarily a bad thing because every game doesn't have to be for all players. There should be a multitude of LARPs for a multitude of players. Still, it's an issue that needs to be considered, especially as it would be difficult for some of the previous characters to continue their participation in the game. Not impossible (see dual covenant status - though this time only for characters from the previous campaign arc) but still a problem.

So yes, this is the dilemma I am currently considering.

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