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Character exploration

I've realised that this is one thing that I find much more easy in table top games than I do in LARP games. This is certainly true of the larger LARPs in which I've played. Most of these strongly predicate character goals as the aim of the game. This means that achieving goals tends to take over from being the character. Some people manage to do both at once but generally the pace is pretty furious and competitive.

If you don't try to achieve your goals then you get sidelined in the various plots that are going on. If this happens nobody else is interested in you because you're not offering them anything that helps them achieve their goals.

In Saturday's Evil High Priest I had a list of about 12 goals, several of which involved the cooperation of between 5 and 17 other players (in a group of about 30). Given that I was well known to be arrogant and evil, I didn't really see I had much chance of achieving these ends. So I stuck to the collecting goals, supporting my deity in being on the winning side and generally being evil. Being evil was the most fun and involved finding out what people were doing and messing things up for them, just to show them who was boss. At the end, several of the characters (and I hope not players) were pissed off with me.

Perhaps I ought to try some of the (ludicrously named) jeepform games in which the focus is more on exploration of a situation and less on ticking boxes or collecting stuff.

I suppose what I want is a combination of character exploration and plot development. Most LARPs (not just the big ones) have fairly rigid structures so some more fluidity would be appreciated, less determinism in who is on which side perhaps and giving a bit more space for characters to find their own place in the game.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2008 02:06 pm (UTC)
Have you played any of the UK-style freeforms?

Evil High Priest was not a typical game for the UK. In fact it seemed extremely (for want of a better term) American in style.

Aug. 4th, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
I have and generally they are much better. Most of the Bassethwaite games and Freeform Games I've enjoyed with only a few hiccups.

But even then I still find tabletop a better place for character exploration.
Aug. 4th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
You totally should play some of my Landston tabletop stuff. :D
Aug. 4th, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC)
Perhaps I should. If you need any NPCs dressed as arabs for your GC LARP, I'm happy to lend a hand. Monstering is great, it's all about character.
Aug. 4th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
I occasionally play LARPs in the hope that I'll see what has got my friends so enraptured, but no joy so far.

In my admittedly limited experience, LARPS resemble scavenger hunts more than anything else and thus are too goal oriented to allow much creative or improvised interaction beyond the minimum necessary foreplay to get to the clue-swapping. C. assures me that I've just had an appalling run of luck with them, and that good games exist.
Aug. 4th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
tylorva above regularly rants about scavenger hunts and still plays. As far as they go Evil High Priest wasn't bad if slightly too long.

I think my favourite LARP ever was chilledchimp's Harry Potter game. There was a plot which involved looking for some lost treasure but it was mostly an excuse to act like children for three hours. I GM'ed as Snape so I got my potion class together and told them that if they hadn't done their homework by the time I'd come back, there'd be trouble. I just left the room for 15 minutes. When I came back, Hufflepuff had summoned Cthulhu.

If my Al Hazred character sheet had said, cackle a bit and run around annoying people, then I think I'd have been much happier.
Aug. 4th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
gbsteve' sez:
"I didn't really see I had much chance of achieving these ends. So I stuck to the collecting goals, supporting my deity in being on the winning side and generally being evil."

I find this happens to me more often than not and always seems to have "...the characters ...(and ...players)... pissed off with me."

However it is fun but I agree with you that more plot development and less moral polarisation of the characters would give one something to do rather than making one's character staggeringly successful (which always seems to be at the expense at the other characters:( ).
Aug. 4th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
The bigger festival LARPS (especially Maelstrom) are very Player Versus Player. You create your own character concept and goals, and play them the way you want to. Occasionally a player gets hit with the plot stick in the form of the Monster Crew, but it's mostly colony governors and other people who are behaving in a way that potentially unbalances the game for others that get that.

I have to say that I tend to think about what that character would do under the circumstances and do that, and have fun overacting to the hilt, otherwise I just get stressed and confused. And what would be the most fun.

But then I view LRP as essentially co-operative rather than competitive.

Aug. 4th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
Pretty much every LARP I've played, or helped write, has been PvP (except some of the boffer stuff). That's where the conflict comes from.

I've not problem with PvP per se, many of my favourite games like Dying Earth or Dogs in the Vineyard are in the category too but generally table top seems, to me, to provide more scope for character play.

Still, I'm going to Gen Con next week so I'll there'll be tabletopping galore, and possibly even some jeepform.
Aug. 5th, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
12 goals? For 1 evening? WTF?

On the other hand, what I suffered from in US Vampire LARP was not having enough stuff to do, so my current LARPs are rather plot-heavy, but 12 goals?

We usually write stuff with the rule of 3 (3 things to hide, 3 connections, 3 goals etc) for our 16 PCs and that keeps them motivated while leaving time for character exploration. For games where we know a good chunk of the time will be spent doing other things, like playing Texas Hold'em or shooting each other with IR guns,


we go down to a rule of 2 :)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )