07 October, 2014

Designing a Boffer LARP System (Part 22)

In the last post we looked at the economy of the fictional world, and how the NPCs of the world link in to that economy. We also saw how it's possible to trace the harvesting of raw materials into finished materials and then into usable products. We even touched on the ways player characters might influence that system.

But there's more to it than that, this background economy can be used to generate story.

The aim of this game is not to tell the stories of grinding (I think that's the term), where players work away at some menial and tedious tasks for hours on end, all in the hopes of generating low risk experience points or a few resources that might be traded for something better further down the track. This is a Boffer LARP, it's about hitting things, it's about intrigue and mystery, it's about heroic (and nefarious) deeds at critical moments.

Characters go on "AWESOME!!" quests during their game sessions, but in the down times they have a few options. Characters can plug into the economy through their occupations (thus gaining money, resources or status for the next session), they can conduct their own research or training (thus gaining new abilities or techniques), or they can pursue other options (that might get defined later if I think of them).

Regardless of whether they gain income from a occupation or spend their days engaging in their own pursuits, a character needs to eat and needs lodgings for the duration between sessions. This costs money, consumes rations (which may be bought, stolen, or grown) and generally pulls the character back into contact with the world around them. Very few characters in this setting are independently wealthy, most have to work in some way at some stage.

Engaging in an occupation doesn't only offer the resources necessary for ongoing survival, it also offers a specific set of abilities and techniques. These abilities and techniques are instinctively developed as a result of engaging in the activities common to that job. A miner might develop "strength" and "resilience" abilities, and techniques that help them identify the differences between valuable ore and worthless rock. A sailor might learn "teamwork" and "dexterity" abilities, and techniques linked to knot tying or weather prediction. Every occupation has a range of three abilities that slowly trickle into the psyche of the character, a character might automatically earn a point toward developing one of these abilities each month (the player may choose which ability develops), and they are able to spend additional experience points toward these abilities to make them improve faster. Occupations also provide keyword traits that may be necessary for progression to more interesting occupations (with different abilities and techniques) further down the track. During an actual game session, an occupation doesn't mean anything. It just provides a path to learn the specific abilities and techniques associated with that job.

In the same way that occupations provide access to abilities and techniques, so do races and cultures. Simply living among the people of your race and culture, you pick up the things that people around you do, it becomes easy to learn their mannerisms through mimicry. Unlike an occupation, a player doesn't earn an automatic point toward their racial or cultural abilities, but they may spend their experience points on these. As mentioned in an earlier post, if you link to the stories associated with your race or culture (by investing your experience points into them), you may earn bonus points over the course of play.

I'm hoping that these ideas ground the backstories of the characters, anchoring them into the community. This is an issue that I've seen unresolved in many LARP campaigns I've been a part of.

As for stories during play, I'd like to think that occupations bring characters together here as well. A vein of rich ore has been discovered...perhaps the miner's skills will be necessary to dig it out, maybe they'll have to defend their mine from invaders, or possibly the miners knowledge will be put to good use for the placement of explosives to make sure no-one gets access to the ore. Either way, different groups are struggling to gain the miner's affiliation. Another story might require a group of sailors (or ex-sailors now in other occupations) to pilot a ship somewhere. Notices are posed for characters with the right range of abilities (or characters who've worked in the right occupations), eventually if enough characters take up the offer then this particular story can be told.

To follow up with another connection to the occupations in the Warhammer Fantasy RPG, career progression occurs when a character decides to move on from their current role to a new one but doing so isn't an instant occurrence. A miner might progress to a foreman (with higher pay), a demolitions expert (who can now access TNT), or a surveyor (who may not sound that interesting, but might offer traits allowing progress to occupations who can build strongholds and fortifications).

During the course of play, a character would have to fulfill certain requirements to make the jump from one occupation to another (they might have to spend a number of months as a miner before they can advance to foreman, or might need a certain level of awareness before they could become a surveyor). At character creation, a player would be able to spend a string of experience points on a primary character to follow a career progression, thus allowing them to enter play with one of the more interesting and prestigious occupations (or allowing access to specific abilities and techniques), and allowing them to avoid the story requirements necessary to advance (any mechanical requirements such as possession of an "awareness" ability would still need to be purchased). Any secondary characters would be forced to work their way up from the bottom,

I guess it might be time to start looking at point costs.
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