Need some help with motivation for roleplaying and with Latin/old Italian terminology

edited February 2013 in Story Games
Hi there. This isn't directly story-games related, but I still hope to tap into your collective knowledge.

A friend and I are currently writing a medium-sized LARP (~25 players), with the premise of LARP-within-a-LARP: during the great plague in Milan (1630), the Duke is holding a special sort of masquerade that he calls "Living Drama", essentially, a pseudo-historical version of a LARP, with rigid rules based on Greek drama. The Living Drama is written and orchestrated by young John Milton, who uses it as a draft for Paradise Lost.

When writing the characters for the 1st-layer game (conniving noblemen). I don't have any trouble with coming up with motivation to enter the game, but I want to make sure they have different motivations for staying in the game and playing it earnestly. So, what I'm looking for is different motivations for roleplayers. So far, I have come up with these ones:
1. To prove some theological or philosophical point (that is, to pursue an in-game goal of some sort)
2. To use the character in order to speak to people with whom you are not supposed to speak outside the game (such as Protestants)
3. To be, if only for a moment, something greater and more powerful than your ordinary self.
4. Pure escapism (there is, after all, a terrible plague raging outside the Duke's palace)
5. To watch over another person, and make sure they do not get carried away by the game.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could come up with more of these. If you could also match these motivations with second-layer characters (characters from the book of Genesis, angels, devils, personifications of emotions, virtues, vices and natural forces), that would be even better.

Additionally, in order to add some flavor to the game, and to make sure people don't confuse first-layer terminology with second-layer terminology, I could use your help in coming up with some Old-timey Italian or Latin expressions for PC, NPC, GM, in-play and off-play.


  • edited February 2013
    Some literal Latin suggestions:

    Player character = Persona Corporis
    Non-player character = Persona Fabulae
    Game Master = Magister Fabulae
    In-play = Intrafabulae
    Off-play = Extrafabulae
    "Living Drama" = Drama Vivum

    I repeat the term "fabula", 'story', for consistency in a world where "roleplaying" might be understood via shared story-time more than a culture of gaming. Player characters are called "bodily roles" because roleplaying is being sold as "you going inside a story".
  • edited February 2013
    Whoah, that's a cool idea! I don't have much to add on the first question; I like what you have and can't think of more.

    As for the second question: "In-play" and "off-play" might be adverbs. In that case, "in-play" might me "intra fabule", or maybe just "dramater" (lit. "in the manner of the drama"), and "out-play" might be "extra fabule", or "non dramater".

    Also, the Latin word for drama is dramatis, so Living Drama would be dramatis vivum.

    (ETA: I'm not a classicist and my knowledge of Latin is scant, so take this "cum grano salis"---with a grain of salt!)
  • Hi, thank you both for the tips. Hopefully, the players will be able to remember these terms.
  • but I want to make sure they have different motivations for staying in the game and playing it earnestly.
    "A play's the thing" - something like the play within a play in Hamlet, where someone wants the fiction to represent their theory of a crime in order to catch someone out with a guilty conscience?
  • Overall, this sounds pretty complicated. They're playing a character (who is extremely distanced from their own reality) who is playing a character (who is, again, extremely distanced from the reality of either the player or the first layer character).

    I'd suggest that you need to give them EXTREMELY concrete goals to pursue in order to help keep them focused. Make the goals as cut-and-dried and specific as possible. Otherwise it'll be way too easy for them to get lost in a combination of scenery chewing and disconnected boredom.

    The classic 3 goals (one easy, one challenging, and one super hard) and 3 connections (one friend, one enemy, one other) will help a lot. The easy goal could maybe be the second level character's goal. Try not to get too crazy with mixing up who is an ally in the first layer characters with who is an ally in the second layer - that will get hard to keep in your head.

    Also, I would suggest framing the sub-game with substantial time playing the nobles both before and after. Make the sub-game pretty short and simple. Otherwise it will eat up all of the mind-space of the event and the "real characters" will be under-developed.


    Flirting (a specific version of your number 2). But make the flirting goal-oriented. Like they want to secure a rendezvous or engagement or something.

    For your number 1, proving a point, I'd suggest making it concrete. Like you're trying to prove your point to a specific other player and if they are convinced, they will give you a thing that they would otherwise give someone else, who is trying to convince them of the counter point. (And make the giving an actual tangible transaction, not just words. Otherwise people say "well, I promised him I was going to give him the thing, but really I'm not going to" which gets horribly annoying.)

    To harm someone. But include a trigger so that they can't possibly know who their target is until halfway through the game (so that they don't end up taking someone out early on). This also gives your number 5 more traction - the person is trying to protect the victim.
  • How about trying to win a wager? Is that in-genre for this "game"?

    The whole "talk to someone you couldn't normally talk to" bit could be separated into different specific goals:

    * Flirt with, woo, or sleep with someone (which wouldn't be allowed outside the game)
    * Have an affair (maybe "what happens in the game stays in the game", right, at least in that person's mind?)
    * Carry out a special crime or business deal (between two people who wouldn't otherwise be allowed to associate with each other)
    * Get revenge on someone who's above you in station in real life (but not in the game)

  • Thanks for the tips and suggestions!

    Also, I would suggest framing the sub-game with substantial time playing the nobles both before and after. Make the sub-game pretty short and simple. Otherwise it will eat up all of the mind-space of the event and the "real characters" will be under-developed.
    As far as time frame is concerned, I was thinking about a four-hour game, during which 100 minutes will be dedicated to the inner-layer game (five 20-minute acts, with intervals in between). The internal game is also limited to a certain physical space: only choir characters are obligated to attend, and this, too, only on a specific act.
    The internal game will be much simpler than the external game, with many characters who have group goals instead of personal goals.

    Would you consider this simplified enough, or should it be made even less demanding?
  • That sounds like you are taking into consideration the things I had concerns about. And it sounds like you've designed it so that the sub-game does not completely overwhelm the game of being nobles.

    So yeah, other than that, I'd say make it so that at least one of each of the characters' goals would be easiest to accomplish through participation in the sub-game. That will drive them toward participation, since you've made it voluntary.
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