LARP system for a Lost Room-inspired game

edited December 2006 in Story Games
So I want to run a "Lost Room" style LARP. Anyone know of any systems out there that would do a decent job for a long-running game with regular old humans and crazy magic items? Alternately, what would be the requirements of a new system that handled this sort of setting well?

Comments

  • I have no idea but I loved the miniseries and so look forward to reading what you might come up with
  • I've never heard about the "Lost Room" before and now I need to see it. Serious Unknown Armies -vibes, there.

    I don't know any systems that would run such LARP; in particular the Objects could pose some difficulties, since they seem to have very different and somewhat spectacular powers. Also, the nature of the room - as a portal connecting places - could cause some troubles.

    Very intresting idea.
  • I think it would make a cool gaming setting anyway Merten so really curious
  • Having never seen it, I have no idea what you're talking about, but judging from the posts involving unknown armies-ness, maybe you should check out the unofficial larp rules from u-a.com as a starting point.
  • I know nothing of Unknown Armies, and the LARP rules seem to have been taken off the site.

    Thinking about it, Sorcerer is pretty darn close, mechanically speaking, with the objects serving as demons. It's just missing the "this is something you are passionate about, so you do it better" aspect that was present in the mini-series.
  • Links to UA-LARP rules are here and here. They seem to be (I have only glanced them through) a bit streamlined version of the tabletop rules, so quite heavy to use.

    Have you thought about:

    - Do you want a GM guided LARP or minimize the GM presence? (Can the rules be such that GM can step in and resolve things or do other stuff, or should the players be resolve things by themselves and free GM to other stuff)
    - Where to play and how to achieve the portal-ness of the room?
    - Structure of the campaign; one event in one single room or is there a possibility that characters zooming to where ever. So, in other words, are you planning to tie down the events to the physical location you have, or not be tied down to the physical playing location.
  • I like incorporating real time and physicality into games, so it seems like the Lost Room LARP should be formatted around a literal scavenger hunt around the playspace, searching for random objects. When you find an object, you declare what it can do, but no one knows if you're bluffing until you actually use it.

    "Back off! This carpet swatch removes all friction within 30 feet! This fedora makes me bullet-proof! This bible summons a portal to hell!"
  • Jukka, thanks for the link to the UA LARP rules. Reading through them, they don't seem to be a good fit for what I've got in my head. So, let me make some points about what I'm thinking at the moment:

    1. The game shouldn't necessarily be the same setting as the Lost Room, just inspired by it. So, I don't need to worry about problem items like the hotel key. In fact, any object powers should be created with the fact that it's a LARP in mind.

    2. I don't want high lethality. I really like the idea of an incestuous community, with long-standing rivalries and grudges. I mean, the idea of having 20 players and only, say, seven good items in play creates instant situation. If the system allows for high lethality, it just becomes a race to see who can kill off the other guys first, which isn't that interesting to me.

    3. Resolution should be extremely fast.

    4. GM requirements should be low, but not entirely absent. A good guide would be needing only one GM per 10-15 players. So having players able to conduct most of their own challenges is definitely a requirement.

    I'm thinking I'll actually need to create rules for this.
  • Posted By: Andrew Morris1. The game shouldn't necessarily be the same setting as the Lost Room, just inspired by it. So, I don't need to worry about problem items like the hotel key. In fact, any object powers should be created with the fact that it's a LARP in mind.
    This simplifies things a lot, especially from the rules point-of-view. The powers should probably be such that their effect can be easily potrayed and communicated b the player, without resorting to lenghty explanations.
    2. I don't want high lethality. I really like the idea of an incestuous community, with long-standing rivalries and grudges. I mean, the idea of having 20 players and only, say, seven good items in play creates instant situation. If the system allows for high lethality, it just becomes a race to see who can kill off the other guys first, which isn't that interesting to me.
    This falls to the player preparation category; it should be enough if you present your vision and goals for the game to the players before the game. Also, downplaying the violent aspects helps; characters that are not prone to violency, don't carry weapons and rules that don't support violency (as in; don't have a long list of combat skills and weapons) probably help.

    Are you planning to have GM-created characters? They tend to help with the relationships and conflicting goals as you can control the initial situation and write it into the characters. Just providing character concepts to players helps as well.
    3. Resolution should be extremely fast.

    4. GM requirements should be low, but not entirely absent. A good guide would be needing only one GM per 10-15 players. So having players able to conduct most of their own challenges is definitely a requirement.
    Very much agreeing on both; simple stat comparison tends to work well enough and wouldn't bog down the GM's to simple resolution tasks - they'd just need to resolve more complex situtations.
    I'm thinking I'll actually need to create rules for this.
    I don't know any published or otherwise available LARP system that would fullfill the need for fast resolution; most either have complex tests or GM-led resolution.

    I recently wrote a short article/thread about how we've done the design phase, if you want to check that out; Designing an old school character immersive LARP. The second chapter shortly discusses the system which works for us; especially the "True"-system tends to resolve events which can't be acted out or done with quick resolution.
  • I just finished watching the series. This really screams for a LARP.

    I recommend disregarding any similarities to Unknown Armies, at least system-wise.

    I don't really think you should put much into having "characters." Players could just as well play themselves, with maybe a single pre-assigned goal for impetus. Focus on the objects, with each object having its own unique (on a card or something) rules. You'd have to agree on some sort of "interrupts" to signal all affected players that an object is being used, so stop what you're doing and let a referee arbitrate. For instance, "If you hear a horn blast, STOP what you are doing and count to ten out loud, counting 'One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi...'" Of course, the horn would be the time-stop object, and the user would be free to move about for the duration.

    I guess I'm seeing more of a light, fun single-shot convention game, though. You could set it up so it ran the length of the con, and players would always be playing, trying to discreetly hose each other. Sort of like Killer or its ilk. Actually, Killer with (tradable) Comic Encounter-style powers would be a good way to describe what I have in mind.
  • A big thing about the objects is their cost. If you're going to go the card route, maybe write down a side effect of using that object?
  • edited December 2006
    Posted By: MertenI've never heard about the "Lost Room" before and now I need to see it. Serious Unknown Armies -vibes, there.
    This viewpoint irritates me. I see NOTHING of UA in The Lost Room. Obviously, perceptions vary.

    I see Nobilis. And there are already LARP rules for that. Everyone is normal. No one is special. Each Object embodies or manifests an Aspect to some extent.

    It's that simple. I haven't actively used the Nobilis system myself but I have read it, and I see the parallel much more closely than with UA.
    Posted By: DanielSolisA big thing about the objects is their cost. If you're going to go the card route, maybe write down a side effect of using that object?
    Most objects didn't really have a side effect. There were a few, but that's mostly as a consequence of their primary effect, not because they had some extra feature.

    The only true side effect was the one common to most DnD artifacts: people came to be so familiar with the objects they owned, that they subsumed their own identity to the object:
    "It's all I have," or some similar sentiment, was very common in the show.
  • Posted By: rumblePosted By: MertenI've never heard about the "Lost Room" before and now I need to see it. Serious Unknown Armies -vibes, there.
    This viewpoint irritates me. I see NOTHING of UA inThe Lost Room. Obviously, perceptions vary.

    Well, I haven't seen the series, so this is just me gawking on the objects of power.
    Posted By: rumbleI see Nobilis. And there are already LARP rules for that. Everyone is normal. No one is special. Each Object embodies some Aspect.
    That's true; I haven't read Nobilis in a while, and less so with the LARP rules, but I believe they were quite straightforward, though didn't really produce a good solution for the things-happening-in-multiple-places-at-once. Have to check them out.
  • though didn't really produce a good solution for the things-happening-in-multiple-places-at-once

    Sure they did. It is a very Nobilis-specific solution, but obvious and elegant.

  • Posted By: shreyasthough didn't really produce a good solution for the things-happening-in-multiple-places-at-once

    Sure they did. It is a very Nobilis-specific solution, but obvious and elegant.

    I think it was along the line of having a bulletin board where you could place announcements, but do it in some thematically-correct way? Or do I remember wrong?
  • apologies rumble

    from my perception, if you take it as the objects more like adepts and the weilders the legs and arms so to speak, to me, my point of view, it is UA. Secrete cabals, ancient mysteriers, items of power to be fought over.

    Again perceptions may very with user.

    I do not own, not seen Nobilis, so perhaps it would be closer to how it is from this mainstream traditional gamers mentality.

    Whether I am correct or incorrect in my UA first impression, the miniseries strikes me as gaming friendly, your style or mine.
    UA or Neil Gaiman or Nobilis or LARP or something else kludged together.
  • The method was specific but the realisation, I understand now, is general: Do not assume that just because two things were played at once, they occurred at once.

    It injects a special kind of color into Nobilis because an event can be simultaneously before and after an event in another room, but when you're not actually dealing with world-spanning-transforming magics, this isn't even an issue.

  • edited December 2006
    Shameless Plug for Adam Cerling's System, but I think it is exactly what you are looking for.
    Posted By: Andrew Morris

    1. The game shouldn't necessarily be the same setting as the Lost Room, just inspired by it. So, I don't need to worry about problem items like the hotel key. In fact, any object powers should be created with the fact that it's a LARP in mind.
    Check; You don't need to 'create objects or powers', chains of ability, etc. The players take care of that with creation.
    2. I don't want high lethality. I really like the idea of an incestuous community, with long-standing rivalries and grudges. I mean, the idea of having 20 players and only, say, seven good items in play creates instant situation. If the system allows for high lethality, it just becomes a race to see who can kill off the other guys first, which isn't that interesting to me.
    Check.
    3. Resolution should be extremely fast.
    DOUBLE Check. Resolution is based on a very fast, simple system that even in mass conflicts with alot of people, I haven't managed to make last longer than 20 minutes. (And this was trying to break the hell out of it!) Most "conflicts" Last just a moment.
    4. GM requirements should be low, but not entirely absent. A good guide would be needing only one GM per 10-15 players. So having players able to conduct most of their own challenges is definitely a requirement.
    Again...Check. It's amazingly self-running for the most part.
    I'm thinking I'll actually need to create rules for this.
    Most likely alot less of them if you run on Adam's System.
  • Posted By: shreyasThe method was specific but the realisation, I understand now, is general: Do not assume that just because two things wereplayedat once, theyoccurredat once.It injects a special kind of color into Nobilis because an event can be simultaneously before and after an event in another room, but when you're not actually dealing with world-spanning-transforming magics, this isn't even an issue.
    Yeah, I can see that, and if this LARP does include a lot of separate playing areas that exist at the same, or different time, or whenever, it's a good way to communicate between the areas. I'm just not sure if the theme has effects that have to be communicated in such way. It certainly could have, I suppose.

    Is there some kind of reason for tying the use of the Objects into some kind of rules, apart from the obvious effects they produce?
  • I have the Game of Powers book for Nobilis, but I haven't really looked through it for a while. Maybe I'll bring it to work tonight and give it a quick read-through.
  • Neither UA nor Nobilis seem to fit right. Thanks for the suggestions, though. Sara, I'm very familiar with Adam's Ends and Means. I think it's a great system but it's not right, either. Mostly because it's too lightweight for me, and it doesn't really support character improvement over time. A little bit of crunch and the chance to improve effectiveness are pretty much requirements for the majority of LARPers around my area.

    I've started writing a set of rules that will do precisely what I want. I should have that finished tonight, so I'll post it when I'm done.
  • Pure brainstorming here: figure out how many spaces you have to play in. Assign the central one as "The Room." Each of the spaces off of it are through one of the special doors. If somebody has gone through that door, then the space they have entered is set to that, and anybody else who enters it is in whatever space they are. When entering, there's a card on the real world door that describes what the space on the other side is like.

    Yes this means that any of the travel to spaces can be held indefinitely, but only by a player or players who do not want to leave. That makes the spaces, themselves, important commodities.

    If nobody is in a space, and somebody travels through a door to it, a variety of means could be used to determine what is there, including having a ton of random space cards drawn up before hand in a pile that the players just draw from. Some items might allow them to sort through the deck, or just look at the next card or something (or to shuffle, if they see other players peeking). The card could also include listings for things seen in the new space that might have game effects (or, for really elaborate, there could be many packets, one for each potential space).

    I'd say go with no resolution system at all per se, just make the spaces interesting enough to interact with (take object, leave object, interact with object, etc), and you have you LARP.

    Mike
  • Posted By: Andrew Morrisit doesn't really support character improvement over time. A little bit of crunch and the chance to improve effectiveness are pretty much requirements for the majority of LARPers around my area.
    I'm not sure I'd agree with that statement myself, so I'm interested in understanding.

    As you play, your weights raise, which gives you 'effectiveness' over others, but only if you are smart enough to use it. Your ends and means can both be altered through gameplay as you progress, and you can do things that are not on your character sheet; but you simply cannot use them to resolve a conflict unless you've dedicated the points to that specific end or means.

    But, I think what you were getting at is people like to see a progressively bigger character sheet or they don't feel they are progressing? In that case, Ends and Means wouldn't be the right system :)
  • Yeah, Sara. My (potential) players want cookies, and I plan to give 'em cookies. I also know that most of them would hate, hate, hate a stat-comparison system like EaM, along with the built-in director stance. Also, the objects would be hard to fit into the system. Sure, you could take them as Means, but that really makes them more a part of your character than this discrete thing that can be stolen.
  • edited December 2006
    I understand the cookie policy, but that just makes me think of MET...and I shudder.

    As for means, I would say that if it were stolen, you'd just have to change that means, or not be able to use that means until you had it returned or replaced.

    :) Means can be changed, just like ends!

    -edited to add, that of course, anything that would remove an end or means is considered a Major stake and no one can force someone to take a major stake in a conflict.-
  • Posted By: Andrew MorrisYeah, Sara. My (potential) players want cookies, and I plan to give 'em cookies. I also know that most of them would hate, hate, hate a stat-comparison system like EaM, along with the built-in director stance. Also, the objects would be hard to fit into the system. Sure, you could take them as Means, but that really makes them more a part of your character than this discrete thing that can be stolen.
    Are you aiming for light, player driven resolution system, with extensions for the Objects, then? I'd be very intrested to see what you'll come up with.
  • Okay, so I’m not ready with my initial draft to post it here. But I’ll lay out the basic concepts.

    The core of the game is a very simple resource-exchange mechanic, which is a simplified set of rules I cannibalized from The Great Art, which has hit a brick wall due to reasons not pertinent to this thread. You have three stats: Body, Mind, and Soul, each of which is used for appropriate conflicts. These stats define the maximum number of bid points you can bet in a contest. Everyone selects their bids, bids are revealed, high guy gets his preferred outcome. Then the winner gives the loser a number of bid points equal to the loser’s bid. There’s some more fiddly bits in there, with skills, advantages, and bonuses from things you’re passionate about. Also, there are ways to break ties.

    That’s the core of it – you bid as much as you are willing and able, and if you win, you get what you want right now. If you lose, you get the resources to get what you want later on. I like this because it works to counteract one of the things I hate in most LARPs – the accumulation of power by an individual or group to such a degree that they are effectively unassailable by other players without heavy-handed manipulation by GMs.

    Then you have the objects.

    Essentially, the objects are discrete packets of special rules, some of which work within the rules (e.g., functioning like an advantage in particular conflicts), some of which enhance or add to the rules (e.g., letting you change a bid after you see what your opponents have bid), and some of which completely change the rules (e.g., no conflicts of a particular type can be made toward you).

    There’s more to it, of course, such as character advancement and improvement, but that’s the system in a nutshell, as it currently exists. I’d welcome any thoughts or questions.
  • How are bids with more than two characters solved? Or can there be such bids?

    How are bids carried out in the game? How are they stated and how is the actual bidding resolved? With some sneaky handsigns or something, or just stating your bid?
  • I'm not completely sure about multi-player conflicts, but here's what I'm thinking at the moment. Each player helps one or the other of the two original contestants, adding their bid to that of the player they are assisting. If an additional player strongly feels the need, he can form another side in the contest, with a different outcome for success. I'm don't really know how the winner(s) would pay out the loser(s) in multi-player conflicts, but I'm working on it.

    As to the logistics of bidding, I'm thinking folks just say some phrase, like, "I'll have to contest that," or something. Then they declare what they are using in addition to their attribute, if anything. These would be skills and such, to give the other player a chance to negotiate or request a GM to mediate. Then they just select cards that equal the bid they want, and reveal them simultaneously. I'm planning on making up a bunch of laminated bid cards, but you could use playing cards, or glass beads, or poker chips, or anything like that, if you wanted to.
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