A while ago I found myself designing a game which had the following design goals: Larpish play style with a sprinkle of flashback scenes (for people not steeped in Nordic rpg, think Jeepform
, which you might have heard of).
All drama in the game should be about interactions between the players. But I wanted to be able to support the dramaturgy without relying on the heavy preparation of Nordic larps and on the important GM function in most Nordic freeform. It should be GM-less and pre-preparation less. Also, no pre written characters. I tried to do this by making the game much more rules heavy than what is typical for our games. I did one playtest and while the players had a good time, there are indeed a lot of problems. I will surely write about these somewhere on the internets at some point, but that is not what I will write about here. Because there was one thing that was really appreciated and that was the character generation rules. Admittedly, these players were larpers rather than board games; it would be very interesting to see how boardgamers react. I'm thinking that these simple rules might be used also in other types of games.
All types of comments are welcome, but I had especially two types of comments in mind: 1) comments on how they can be improved? some thing that really irritates you? 2) Do you get inspired to use this set of rules or something similar in a different context?
*The are no secrets between players when it starts. Characters might have secrets. It is of course ok to create secrets during play.
*All characters know each other at least somewhat at the start of play. This is to skip empty presentation scenes.
*It is allowed and encouraged to during play allude to and invent new links between characters.
*The game is a shared activity and so is also the character creation. Everyone should take interest in the creation of all the player's characters. The character creating follows the below schedule
1. The players all sit down in a circle.
2. One by one the players present their character in very few words, in third person. "I play John, a rather lonely guy who works in an animal store downtown. He is 25, has a lousy confidence and his afraid to come across as a loser." Discuss the characters together at some length. This is fun, but don't allow yourself to over do it.
3. Each player agrees on a relationship of some kind between their character and the characters of the two players next to them in the circle.
*At the beginning of the game each role has all in all positive feelings for the character of the player to the left and negative for the one to the right.
4. Each player writes down three unconfessed sins or secrets on a note. These are not secret, players are encouraged to discuss these openly. Note that the unconfessed items doesn't have to be fully specified. On the contrary, it's often better to write "The thing at the yoga class. Henry would kill me." than something more specific. Statements like "Everyday my biggest fear is that someone I know will enter the animal store." will also work. They are to be divided freely into the following two categories:
*Things I haven't confessed to anyone else.
*Things I haven't confessed to myself.
5. Each player is to give the note to the player to the left. She will add add one more item before she returns the note. It is allowed to bring something completely new to the role.
6. You may now start the game. The notes with unconfessed sins and secrets will be placed so that they can be read by anyone during the game.
Note: I lifted these rules out from a seventeen page long rules collection and they are of course geared very specifically for that context. So they aren't like meant to be neutral or so.