Today we’re going to get into the intent and the direction behind Relational Character Design. Then start laying out the ‘rules’ of how the concept works. At some point there needs to be some play testing, probably a dry run to find any obvious dilemmas. Then a run through with a group to see how it plays with other people and their notions of what a larp should be.
The intent was to use the concepts of the table top RPG Fiasco to create a set of tools that larpers can use to start fleshing out the details of a group of characters. The goal is to add details, not just the characters themselves, but also the ‘House’ they inhabit by loosely defining the connections between the characters. For our purposes a ‘House’ is any subgroup within a larp. It could be a group representing literally a single household. Additionally it could a Riding, Fiefdom, Canton, Barony, Duchy (although there may be too many people in a Duchy to really get around the table). This tool could be used to generate the relationships among a tabletop adventuring party.
|“A permanent house in the larp village of Berghem, in the southern part of Sweden”|
This method borrows the setup phase from Fiasco to create relationships which are otherwise lacking in most larps. Traditionally in combat larp characters are not built ahead of time (this doesn’t really apply to Theater, Nordic, and Freeform which were written by an individual or small group). There is, however, no ‘game play’ associated with this concept. Rather this stops after the connections are created and the ‘game play’ happens during a larp event based on the larps existing rule set.
To that end this is made to be ‘dropped in’ to whatever game you want to play. In fact, no one outside your group even needs to know you are using these guidelines. I doubt anyone will complain if your particular group has a bit more to role play than others. Nor would any larp necessarily notice its use or lack of use.
The basics work the same as Fiasco. Get a group of players together who are going to form one cohesive story entity. They should come to the table with the idea that they are going to tell a story together, but no preconceived idea of what the house is going to be like. Assign a number of dice to each player to roll. Everyone rolls their dice, and puts them into their pool. In turn each player then draws dice from that pool to begin defining the Categories and Elements that connect them as a group.
Picking someone to go first should be easy as you have a table full of random number generators. Depending on the type of house you want to build, fighting for it could work. Although that may bias the process towards combat strength. Prior to play testing it seems like 4d6 per player is a reasonable number. That will define two relationships between players. Or it will define a relationship with one player, and some aspect of the group itself.
|Click the link to read an interesting article on symbols.|
Some people might feel that trading off between two connections or some aspect of the group and one connection is a bit limiting. If that’s the case, feel free to add more dice. 2d6 per player to form at least one connection (both Category and Element), another 2d6 per player for another connection, add 1d6 so that each player can help define the location, and 1d6 for heraldry. Remember though, everyone at the table is rolling a lot of dice.
As the connections form, and the story grows, the players should make an effort to create a cohesive story together. Additionally seek opportunities for role playing. Setting up ‘loose ends’, or only half defining certain connections could leave room to tell the story away from the table. Remember good improvisational skills. This exercise is about saying “yes… and”. This is not about saying ‘No!’ This method should dovetail nicely with Improvisation Combat Larp.
The next step from here is to take a solo shot at play testing. This will help find any rough areas, possibly identify some things to remove, and maybe find some things to add. There are going to be changes to what has been set up here. So check those out in the next section Playtesting a Larp Fiasco. Or is that Playtesting: A Larp fiasco? Hmm.