2 methods for Resource Gathering in a 4x Larp

While thinking about building and play testing the 4x larp concept it occurred to me that the collection of resources is unnecessary. Earning resources from holding territory doesn’t impact actual game play very much. It wouldn’t change many tactical decisions, or add tension to combat. Collecting resources seemed like a tacked on concept with didn’t really matter… So I removed it. And then I had a brilliant idea.

As soon as I made that decision, and cut the paragraphs out of the design document, a better way to collect resources came to mind. The section is still cut but the new idea seems really fun. I would be extremely interested in play testing the new concept. The main problem being that resources still don’t really do anything. And until they do there’s no real reason to keep them. Anyway, here are two general ideas of how to collect resources in a 4x larp. A continuation of the previous post on the 4x Larp concept.

Location ownership model

There is a conceptual strategy layer of the game, played out almost like a board game on a Hex map. Owning a hex for a period of time means that resources are generated. To control a hex those members attack a location, the results of which are determined by actual combat played out on the field in various types of battles. Which battles are fought are based on decisions at the strategic layer.

Worker based model

First we toss the idea that resources are generated by controlling locations on a map over a period of time. Instead resources are generated by workers, played by real players, who must survive combat. Before engaging in a particular battle the members of the house choose between 0 and 2 players to portray workers. Should those workers survive the battle, then resources are awarded. This idea adds some extremely interesting strategic decisions to, otherwise tactical, game play.

Workers are more limited in weapon and armor choice but have special abilities. Houses have to decide how many and what types of workers they will field before combat, and that choice could have a huge impact on how the battle unfolds. The opposing side may be more interested in capturing the workers, rather than killing them in order to gain the resources for themselves. Players may not want to rout their opponents, in case some of them could generate resources.

This being a larp, the players posing as workers must look the part. They cannot claim to be a farmer and wear their normal garb. They should dress like a farmer! No fancy metal armor. No fancy leather armor for that matter. Build a boffer pitch fork and throw on a cow hide.

  • Woodcutter: Unlimited ‘Repair’ for wooden weapons. Gain 1 Wood resource for surviving combat. Fights with a 2’6” ax.
  • Blacksmith: Unlimited ‘Repair’ for metal weapons. Gain 1 Ore resource for surviving combat. Fights with a 2’6” hammer.
  • Stonecutter: Limited ‘Immune to Boulders’ (wouldn’t that magic be awesome to have in a stone mine). Gain 1 Stone resource for surviving combat. Fights with a 2’6” hammer.
  • Herbalist: Unlimited ‘Heal Limb’ spells, self or other only (not a Heraldry Effect). Gain 1 Food resource (this might change to something else like scrolls or magic should the game system flesh out) for surviving combat. Fights with a 2’6” wooden cudgel (mace).
  • Farmer: Leather Armor Skill. Gain 1 food resource for surviving combat. Fights with a 3’6” hayfork (pitchfork). Actually medieval people were required to own and know how to use swords, so arming them with a sword is fine if you don’t want to build a hayfork.

The original idea for location ownership initially seemed like a good idea and may work for other game systems. It more closely models the 4x computer game genre. But it comes with a lot of paperwork. More importantly it is abstract and out of game. Using a ‘worker placement’ style system changes the powers and abilities of the players on the field, and puts some tactical pressure on making sure those workers are alive at the end of the game. This method seems to cause far more interesting decisions on the part of the players.

There are tons of interesting options here for the players, strategic and tactical choices they need to make. But also the event holders have some interesting openings. What happens if they field an NPC Worker during a battle between two PC houses? That standard goblin camp, may actually be ‘farmers’. Capturing those NPCs might be better than killing them. I am looking forward to fleshing out the idea over time. Once practice gains enough regular attendees, these concepts are going to get play tested.

If you want to chat about this idea or anything to add you can tweet me. Or comment on this post on the Google Plus feed. If you live in the Boston area and want to help us playtest this idea you can check out our FB group.

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