The first play test session of Relational Character Creation is complete. It went well. Some unexpected things came up, and some interesting new sample houses were generated. Most of them are ones that I would enjoy playing. Additionally I learned some things about what to do and what not to do while play testing.
Here is an explanation of the rules, in google doc format. And the Categories and Elements in their own document. Pardon the shortened links, I want to keep track of how many people access the document. For those joining us late this idea started back in May, where we laid out some problems facing many combat larps. Character creation is often disjointed, and tends towards making everyone play antihero loners. Ugh. Also most character creation isn’t that fun.
Fiasco is a brilliant RPG that is being modding by GM’s for their own games. Jack Graham used something similar to create strong bonds between players in a Call of Cthulhu setting. That combination seems like a perfect match and his game went very well. Rethinking larp character creation in terms of relationships instead of stats is a natural fit. Modding Fiasco for larp is a great little project.
Playtest 1: 5 players, 4d6, No Pooling.
Name: Summerbrook Company
A military unit with a mark of abatement for cowardice. The unit is comprised of a trained Armorer and two apprentice armorers as well as a quartermaster. Although formerly a military unit, they are now a group of merchants and traders, often on the wrong side of the law. Despite their shady legal status, they are tough in combat and work well together. The group desires to get even for being set up and to get away from the greenskins. Additionally they would like to get respect for their accomplishments… Perhaps earning their honor back in the process.
Playtest 2: 5 players, 4d6, No Pooling
Name: Byley Keep
A small Elemental Cult growing in a rural keep, attempts to recruit the local wizard. The wizard seems certain to join. This party consists of mostly magic and underworld connections making it a strange mix. While creating the house Downton Abbey kept popping into my head. In the way that the ‘Upstairs’ (the regular folk of the house), might not always be aware of what’s going on ‘Downstairs’. The group defined the Category “To get in…”, but then never assigned an Element to that category. Each player will need to define what that means to their persona during the course of play.
Playtest 3: No locations, 6 players, 4d6, no pooling.
With 1 tribe, 1 underworld, 1 arcane, and 1 Trade and two Romance categories this group was a bit of hodge podge, and an interesting story was not immediately apparent. The need of “To Get in to the Good graces of your gods” informed the rest of the group and brought the cohesive story to the front. With reformed, or reforming rogues, Necromancers, Former Undead, a Spy and two forbidden romances there seemed to be sins to atone for boiling under the surface. This group is a monastic order and their story should be viewed through the lens of morality and guilt. They all seek redemption for deeds in the past, and deeds which have not yet happened. In my mind the specifics of the religion are less relevant. They could ‘discover’ that using improvisational techniques during play. Other players may want to be more detailed in their description of specifics of this religious order.
Playtest 4: No loactions, 5 Players, 4d6, pooled dice.
With the dice pooled, I feel like this play test did not merge together into a cohesive story. Perhaps it’s random chance. With mostly Arcane connections this seems to be some kind of College of Magic. Most of the house members are Apprentice’s of some kind, with one Master Mage who also happens to be on a local lords Council. There happens to be a secret romance between the lord and one of the Apprentices.
Some play testing Lessons:
1.) Don’t use your friends names when solo play testing. It effects the outcomes. Use some kind of generic names or RPG character names. Colors instead of peoples names seemed like a good idea, but with all the colors of heraldry… Turns out numbers just work better.
2.) Drop the locations table. It doesn’t really help all that much because of the nature of a larp. The players should have a general idea of where they come from, but knowing the exact buildings isn’t really helpful in developing the story of the group. Perhaps it would be better to ‘zoom out’ a bit. Change Locations from ‘scene specific’ like Fiasco, to more general like designing Game of Thrones houses. Terrain, wealth, style that sort of thing.
3.) The last group didn’t speak to me quite the same as the others. It may be worth testing pooled dice a few more times to find out if that is the reason, or if perhaps crafting fatigue has just set in. This may be a good set of tests to bring to a play test group. Generate a house with pooled dice, and then generate a house with dice not pooled, and compare.
With tons of great information collected, and some choices made, it’s time to rewrite the documents. Then we’ll be play testing with a group. Which should be fun. It’s time to start getting feedback from specific people, instead of just generally sharing it with you. What do you think so far?
You can share your thoughts on my Google+ account which makes a much better comment section than the open web. You can tweet me if you like the concept or have concerns. And finally you can find me on Ello.co/larp.