Pentagram is currently planned to be the first serial-form LARP designed from the ground up as a Badgers and Jam game, and I’m hoping a certain amount of thinking in public will be useful both in designing the game, and to players when deciding if they want to play. I’m not going to put massive amount of setting or plot information into these posts at the momement, but rather use them to articulate thoughts on the design-space of the LARP.
A brief summary of the current plans, then. Pentagram is intended to run every other month for a game size of between 40 and 60 people, for 8 hours, something like 2-10pm, in a venue TBD. The setting is a Lovecraftian post-apocalypse, but the game is not intended to be a horror game.
The fact that we’re still venue TBD (and will likely be so for a while yet, there’s a lot of basic building blocks to put in place before we’re ready to do that – I don’t want to book and commit to dates until more of the key prep is done) places limits on the design thinking that can be done, but at the same time, there’s stuff than should be done before the space is booked, so that the space can be booked that fits most of the goals.
So, questions that need to be answered. I haven’t expressly talked about most of these with my co-designers yet, but I will be doing that at our next meeting, and right now, I just want to feel out my answers to them by writing.
- What feeling do we want most players to have after an average session?
- What is the theme of the game?
- What style of game is this intended to be?
That first question is the most important – creating a LARP experience is about creating feelings in people. Obviously, not everyone is going to come away feeling the same after every event, and every event should feel different, but I should be able to identify a default, a baseline, as an aim.
“Tired-but-accomplished” seems like a fair answer. I want people to feel like they’ve done something challenging, something that had a cost, and I want them to feel, on some level, good about what they’ve done. “Tired” might mean physically, mentally or emotionally, and “accomplishment” will vary from person to person, but I want people to feel like they’ve used up resources to do a thing they wanted or needed to do. (Those feelings might be IC or OOC, but that’s the general final emotional tone Pentagram is aiming at.)
I think what excites me most about having that answer is the focus is provides. Despite honestly never having consciously considered it before now, there are obviously loads of reasons why the setting and design we’ve done so far will play well into that – it’s what we’ve been designing towards without really articulating it like that. Having done that now, it’ll help provide focus to the rest of the design.
This one, I have considered and talked about. The key theme is about individuals as part of wider societies. Not Individial vs. Society. “Part of” is the key phrase. I’ll want us to come up with a minor theme or two as well, but the key one needs to be reflected across the whole design.
I am expressly aiming to build a hybrid game here. I want an element of the scale of fest games, in that they can facilitate multiple different modes of play coupled with the social/emotional focus of “parlour” games, and some of the formal experiments of “nordic” larp. I would also like the moon to park itself atop this stick, if that’s not too much trouble.
One of the things I am keenest to try and do is investigate replicating the physical action elements of fest LARP (on a smaller scale) without a component of simulated violence.
It’s not that I don’t intend there to be violence, but I want to to be coded as something other than “problem solving”. The violent elements of most LARP tend to have a tone of “heroic action” (even if the people doing the acting are, by sane standards, bad guys) – that is, succeeding in violence is an act accomplishment. I do not like that message.