The Inevitable Tabletop Vs. LARP Question

edited February 2006 in Story Games
So, given system, and all the various theories and ideas we've got for RPGs, how much to people feel it's applicable to non-boffer LARPS? 100%? 80%? 30%? Not at all?

I'm curious about the question itself, I admit, but I'm even more curious about the general sentiment on it.

-Rob D.

Comments

  • I'm the president of my local LARP society.

    www.lrpsedm.com

    We've talked about this a bit. Go over to my livejournal, and back to the early entries. You'll see people tinkering with some ideas of this kind.

    http://the-tall-man.livejournal.com/
  • 100% applicable. If you ever want to see creative agenda conflict, drop by a local Camarilla game. I wouldn't discount it from Boffer LARP either.

    On the design side,I had some ideas for something tentatively called "behind the scenes" which was a heavily scene-framed, narrativist leaning LARP. I'm still mulling it over though.

    -Matt
  • I hope you are following the Nordic scene; the Vi Ã…ker Jeep guys in particular - Olle Jonnson, Tobias Wrigstad, and their mad friends.
  • edited February 2006
    These ideas apply 100% to LARP, in my experience, which has been mostly Mind's Eye Theater and similar mechanics-heavy LARPing. When designing the LARP system that is my current project, I cribbed heavily both from Big Model ideas and from tabletop games like Nobilis and the Pool.

    When I first began to read Forge stuff, I was astounded at how well it described so much of what I'd seen in my local MET games. Later I was dumbfounded to see many Forgeheads describe LARP as a strange second-cousin to which their theories may not apply. Today I simply ascribe that attitude to inexperience: most tabletop gamers have no Actual Play experience with LARP.

    It's similar reading about the Scandinavian scene: it sounds fascinating, but how can I know how closely related it is to the LARPing I do now, unless I find a chance to play?

    What really separates LARPing from tabletop? It's only a matter of techniques and ephemera, I think:
    • LARP usually has technical agendas that tabletop does not (e.g., low handling time, GM-optional mechanics, visual representation of Character, Setting and Color).
    • LARP deals with a rarely-approached question of System: how can everyone agree what happens when only a subset of the players are physically present in a scene to agree?
    • Because LARPs operate best with large player groups, Social Contract issues are pronounced. It is difficult (if not impossible) to ensure that everyone is on the same page, creatively speaking.
  • Adam, your bullet points interest because of a point which partly inspired my curiosity. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Amber community is a lot closer to LARP than normal tabletop, and all three of those are ones I see come up frequently in Amber games.

    Now, as to what that _means_.....well, I dunno yet.

    -Rob D.
  • Speaking from personal experience, my Amber game basically was a LARP, even though we were all table-top players.

    Adam, what sort of changes to the typical LARP would you implement, going off of Forge and other theories?
  • The most obvious challenge of larp to Forge theory is the idea of a singular "Shared Imagined Space". Larps generally have simultaneous action in different places, so there will be events going on in one room while other events are going on in another room, and no player has a full picture of everything that happened. Such action can happen in tabletop too, but it's the exception rather than the norm.
  • I'm going to disagree and say that some of what we've come to understand/construct/work out does not apply to LARPs -- only in as much as some things that we've worked out do not work for, say, GMless games, and some stuff doesn't work for GMed games.

    What I haven't seen yet is any concerted effort to really look at what makes LARPing different than Tabletop, which has got to be the first step in developing good tools that apply to LARPing.
  • edited February 2006
    Brennan --

    The first change I would make is the same sort of change a tabletop group needs to make in order to benefit from this stuff: recognize and respect the fact that the game is happening between human beings, not between characters. I've seen a lot of destructive My Guy play in LARP over the years.

    After that -- my "typical" LARP experience is mostly Mind's Eye Theater, a system that has come to fail me creatively at just about every turn. So I began developing Ends and Means as a response.

    Some of the changes I brought to my design were high-level, like setting stakes, "fortune"-in-the-beginning conflict resolution (with Karma + Resources instead of fortune) and Narrativist-friendly flags. Other changes were focused on ephemera important to me, like how I didn't want players to have to carry a pencil and mark up a sheet during game.

    Joshua --

    I use hyperbole when I say this stuff is 100% applicable. Naturally some bits will apply to LARP and some won't. Mostly I want to say that LARP and table-top are not alien to one another: their similarities are at least as great as their differences.

    With that in mind I'll take another shot at observing features common to LARPs (with the caveat that every rule can be broken):
    • LARP relies on the technique of representing Character not only through speech, but also visually (by dressing and gesturing in character) and spacially (by moving throughout the play space).
    • The Shared Imagined Space in LARP is rarely a unified whole (insofar as it ever was): instead it is Explored among autonomous subgroups of players, who separate and recombine as they continue their Exploration.
    • LARP relies on a system that can resolve conflict between players without the intervention of a GM.
    • LARPs often have multiple GMs.
    • LARP mechanics have physical constraints. They must be transportable and usable wherever you are in the play space. Therefore, dice are less common in LARP than Tabletop. Dice pools are nearly unthinkable.
    There's also a can of worms in here regarding Immersion, but I'm not sure I want to approach it.

    What else can we add?
  • Yeah, so maybe we do get hyperbolic... However, most of the analysis techniques are just as valid, and most of the problems aren't even unique to LARP.

    Take the issue of non-consistently agreed on Shared Imaginitive Space. Sure it gets maginified in a game of 200 or a society of 1000, but it's nothing that isn't there, on a smaller scale, in any game. And those sizes and modularization aren't unique to LARP, take the "Living" series of con games as a tabletop example, or any group of gamers in a city who share players and characters.

    -Matt
  • 100% applicable. If you ever want to see creative agenda conflict, drop by a local Camarilla game.

    Oh my god, yes. I've had to educate a fair number of Camarilla members on basic game theory, so they would stop claiming that the other was playing the game "wrong."

    Today I simply ascribe that attitude to inexperience: most tabletop gamers have no Actual Play experience with LARP.

    Also agreed. I have 14 years of MET experience (all the way back to a bizarre WW MET playtest at the University of Akron in 1992). They theories aren't really that dissimilar; although there are specific design concerns unique to LARP, they're still fairly closely related. I've used a fair bit of "Forge-theory" in the Camarilla myself as an analytical tool.

    Because LARPs operate best with large player groups, Social Contract issues are pronounced. It is difficult (if not impossible) to ensure that everyone is on the same page, creatively speaking.

    Reference previous comment on Camarilla games. While they attempt to create "Venue Style Sheets" (which are basically organization-mandated Social Contracts), the fact that the main gamemasters (VSTs in Cam-speak) are elected by the players but are forced to conform to a structural heirarchy means that said VSSes are often vague and ill-defined. In fact, in my local Requiem Cam game we're dealing with a nasty creative agenda conflict right now, and both sides claim that they are playing Requiem "correctly."
  • I have 14 years of MET experience (all the way back to a bizarre WW MET playtest at the University of Akron in 1992).

    I'd love to hear your analysis of the Mind's Eye Theater system (old or new) in the light of System Does Matter.

    I've been a Cam member and an OWBN member. Currently I'm in an oWoD MET Werewolf game that split from OWBN (with the rest of their Garou venue). I find myself regularly circumventing and undermining the mechanics. I regularly see other players doing the same, even though many of them are convinced they are playing by the "rules." What's your experience?

    Even though the mechanics fail me, I still attend the Werewolf game. When we're not using the MET mechanics -- when we're all on the same page in "improv theatre" mode -- it's great. That's another similarity between LARP and tabletop: it's easy to find folks who crow over never having thrown a chop / rolled a die.
  • I think it was my experiences with the Cam that solidified my belief that the BIg Model was a useful analysis tool. Previously I just hadn't seen enough dysfunction and agenda conflict to appreciate it.

    -Matt
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