What is the proper term for a LARP with these characteristics?

Is there a commonly accepted term for a LARP with these sorts of characteristics.

Self-contained One Shot scenario played all in one session
Relatively large group of players (12-24)
Pre-gens with built in, often hinted at goals, and some info about other characters.
Several overlapping goal/relationship webs providing tension and some ideas for self directed play.
Often has planned multiple acts or phases, sometimes with pauses for regrouping out of character before re-starting play.
Generally has some kind of events/tilts planned and enacted by a GM or GM team in addition to the self-directed play from the goal/relationship webs.

I've played in a couple of games like this. I'm really just looking for a relatively well-known term, so I can reference it when describing another type of game ( Braunsteins) that share some similar characteristics.


  • Not that I've heard of, although I agree that it would be useful to have a common name for this. The closest I can think of is "parlor larp" or "con larp", which often are in this unnamed format, but that's just a coincidence and not the meaning of these terms.

    The use of "scenario larp" or "larp scenario" is somewhat widespread around here, and it, again, captures much of the concept without being analytically defined this way - that I know of, at least.

    For a new coinage, how about "drama web game" or "drama web larp"? I think that this captures the central structural conceit of this type of game vs. other common larp structures (mission-based being the most common, I suppose) pretty well.
  • edited May 2016
    Yeah, that's part of the problem I was having looking for a term.

    Con LARP is pretty good, but only refers to where this is most likely to occur ( arranging something for that many players is often hard to do in one's home. Weirdly, both games I played along these lines were held in private homes).

    Scenario LARP is good, but includes lots of scenarios that might not fit this mold, either by having smaller numbers of players or by being more focused on the group playing together more closely, like some of the stuff I've seen talked about in the Scandinavian scenes. It does seem to describe the one-shot, self-contained nature though, in contrast to stuff like the OWoD LARPs I played in, which were ongoing affairs played every week with self-generated characters.

    Maybe there's someone who has a better idea? I suppose I could just get descriptive every time, but I was hoping for a convenient, already existing, term.

    I do like Drama Web Larp, although I don't know if that automatically implies the background events that are also running along at the same time.
  • It's a module.
  • It's a module.
    It is a bit, isn't it?

    Although "module" makes me think of something that's an adventure for some greater system, rather than being a self-contained item ( more like one of those Murder Mystery box games in some ways).

  • Plenty of games out there with only one module!
  • Plenty of games out there with only one module!
    But rarely by original intent! :D

  • One-shot with Rel Maps and Plot.
    [Versus: One-shot with Plot and One-shot with Rel Maps--also common formats, the former would be a 'GM-ful scenario LARP' while the latter would be a 'GM-less parlor LARP'.]
    There's no common, pithy terms of which I'm aware. Even if there were, I'd still be descriptive about the major aspects (player- versus GM-directed; planned activities versus emergent situations; intensity of subject; etc).
  • Isn't it what they call a "freeform" in Britain? See Peaky weekends, etc.

    I believe it's also quite similar to what they call a "tent game" in Russia (i.e. games some Russian larpers play in the winter, as opposed to much larger "field" games they run in the summer).

    It's also a subset of what we're now calling a "chamber larp" in Italy — friends of mine run two yearly conventions dedicated to those, and the term has also been picked up as a pejorative by a subset of the outdoors/costumed larping community. But our chamber larps are allowed fewer participants than that (in fact, 12+ would be huge), and things like an acts structure or GM intervention are now seen as optional — the most "experimental" designers occasionally try to do away with the pre-gen character structure as well, but no attempted solution has really stuck so far. So maybe we'd call what you describe "an old-fashioned larp" within the Italian chamber larp community?

    My impression is, the structure you describe is quite common and widespread, but names for it are pretty local, often focusing on saying what this larp is not.
  • Yeah, so over here, the closest thing is a lot of Intercon games and this is sometimes called the Secrets and Powers style.

  • I'd call it freeform or palour larp. And if it's run in a Black Box, I'd call it a Black Box scenario.
  • I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with the term Black Box in this context.

    BTW, I appreciate everyone's help on this. It seems the answer is that there is no common jargon, but people are pretty familiar with the concept if they've done any LARP aside from VtM style larp only.
  • Rafu is right: that's what we call a "freeform" in Britain (in some circles, anyway).

    There is some use of the term "secrets and powers LARP" in academic literature, which I am not a fan of, because these LARPs don't always have secrets and powers. But I agree that it's a thing and it should have a name. (I like "relationship-and-goals" myself, but that's me.)
  • edited May 2016
    Relationshps'n'Goals sounds good to me.

    Here's a quick follow up question:
    Let's say someone is putting on one of these RNGLARPs, and they're going to have a GM team or GM helpers or whatnot. People who didn't write the thing are involved.

    How does one share out all of the info about the RNG part? What form does that info take?

    edited to add tis next part for context:

    I'm really trying to avoid recreating the wheel.

    I'm looking to find methods for easily sharing info where lots of characters and interacting goals are involved.

    What I want to do is create something like one of the set ups for a RNG Freefrom, including the twists/events that are going to occur, and then turn it into something that can be played "open-book"* style by 4 to 5 people. I'm thinking shared GMing/Rotating GMing and scene setting type play on the table top.

    *Open Boook: All of the players have access to all of the info. What they use it for as play develops is up to them.

  • Secrets and powers or parlor larp or freeform larp depending on your culture of play and, to some extent, the content. When I read your description I thought "secrets and powers", but these tend to be really brittle and probably won't inform your design goals much.

    Graham I always thought "secrets and powers" was vaguely derogatory but that community has embraced the name. They've also claimed "American freeform" as their own! Nobody agrees on terms, which makes it really hard to have discussions across cultures of play.

    Here's my usual non-moderator reminder to never listen to anything JD Corley says.
  • Is there a commonly accepted term for a LARP with these sorts of characteristics.
    Two suggestions of terms that I've heard of: "Mini LARP" or possibly the upcoming game term "megagames":

  • Thanks for the video. I've heard about megagames for a while. It was nice to see one with some recording used to document it.
  • That's a fantastic video, and looks like a very well-run and well thought-out scenario. Quite inspiring!
  • I think the characteristics you are using for the "definition" are a bit odd but here are some of the several different types of game categories that could fit:

    "Chamber larp" (as suggested above by Rafu)

    "Tape larp"

    "Black box larp"

    "Fastaval scenario"/"Fastaval freeform"
  • I have no doubt that my characteristics seemed a bit odd. I've had experience with really just two main types of LARPs.

    a) The one-shot style I described as best able as a participant ( and really, my preferred style from those experiences).

    b) Ongoing, meandering, once per week, VtM/Masquerade style LARPs with a lot of people( which a lot of my friends loved, and I always found rather dull)
  • edited June 2016
    a) I would say "Fastaval scenario" even though they generally tend to be smaller in the number of players. But these ate generally no/limited dress up. That fits?
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