January 24, 2014

Death and Resurrection Table

Mike Mearls wrote a great history of raising the dead in D&D.  I thought it would be fun to add to it (he doesn't cover Pathfinder and 13th Age, or Original / BECMI D&D) and summarize it in a table.  Geeky, right?  Organizing information is just what I do.  I'm a GM.

Cost to Victim
Cost to Caster
9th level clerics
Chance that the spell fails, based on Constitution score’s Resurrection Survival percentage.  Too weak to act for 1 day per day spent dead.
One spell
Original D&D (BECMI)
10th level clerics (They gain the title “patriarchs” and “matriarchs” at 9).  With levels going up to 36, 10th level doesn’t seem as high.
Two weeks of bed rest.
One spell
AD&D 2nd Edition
9th level clerics, but now we have a lot more levels, so it’s not as rare (though note that there are level caps).
Chance that the spell fails, based on Constitution score’s Resurrection Survival percentage.  Loss of 1 point of Constitution.  Too weak to act for 1 day per day spent dead.
One spell
D&D 3rd and 3.5 editions
9th level clerics, plus several other divine caster classes; there are 20 levels plus epic levels; plus higher level versions of the spell had other benefits
Raise Dead or Resurrection: Lose one level, which cannot be restored.

True Resurrection: No level loss
One spell, 5,000gp (or 10,000gp for Resurrection, or 25,000gp for True Resurrection)

9th level clerics, plus several other divine caster classes; there are 20 levels plus epic levels; plus higher level versions of the spell have other benefits
Raise Dead: 2 negative levels, which require 2 castings of Restoration to remove.  Otherwise nothing.  Resurrection only bestows one negative level.  True Resurrection bestows no negative levels. Breath of Life bestows one temporary negative level that lasts one day.
7,000gp: 5,000gp for Raise Dead (more for higher level versions), plus 1,000gp each for two castings of Restoration.  It costs 10,000gp and 1 Restoration for Resurrection; 25,000gp and no Restorations for True Resurrection. Breath of Life is free, but only works on creatures that died within 1 round.
D&D 4th Edition
8th level characters with the Ritual Caster feat, Heal skill, and the Raise Dead ritual.  It's really easy to get, because any 8th level character of any class can get those.
Resurrection Penalty (-1 to basically everything for 6 encounters)
500gp (Heroic tier), 5,000gp (Paragon tier), 50,000gp (Epic tier)
13th Age
7th level clerics (out of 10 levels) - so this brings us back to "pretty rare" like in 1st ed. AD&D
Based on number of times the cleric has ever cast it:  Nothing, some HP, days in bed, a month in bed, or a 50% chance the spell fails
Major costs! Clerics can only raise the dead 5 times in their life, and the 5th time kills them.
D&D 5th Edition
5th level clerics can Revivify.  9th level can Raise Dead.  The Basic rules Life Domain has Revivify as a 5th level domain spell, so most clerics of level 5 and over will always have it prepared.
Revivify: No penalty.

Raise Dead: -4 penalty to attack rolls, saving throws and ability checks that diminishes by 1 after each long rest (basically by 1 each day)
One spell (L3 or L5)
300gp (Revivify)
500gp (Raise Dead)

Revivify has to be used within one minute of the creature's death, so most adventuring parties will always use Revivify over Raise Dead.

I thought it was interesting how the cost to the dead character goes down as the editions progress, and the cost to the caster goes up!  It starts out as just a spell, like any other in the old 70s-80s editions, passes through a weird "expensive" phase in 3rd-4th-Pathfinder; and ends with the cleric dying with 13th age!

Meanwhile the dead guy might stay dead or loses levels in most old editions; then gets what amounts to a temporary penalty in Pathfinder and 4e, then finally just takes a while to get well in 13th Age.

Update 7/27/14:  I've added the D&D 5th edition row to the table for comparison.

Thoughts?  Corrections?  Let me know!

PS!  Happy 40th Birthday D&D

January 17, 2014

Level Up

I conducted an informal poll of gamers on social media to see who still uses XP to calculate levels in D&D and Pathfinder, and I found fewer than half do.  The value of gaining a level for players has decreased across editions, and in the latest editions (4th edition D&D and Pathfinder), gaining levels might actually make you weaker.  In 3rd edition, the higher levels were so unpredictable that some players invented E6, which I still highly recommend to anyone playing that edition.  E6 is basically playing with the "sweet spot" levels from 1 to 6, and monsters up to CR 10 (12 at most).  But while I think E6 is great, I actually like levels.  I hope by the end of this post you will agree that tracking XP isn't worth it, but granting levels is.  If you're convinced, I'll conclude with some good ideas about how to ditch XP and still grant levels!

Early Editions

In early editions, there was a meta-game conceit that deeper levels of a dungeon held stronger monsters, and that players should gain a level of experience before delving deeper.  Levels came from XP gained from defeating monsters, and players knew to seek out a few more low level encounters to gain treasure and experience before risking bigger challenges.  Encounter challenge scaling hardly existed before 3rd edition.  Modules would be designed for a range of three to five levels, and only achieved encounter balance by play-testing and the experience of the authors.

In wilderness adventures or adventures with a lot of player freedom of choice, you could engage in guerrilla war by attacking scouts and wandering monsters and guards at the entrance to every ruin and dungeon in the module until you were high enough level to start venturing deeper.  Try it!  Play the original Keep on the Borderlands module -- or the revised version for D&D Next, which harks back to those old days.  There was value in grinding for XP, from a purely gamist perspective.

From a story perspective, not so much.

21st Century Editions

Starting with 3rd edition in 2000, the game's designers included level scaling and mechanics to scale the challenge of monsters upwards.  These were separate (but connected) systems that had distinct (but related) effects.

The first effect was that every level, the GM had a system that, when it worked, made encounters consistently challenging.  Gaining a level or ten didn't make the game easier -- but it made specific monsters easier.  In 3rd edition, a single ogre is a nailbiter at level 1, a routine encounter at level 3, and too easy for the party at level 5.  At level 5, two ogres was a routine encounter.  At level 7, four was a routine encounter.  At level 9, eight to ten ogres was a routine encounter.

The second effect was that the GM could scale a single ogre up in challenge level.  An ogre was a nailbiter at level 1.  An ogre (2nd level Barbarian) is a nailbiter at level 3.  An ogre (4th level Barbarian) is a nailbiter at level 5.  An ogre (6th level Barbarian) is a nailbiter at level 7.

Between these two effects, you could be fighting the same single ogre encounter every session from level 1 through 20.

4th edition dialed back on the ogres-with-levels but still provides versions of every monster at a range of levels covering at least half a tier (5 levels) or more.  (Dragons, the game's titular monster, have remained a constant scaled challenge from level 1 to the highest levels in the game in every single edition.  I remember making 36th level characters and trying to kill Tiamat in Original (BECMI) D&D.)

This means that in 3rd edition and later, there is no reason to grind for XP.  The GM can just scale encounters on the fly to maintain their intended threat level by adding additional monsters or upgrading monsters to higher level versions.  Most GMs will do this without thinking about it because the best GMs only stat out encounters one or two sessions ahead of time anyway.

So you may have heard of an ogre over the hill, avoided him for 2 levels, and finally came for him to find that the GM statted him as an Ogre (4th level Barbarian) last night because he was supposed to be a serious threat, and that's what it took to make him one.

There is No Advantage to Tracking XP for Levels

One presumed advantage of tracking XP for levels, for the GM, is to keep levels equally spread out -- one level every 13 encounters (3.0, 3.5, Pathfinder) or every 10 encounters (4th edition).  But number of encounters is a very artificial measure of time!  These encounters can come over 3 game sessions of 13; or 4 weeks or 9 months.  So time consistency is a shaky reason at best.  Why not plan to level every 6 months of real time?  Or at the end of every adventure?  Or every 10 game sessions?  Plus, using XP for levels often results in gaining levels randomly in the middle of adventures, and then not at all at the end.  It hardly feels like a reward if it comes at seemingly random times.

Another advantage of tracking XP for levels is to allow the players to "grind."  Like in the old editions, they can pick off easy targets and fight wandering monsters until they feel like they're high enough level to tackle the challenge you, the GM, have placed before them.  But doesn't grinding for levels just sound stupid in the context of modern day RPGs?

What is actually happening here is that your players are doing something they aren't interested in.  All they want is the level.  Giving them the level or scaling your challenges better is just as effective as running few sessions of make-work, and a lot faster.  Frankly, with the CR system in 3.0/3.5 or the XP budget systems in Pathfinder and 4th Edition, you shouldn't have trouble scaling encounters to the PCs' level in the first place.

Plus, tracking XP is a pain.  Recording the total every encounter, remembering to grant roleplaying awards, quest rewards, figuring out what rewards to grant for overcoming noncombat challenges, etc.  What a hassle!

There is an Advantage to Levels

I wrote about what levels can do for your game in a previous post.  Go read it!  You can give up on levels (see E6, above) but you lose the neat things levels can do for a long term campaign, if used well.

The Conclusion: Don't Track XP, but Grant Levels

Here are some ways to grant levels without tracking XP.  These are suggestions that came out from the various players and GMs who responded to my questions on twitter and facebook.

  • Level Democratically:  At any time a player (or the GM) may move that that party should gain a level.  The players (and GM) vote yea or nay.  Simple majority rules.  If the majority votes to level, the party gains a level.  You'll find your players will be very reasonable about this.
  • Level on Schedule:  Every 10 sessions, every 6 months, or at the end of every quest, the party gains a level.  Tailor your schedule to your group's logistics.  Do you play 12-hour sessions every other month?  Then level at the end of every session.  Do you play 3-hour sessions every week?  Then level every 3 months.  
  • Level after X Achievements:  A lot of bloggers have talked about using achievements in D&D.  A DM I'm playing with is starting to use them.  These run the gamut from system achievements (Shot in the Dark:  Score a critical hit against an enemy with total concealment against you) to flavor achievements (Beastmaster:  Rescue an abused animal or monster and make it your companion) to story achievements (Stacking the Deck:  Discover the secret collector and take their cards so they cannot assemble the Deck of Many Things).  Use these for levels instead of XP.  Each achievement adds to the party total.  If I used this, I would prefer a mix of flavor and story achievements.  The flavor achievements may be scored once per player character, and the story achievements are unique.  Flavor achievements encourage the players to take actions that reflect common tropes in the genre you're trying to promote.  Want horror?  Use horror achievements:  "I'll Be Right Back:  Go investigate a disturbing sound all on your own."  Want epic fantasy?  Use epic fantasy achievements:  "Tolkein Bluster:  Recite the history and destiny of your legendary magic weapon when intimidating foes or exerting authority.  Counts double if gets so purple and melodramatic that it earns a slow clap from the table."
  • Level at Milestones:  Whenever the party makes a major achievement in the game, give them a level.  This includes completing adventures as well as completing major goals within longer adventures.  If you're running Madness at Gardmore Abbey, give them a level for completing Sir Oakley's quest chain, Lord Paedrig's quest chain (which includes Berrain Velfarren's quest chain), and when they finally assemble the Deck of Many Things.  That's 2 levels during the adventure and one at the end.  This technique lets you run modules without having to adjust encounters.  A common problem with modules is that by inserting player plots, or running stuff off the rails when the players go wandering off, you often wind up with too much XP, and PCs of too high level for the module's end.  Unless the players abandon the module entirely and come up with a goal that means more to them than the module's quest, don't give them a level until they achieve the module's milestones.  (If they do hare off and choose a new quest, ignoring the module... well, you've got to abandon the module anyway.)
Note: In 3.0/3.5 D&D, characters need XP in order to craft magic items and cast certain spells.  I ran a 3.5 game using the Milestones option described above, but I gave the players XP for writing session summaries and character journals.  This XP had nothing to do with gaining levels.  It went into a pot that they tracked, and it could only be used for casting spells that used XP, or crafting magic items.  The character with crafting feats took the lead and organized the other players, actively encouraging them into writing session summaries and character journals if they wanted to get their magic gear.  I found myself throwing sacks of diamonds at them to keep them in funds to craft items just to see what they would write!

January 6, 2014

Designing Elysium Style LARPs

Previously, I described two common kinds of LARP: Adventure Style and Elysium Style.  The latter is most often a Vampire LARP.  The designers of Mind’s Eye Theater do little to prepare their GMs to run a game, so I’m writing this primer on designing the competitive elements of an Elysium Style LARP. 

Here is what this primer will not cover.  I will not tell you how to recruit players, or whether to join a network like OWBN or not.  I will not tell you how to handle XP, or BGAs (except that you need to take them very seriously).  I will not tell you what disciplines to nerf, etc.  You can find all that out from other Vampire LARPers.  I’ve actually only played Vampire LARPs, not GM’ed them.  My Elysium Style LARP GM experience comes from Mage and Changeling.

What is the core of an Elysium Style LARP?

Elysium Style LARP starts off with the following assumptions:
  • The core conflicts are between PCs, rather than with NPCs.  This style of LARP is competitive or “PvP” in that the core action of the plot is generated by having players compete in games.
  • The conflicts are political or subtle, so that the PCs have a reason to congregate in person.  If the conflicts become too overtly hostile, it’s irrational for players have their characters to attend events.
  • The entire LARP takes place in one location (typically Elysium gatherings in Vampire LARPs, hence the name).

Because the core conflicts in the plot are competitive and take place between the PCs, it is the responsibility of the GM to provide an explicit, fair and accessible system specifically to adjudicate those conflicts.  A competition people engage in for fun, governed by a system of rules is, by definition, a game.  In my Elysium Style LARP post, I called the different sub-games happening within an Elysium Style LARP “footballs” to help GMs think of them as contested ground.  But a better term is simply “games.” 

An Elysium Style LARP needs to have at least 3 games, plus one for every five players over fifteen.  The main fault of most Elysium Style LARPs is that they only have one game:  King of the Hill.  In Vampire LARPs, that’s the question of “who’s going to be prince?”  Here are the flaws with that model:
  • It’s often obvious who will become king of the hill early on.
  • Once the king of the hill game is resolved (once there’s a clear king), the game is over.
  • Once the game is over, the LARP is over; even if it doesn’t realize it yet.

NOTE:  Sometimes if you keep the LARP going long enough after the game is over, new players will come in or old players will drop out, ending the king’s secure hold on the hill.  You can’t rely on this happening before your LARP fizzles out.  You can’t control it.  You shouldn’t expect it to happen.  Note that networked LARPs get around this problem by having one king of the hill game in each city, but taken together, they are multiple, independent king of the hill games; so that there is always at least one “in play.”  For the travelling players, this is great.  For single-game players, this leads to feast or famine, and the traveling players will ultimately have more hooks in your local plots than most of your local players do.

If there are three or more independent games going on within your LARP, when one game ends, the majority of the conflict that drives the plot is still active.  Two-thirds or more of the conflict that drives the plot remains independently unresolved.

Games in LARPs are always asymmetrical.  That is, some player characters or factions will have an advantage over other player characters or factions.  Your goal as GM is to ensure that the games don’t resolve too quickly.  Part of this responsibility lies in designing the games carefully to keep progress slow, even when one side has a clear advantage.  The players on the disadvantaged team will work hard to recruit allies and make up the difference.  The other part of your responsibility is player management, (aka cat herding).  Take the player whose character has a clear advantage and ask them to take a disadvantaged position, such as siding with the underdog or starting with a weaker position in a competition, for instance.  Cat herding is best done frankly, openly and out of character – never sabotage a player’s character for the good of the game without discussing it with them first.  Remember, this is a competition, not too different from a contract bridge tournament or intramural soccer round robin.

Characteristics of Games for Elysium Style LARP

The games in your Elysium Style LARP can be abstracted or live, and indirect or direct.

Abstract and live games relate to the LARP’s space-time.  The LARP’s space-time is the in-character location and time of play, for instance, “at the old manor house, from 7:30 to 11pm Friday night.”  Abstracted games are played and scored based on player character actions that affect the world outside of the LARP’s space-time.  Because the LARP is not actually happening outside the game space or game time, the actions need to be abstracted and scored based on those abstractions.  Live games are played and scored based on player character actions that occur during the LARP’s space-time.  Games are either live or abstracted. 

Examples:  An influence war is an abstracted game.  A political struggle is a live game.

Indirect and direct games relate to the scoring of the games themselves.  Indirect competition is where player characters compete by influencing other events.  A competition is indirect if the win condition is assessed based on the state of something other than the competitors.  Direct competition requires player characters to directly defeat other player characters, such as in combat, social politics, and stealth.  There is a bit of a continuum between indirect and direct games. 

Examples:  Winning a court judgment is a moderately indirect game.  Fighting to the death is a very direct game.


Games have beginnings, middles and endings.  How will you hook players into the game?  How will you keep the game exciting as it progresses?  What is the win condition and how will you run it?  What if your LARP ends before the game ends (i.e. if your LARP has a 12-game run)?  What if this game ends before your LARP ends?

Games have winners and losers.  What motivates people to win?  What happens to the losers?  What is the prize for winning?  Be honest:  Is victory a steady state or a shaky position?  If you think your game is the sort of game where victory is fleeting, ask yourself this:  What are the chances that the victor will be unseated next session?  Sure, the chances are low…  But if the chances are basically zero, your game is over.

Games are clear and accessible.  You need to explicitly, out of character, announce to the players:
  • This game is happening.
  • This is how you win.
  • This is what you have to do to win.

Example:  “A major conflict in this LARP is to see who will become Prince.  You play characters in factions vying to get one of their members on the throne.  You or another member of your faction must become Prince and hold the position.  A compromise position is if a faction allied to yours that owes your faction significant Boons or is otherwise beholden to yours (Conditioning, Blood Bonds, double agents, etc.) claims the throne.  You lose if a faction which is not allied with and beholden to yours claims the throne.  To become Prince, you will need to recruit other factions’ support, claim the title, and defeat anyone who contests you, in physical combat if necessary.”

Games must be independent, or they’re not separate games.  For instance, you can’t consider “who will become Seneschal” to be a game because it is not independent of “who will become Prince.”  Independence is a continuum.  Obviously being Prince makes everything a little easier.  Ask yourself, “is winning game A as much an advantage in game B as getting one more PC’s support?”  If victory in one game is more of an advantage for a faction than an entire other character, the two games are not independent.  As the GM, you have to draw careful boundaries around the games so that they remain mostly independent. 

Games that are limited to a subsection of players count as a fraction of a game.  If you have seven clans, each choosing a leader, then you have one game, not seven: “Who will lead my clan?”  Worse, these games only matter if there are enough players to make them interesting.  Say your 24 player LARP has 6 Tremere, 4 Ventrue, 4 Malkavians, 4 Brujah, 2 Toreador, 2 Gangrel, and 2 Nosferatu.  The leader contests among the Tremere will be interesting.  Maybe the Ventrue, Malkavians and Brujah will have a bit of a game there (but it will resolve fast)…  But 25% of your LARP -- the 6 players playing Toreador, Gangrel and Nosferatu will not have any leader-selection game.  Try to keep limited-access games at 4 players or higher.  If you’re running a “seven clans” vampire game and don’t have 28 players or more spread evenly across clans, focus on coteries rather than clans, or create factions.

Example:  Let’s analyze this LARP…

“Who will become Harpy?  In this city, the Prince has no say in who the Harpy will be.  That position is selected by the Primogen.  Primogen are also independent of the Prince:  Each Primogen is selected by his faction.  Traditionally, there are three Primogen:  One selected from the liberal faction, an alliance of clans Brujah, Malkavian, and Gangrel; One selected from the conservative faction, composed of clans Ventrue, Nosferatu, and Toreador; and one selected from Clan Tremere, who used to be powerful in the city, but recently declined any city positions other than Primogen due to some internal edict.” 

This situation is great.  It appears to create 5 games, each a struggle for a position of power:  Prince, 3 Primogen, and 1 Harpy.  But the Harpy contest is not independent of the Primogen contests, because the three Primogen choose the Harpy.  The Primogen contests are limited to subsections of the players, so this LARP only has two independent games:  The Prince game and the Primogen game.  It needs more games!

Example Elysium LARP Games (“Footballs”)

I was asked for a list of footballs.  Here it is.  I’m going to list a general category, whether it is live or abstract and direct or indirect.  I will give examples of games in that category, and some important things to remember when running those games.

King of the Hill:  Compete to occupy a position of power over others.   Live, Direct.
  • Examples:  Prince, Leader of the Shadow Court, Primogen of a large enough clan, Head of the secret Anarch conspiracy
  • Keep In Mind:  Shy players will want a role too, create system that supports support characters! 
  • Quick Tip:  The guy who always winds up prince?  Ask him to play a power-behind-the-throne puppet master.  Someone else gets the chair, and he gets a real challenge!

Alpha Dog:  The characters fight, but not to the death.  Live, Direct.
  • Examples:  Fighting tournament, leadership structure where the toughest leads, culture of violence.
  • Keep In Mind:  Some games’ combat system is awful.  Also, try to give the players a reason to compete.  The win condition has to be worth it!
  • Quick Tip:  Since it’s likely ritualized combat, consider using a table game like Lunch Money to simulate it.  In a boffer game, offer quick heal-ups after.

Contest:  The characters compete in a contest.  Live, (somewhat) Indirect
  • Examples:  Try to make the contest something that the players can actually do, to some degree, live.  None of this "I sing an opera.  Performance 5."  Try a poker tournament or a chess game.  Drinking contests could be fun, but use iced tea, please.  If you want stats to come into play, give the character with the advantages more starting chips, or a three move handicap, etc.  Better contests could be "design a security plan for this space" or "write the funniest limerick"; classic thriller contests include high-stakes Baccarat or an auction.
  • Keep In Mind:  Contests tend to be one-session games with low stakes.  You could structure the campaign to have a contest each session, or have a meta-contest with real serious stakes.  Contests could even resolve other games (like Influence the NPC or even King of the Hill). 
  • Quick Tip:  Letting a PC judge the contest adds elements of side-wagers, bribery, and corruption to the game, which is fun!  Regardless, make your contests matter and they will matter to the players.  Make them trivial, and they will be trivial to the players.

Influence the NPC:  The characters compete to influence an NPC.  Live, (mostly) Indirect
  • Examples:  Love triangle, court case, persuade a diplomat, secure a contract, flip a double agent
  • Keep In Mind:  The system for this is “if the cast member playing the NPC is convinced, she’s convinced.”  Just make sure that the cast member doesn't also play a PC with a stake in the contest!
  • Quick Tip:  Don’t solo GM this one.  You need to recruit a cast member to play the NPC.  Either get a player who you trust to be impartial to take the NPC role, bring in an outsider, or use regular NPC cast player.  Also, Influence the NPC seems like a one session game; but it can be part of a larger game (see Alter External Events, below) or the NPC can come back for a few sessions until convinced.  In that case, make sure to keep score between games, and think of how to handle BGAs involving the NPC!

The Maguffin:   Try to figure out, use, steal, destroy, or protect the special item.  Live, Direct.
  • Examples:  The Necronimicon, Excalibur, the formula for an anti-vampire serum, etc.
  • Keep In Mind:  You need a reason that the players always have it with them during game.
  • Quick Tip:  Revise this to be an Abstract, Direct football by having the maguffin never come to game.

Reputation:  Try to get a positive reputation score and give your rivals a negative one.  Live, Indirect
  • Examples:  Status in Vampire, or other similar systems.
  • Keep In Mind:  In Vampire, this game is not independent of the Prince game.  Houserule status to a democratic system or some other sub-game to make it independent.
  • Quick Tip:  Status lottery!  Each player puts two status votes (player, character, status trait) in the hat.  At the end of the session, the GM draws two slips. Those characters gain the status indicated.  Harpy & Prince can remove or grant 1 status per game each.  Not totally independent, but much more so and easy to do!

Favors Owed:  A formal system for tracking favors owed.  Live, Direct
  • Example:  The Boon system from Mind’s Eye Theater is not a game unless it has an object and gets explicitly called out.
  • Keep In Mind:  People play too conservative!  They’re shy about giving or requesting boons.  If you make favors owed a major game in your LARP, make a big deal out of it!
  • Quick Tip:  People are not shy about spending cash.  Make favor slips.  Print character names and values on the front of the favor slips.  Have denominations 1, 5, 10, 20 like monopoly.  Roughly the values equate to 1 = Trivial, 3 = Minor, 10 = Major, 30 = Blood; 100= Life.  When you get a favor slip you put your character name on it, to trace its provenance.  At the end of the Arc, everyone has to turn in HALF the favor slips they’ve collected.  That forces them to use ‘em!

Resource Rush:  The player characters compete for control of scarce resources.  Abstract, Indirect
  • Examples:  Feeding territory, influences, mentors, etc.
  • Keep In Mind:  The base Mind’s Eye Theater system rules for these suck.  They also don’t give players a reason to compete for them.
  • Quick Tip:  Make a simple system for feeding, blood, and hunting ground.  House rule the influence system heavily or just play Lords of Waterdeep for it or something.  These systems suck in MET and need major reworking to make them accessible, fair, and have a reason for players to care.

Information:  Some characters spread misinformation or conceal information, while others are trying to learn the truth.  Live, (mostly) Direct
  • Example:  .Misinformation vs. Truth; Cover-up vs. Crime-solving; Blackmail vs. victim; double-agent vs. counterintelligence (this is info-war going both ways!); etc.  
  • Keep In Mind:  Plot hacking powers (Auspex), truth-telling powers (Dominate, Auspex, Thaumaturgy), etc. destroy any information games, whether Elysium Style or Adventure Style.  This game can also be a maguffin game if there is a reason for the information to be in physical copy, written down at all times.
  • Quick Tip:  House rule truth-detection and plot hacking powers right out.  Do it now, regardless of what system you’re playing – even if it’s tabletop!

Alter External Events:  The player characters are opposing each other on how they want to see an external event unfold.  They’re influencing it indirectly to achieve their preferred outcome.  Abstract, Indirect.
  • Examples:  Swing an election, rig a court case, increase prosperty vs. increase poverty, arms race vs. disarmament talks, go to war vs. make peace.
  • Keep In Mind:  There is no good system for this!  You will need to create your own.  Also, this happens in between games, so you can use any system you want as long as it’s fair, accessible, and explicit.
  • Quick Tip:  I suggest taking a table game and using it to represent the events; then making it asymmetrical by letting characters with more appropriate stats have advantages.  Or just come up with a scoring system and update the scores publicly by the start of each LARP session.  Use a scoring system like this for long-term Influence the NPC games (see above).


  1. Have 3+ "games" in your LARP that all the players know about (if not the characters)
  2. Publish an explicit, fair and accessible system specifically to adjudicate each game
  3. Inform the players what they need to do to win