It’s been clear since the dawn of the hobby that different people want different things out of their larp. Hardly a surprise. My knowledge of psychology is pretty slim. I know Maslow’s pyramid has a pointy bit at the top, but that’s about it. But increasingly, I find myself needing a taxonomy of larpers that I can use as a checklist to make sure there’s game for everyone, stories to be made by everyone.
15 or-so years ago, Earthworks Manchester – and probably Cardiff too – were checking off skills as they wrote event plots, to make sure every _skill_ had a specific function at the event. This is essentially an extension of that. Make sure every _larper_ has a specific function at the event. Make sure everyone has something that’s clearly their kind of thing.
Odyssey was the first time I’d consciously used that technique in game design as opposed to event writing. The 5 paths of Odyssey were created with one eye on the kinds of things we thought people wanted to do in an event, with some pretty clear correlation between path and activity. In retrospect, we didn’t put enough effort into one sort of larper – people who like working stuff out. We’ve since put more work into adding game into the Philosopher path for those kinds of folk, as well as sprinkling some of it elsewhere. I think the Path concept does work well in another way; by blocking people out of some parts of the game, we make more opportunities for everyone. If a loud/charismatic/leader type could go talk to the gods, and well as go on quest, and fight in the arena – there’s that much less space for others to lead in those areas. However, I don’t think the idea of using a taxonomy to check everyone’s got game requires a Path structure to make it work. I think it’s more generally useful, and hope it’ll be helpful again in designing Empire.
- What will the bean counters do? What do the beans do?
- What will the narrativists do? How will our story threads get to them and move them?
- What will the politicians do? Why are all these characters in a field? Why are all these characters in this particular field? What levers of power are there to affect the world?
- What will the puzzlers do? How will their puzzling affect everything else?
- What will the warriors do? How is fighting made meaningful?
I knew about GNS, but that didn’t seem quite right. I want to know what people will do at an event, and it just doesn’t go far enough down that route for me. I found the Bartle Test – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartle_Test – Killer, Socializers, Achievers, Explorers – but there’s not enough there for me. I want more on the sorts of things players want to do. It’s close, mind, and the combination paragraphs are very useful.
- Ruckers – want a fight. PvP, PvE – not so important.
- Rollers – want PvP; might be fighting, might be political, might be by downtime action.
- Hacks – want political/diplomatic play; might be PvP, might be PvE
- Bean-counters – want big heaps of whatever it is you might heap up. Might be got by trade, or theft, or downtime action.
- Riddlers – want to think, to work things out, whether it’s puzzles per se, or wider game world realities. Intellectual play.
- Emos – want to emote. Like stories based on characterisation. Emotional play.
- Plotmonkeys – want to be part of the big story of the event, the one the organisers are writing. Entirely PvE. Opposite of Rollers.
- Stunts – want to be known for their involvement as players, rather than as characters. Not so sure about this one – though it is what I often do…