Ruckers and rollers and the rest…

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.

Shortly after Odyssey launched, I was noodling round the following checklist for fest design:
  • 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  – –  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.

I’m not sure there’s quite enough in there for my purposes, though. My current best guess is…
  • 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…
(And for what it’s worth, I’m 60% Stunt, 20% Hack, 10% Bean-counter and 10% Roller these days… And an Achiever according to this:

4 thoughts on “Ruckers and rollers and the rest…

Add yours

  1. We built this arena on Ruck & Roll?

    I find Emos are really easy to deal with, as if you leave them alone they’ll mostly make their own entertainment. The hard bit is when some stunt displays their cupidity and cuts them down for not doing it right.

    1. Well, yes. Absolutely. Somewhere where hard PvP was focussed in one place, with clear game effects and no-one had to trip over a guy-rope. (I should be ashamed of myself for the name, I guess… )

      I think you’re right about emos. They will make their own game, but I’m interested in how one might help them. I’m got a post in draft called “Raking the sandbox” about helping people make game, because at a fest-scale event they really have to. I’ll probably never finish it, mind.

      There is a real danger with stunts that they’ll go outside the designer’s vision for the game in a way which might not be helpful – I know I’ve done that two or three times, and there’s probably more… But I am fond of them – partly because they remind me of me, and partly because when they do get in line with a vision, they make marvellous things happen. Not necessarily “stories”, but “happenings”. The Dauphin’s pavillion at the first Maelstrom with it’s 2 double bedrooms and 14-seater banqueting table.. That kind of thing.

  2. What about ‘Crafters’ – People who enjoy making kit, props, trinkets, sets etc.
    and ‘Peacocks’ – The enjoyment of shiny new kit, prosthetics, accessories etc.

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