6 Scene Beat Sheet for extended LARP mods (Scene #1)
Scene #1 – Warmup Bandits
goal(s): easy fight that gets the PCs into hero mode
element(s): combat (playground)
This Scene is an easy fight. The concept of a “warmup bandits” encounter has a long tradition in LARP, and with good reason. Bandits don’t have to be tied into the plot of the mod at all, so bandits on the road are the lazy way out. Warmup bandits is the fight that limbers up the bodies of the players, but also gets them remembering how their abilities work. Even better, making this an easy fight establishes that the PCs are bad-asses. It could be “warmup zombies” or “warmup goblins”, but it’s probably not “warmup vampires” or “warmup stone golems”.
There’s a few things to consider here to really make this scene sing.
Easy fight, but with decent screen time
The NPCs themselves are pushovers. They have poor weaponry (likely nobody is florentine or has a shield or a polearm), and they have low damage and low toughness. Normally, this would make the fight over very quickly. That’s means you dragged a bunch of NPCs out into the woods for a 10 second fight. On the planet I live on, that makes you a dick to the NPCs, and you’re shortchanging the PCs on content. Stretching out the fight will provide more opportunities for “neat stuff” to happen, and provide more of a playground element to the combat.
To stretch out a fight, there’s two main techniques.
- Make it hard for the PCs to engage the NPCs because of a physical barrier.
- Make the NPCs hard to keep dead (either with respawn or regen).
Make it hard for the PCs to reach the NPCs
With this technique, you’ll probably want some of the NPCs to have ranged attacks (not necessarily all of them). This is dependant on your system, of course, and you’ll want to make sure the players are harassed by these ranged attacks, not devastated. Here’s some mundane elements to use.
- narrow bridge over raging river (or stepping stones over sticky mud)
- A narrow canyon or tunnel
- a high cliff the npcs shoot down from, with a twisty path to reach
- a thorn briar or deadfall to negotiate (i.e. a rope course with yarn)
You definitely can get more fantastic, depending on your game.
- Fairy rings of mushrooms that the players get stunned for crossing.
- Skeletal hands reaching out from the grave dirt and rooting people as they approach.
- Razorgrass patches that want to drink PC blood.
All of these are incredible opportunities for your PCs to pull off stunts. Your original fight was nominally just a bunch of losers getting curb-stomped by the PCs. Now a PC might remember it as their favorite war story ever, because it was the time they jumped the river and fought 3 bandits solo. And all it took was you laying down two blue tarps.
Make the NPCs hard to keep dead (either with respawn or regen)
Depending on your rules and power level, you can throw a lot of popcorn at most PCs. This is fun for both PC and NPCs all on it’s own, but see my previous comments about combat being a sugary snack. Again, this is a war story opportunity, but it’s important to communicate the huge numbers or the regen early. Either use respawn armbands, or have an Forsooth early with “there appear to be 40 goblins on the ledges above you, hurling themselves down in murderous glee!”
You can also have the NPCs just not die easily with whatever mechanisms are used in your game. Zombies, trolls and spirits are the common use here, and some condition is needed to keep the things dead.
You’ll want to take serious care here, and give your NPCs clear instructions that this fight is supposed to be easy. Respawn and regen can go south into TPK territory even with skilled PCs, and especially with unskilled PCs.
Transition to Scene #2
You must have a clear transition between all scenes, and that includes here.
Transitions in a book or movie are easy, because the writer just makes the heroes go to the next scene. Transitions for for a storyteller are different. If the next scene is in a different physical location, you must:
- inform the players of the direction to the next location
- give the players a reason to go to the next location
- (bonus) make sure there are no reasons to go to some other location (i.e. we need to head back to camp and warn everybody about X!).
This is very easy, but too many storytellers leave this out of their scripts. It’s a glaring gap, and your players will notice. PCs will never thank you for having “clear transitions”. Suck it up, buttercup, and take pride in your craft.