scottyloveslarp

6 Scene Beat Sheet for extended LARP mods (Scene #5)

Scene 5 – Final Fight with EBG

goal(s): enable awesome war stories, tie up the plot/stakes
element(s):  combat, resolve the stakes

Your Villain is Here, and is Defeated by Heroic Effort

Scene #2 required you to identify the villain.  I’m gonna reiterate that notion here, but also make it clear.  You must have an identifiable and named villain.  Here’s something that nobody said, ever:

“I loved that action movie with the unidentifiable unnamed villain”.

In fact, one of the best scenes of Return of the King was made weaker by a lack of build-up and identification of the Nazgul.    (Okay, admittedly, I have other problems with this scene not in the scope of this post).

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The key here is not necessarily victory for the heroes, but the defeat of the villain by heroic effort.  

Defeat of the Villain

A defeat isn’t necessarily death.  I encourage against killing your villain.  Your villain immediately loses entertainment value if she is killed, never to be seen again.

That does mean that you need an escape gimmick for your villain.  Here’s a short list

escape hatch The villain has a door they can run through that will take time to open.  This also includes a tunnel they can collapse behind them.  

value:  high.  Your players will spend serious effort in a fight, even with other NPCs still alive, to get the door open.  They won’t feel cheated by this.  They can imagine that it’s possible to catch the villain in their next conflict.

reliability:  high – the PCs could possibly kill/detain the villain before they can get to the hatch

key factor:  you should have a phys. rep. for the hatch.  Otherwise, it’s really a teleport (see below)

teleport Any magical NPC could have this, as well as any rich NPC that could buy it.

value:  low.  PCs hate this one, and not in the good sense of “hate”.  They feel cheated.  PCs cannot imagine catching the villain ever in future conflicts either.

reliability:  complete – this always works

key factor:  don’t do this one unless you cannot help it

phased out The villain phases out of existence, which is usually followed by a teleport while still phased out.  The villain might physically flee (see below) as well.

value:  medium.  This is a mitigation of the teleport, because the villain can taunt the players in mid-fight.  

reliability:  complete – this always works

key factor:  use this instead of teleport.  every time

physically running away The villain runs away.  Perhaps they are aided by traps or NPCs laying in wait to hinder pursuit.

value:  high.  This enables the physical abilities of some PCs who can run fast.  It creates awesome stories.

reliability:  low – your villain has a good chance of not getting away

key factor:  you probably don’t want a fattie as the villain

undying The villain is a lich, vampire, or something else that can’t be killed normally.

value:  medium.  Most folks know all the tricks to liches/vampires, and aren’t amused by them.  There are easy plot points (find the phylactery, find the coffin) to exploit, however.

reliability:  high.  This works almost every time.

key factor:  Your “rules” for this kind of monster must be consistent, and should be spelled out earlier in the event.

Heroic Effort

The villain needs to be defeated because of heroic effort.  This should not be a deus-ex-machina coming to save them.  This should not because the players came in and steam-rolled the NPCs, or used some cheesy power to invalidate the fight.*

The defeat comes at the hands of the players, and it is heroic.  Heroism requires sacrifice, or attempted sacrifice.  The easiest way to do that is to scare the players with a blackpoint in the previous scene, making this scene look very grim.

Here’s the thing… all heroic combat stories involve either:

  1. “Hold the Line” — The hero stands in one place, defending others while they accomplish some goal.
  2. “Danger Dash” — The hero rushes through danger to accomplish a goal.

As a result, you’ll want to have elements that promote these meta-actions.

Heroic Efforts are enabled by large battlefields

You will want to have a large area for this.  You will also also want to spread the fight out.  Awesome heroic moments occur in smaller groups.  As a result, you should places mini-goals in the fight, and put NPCs there.  Encourage the PCs to split up.  

A large area enables the Danger  Dash.   A player will feel empowered to run to the back and stop the ritual sacrifice if they see the room to do so.

Heroic Efforts are enabled by Gimmicks

Those mini-goals mentioned above are probably gimmicks.  Stop the ritual.  Break the barricade.  Slay the archers. Topple the barrels.

The gimmick enables both the Danger Dash  and Hold the Line.  You can rush past baddies to cut the drawbridge rope, or blockade the doorway while your allies finish the ritual.

One of the best angles for this is the “taunting villain”.  Have your villain taunt a player with word or deed.  This can lead to an explicit “honor combat” if that’s appropriate for your villain.  However, you can engineer it otherwise.  Behind the scenes, all your NPCs are in on the fact that this is leading to a single combat between villain and PC.  Your NPCs will acci-purposely allow the single PC to engage the villain.   Afterwards, they suddenly remember that they have pushbacks/respawns/knockdowns/etc and other mechanics to make sure nobody else gets through.  Awesome story, and the players are none-the-wiser.

Heroic Efforts are enabled by Minions

You want LOTS of little crunchies here, as well as the EBG.  The crunchies and the mini-goals are effectively extra hit points for the EBG, giving him more screen time.

Minions enable Danger Dash  and Hold the Line.  A player feels empowered to dash when the stuff he is dashing past doesn’t hit very hard.  Holding against waves of crunchies is extremely satisfying.

 

*I’m not a fan of cheesy powers, since they NEVER lead to a good story.  Nobody ever said “remember that time you pointed and said polymorph potato!  That was an amazing heroic moment, and the NPC loved having only 2 seconds of screen time.”  I played a powergamer scum spell-caster for 10 years that could do this stuff all day.  I did it once or twice and realized this was unfun for both me and the NPC.

Nevertheless, your system probably has a lot of these “one-shot kills” or combos.  Don’t try to outthink the powergamer and give your villain a bunch of specific counters.  Just make them immune to this stuff.  The powergamer will appreciate the communication of a “no effect” call, and you still want them to have a positive experience as well.

From the North Pole, with Love (Part 4)

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Don’t worry, we’ll be going over all this with examples at the start of the game.

HIT POINTS 

Your hit points are decided at the start of the game based on your costume effort.

Show up in blue jeans, and we lend you an elf hat = 2 hit points
You make an effort = 4 hit points
My costume is balls deep on this elf thing. – 6 hit points

You represent your hit points with candy canes.  When you lose a hit point, you eat a candy cane.  Delicious pain!

If you lose all your hit points, you are unconscious.  If and when you are restored to health, you have no recollection of any of the events that occurred in the room before you went unconscious.

HEALING

Some elves are skilled at healing with wrapping paper and ribbon.  A healing elf can wrap up an unconscious elf with paper and ribbon, restoring the elf to 1 hit point.  The elf doing the healing should do a thorough job (i.e. the healed elf should be embarrassingly wrapped).   If the healed elf takes damage again, that elf should rip off the paper and fall unconscious… again.

ENVELOPES

Scattered about the house and backyard are envelopes.  Any elf can see and interact with a white envelope.  Only certain elves can see or interact with orange envelopes.  If you are one of those elves, you should roleplay no knowledge of orange envelopes.

Some envelopes will have instructions on them.  You must follow the instructions on the envelope if you choose to interact with the envelope.

3-D PUZZLES

Some envelopes have 3-d puzzles involved.  These are cheap chinese knockoffs, rather than sturdy elf-made puzzles.  Please don’t brute force the puzzles to solve them.  The puzzles and the envelopes related to them cannot be moved more than 5 feet away until you solve the puzzle.

2-D PUZZLES

There are 2-D puzzles that are major plot elements or treasure troves.  You must collect and place all the pieces of the puzzle to get the effect stated on the puzzle.  2-d puzzle pieces can be stolen.

From the North Pole, with Love (Part 3)

This is related to the Xmas LARP I’m running this year.

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Card Mechanics

Don’t worry, we’ll be going over all this with examples at the start of the game.

Your packet will include 5 playing cards.  These cards will be used to resolve the elf-on-elf conflicts of this game.

You can do the following with a card:  [ATTACK], [DEFEND], [DISTRACT] or [STEAL].  Some elves may also perform the [DETECT LIE] action.

There are four general rules to all the cards:

  1. A card can only be used once in the same room.  It must be claimed and taken into another room to be used again.   Some cards are exceptions to this, such as weapons, and will say so on the card.
  2. The “loser” of any conflict keeps all the cards used.  Some cards will be exceptions to this, such as weapons and elf-jitsu, and will say so on the card.
  3. Most cards cannot be stolen or removed from you, even if you are knocked unconscious.  Some cards are exception to this, such as weapons and armor.
  4. The defender, win or lose, has the “initiative” to initiate the next conflict.

[ATTACK] – Present your card to the elf you are attacking, and describe the awesome way you are attacking that elf.  That elf may DEFEND, but if they do not, the elf you attack loses 1 hit point.  Some weapons may inflict 2 hit points of damage.

[DEFEND] – You use a card to DEFEND when subject to an ATTACK, DETECT LIE, DISTRACT or STEAL.  The card you play must either:

  1. Match the value of the card you were attacked with.  (e.g. You are attacked with a 9 of holly, and you defend with a 9 of christmas trees.)
  2. Beat the value of the card you were attacked with, but match the suit.  (You are attacked with a 9 of holly, and you defend with a Jack of Holly.)

If you do DEFEND, you cancel the effect, and the “attacker” keeps both your card, and their original card.  If you do not DEFEND, you keep their original card.  In both cases, the cards cannot be used again in this room.

[DETECT LIE] –  Present your card to the elf you think is lying.  You must indicate the statement that you think is a lie.  (e.g. the elf states “I’m not a member of K.R.U.S.T.”)  That elf may DEFEND, but if they do not, they must honestly indicate if they were lying with that statement.  Remember, the loser keeps all the cards.

[DISTRACT] –  Present your card to the elf you are trying to distract, and describe the awesome way you are distracting that elf.  That elf may DEFEND, but if they do not, that elf loses the ability to DEFEND against the next STEAL played on them in this room.  If you are are DISTRACTed, you should role-play it appropriately.  Remember, the loser keeps all the cards.

[STEAL] –  Present your card to the elf you are trying to steal from, and state the item you are trying to steal (e.g. “The puzzle piece”).  You must be positioned behind this elf.  That elf may DEFEND, but if they do not, that elf loses the named item.  If you state a vague item (e.g. “The puzzle piece”.. but the elf has 4 puzzle pieces) the victim gets to choose one of the items that fits your description to be stolen.  That elf does not know they were stolen from until they leave the room, and should role-play this.  If the elf does DEFEND against the theft, they are immediately aware that you tried to steal from them.  Remember, the loser keeps all the cards.

Special Situations:

Leaving a room:   If there is an elf that is trying to ATTACK, DETECT LIE, or DISTRACT you, you may not leave the room until that conflict is resolved.

Tag-teaming:   Elves are HUGE fans of pro-wrestling.  As such, whenever an elf has initiative (see above), they can tag an ally instead to get the initiative instead.

Teaming up:  Elves are HUGE fans of pro-wrestling.  Only one elf can ATTACK another elf at a time.

 

 

 

From the North Pole, with Love (Part 2)

Faction Preview

When you open your packet, you’ll find out what faction you’ve been assigned.

All factions (except for the last one) have a secret sign.  You’ll get that in your packet, and you might start the game knowing the secret sign for another group.

E.L.F. – Elf Liberation Front
These freedom fighters are trying to figure out how to end Santa’s reign of tyranny.
Common Trait*:  Keen Sight – the ability to see and interact with orange envelopes
Enemies: S.L.U.R.P.  and F.E.A.R.

S.L.U.R.P. – Santa’s Lawful Undercover Redaction Police
Santa’s Secret Police
Common Trait*:  Elf-jitsu – a highly effective martial art centered on karate chops for both attack and defense
Enemies: E.L.F. and K.R.U.S.T.

F.E.A.R – Furtive Elven Adolescent Reconnaissance
Santa’s espionage force, used to spy on children throughout the year.
Common Trait*:  Keen Ears – the ability to detect lies from filthy lie-holes.
Enemies: E.L.F. and D.O.L.L.

K.R.U.S.T. – Krampus Revolutionaries Under Santa’s Tyranny
These elves want to ally with Krampus, so they can punish children. They loathe children with a passion equal to a million burning Cabbage Patch Kids™.
Common Trait*:  Rage Choke – frighteningly powerful attacks, but unable to be used in defense
Enemies: S.L.U.R.P. and D.O.L.L.

D.O.L.L. – Dedicated Organization of Loyal Laborers
Loyal Elves that drink the koolaid eggnog. They just like making toys, and want to keep doing it. However, this Frozen™ shit is starting to get old, even for them.
Common Trait*:  Wrapping – able to heal other elves with wrapping paper and ribbon.
Enemies: K.R.U.S.T. and F.E.A.R

The Shattered One
This solitary elf is a faction all to her/his own. This elf only gains pleasure from the murder and torture of other elves.
Common Trait*:  Ganking – a powerful attack from behind
Enemies: everybody

*Members of this faction usually have this trait, but might have the skills of another faction.

From the North Pole, with Love (Part 1)

I’ve had a tradition for over a decade now of running a xmas-themed D&D game.  I’ve decided to morph that tradition (and include a lot more players) into a parlor LARP.  I’ll be posting the intro material here, and after the event, all the other secret stuff.

🎅🎅🎅 INTRO 🎅🎅🎅
Throughout the year, the elves toil away making toys and amazon gift cards in Santa’s workshop. During this time, they experience continuous joy. This joy is part of the magic of the workshop, commissioned by Santa after he got his MBA. This magic is so overwhelming that the personalities and the memories of the elves are suppressed, all in the name of productivity.
However, each year the elves are given a brief respite for but a few hours. The elves remember that they each belong to a secret society, hellbent on a goal. Some of the societies seek to maintain the status quo, and others want to bring it all burning down. Centuries have passed with this cycle seeming to never end. Is tonight the night that you finally succeed?
🎅🎅🎅 OVERVIEW 🎅🎅🎅
You’re invited to come to Scott and Jesse’s place for some gaming, food and drinks. You’ll want an elf costume and a gift for the exchange. Please RSVP by 11/21/2015.
🎅🎅🎅 GAME BASICS 🎅🎅🎅
The evening will start with the LARP at ~6pm, and run for ~2 hours. You will receive your character packet when you arrive. I’ll be sending out something later to try and tailor the packet assignments.
You will want to wear an elf costume. The quality/absurdity/extent of your costume will determine your hit points.
Show up in blue jeans, and we lend you an elf hat = 2 hit points
You make an effort = 4 hit points
My costume is balls deep on this elf thing. – 6 hit points
There’s no boffers involved in the LARP, and the mechanics will be dirt simple.
🎅🎅🎅 GIFT EXCHANGE 🎅🎅🎅
There will be a white elephant gift exchange following the game, with the pick order determined by success in the game.
Please bring a wrapped/bagged gift. You may bring something useless, but humorous. If you like, you may bring something geeky and valuable instead to incite a bloodbath of theft and nerd tears.

Post-LARP post: Dying Kingdoms Camper – November 13-15, 2015

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This game had some great highs, and very little lows.

highs:

    • The above photo by Flip Cassidy.
    • The group my PC is with, the Stormcrows, had a tits-hot camp.  The tent, and all the decorum were just amazing, and very immersive.  Even better, I didn’t have to set it up 🙂  Even more betterer, the campsite was a 15 minute drive from home.
    • Mattos was able to further his personal plot-line a bit (fyi, I’m taking it slow, I’m in no rush).  Mattos’ allergy to elves was able to insult them quite deeply.  (OOG, I know it’s a confrontation of the internal story that somebody playing an elf has, i.e. I’m pretty).  Mattos as able to discover that he has some kind of fae blood, role-playing with Skaven (the ever-amazing DW).  He also discovered that the svaltafar (drow/dark elves) smell amazing to him.  (OOG, I’m interpreting that he has a fae-spirit aligned with the svaltafar.   That spirit hates all other elves, and is pretty evil itself.  Mattos doesn’t know this IG, however).
    • Starting about 2 on Saturday was when the game picked up for my character.  Mattos had a great moment liberating a slave that had been brainwashed by lizard-people.  I sent this slave (IG name Essen, OOG name David Pulcifer)  back to Maldava, and paid a pretty penny (a full gold solarum) to make sure he got there, paying for a caravan to keep him tied up and drunk the entire journey.  I predict my upcoming downtimes will be breaking the brainwashing on this slave.
    • The last battle was pretty gnarly (in the good way).  As usual, we NPC’d for this fight.  Also as usual, I skirmished rather than holding the line.  Par for the course, I got a lot of backs.  I’m glad that I was able to hurt/scare folks, but didn’t end up killing any PCs.
    • We Stormcrows got back into character after the big battle, and started cooking.  Ian/Bear had a murder non-vegetarian stew.  I brought murder-free stuffed acorn squash, which was uber-tasty.  Unbeknownst to us, there was a cooking competition set up for two characters that I assume have in-game cooking skill.  Turns out, my squash won the “unofficial” contest.  This makes me interested in the cooking skill, but I don’t think it fits Mattos’ background.
    • During the cooking and eating, we Storm crows performed a ritual to summon the Morrigan.  OOG, this was our “let’s get some content” plea to plot.  Boy howdy did they deliver.  Emily played the Morrigan, and was awesome.  I was genuinely afraid of her, and tried my best to not get her attention.
    • Barker (Johnny Bias) and I had a long conversation as a result of this summoning.  The Stormcrows had rescued his bodyguard earlier in the game, however, so we struck up a convo.  Barker let me know how troubling the summoning of the Morrigan was to the rest of the group (player base), and why her asking for the Black Mirror was a fail-grenade.  Mattos disclosed with Barker how everything wasn’t as it seemed, and asked for his help in stalling any efforts the Stormcrows made in the short term.

lows:

  • It was fucked cold.  Luckily, I was so close I just went home each night.  It did suck making the hike out to day parking at 2 am, however.
  • I lost my temper in the final battle.  Yes, I took shield bash in the lips, and it wasn’t an accident (i.e. the guy did the classic newb-scoop shield bash, and he should know better).  Nevertheless, I’m always more upset with myself when I snap like that, and that anger-poison lingers with me longer than it should.

6 Scene Beat Sheet for extended LARP mods (Scene #4)

Scene 4 – Jack of All Trades

goal(s): increase the stakes (varies)
element(s):  puzzle, role-play a/o physical challenge

This is a non-combat encounter.  It is the most flexible portion of the beat sheet otherwise.  It was designed as a slot to place one of three scenes from my 12-scene beat sheet.   The only thing that has to happen here is the stakes are increased in some direction.  Here’s the possibilities that you can plug in here.

Possibility #1 – Black Point

The black point scene is a massive horizontal or vertical increase of the stakes.  As a result, it should look extremely bleak going into the final fight scene.    

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examples:  

  • The villain is a lich, and the PCs have little idea where or what the phylactery is. 
  • The villain has already begun the ritual that will bring fire down on the nearby city, and the PCs have only moments before it is complete.
  • There are literally hundreds of guards on the villain’s stronghold.
  • There is a dragon guarding the entrance of the villain’s stronghold.

As always you need to convey the situation to the players.  That conveyance is the meat of your encounter.  It should take screen time, and reveal the stakes.

example:  The lich villain confronts the PCs several times as they investigate the warded gate to his tower.  Each time the players cut/burn him down in something that doesn’t even count as a combat.  However, a new body of the lich shows up to taunt them shortly after.

Possibility #2 – Showcase Non-Combat

This is the scene where you put in serious production effort, i.e. your showcase scene.  This is strategically placed near the end of the course, so you have time to put it together before the PCs arrive.  This might be your physical challenge, or ritual room with tons of props effort, or mental puzzle with multiple phys. reps.

You can be flexible on the stakes here, but they do need to increase in some fashion.  Integrate the stakes into rest of the scene smoothly for bonus points.

Possibility #3 – Mirror Moment

The point of this scene is to spur character development.  Like the other scenes, you still need to increase stakes.  It’s probably likely you’ll increase the z-axis stakes in this case, since you are already performing some vehicle to spur character development.

The mirror moment is very easy to accomplish in a fantasy or sci-fi setting.  Your vehicle can literally be a magic mirror, but it can be a psychic effect, and there are mundane possibilities as well.  Here’s several examples:

  • a magical ward/effect that forces somebody to reveal a dark secret out loud
  • a dream/memory sequence, or a vision of the past/future
    • perhaps some or all of the PCs act as NPCs for the sequence
  • A demon door, and the demon(s) controlling the door require a bit of somebody’s soul to allow them to pass.  The PC(s) have to reveal what memory they are willing to part with to the demon (and as a result, to everybody).
  • An opening to the realms of the dead, and the spirit(s) of those wronged by the PC(s) confront them.

6 Scene Beat Sheet for extended LARP mods (Scene #3)

Scene 3 – Ambush them in the Dick

goal(s): stress the players mechanically
element(s):  combat, vertical stakes

This is the hardest fight in the game when it comes to challenge/attrition and tactical disadvantage of the players.  More than the final fight.  The best way to do this is an ambush, hence the name for this scene.  Hiding the NPCs in a place they cannot be seen in RL is what we’re talking about here.  

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Here’s why this is done:

  • The players have used almost no resources at this point.  It’s time to take a big bite out of them.
  • The last fight will have gimmicks to make it easier.  
  • The players will have a bunch of lore about the final fight, and that’s on purpose.  Here, they get punched in the dick with no warning.
  • This doesn’t need to be an ambush, but an ambush is best.  The tactical advantage is brutal, and scary

Monster/NPC Theme

These NPCs should be working with/for the villain.  There should be no doubt who the opposition is at this point.

This is also the place to introduce a new recurring monster.  You can reuse the same monster again in the final fight.  This is convenient if you are iron-manning your NPCs, they don’t need to re-costume or re-stat.  Reusing the monster lets the players strategize for when they face them next, which they will do if you made these guys mean enough.

The fight should be spikey

Your NPCs need to have the ability to hurt the PCs, and be statted accordingly for your system.  You want this “hurt” to be spikey.  In other words, the NPCs should be able to do something very mean and dangerous as an opener, but not consistently.  (i.e. high burst damage, or a brutal CC condition).

Because of the spikiness of this fight, you should have a 1-2 of the NPCs be trustworthy, and have them be ranged if possible.  Regardless, they should hold back on attacks and start sucking if it looks grim for the players.  A ranged NPC is able to notice these things better, and it is much easier for them to start sucking and get mowed down quickly.  The players will never know that the game went into “fudge” mode.

The fight should lack gimmicks

This should be more of a straight-up fight.  Little terrain and no gimmicky monsters.   Just a brutal and sudden asswhoopin’.

Vertical stakes are raised

When you introduce a brutal monster in service to the villain, you have established that these things work with the villain.  Now it becomes clear “oh crap, this guy has some very scary monsters working for him.”  Normally, folks but these showcase monsters in the final fight, but that’s not correct.  At that point, the information that Evilbadgai has Exploding Stone Golems is too late.   Evilbadgai and his golems have either been defeated or victorious.  There’s nothing to look forward to.

Bonus Stuff

This is a good spot to put in Z-axis stakes as well.  Make the conflict personal for a single PC that previously didn’t have skin in the game.

  • retcon a PC relationship with the new monster (Exploding Stone Golems stole my baby)
  • have instructions carried by the NPCs detailing something important to the PC
  • One of the NPCs takes time during the fight to challenge the famous “Sir PC-Pants” to single combat, or threatens to do nasty things to the PC’s family once they have fallen here.

Gimmicks.. ok, there’s possible gimmicks

There’s some possible gimmicks here that accomplish the same goal.

Brute NPCs – NPCs that are incredibly powerful and almost unkillable.  Conveniently, they move a bit slow.  The players will need to flee from these guys.  These NPCs could chase the players into Scene #4, and then there is some gimmick there that can stop the pursuit of the brutes.

Trap Corridor/Trail with Snipers  –  A bunch of snipers behind a long series of traps.  This is hard to pull off if you only have packet archery/casting, but doable with nimble NPCs.  You’ll need a GM dedicated entirely to the traps, and the traps are the real damage in the scene.

Skirmisher NPCs – These are NPCs that have mechanics that enable them to hit-and-run.  They burrow, or phase out, or fly away.  Flyers are a great place to have your caster/archer PCs shine (i.e. “flying” means you cannot hit me in melee, but can with thrown/archery)

transition to scene #4

This scene might overlap with #4 when it comes to site.  If it doesn’t share the site, then you need a clean transition.

6 Scene Beat Sheet for extended LARP mods (Scene #2)

Scene 2 – Complicate That Shit

goal(s): establish the villain, up the stakes horizontally severely
element(s):  role-play, puzzle, physical challenge

This is a non-combat encounter, and it’s goal is to up the stakes horizontally.  The best way to describe this is to give you the typical scene early in a novel or movie.

The hero has what appears to be a simple problem.  

“This mayor hired me to check out that graveyard where scary sounds are being heard from.”

The hero appears to solve the problem.

“I arrived at the graveyard, and sword-punched a bunch of zombies in the head.  Problem solved!”

The hero breaks something along the way, or discovers that the problem is way more complicated than previously supposed.

“All of the zombies went down easily. We could clearly see their eerie green soul juice float away towards that creepy tower up the hill.”

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Overlap with Scene #1

This scene can use the same site as scene #1, it just occurs sequentially afterwards.  In the above example, the fight with the zombies is scene #1.  Scene #2 would be something mysterious about the zombies (strange tattoos, glowing gems, , possessive spirits, scroll fragments) for the players to interact with.  It can be obvious the PCs screwed up and made things worse, or left ambiguous for them to argue over.

Introduce the Villain

If there is not a singular villain (the EBG) established yet, now is the time.   The existence of “evil bad guy” is a ring in the nose of PCs they will rarely ignore.  Putting a name to the “face” is just that important.  It’s hard to hate something you cannot name, or a nebulous organization.

example: the Necromancer Evilbadgai possesses the fallen zombie corpses from a distance, and warns that players of their certain doom if they try to disrupt his plan.  The players have to wack-a-mole (err.. zombie) to shut him up, perhaps with other players arguing with them to stop chopping up the zombies because they want to talk to Evilbadgai.

Make this Scene Have Flesh

You will want this scene to take up screen time.  I’ll say this over and over, but treking everybody out into the woods (after hours of driving, costume prep, etc.) for a grand total of 20 minutes of content is not cool.  The same goes for having a scene where only one PC interacts, and the rest play swap the but thumb.  Yes, those other larps you play in do it all the time.  Slavery isn’t cool either, and everybody used to do it.  

slavery

The best way to increase screen time is to adhere to Rule #2 from the first post of this series (i.e. make sure every PC is involved).

Whatever your non-combat macguffin is here, make it involve the efforts and interactions of as many PCs as possible.  The resulting complication and coordination will become a content creation machine.

example:  Evilbadgai is able to speak with the dead relatives and ancestors of the PCs.  He has seen them coming for days from his interrogations of the spirits of the dead.  As a result, he is prepared, and will torment and vex them with the status of their loved ones (or enemies) in the afterlife.

Transition to Scene #3

As always, you must have a clean transition to Scene #3.  You very likely need Scene #3 to be in a different site than Scene #2.

sidetopic:  communication channels

Whenever you increase the stakes, you are performing an information transfer from you to the PCs.   You’ll want to figure out how to best do this transfer.  You can just drop a “forsooth, you hear drums in the distance.  It sounds like the ritual has begun.”  In some cases, that’s the right thing™.  How you convey the stakes is just as important as what the stakes are.  

  • Forsooth from the Storyteller (or an ST-enabled NPC)
  • Lore from a NPC
  • a written document

Each of these information channels has strengths and weaknesses, which I’ll wax about here.

Forsooth from the Storyteller
The Storyteller does an info dump.

pros cons
cheapest production cost Usually too fast, so it isn’t content
highest consistency
you guarantee that the PCs get the info
Usually boring, as it is an info dump
Breaks the “show don’t tell” rule

Lore from a NPC
An NPC does an info dump, or is available to be questioned.  The typical here is either the Mr. Johnson, or a captive NPC.

pros cons
This is slow, so it’s content. Medium production cost – you must prepare the script and info for the NPC
 Best role-playing interaction. Worst consistency
The NPC could be killed, the PCs could not ask, the NPC can screw up the important points of information, the PCs can miss it easily
 Can act as your non-combat macguffin itself, rather than the result of the macguffin  Requires a reliable NPC

Written document
You have a written document to be recovered by the PCs.  This is a scroll on an NPC, or a book on a table.

PROS CONS
Almost as consistent as a Storyteller Forsooth.
It can be missed if the PCs don’t search the appropriate location.
 This has the highest production cost
 This is take-away content, to be referred to later by the PCs.
Ergo, the ST doesn’t need to repeat themselves.
 Best method for complex information
 Best method for foreshadowing
(i.e. the most likely to be remembered by the PCs)

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.

  1. Make it hard for the PCs to engage the NPCs because of a physical barrier.
  2. 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.

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