Essentials of LARP Design: Templates

You have prepared everything you need for the upcoming LARP, which you are about to run. You have completed the props you needed, and packed them away, and your weapons and garb are ready and waiting. All that is left, is to set everything in motion. Except, there is one small problem: Despite having a flawless plan in your head, you are completely unprepared to manage the event.

How exactly is this true? Quite simply, because you and you alone, are the only one privy to the details of the plot and scenarios, which you expect to unfold throughout the event. Your NPCs and fellow Plot members are absolutely clueless until they hear your directions and dictation firsthand.

A LARPwrite with a knack for quick adaptation would seldom have a problem with tweaking a few mental details before ordering their NPCs about, should players venture beyond the scope of the prepared materials, right? The ability to effectively improvise under pressure is vital in the hobby of LARPing, after all.
Although these points are true, the flaw remains the fact that all elements of plot rely solely¬† on the one person who is privy to its details. Therefore, should the individual be asleep, answering the call of nature, injured and taken off-site for treatment, or simply preoccupied with assisting in another encounter, the event’s plot is effectively put on hold.

There are multiple ways of addressing this concern, and many LARPs have chosen to utilize a writing template and file-sharing services, to provide essential information to all team members.

A minor encounter–such as a roadside ambush–would be written with the following details:

  • A one to three sentence preface description of the encounter.
  • The total number of NPCs needed.
  • The roles to be played by the NPCs.
  • A list of necessary props.
  • A list of items to be offered as treasure or payment in the encounter.
  • Information relative to the encounter, which a character with a specific skill set may have particular knowledge of.
  • Information regarding any non-standard rules, which may be employed.
  • Information describing the Out-of-Character location to be used to stage each scene of the encounter, along with the In-Character location each scene takes place within.
  • Detailed instructions for how to set up the encounter, and how it should be run.

When writing extensive plot, these LARPs employ the same template to describe each scene of the plot, and compile their composition into a single packet, prefaced by a synopsis and a list of speculated outcomes.

This formula for writing an encounter is fairly straightforward, albeit time-consuming, but proves its worth by making life for the average LARPwrite much easier, by allowing anyone with access to the information–be they an NPC or a fellow member of Plot–to know precisely how to run the encounter or plot as intended.


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