game recommendation – Small-Scale Steampunk LARP for beginners

I have tried this yesterday, using a modified version of John Wick’s Blood & Tears system. The modifications, and the reasons thereof, are given below.

  1. It works with a steam punk aesthetic.

Apart from changes made in order to simplify the system, satisfying this point needed a considerate amount of thought. By default, Blood and Tears (and Houses of the Blooded, from which it derives,) plays in the world Shan’ri, which has certain properties that are not obvious in a technologically-advanced version of the 19th century. We solved this by choosing some ill-defined Pacific colonies as the setting, which solved quite a few problems a pure re-skin had.

  1. It runs in an evening, but can be extended to multiple similar event if the first one is a success.

The game started in the early afternoon, and ended in the early evening when people had encountered and overcome obstacles, made deals, and were slowly getting physically tired. It should run equally well for 4 hours in an evening.

While the event came to a conclusion and many threads of plot were resolved, the characters have reason to meet again, so playing a next event is not a problem. (In fact, the players have asked for it.)

  1. It can in theory be held in a flat that would normally be able to house a party of that size.

Two give space for private conversations, the LRP of a dozen people did take up about as much space as the (quite tight) party of roughly double the size the previous night, but over all, a lounge accomodating two groups sitting on opposite end and a more private separate room were sufficient for this size, and it seems to scale well.

  1. It is accessible to beginners: People who have never LARPed before, and even people who have never played role playing games before.

The Blood & Tears system tries to allow access to the full complexity of the underlying Houses of the Blooded table top rpg. We used the basic resolution mechanic (offering style, pulling in aspects) and magic system (defined rituals) of B&T, and the duel system as far as compatible with the major change, but instead of creating characters according to HotB and then permitting 5 advantages to be available at the party, we just allowed each character to have roughly 5 aspects of variable strength representing anything from B&T aspects to weaknesses to vassals.

Both the player who had never role played before and the players who had never LARPed before got the rules immediately, engaged them and enjoyed themselves.

  1. It tells me, who has never run a LARP, how to make it a good event.

John Wick’s advice was helpful in running the event, both in the preparation as well as in the actual making-up-plot-on-the-fly-while-there. Some portion of the positive feedback for running the game was due to following his advice on how to use style to make the game fun for everyone.

  1. Players can create their own characters without much difficulty, and have incentives to have ties to other characters.

This is not true of the basic Houses of the Blooded plus Blood and Tears system. However, reducing the knobs to “choose 5 descriptors, stick some numbers on them to say how strong they are” enabled us to prompt players for initial ideas and then let them make their characters on the spot before the game, within only half an hour for all of them.

Connections between characters are still easily established after the game has started, but encouraging people to spend style on such statements is helpful.

  1. The risks to players involved in the game are minimal. I have no experience in weapons safety. Therefore, pantomiming fights with (boffer, accidents happen) weapons should be okay, but using any kind of being hit by anything as a resolution mechanic would not be.

The resolution mechanics are based on handing over style tokens. Duels are first scripted by the players using style tokens, mediated by a GM, before they are pantomimed for the other players. It is not necessary to physically hit the player in order to injure the character. (In fact, the rules state “no touching unless agreed on”, and for other physical interactions – like hand kisses – give explanations on how to play them out in theatric style nonetheless.)