I frequently see people asking “how do I write a (theatreform) larp”? While there’s some advice online (including some from me), there’s not a lot of walkthroughs. Since I seem to be in the early stages of writing a larp, I thought I’d document my process as it happens. Feedback, queries, and comments about how you do things welcome.
The hard bit
Getting started is always the hardest bit for me. Having finished a Crusader Kings bender I decided that it was time to write another larp (it has been a while). But what? There are so many possible larps I could write. And I can only pick one.
First, I thought about my constraints. The market at the moment means I want something in the 8-12 player range (maybe a bit bigger, but we’re a long way from the good old days of regular 20-player larps). In terms of themes, I want to avoid going too close to anything currently scheduled, because I like variety. So, no Westerns (not my genre anyway) or Regency (there’s lots of it around, and I have one already that people want me to rerun), and I should probably also try and avoid renaissance (Empty Vessels). And given the general state of the world, I probably want to avoid anything too nasty, because people just aren’t in the right headspace for it (unfortunately, straight-up comedy isn’t my strong point). I also want a fairly quick turnaround - I have hopes of running in September - which rules out any serious historical requiring research (which is probably for the better anyway: never stopping research is one of my known failure modes for writing)
The next phase was to look at my graveyard. Not every larp gets finished (some never progress beyond a sketchy outline), and all of that gets thrown in a Google Drive folder in case I restart it later. Was there anything there I could revive, or hack to fit my current constraints? Some were too big. Some would obviously send me down the research rabbit-hole. Some were too unfocused (which is why I abandoned them). The two best candidates were “After the revolution” (leaders of a revolt on a shitty corporate mining world have to decide how they’re going to deal with each other and their former masters when they’ve won) and a vague idea to do “Diamond Geezers” with fantasy thieves (I’m running Blades in the Dark ATM). But the first really lacked any emotional content, while the latter would probably be a nasty “find the traitor” game and so not really what i want to write.
Has any recent media inspired me? Nothing really in the book department (well, Hench would make a great larp, but I can’t do superheroes). On the TV front, Badehotellet would make a great larp (just move it to Cornwall), but is too big. And I couldn’t see an easy in for For All Mankind (though I did waste an evening reading about life on Mir and the ISS while toying with the idea). What about gaming? I’d already rules out Blades (for the moment…), and I need to actually read The Dee sanction (and besides, that’s historical, and fodder for the Tudor Laundry game). Malice - a toolkit for making small-town murder mysteries, inspired by Twin Peaks and Fortitude could be promising, but not what I wanted to write. And then I remembered Rebel Crown, a FitD game about a prince returning to claim their throne. Hmmmm…