Lovecraftian letter-larp: Draft rules for comment

I am clearly procrastinating on something, so here is the first draft of the letterlarp rules. Please post feedback here. Do the questions strike the right balance between being leading but also being open? Are there any obvious omissions from the list of professions, or the list of puzzles? Are the Moves suggestive enough? Does anyone really care about endings?

(This thread will eventually be moved to the letterlarp forum, once we work out a name and get one created)

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How many players are you thinking of allowing? There’s enough combinations there to have plenty if the interest is there, but how many letter-writers are too many for a GM to organise. What are the contingencies in place for players who simply stop participating (“ghosting” their letter partners). I guess in the in-game newspaper you could just have them be horribly devoured.

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Local interest seems to be about a dozen participants, and I think I can manage up to twenty. I’m not sure about more than that on a first attempt at something like this though.

I’m not sure how to handle ghosting (other than to mentally mark the person as “unreliable”). I’ll check with the experienced participants I’ve been talking to, but I suspect the answer is “it happens; make sure people have enough contacts to work around it”.

The only thing I see here that I’m a little uncertain about in play is in the use of lines and veils. The nature of most welfare checking in meatspace larping is done in real-time as situations evolve, and I can see that getting a little hazy when you’re writing as the themes and plots develop into places we might not expect. I imagine the potential trauma of reading something rather than experiencing it will also be different than in physical larping.

Lines and veils will work best if it’s mandatory to check in with all our recipients, in much the same way as a tabletop group would at the beginning of a campaign, so that we know where our stories are not allowed to tread right from the get-go. I think it’s a good system to use for these purposes, but I think the ruleset would do well to formalise when these lines and veils are introduced OOC.

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As far as endings are concerned, I think that a lot of players (myself included) will be happy to let the story end naturally. You could also consider devising something whereby the players of ‘incapacitated characters’ are able to keep sending letters to develop the plots of their correspondents and try and move them towards a fitting climax? (I’m thinking letters from asylums, newspaper clippings about museum heists, etc.)

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Yeah. I was planning on soliciting lines and veils at campaign start, perhaps via the signup form so its anonymous, and notifying them via the forums. That way everyone should know what content people want to explore, and where they really don’t want to go.

I’ve been keeping an eye on a gauntlet thread on safety tools for pbp games, which strongly suggests sideband communication and negotiation about content. Because sending stuff in the post is kindof final, and the content can’t be edited after the fact, I’d suggest pre-emptive checkins if you’re concerned about crossing a line.

I’d second a “controls channel” for communication that sits parallel to the “data channel” of the letters going back and forth*. It could be as simple as using the PM system here on Diatribe for OOC messages between individual players.

It’s what happens face-to-face as well when you think about it: there’s always an IC and an OOC “layer” to the game and most people are pretty good at distinguishing between the two. This is just laid out a bit more explicitly because you can’t see the other player’s reaction directly.

Oh, and asking for everybody’s no-gos before the game starts is probably a good idea as well. Again, it’s what most GMs seem to do anyway so not too much of a stretch. You could then put a summary of the hard boundaries that come out of this in the rules so that everyone can see them.

*Sorry, bit of professional deformation going on there… :wink:

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I like this idea, though it obviously depends on how their story ends. If they solve their mystery, defeat the great old Ones and retire in comfort, they could always send letters about their rose garden :slight_smile: But that seems a very un-Lovecraftian ending.