NaLaWriMo 2023?

Is anyone interested in doing NaLaWriMo in 2023? The general idea is “write a larp, any larp, in November”:

My last few efforts have been total busts. In 2019 I tried to write on a serious topic - climate grief - and it Did Not Work For Me. I have no idea what I did in 2020 other than founder about and not produce anything. In 2021 I tried again, worked out the core of a nice 1920’s archaeological larp, and then it fell apart when I tried to work out an appropriate occult element which would eat all the other plot (possibly literally). And in 2022, I didn’t even try.

(And its been a while since I’ve written a larp - my last one was Stolen Crown in 2021, and while it kindof worked, I wasn’t really happy with it…)

So I’m wondering whether to try again. Is anyone else interested in joining in, so we can egg each other on into making bad life choices (and good writing ones)?

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I’ve also been a bit burned out on larp writing over the last few years, so this seems like a good excuse to get back into the swing of things. I’ve had a few ideas on the backburner I’d like to pick up again. For my own sake I don’t plan on trying to finish anything within the month but I think I can at least push myself to get an initial draft done.

There’s also been discussions in Christchurch about running a larp writing workshop at some point, and while I don’t think we’d have time to schedule it for November this will hopefully provide momentum toward organising it.

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I’ve done a little bit of Preptober, and am toying with three different ideas:

  • a classic English “country house” murder mystery: I’ve never done one of these, but have been listening to a fair bit of it recently, so know the tropes. The interesting part for a larp is the web of motives, which provide excuses for interaction, and there are good examples of how to keep “solve the murder” from overshadowing other plots.
  • related, but slightly different: an NZ colonial high-country sheep station murder mystery. This has a lot in common with the classic country house - a closed circle, a social class with the same obsessions - plus advantages around isolation and an absence of police (there are no phones; its a day’s ride to the nearest town; and you can literally be snowed or flooded in for a week by an unexpected spring storm). Bonus points for NZ relevance and being able to write about the land tax policies of the 1890’s Liberal government.
  • completely different: I recently listed to KSR’s Antarctica, and thought that the core setup would translate well to a moonbase. And I’ve been wanting to do a small moonbase larp ever since watching Moonbase 3. But I think it would be more work than either of the other two options, and I’m inclined to go for something easy just to get me writing larps again.

What are other people toying with?

I’ve committed to running Oops All Stalins in early Dec, so I better get to writing it.

I’ve got enough of a skeleton that I know its a 12 player game, black comedy, cold war setting, and have the main shenanigans mechanic sorted out. I’ve got the characters I think I need, and now it’s a matter of molding good plots onto it all.

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And fake Stalin mustaches?

Moustaches will be handed to all participants along with their character nametag:

Likness: [N]

The mechanic I’ve come up with is every PC has a Likeness, which indicates how like Stalin they look. Any PC whose Likeness is higher than your characters Perception is indistinguishable from Stalin and any other PC who also has a higher likeness.

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I would really like you to do the Colonial Era High-Country Sheep Station larp. (Partly because my work encourages us to do a workshop on NZ history in which we all have to present about a thing that happened, and my one was the Dog Tax War which had a lot of - well, that happened! about it.) And then I was reading up a bit about the big spending interventionist ways of King Dick Seddon for background.

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That’s a novel mechanic which is sure to cause a delightful amount of confusion. :slight_smile:

And then I’d have an excuse to make up that late Victorian bustle pattern that I’ve had since, like, forever, so…

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Well, I’m inclining that way, and doing some preliminary research. Which will be kept to a minimum, in an effort to prevent the usual failure mode of “endless research rabbit hole”.

(Besides, what I’ve read so far confirms my preconceptions - I can basicly use every upper-class English trope normally used in big house murders, and add an extra thick layer of NZ social class because it really was a thing among those people).

I do have many ideas

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I find the problem is often narrowing it down to one.

Progress report: I am currently designing the Malvern family, and various other people in their social circle, and setting up a web of hate. I still have not yet decided who is going to be murdered, but there’s going to be plenty of motive there.

Progress report: design took far longer than expected, because - contra Christie - murder is hard! But the other night, I wrote my first character sheet, and while it was bad and bloated and messy and ugly, it got most of what was needed on the page. But it meant the second sheet was easier, ideas having been given concrete form, and the rest should be easier still. I can always edit later.

I am worrying that I’ll go over time, but I’ll have something at the end of the month.

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Update 6/12 character sheets done. Writing is both exposing and filling in holes. Three of the remaining characters should be pretty easy to write. Two more will be harder, and probably need extra plot added. The last one may very well end up redundant, meaning I’ll only have 11. OTOH, if I have a bunch of people with holes, then the natural solution is to find an extra character and a plot that links them all and fills everything in - and the wider social environment is getting quite detailed, so there may be someone I can pull from it.

One problem I’ve had with this one is that I started from a vague idea - sheep station murder mystery! - but didn’t really pin it down in the rush. Normally I write the blurb early, which both clarifies the concept and nails down things like why people are there and what the key issues are, and this in turn helps develop character concepts and additional plotlines (you’ll have different people and things going on at a christmas party than at a business meeting or a normal weekend at home). So I’m doing things a bit backwards. But I’ve got a good core cast of characters, and when I do write that blurb, it will suggest the extra bits I’m missing, and give direction to the (post-November) editing pass.

I went two days over, but I’m done. I have 11 characters, though a few of them need extra plots, and I still need that blurb. I need to add at least one character for gender balance, and given the plot requirements, three is probably better. But that can wait until the game has fermented a bit. The important bit is that I have somewhere solid to start from, and when the right idea comes along in a month or two, I can do that second edit and beat it all into shape.

Of course, I’m not in a “running games” mood yet - still too much Covid around for my tastes - but when I do come out of my hole, at least I’ll have something to start with.

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I wrote a game. 12 charactes, lots of shenannigans, and an almost certain outcome of mistaken idenities.

It needs more polish and cleanup, as some of the plots are underdeveloped, and the characterisation could be deepened. As well as a general formatting for theme pass.

But it’s in a state where I would be able to run it with a week or two’s notice, and that’s plenty for a first game I’ve written solo.


That’s a good result.

Very much on board with a murder mystery on a sheep station, that sounds like an excellent idea!

I wonder what a good location for that would be… :thinking:

Oh, its the usual “run it in a room” thing. But pretty Victorian-looking location wouldn’t hurt.

After I finished, I discovered the scriptwriting term “vomit pass”: where you just spew words onto the page to get it done, so you have something to beat into shape later. So I guess that’s what I did.