The Peckforton Papers

The UK larpers have produced a book of essays on larp: “How we make it, how we write it, and how we play it”. It looks like its full of practical material rather than academic analysis. There’s PDF available from their website here:

If you’d like hardcopy, its available on Lulu for about NZ$20, including postage, here:

I guess I’ll do the usual commenatry in the thread below.

Peaky writing weekends (Steve Hatherley): A guide to the history, style, and practicalities of organising Peaky, the UK’s larp-writing weekend. There’s some good, practical information about how it all works, lessons learned, as well as information on some of the more unusual games they’ve designed there. Also has a shout-out to Pukepuke, Peaky’s NZ spawn (and we should really do another one sometime).

Who is responsible for what at a larp event? (Stephen Gibson): Partly a guide to event organisers about event logistics and how to make it run smoothly, but also has a large section on responsibilities of customers (AKA players), including what to bring and how to be a reasonable and understanding participant.

All games for all people - the integration of accessibility (Robin Tynan): Aimed at getting GMs to think about accessibility issues, and whether their event is unnecessarily difficult for some people (and specifically, people with disabilities or chronic or mental illnesses) to attend. The aim isn’t to ensure that all games are accessible to all people (which has very strong design implications around what sorts of games you can run), but rather that, for a given game, its no more difficult for disabled people to attend than anybody else. And basicly it comes down to “stop and think about it, please”. There’s a helpful website, Access: LARP to help you with all this stuff, and event organisers should probably give it a browse.

Playing “let’s try not to kill or permanently damage someone unnecessarily”: Considering the risk of harm in larp (Ben Mars): AKA “health and safety for dummies”. Its obviously within the framework of UK health and safety legislation, but the core principles of assessing risk (“thining about not killing or harming people”), and working out what you can do to minise it is something applicable here as well. And there’s a really good list of hazards to consider (including social hazards like harassment), and some good ideas on paperwork.

Making larp like movies (Leah Tardivel, Mark Nichols, and Thomas E Hancocks): Mandala LRP does some pretty cool stuff, and this article lays out their design process for producing an event. Its targeted at overnight or weekend-long events, because that’s the style they do, but the ideas in it can probably be applied to shorter games as well. Having never run an event on this scale, I’m not sure if the advice is any good or not, but it doesn’t sound obviously bad.

Don’t let the vampire get away - designing linear games and mistakes I’ve made when doing so (Ben Mars): The companion article to the above, focused on smaller, shorter “linear” games. Again, I can’t assess the quality of the advice, but its not obviously bad, so probably worth reading.

A process for writing freeforms (Steve Hatherley): If you’ve written a theatre-style game, then you’ve probably read this article, or an earlier version of it. It shows one way of writing, and if you’re new to the process, or working in a collaborative environment, its a good place to start. After you’ve done it a few times, you’ve probably got enough of a grasp to work out what works for you.

I am the author of my fate: Some thoughts on player agency and its interaction with narrative (Ellen Green): A good look at why player choices are important and why they should be respected. The topic is also addressed in passing in the final part of “Don’t let the vampire get away” (about why it was a bad idea for the vampire to get away), and combined, I think its important, practical advice for producing a satisfying game. TL;DR: react to the players, make their choices matter, even when they choose failure over success.