twilighttremolo: (Default)
[personal profile] twilighttremolo
(Pre-question: in your opinion, what is the culture / etiquette of posting this type of question in the interconlarp or brandeislarp lj communities? In the relatively short time I have been a part of those communities, I have seen that most, but not all, posts are event and scheduling related, but discussiony posts seem to be not-unheard of. Thoughts?)

This is both a general discussion question because I find the topic interesting and a poll for my own information as I work on this larp I'm kind of writing.


What do you think of mechanics in a (theater-style, not paticularly "experimental") larp that are supposed to influence role-playing decisions but are not attached to numerical values, contingency envelopes, or direct actions like powers or spells? The structure I have in mind is, "people generally know that if a group of characters does X, it is likely to have an effect on them, and the most common effect is Y. In character sheets, it is specified how that character is affected by X. Players are asked to take this into account in their role-playing decisions."

In the situation I'm trying to write, the effects are changes in mood. Y is that characters feel more relaxed, but X makes some characters more nervous. For others, it makes them more likely to speak their mind, for others, it makes them more forgiving and favorable in their responses to new information.  I would only have one of this type of mechanic in a game.

Have you played in or written games that used a mechanic of this style? Was it successful? What made it work or not work?

Date: 2011-11-28 06:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khyros.livejournal.com
So it sounds like you're talking about an instruction like:
"If you know that someone believes in faeries, you are more likely to trust them or forgive things that would otherwise make you angry."

If it's not connected to a direct player action, then I don't know if I would personally classify it as a mechanical effect rather than just a strong roleplay guideline.

Date: 2011-11-29 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twilighttremolo.livejournal.com
Based on your example, I guess I agree that a "strong roleplay guideline" would be a better classification in that case.

What I'm talking about is when X is an event or a temporary state of things, rather than a piece of information the character has. I can't decide whether this makes a difference or not.

In my specific example, X is actually a cuddle puddle... it makes sense in context, I promise. So, some characters are more trusting when in a cuddle puddle, a few are more nervous, etc.

Date: 2011-11-29 04:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khyros.livejournal.com
...Is this the nameless LARP that is happening during the entirety of intercon when you aren't playing other LARPs?

Date: 2011-11-29 06:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twilighttremolo.livejournal.com
Haha. Actually, when I attended my first intercon I probably wouldn't have minded having a character sheet for the con, as I'm occasionally very shy and awkward in new social situations and it would have been good to have something to glance down at!

The characters in this game, while not (necessarily) larpers themselves, have some things in common with larpers... I guess it's a larp written for larpers in a somewhat different way than other larps are written for larpers. If that makes sense. :)

Date: 2011-11-28 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laura47.livejournal.com
i'm totally cool with more discussion posts at [livejournal.com profile] interconlarp (speaking as the comm owner. :)

Date: 2011-11-29 03:48 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-11-29 04:35 am (UTC)
tpau: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tpau
i have foudn this to work for things that are not very important. so e.g. i have used it for being drunk, where in sheets tell folks how much tolerance they have (a lot, a little, etc) and are told to act accordingly.

if it matters, i spell it out. people ignore these things not because they want to cheat but because they can...

Date: 2011-11-29 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] natbudin.livejournal.com
Preface: I am, generally speaking, anti-mechanics. Or rather, in favor of as little mechanics as your game can get away with. That said...

I would be worried about such a mechanic making people afraid of doing things they knew would cause an effect, particularly if they didn't know exactly what that effect was going to be. Also, as a player, I often forget to open contingency envelopes at the right times, so I'm pretty sure that in this game, I'd forget my prescribed reaction at least once.

OTOH, it does seem like a good call to inform people of their likely reactions to certain things. I wouldn't recommend designing the game in such a way that it relies on players complying with those, though, because I guarantee some won't, for whatever their own reasons.

Date: 2011-11-29 06:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] offside7.livejournal.com
I personally find it varies wildly. (I know, not a helpful answer.) I think the more extreme the mood, the more players will make use of it. In other words, if someone naturally makes people "infuriated," players will have an easier time roleplaying that than they will trying to roleplay "angry," especially if it's not expressly said that the character wears their hearts on their sleeves. (So maybe "panicked" might have a bigger effect that writing "nervous?" Or "completely relaxed" might have a stronger effect than "relaxed".)

Date: 2011-11-29 05:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightgamer.livejournal.com
If there's only one of this sort of mechanic in the game, it might make the most sense to just write it in as part of the sheets. If cuddle puddles are a fairly common occurrence, people are likely to be thinking about them (and what participation in them has made them feel like in the past).

If Character X finds cuddle puddles sort of uncomfortable and expects that one might happen during game, that's something that can be specifically and organically mentioned as part of the sheet rather than a separate quasi-mechanic.

Date: 2011-11-29 06:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twilighttremolo.livejournal.com
Hmm. So far, you guys are starting to convince me that there's no real advantage to framing this as a mechanic rather than a guideline in the specific situation I'm thinking of.

More discussion questions:

Are there any situations you can think of where the general structure I described would be better served by a mechanic than a guideline?

Any mechanics you've written / played that handled events that affect emotions in a different way than this structure?

Mechanics

Date: 2011-11-29 07:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cristovau.livejournal.com
I like mechanics, but as folks have mentioned, this sounds like an RP clue, rather than a mechanic. I'd put a global clue like this in a blue sheet describing the game or world.

However, I can see using the actual mechanic for two reasons. One, the mechanic can simulate something that is hard to represent directly, like the supernatural, or sex... ...or supernatural sex. While a cuddle puddle isn't either, some players prefer a no-contact game and a mechanic for cuddling could take care of their concerns. Personally, I don't think that is necessary, but as an example, it is out there, and it could help someone who is shy.

A second reason for a mechanic is to add emphasis to a central element or theme of a game. For example, you might have an effect of coffee mechanic for a game in a coffeehouse where drinking coffee is included in a major aspect of the plot. It would not be necessary, but such a mechanic sets the game apart from other LARPS and adds flavor, so to speak, to the game. Of course, this flavor needs to be in keeping with the theme, tone and plot of the game. A coffee mechanic in a pirate game would be silly, even if the pirates were plundering Starbucks.

Your mileage will vary on this. Some games rely heavily on mechanics and some games have none. My personal rule is to write off the mechanic if it gets unwieldy and starts to interfere with the story, but keep it if it helps move the story. When a mechanic is done really well, it feels invisible to me. That is when I feel like the game was written right.

Re: Mechanics

Date: 2011-11-29 10:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twilighttremolo.livejournal.com
The more I think about it, the more I think that in my mind, mechanics fall into 3 categories:

1. Simulation mechanics. Combat, supernatural, crosssing-player-personal-space-boundaries, etc. I do plan to have a simulation mechanic for cuddling so players can opt out of real cuddling.

2. Points and stats mechanics. A sanity rating is the first kind that comes to mind -- (*cough acousticshadow2 cough*)a list of events that will change your score, roleplay guidelines as it gets lower, and then a contingency envelope if you hit 0.

3. Character mechanics. For example, I played a character that was "intuitive" in a game that used character keywords for certain things, and after talking with someone, I could find out one of their keywords. It was a useful way to make that trait very playable.

I guess what I'm trying to do is find a way to do number 3 without the mechanic getting in the way of things. There are games (like the one I mentioned above) that do it successfully, but I'm not sure about the scenario I have in mind, which brings me back to the mechanic vs. guideline tension.
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