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The larp gradient

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Epistolary Richard

on 29 April 2014

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Transcript of The larp gradient


Level of verisimilitude
including surroundings, props, character interactions and unity of time
# of participants
'Boffer' /

Chamber larps
Nordic Arthaus /
Progressive Larp
Story gaming
This side
you are larping
This side
you are tabletop

tend to be:
8-40 players
in a fixed location/ group of locations
use continuous, linear time
during play. GMs help players but don't direct
costuming is encouraged
set dressing is representative
social interaction is favoured over mechanics

The usage of the word 'freeform' here derives from the
Australian "The Freeform Book" by Morgana Cowling published in 1989

from http://blog.ukg.co.uk/uk-freeform/

tend to be:
3-12 players
in a single room
semi-live, game-time is not continuous nor linear (i.e. inclusion of flashbacks, forwards)
GM acts as director, creating and ending scenes
uses meta-techniques
costuming and set dressing is entirely optional


The usage of the word 'freeform' here derives from Nordic freeform
tend to be:
3-8 players
in a single room
semi-live, game-time is not continuous nor linear (i.e. inclusion of flashbacks, forwards)
GM acts as director, creating and ending scenes
may use meta-techniques

In Nordic larp, the term is usually taken to mean the freeform traditions of Sweden and Denmark, centred on the Fastaval convention.
denotes Nordic freeform games that identify themselves as being written using the guidelines of Vi åker jeep

Jeepform games emphasise maintaining the flow of the story, often have a greater usage of meta-techniques, allow characters to be played by more than one player and actively discourage accurate props and locations as they're considered restrictive

From the Fastaval website, explaining how 'Tabletop' includes live action role playing

In the mid-90s, tabletoppers and LARPers parted ways as well. The Danish conventions were based on tabletop roleplaying while Danish LARPers back then mostly focused on creating huge fantasy game events that would not fit into the convention format. So even if the two were aware of each other, and quite a lot of players were (and are) playing both, the two styles went their separate ways.

But here, I should point out that the traditional distinction between tabletop and LARP really doesn’t really apply anyway. Because even as the LARPers departed for the woods and meadows needed to create big-scale events, the tabletoppers of Fastaval in the late 90s began to develop a “semi-live” playing style. Meaning that you may start by playing at a table, but very often, players will get up and act “live” once a scene has been set. Touching and improvised prop use are very common – and therefore, what we label as tabletop scenarios is nowadays often called LARPs by foreigners visiting Fastaval.

A chamber game is a short larp which lasts for no longer than a few hours and which takes place in a small, enclosed area - maybe just one room.

from http://nordiclarp.org/wiki/Chamber_Larp
A design term rather than a separate category. Other kinds of larp may be 360, however the demands of 360 lead to design similiarities that could be considered their own category.

From http://nordiclarp.org/wiki/360º
The 360º illusion is a design ideal where the aim is to make the physical immersive experience as complete as possible, i.e 360 degrees around you. In its most basic form this means that everything you can see is ingame, but can reach much farther than that; also meaning that every interaction must be as real as possible and that anything that can be made to function for real should be done, instead of using symbolics.
From http://larpwright.efatland.com/?p=7
Nordic Arthaus is centered around the annual Knutepunkt/Solmukohta conferences, tends to promote larps that are performed with artistic intent, are played by adults, that have no “game mechanics” in the traditional sense, and that strive for complete illusions – with every detail of scenography and costuming and player preparation used to reinforce the players’ belief that what is role-played is also real.
From http://world.time.com/2012/07/20/magic-kingdom-why-live-action-role-playing-is-one-of-denmarks-most-popular-pastimes/
That goes doubly for what is known as art larp or progressive larp. Far from the simple hack-n-slash of a combat scenario, Nordic art larp is designed to challenge, even offend. The goal: something they call “bleed”, the way that whatever you learn or feel during the game can bleed into your life outside of the game.
From http://nordiclarp.org/wiki/Progressive_larp
Progressive larp comes from a tradition that views larp as a valid form of expression, worthy of debate, analysis and continuous experimentation, which emerged around the Knutepunkt convention. It typically values thematic coherence, continuous illusion, action and immersion, while keeping the larp co-creative and its production noncommercial. Workshops and debriefs are common.
From http://www.examiner.com/article/theatrical-style-larping-or-you-are-the-main-character
Theatrical games generally have a high amount of roleplaying, but not always. Some theatrical games are all about roleplaying, with a low amount of gaming, while others are more about gaming and mechanics, with less of a reliance on roleplaying. Theatrical-style games are generally short, running from two hours to a weekend long, and are often intricately plotted. Players are given “character sheets” that define their character’s backstory and goals. Each player is basically the main character in their own story.

From http://www.larpalliance.net/?page_id=36
Theatre Style games use other methods of representing combat, such as "weapon cards" (which note the weapon type and strength) and are used to determine a combat winner via comparison with their opponents weapon cards. Most widely used is the good ol’ fashion "rocks, paper, scissors" in conjunction with descriptive cards with the character’s abilities. White Wolf LARP games use Theatre Style combat.
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