There are a few decisions that are made for LARP design, in particular for Dystopia Rising, that are focused on making the real-world LARP interactions run smoother at the smallest expense to defined “realism”. I put realism in quotes due to the fact that by definition anything that is writing as source material for Dystopia Rising is real for the world, no matter how fantastical that material may be.
So before you start arguing minutia about crafting times, volumes of brews, and “head shots should hurt more” remember that you are arguing realism in a world with zombies that walk around without reasonably functioning organics, Raiders which are their own species that you can become a part of by being born a raider or becoming infected by raiders, and people who can move objects and start fires with their heavily infected brain juices.
But, for those of you still wanting to know the decision-making process on some LARP specific items (and a couple business related items), I am providing answers for the most commonly asked questions.
Why do you have injection (needle based) brews that are such large volumes?
The injections are given larger volumes than normal for multiple LARP mechanic reasons. The biggest reason for the larger than normal volumes in brews is so that the physical representations for these items are large enough to be seen by marshals while you are in the field. Since we are a “what you see is what you get” game, and without a physical representation for brews and materials you do not get the benefits of the item, the larger brew choice was to make physical representations easier to see at a distance.
Some brews were made with smaller volumes later, but most of those brews are harder to make and if someone uses them in game the marshals would have an easier time checking for that card.
Why do Strains have roleplay and costume details that are closer to culture than genetic design?
If you read the tabletop books you will see that the requirements are different for the Strains. This is due to the fact that in a tabletop game you are not actually providing a physical representation for other players. In a LARP setting, your character would be able to tell the difference between a Pure Blood and a Yorker at a glance the majority of the time no matter how they were dressed. However if you, a human, dress like a Pureblood while playing a Yorker, chances are good people will mistake what you are on a Meta level. This is also the reason why the LARP focuses so much on visual requirements instead of just mechanical requirements… to make immersion easier for other players. Sure, a Yorker COULD dress like a Pure Blood “realistically”, but if you are playing a Yorker you should dress and act like a Yorker.
Now this doesn’t mean you need to become a caricature visually and via your role-play, but it is a good idea to aim to be as “iconic” as possible in regards to your Strain.
Why can't players bring in books from the outside?
Not allowing the majority of books in play is primarily due to two reasons. First, it is a common enough occurrence that players do not understand the difference between “could” and “should” in regards to what books they bring into play. Just because a player was able to find a book on nuclear physics at the second-hand book store doesn’t mean a character SHOULD have access to that book or the information outlined within it at game. On a sillier scale, we even had people try to bring the table-top books into play as “old world Arcadian reliquaries that foretold the future”. As much as it was cute that the throw-away character foretold me and the other writers as ancient gods, not exactly appropriate for play.
The second reason for not allowing most books is that it puts the imputes on knowing the content of all of the books a person could want to bring into play on the Director of a local game. This means that any book you would want to bring in the Directors would have to read the book to see if it is appropriate and not damaging to genre.
Why is so much of the mechanical augmentation skills for combat covered with equipment instead of being skills that can be learned?
The answer to this is the same as the reason why we use damage calls instead of silent notations for combat: to force players to engage with social and economy focused players to encourage more roleplaying. If someone who loves combat had no reason to get more equipment, expendable equipment, and equipment improvements then the system would provide no reason for players to break out of their normal RP circles and engage each other. Combat focused characters expending resources drives the economy which supports social roleplay within game and across the network as a whole.
Why are there skills that would be beneficial to a profession list not on those lists?
Think of professions like atoms in a molecule that are defined in 3 categories: combat, economy, and support. If you put these three different types of atoms in a wheel around the nucleus of the molecule (in this instance the professions a Strain has), you will find that each category of atoms has connections that draw it closer to atoms in other categories. You will find natural bonds between professions that would make sense in both a roleplay and character growth sense.
The less connection these professions have, the less they complement each other and oftentimes the more overlap you see.
Some people say “Priest, Assassin, Psion as a Remnant becomes the win” (sometimes they replace priest with something else). This normally makes me smile because this concept as a “win” only exists in a vacuum without engaging the rest of the game world mechanics with the profession combination. What do I mean by that? Well, have you ever heard a zombie or a raider call out “Fishmonger Bane” before? Nope. However, there are many things out in the world that mess up a Psions day really bad.
Are there any lists other than “assassin” that has a caveat of “there is an entire group of killers that, if you get caught being a part of this profession without joining them that they will mess your day up”? Nope.
And also… hit a Psion with blinding and see what happens to their list. Or hit them with equipment that saps away mind points or makes them unable to spend them for short periods of time. I could also go into the cost of materials for Psion and Assassin specific equipment, but, that goes really far away from the topic of “why can my profession can not haz”.
Why can people buy two extra experience points per character. Isn’t that pay to win design?
This is a little harder to explain, because there are some facts that people may not like. Sure, you may have gone to a $25 game or a $5 game or a donations only game or a $0 game. Your game host may have bled money to provide a really cool event for their friends, or maybe the quality of the visuals of the game are only really good with rose-colored glasses of "the good old days".
90s LARPs are more like 80s cartoons when it comes to our memory vs the truth of what the experience was.
The first thing is that Dystopia should be over a $65+ event weekend to start. Think about the content you get, the duration of time of entertainment you are getting, and the costs that the game hosts are paying for with the money you are putting in. Compare the cost of going to a bar for 4 hours, or a local show, or ordering delivery to the cost of a weekend long Dystopia event.
But, we know that at times younger LARPers it may be harder for them to be able to afford to play based on that $20 difference. So we offer a cheaper way for people to get into game, and, provide the standard cost with full benefits for everyone else who can actually afford it. The fact is that by the time credit card fees and taxes are taken out of what you are paying, a $45 paying player is providing closer to $39 to the game. Combine that with the fact that these games actually are completely on the books and by the books as business, and really, the price should have went up a year or two ago to match expenses and costs.
But also, you can’t "pay to win". It is primarily a PvE game where the number of players you have linked up with provides mechanical benefits much greater than years worth of experience points on a single character. We also greatly cap the volume of XP a person can get per game via cash, and offer people the ability to help out the game more (extra NPC, etc) to make up that 2 XP difference.