This week I will be posting five different types of common LARP modules that need to die in a fire. These are types of modules that exist across several weekend long boffer LARPs, embody either lazy or poorly designed storytelling, and need to immediately die in a pyre of “go the hell away”.
The “Incompetent Farmer” Module – Farmers aren’t stupid. They can literally make food come out of the ground, handle dozens of environmental issues that come to their door every day, and are incredibly hard workers. When you bring in “farmers from a nearby town” make sure the farmers are actually dealing with an issue that is outside the scope and scale of what a rugged outdoors survivalist with farmer muscles can handle.
Farm overrun by skeletons? Sure. Farmer needs help. Farm basement filled with rats? The farmer gets a god damned cat or some poison and doesn’t bother the “heroes of the local village”.
Most farmers have knowledge and skills relating to the world that regular people don’t have. Look at the shitty tractor on the farm that is held together with cans, bailing wire, and patches of metal. The farmer is keeping a vehicle running using what is around them when most people would need to go to a garage just to change their oil.
The Wakeup Module – So it is 10 am and you have your NPCs. The storyteller envisions themselves a sort of gaming Rembrandt who deserves uninterrupted and complete attention… but the players are still asleep. I mean, by biological standards this makes sense since the players were up until nearly 4 in the morning the night before, but who are these people to be sleeping when REMBRANDT is at work? So what does the Rembrandt ST do? Send in some excuse of a module to either make noise, kick in doors, or otherwise wake-up the players without any real tangible story reason.
Drunken asses kicking in your door is not a story. “Raider O’clock” first thing in the morning is not a story. Screaming for no reason is not a damned story. You want me to purposely cause myself to wake up before my body is ready to get out of bed just so I can engage a story you are sending out, you better send out a god damned story and not just a vehicle to wake me up.
This isn’t to say that you need to tip-toe around people sleeping in at 10 am. Write stories, modules, and give reason for people to engage the world. But if the focus of your engagement and the reason your ST engagement exists is to wake people up and make them angry as shit first thing in the morning just because an ST happens to be awake… slap the hell out of yourself. Do it twice as hard and twice as often if you do it in a Sunday after 3 days of almost no sleep.
The Merchant Module – If you send a NPC into town to buy and sell stuff, why not have someone that has some plot or story attached to them instead just also happen to be the person who buys and sells things. If you send a NPC into the world just for commerce you are wasting an NPC, not doing anything for story, and are wasting a potential reward system for people who are choosing to engage the environment.
The Mustache Twirling Villain What Does Villainy – The best Villains are people who believe they are doing the right thing. “Oooooh. There is a lich over the hill doing evil things for the sake of evil. Scawy. Let’s kick over the cardboard cutout person and feel an empty victory.” Instead of just giving a two dimensional “bad because we said so” NPC how about that same lich is “The former lord of the land who is trying to turn the disease carrying members of the community into undead so that the people he loves can live forever.” Now the Lich has a drive, is relatable, and when it goes SUPER EVIL it makes sense as a story.
The Loud Interruption – If the entire purpose of a group of NPCs going out is to be loud, obnoxious, and just bulldoze their way over PC driven story engagements then take those NPCs and sit them down with a nice cup of cocoa instead of sending them out. If players are engaged, entertained, and involved in the world then sending out something that is stupid and loud is not the way you get attention for your scenario. Annoying people are not a reason to leave the incredibly intense emotional RP you are having with 20 other players. Annoying people are not what should make your players stop their performances. Annoying people would, in most worlds, be shunned or outright killed for being super obnoxious without redeeming qualities. If you want your players to engage a plot, how about you send out NPCs that players want to engage with instead of sending out the sorts of NPCs that would (and often will) be shunned.
Next week I will be putting out “5 Player Tropes That Need To Die In A Fire”.