Just about nine years ago Dystopia Rising went public. When I say we went public, I mean we went from a year or so of a few dozen of my friends playing a game I made to being open to the outside. Since those days Dystopia Rising has grown, made an impact on LARP culture, and become a network of over seventeen franchises across the US as well as a massive tabletop book line. Every weekend of every month there are between 400-1500 people playing in the Dystopia Rising LARP Network.
Now the LARP system is 10 years old and needs redesign. Now the tabletop system is 10 years old and it needs redesign. Both were created by people funding the project as labors of love, without crowd sourcing or business funding, and were made in ways that were ahead of their time... for 10 years ago. So redesign is the goal of the next few years, to take what was a monolithic effort of five people who created all of Dystopia Rising in their spare time while working full time jobs (many of us working multiple to be able to afford to pay for the creation of DR as well) and instead do it again... with a budget. Our work was amazing. We made some changes to the face of LARP overall as well as made a respectable showing in the TT-RPG field.
But 10 years is 10 years, and how people game in both LARP and TT has changed.
This is part of the reason it was incredibly exciting to pen a deal with The Onyx Path for their development of Dystopia Rising: Evolved. The Onyx Path is a team dedication to the development, publication, and support of tabletop and traditional gaming mediums. Their team of layout artists, writers, developers, advertisers, marketers, and distribution far outweigh what Dystopia Rising could do on its own.
This additional development allows us to streamline and adjust the Dystopia Rising LARP network to match improvements that are made to the DR game universe. This opportunity also allows us to have all the game owners take feedback from their communities and develop the LARP line best suited for what players want. Not just the salty people who seem to find no happiness in their lives, but everyone.
And let’s be direct on some things for clarity. Yes, this means that some blueprints are going to go away. Yes, this means that some items are going to go away. Yes, this means that you will be able to create your characters for this great new world with the XP you have earned instead of being shoehorned into something that was changed.
But we are also did give three years notice that these changes would be eventually coming. More warning has been given about changes coming down the line than many LARPs have as their full lifetime. So, if you play now with the mind of just what might exist three years from now, then you will be tossing aside hundreds of hours of potential character growth and story. Dystopia Rising: Evolved will be enough of an adjustment that we should call it a new product (Dystopia Rising: Evolved) instead of a new edition. But what we aren’t doing is taking away the story, the growth, and the development of connections we have made. We are going to cut items that don’t fit into the desired mechanics, and yes, there will be a simplification to mechanics across the board.
Because blueprints aren’t what is the value of a game. Little business card notations of equipment you have are not the value of a game. The experience, the friends made, and the time we spend in these fictional personas engaging a life outside of our own is what is the value of a game.
Dystopia is evolving both as a story and as a community. We have grown from a single community to a neighborhood of local communities. We can’t pretend that somehow all things will be perfect across all 7,000 players at all times. We can’t pretend that there is a way to manage 17 different local cultures, each with 17 different flavors of what DR is, while standing outside of the local communities. It’s impossible. Directors need to focus more on their local chapter, develop their local community, tend to the needs and safety of their community, and be the leaders they stepped up to be.
The franchisors (us) need to create tools and materials for your local community leaders (Directors) to use instead of being hands on trying to help with local details. The fact is that due to the nature of mass media internet we have players whose “experience is ruined” because someone they conceptually know, on the other side of a country, is upset because someone at a local game feels they didn’t get enough business cards.
This “largest umbrella” thinking needs to change… and it is changing as both Dystopia and LARP communities evolve.
So here is the “TL:DR”. We are going to listen to design feedback and make the best system possible that makes the most people possibly happy. We are going to have the Directors more involved in their local events and less calling out to the crowd sourced void. Dystopia Rising is still growing, still evolving, and we have some massive steps forward coming very soon. New branches, new writers, new community created content, and a LARP system that is created based on what we all want instead of just my presentation to the world.