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Labyrinthe Forum _ General Club Feedback and Suggestions _ Different game systems

Posted by: Wraethrax Dec 4 2013, 12:33 PM

Lets me preface what will perhaps sound like a critique, with the fact that UK and Scandanavian LARPing is the stuff of legend, back in the states. To us Americans, it's like the World Series or the Superbowl. I will return to the states as something of a celebrity or war veteran. I'm being a little dramatic, but not too much, honestly. smile.gif

That said, I'm not a huge fan of the systems I've been reading about. Strangely, they look a lot like the systems we started playing back in the 90's. I'm not saying this is necessarily a fact that they are superior, but it's my opinion that they are. I think this comes down to priority. In the states, many games have tried to become simpler to navigate, rules wise, and more friendly to the new player. Stat tracking is a huge one. Many games here have high hit points and multiple body parts to keep track of. After 20 years of LARPing, I still find keeping hits tracked, challenging. I'm going to list a few observations and I'd love to hear how folks feel about them.

1. Spells - Has anyone ever thought about a packet based spell system? When a spell that can effect an enemy or ally at range, a packet (about a golf ball sized packet of birdseed) is thrown after the incant and effect is stated. This adds an element of skill and the dynamic of dodging to the equation. It also alerts to someone who may not be paying attention to the caster, that they have been hit.

2. Height and weight restrictions - Do folks like these in place, to keep certain races within a certain theme? We used to do this and then decided that we thought people would rather have the option to choose than to preserve some hardline of a thematic ideal.

3. Hit Points - Body points, limb points and different levels of armor on each. This is almost unfathomable to me. Who wants to keep track of all that? I can't imagine it, without having to stop and take inventory after every fight. That seems like a lot of math, especially in an especially chaotic fight. I honestly don't know how people do this. Has a simpler method ever been considered, like a straight up total health?

4. Referee - We used to have this, almost identical to how it seems to be done at Laby. We even ran modules and were Battle Boarded by a ref. We used that exact terminology. I don't know a single game in the US that does this anymore. This is kind of a big one for me. The trend in the states went from Referees and skill and armor tags and all that micro managing, to a straight up honor system. No more tracking and instead of a referee, we had certain NPCs that were certified Marshalls. Like a ref, but they might actually be one of the NPC's you are fighting, rather than an out of game observer. They were mainly for mechanics questions and adjudication. Have folks considered something closer to an honor system or is cheating too much of a concern?

5. Personalized incants - This is one of my favorite changes in a few of the popular systems in the states. You can use the generic incant, or make your own. The formula to make your own is a number of syllables that is dependent on spell level. You generally have to incorporate the school of magic and spell name into the incant. No one really cares about flubbed incants. After the incant, an effect is stated, to let the recipient know what happened. You don't have to memorize what every spell does, by the incant to know how it effects you. Example: By the power of the Weald (school) I call down a lightning bolt (spell)! *5 damage by lighting* (effect).

6. Open skill system - A few of the newer games in the states use this. No classes, no restrictions. All skills are worth the same amount to anyone. You can be a spell using, armor wearing, merchant or anything you can imagine. Everyone is so unique and no labels are attached. The customization is limitless.

OK, these are some of the bigger ticket items that I have experienced in the states and I like them a lot. Admittedly, I've gone from wanting extremely large and complex rules to very simplified ones that still maintain a lot of choice and variability. I'm an old dog not wanting to learn new tricks. smile.gif Again, I'm not saying these are any "better", this is all about what one prefers. I'm just curious how others feel.

Thanks,

Chris

Posted by: Ryan Dec 4 2013, 12:46 PM

Plenty of systems in the UK do this but I would say a lot of things you think over complicate this system is what keeps me coming back...

Spells, cost power so point and click is fairer - fighting costs no power and I can hit you all day so someone casting a spell should get a benefit.

The referee is intrinsic to the way non fest events work, lots of complex stuff is happening in terms of puzzles and effects between and during encounters, also we run a linear party based event so it's important to be hands on.

Granted the toughest thing in this system is the math but if in doubt fall over and get a res. It's hardly like you are never going to play again because you died!

Out of curiosity have you played yet? I think you should come down and try the system! All systems make more sense in play than they do on paper so put the books down for a bit and crack on with some hitting your mates! a deeply intense Roleplay experience...

Posted by: Wraethrax Dec 4 2013, 01:05 PM

I haven't played yet, but I plan to. I'm thinking of a goblin or orc pathfinder. I can't wait to get my things together and get down there.

Thanks for sharing your opinions. smile.gif

Chris

QUOTE(Ryan @ Dec 4 2013, 12:46 PM) *
Plenty of systems in the UK do this but I would say a lot of things you think over complicate this system is what keeps me coming back...

Spells, cost power so point and click is fairer - fighting costs no power and I can hit you all day so someone casting a spell should get a benefit.

The referee is intrinsic to the way non fest events work, lots of complex stuff is happening in terms of puzzles and effects between and during encounters, also we run a linear party based event so it's important to be hands on.

Granted the toughest thing in this system is the math but if in doubt fall over and get a res. It's hardly like you are never going to play again because you died!

Out of curiosity have you played yet? I think you should come down and try the system! All systems make more sense in play than they do on paper so put the books down for a bit and crack on with some hitting your mates! a deeply intense Roleplay experience...

Posted by: Sizel Dec 4 2013, 01:36 PM

The short answer to most of these questions is pretty much "yes"...
Labyrinthe has existed for many, many, years and throughout that time people have debated the necessity of this rule or that way of doing things.
Most of the changes mentioned here though would require a fairly major overhaul of the way the game works, with associated hassles around changing existing characters.


Spell Packets are probrably impractical in the caves environment: It's dark and they would tend to get left laying around, cluttering up the place as people don't bother to clean up after themselves. If you're casting a spell at someone who's in a melee they are more-or-less as likely to hear someone shouting at them as they are to notice they've been hit by something which isn't just a latex weapon. If melee isn't going on then shouting works just as well.


Height & Weight are fairly constantly debated, and would be the easiest changes to make.



Hit Points: There are many, many, systems around the UK and a huge amount of variety in how they deal with Hits.
Labyrinthe's method is complicated (very much so at the higher levels of the game), and not to everyone's taste.
Similarly simple systems (one I've played in just had 2 strikes and you're out) are enjoyed by some but loathed by others.
In effect there are so many games available that you just wander around until you find one that's right for you (or play loads).


Referee: Yep - the way Labyrinthe runs absolutely needs a Referee. They write the adventure outline, organise the NPC/Monster team, award XP to the players, field questions, describe things that occour, settle rules disputes and all sorts of other things.
They also record damage players have suffered and expenditure of power points etc as the game progresses (there's usually a halt to play after every 3 or 4 fights to tally up how people are doing).



Personalised Spell Verbals: Again varies from game system to game system. Many don't use them, Labyrinthe does. They are a "hard skill" in that you have to remember the right words, just as someone being a fighter has to be able to hit someone with a sword... If they are not to your taste it's quite possible to develop a character who can use their own / made up words to cast spells, you just normally have to sink some XP into doing so.



Open Skill Systems: Yep, they exist in the UK too. Labyrinthe events tend to work best with teams of players with mixed skill-sets, and one way to help with that is to have character classes.

_
Pete




Posted by: JulianW Dec 4 2013, 04:22 PM

One thing to be aware of in understanding its system is that with a permenant, all weather site, Labyrinthe runs every weekend and has been doing so for over 25 years

This has tended to lead to a more complex, progression based and higher powered system than many others.

As Pete says, a referee is absolutely key to the way our events runs - a written adventure, with a crew of monsters playing many different parts at the referee's instructions as the party progress through the event. For a normal days play, when refereeing, my briefing pack to the monsters will be something like 30 pages of notes - part of reffing is then adjudicating when changes are needed to that plan.

An idea of scale is worth keeping here too - a typical dungeon might have 10 players, 3-4 monsters, 1 ref (who may well also play NPC parts as well at times)

Julian

Posted by: Wraethrax Dec 4 2013, 04:41 PM

Yeah, running every weekend is epic. Back when I was single and without children, I imagine I would have lived at those caves. Sounds fun and scary at the same time.

Right, these adventures are much tighter in terms of how they need to run. In the games I play, what you folks call fests, you can kind of wing random encounters. Laby is linear and really seems to rely on the Ref to make sure it flows. Challenging enough, but not overwhelming. That's a tough dance to do every week.

Chris

QUOTE(JulianW @ Dec 4 2013, 04:22 PM) *
One thing to be aware of in understanding its system is that with a permenant, all weather site, Labyrinthe runs every weekend and has been doing so for over 25 years

This has tended to lead to a more complex, progression based and higher powered system than many others.

As Pete says, a referee is absolutely key to the way our events runs - a written adventure, with a crew of monsters playing many different parts at the referee's instructions as the party progress through the event. For a normal days play, when refereeing, my briefing pack to the monsters will be something like 30 pages of notes - part of reffing is then adjudicating when changes are needed to that plan.

An idea of scale is worth keeping here too - a typical dungeon might have 10 players, 3-4 monsters, 1 ref (who may well also play NPC parts as well at times)

Julian

Posted by: Stuart Dec 4 2013, 04:57 PM

An ideal Labyrinthe adventure will have:

For me it's probably 6-10 hrs work before the day as the referee, and then non-stop from 9:30 til 7ish on the day. The A-ref will probably have been involved in aspects of the writing and propping, and the monsters normally get to turn up having read it.

So 60 man hours for a single event for around 10 people is a pretty good ratio of investment.

On a good week, there are sometimes 10 of these adventures running over the course of the weekend - 4 each day down the caves and one overland. 600 man hrs a week! And dont' get me started on Myths (week-long events).

It's not a fest' system, and it wouldn't work as one. It's too complicated. But the complexity of it all coupled with the (relative) simplicity of the underlying concepts is what has kept people playing numerous weekends a year for 25 years

Stuart

Posted by: marwoodbramwell Dec 4 2013, 05:23 PM

Wraethrax:-

I came to the system 3 years ago, with a huge range of LRP systems in my past and I'm familiar with your initial reactions, but as you said, you've yet to play.

Yes, there is an immense level of detail, separate armour numbers, calls, effects and that's before you even get to the Labyrinthe speciality of individual points aps.

The short answer is "It is all worth it". Every level of detail, sub class, personalised tweak, it all adds depth and individuallity to each character, encounter and relationship.

What sums up Labyrinthe compared with field/festival systems for me is this:- every player builds their character, buys or makes their costume, finds the weapon(s) with ideal weighting and balance and in a filed system you can dismiss all of that in half a second:- heavily armoured guard type, just like the other 10 he is standing with, you know they've all got the same stats, if you can take out one of them them you know you can take any of them. Labyrinthe you have no idea. you can adventure alongside a character for hours or days and still only know a tiny % of what they have up their sleeve that you're not expecting.

Posted by: MattWest Feb 9 2014, 10:05 PM

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I can see a million common sense reasons to do X, Y or Z differently than Laby does it, but when you put it all together, somehow, it all just works so beautifully. You look at this bunch of rules, and you scratch your head over how it gives rise to such a phenomenal game experience, and you can't necessarily figure out how it all comes together, but it just does.

Yes, at the top levels of the system it get complicated, too complicated even for my tastes maybe at times, but then I don't play characters at that level of the system (sometimes I crew it), and by the time you get there you've had such a huge amount of time to learn the system (and especially the bits relevant to your character) that it's all familiar territory for you.

Character classes are cleverly worked into game balance. Greater diversity of abilities can give rise to synergies and flexibility in the field, so in a points-buy system where people play the same character 50 or 100 times and accumulate thousands and thousands of points, you need some kind of a mechanism to stop people just filling their boots with all the good abilities that combine well. In this system, the highest-points characters are close to the 30,000 points mark, and (after quickly hitting 8th level in your basic class, which is just a starting point) you get no more than 95 from a standard Caves dungeon, 165 from a one-day overland and about 1000 from a 4-day adventure (you can earn smaller amounts from monstering and add them at a limited rate when you play), so you do the math.

The power level in this game, the restore to life abilities, the rebirth abilities etc. are all connected with letting you play the same character time and time again so that you really get to know them as a person, learn their personal history, learn their personality, get a feel for them, understand their dilemmas and issues, build their reputation etc.

The deductive armour is just so much more believable and immersive for me than the additive/ablative armour other systems use (i.e. armour that adds to your hits), which I hate.

Having to use verbals properly makes the game much more atmospheric and makes the verbals diverse and not samey. Also it's far more atmospheric to hear "lightning bolt" and know what it does than to have to hear someone give a technical description of the effect.

Some refs are more chilled than others about cheating and personally (though I don't ref) I regard it as basically an honour system with the ref being there to give you a helping hand so you don't get confused. But I have known refs go till the lunchbreak without battleboarding, then not battleboard again till the end of the day. On extended length adventures all the battleboarding gets done individually without interrupting the adventure.

This system at the end of the day has been the teamwork of a whole succession of people and is far bigger than just one person, even the GSM.

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