Building an AllianceLARP Chapter
So I've been asked by a couple of people to start up an AllianceLARP chapter. I'm not a big fan of the system myself - I feel any combat system that requires you to repeatedly and quickly smack someone to whittle down their hit points really removes some of the adrenalin of the one or two shot kill. But, at the same time, I've been needing to stretch my creative LARP muscles again so I decided to at least design the world and storyline of such a game if I was to create one.
The first issue that comes to mind is the fact that I'll have pre-existing characters from other chapters (some over a decade old in experience) suddenly visiting and populating the world. This has always been a bit of a cheese to me, with people travelling from one chapter to another via "The Mists" - an unknown force that just helps give, IMO, a weak reason for characters to travel from one place to another. "Whoops! The Mists brought me here!" But it works for the system. However, I began to wonder, what would happen if this system of transportation began to do more than explain character travel between realms/chapters? What if it began to take on a life of its own. And suddenly, I had a much stronger introduction storyline as to why characters suddenly were appearing in my world:
The Mists have always been an enigma - albeit an often benign and even beneficial one. They seemed to appear when needed, sending people to the locations they desired to attend and then bring them safely back. Sure, sometimes an item here or there would be misplaced upon the journey but it always found its way back into its owner's hands. All in all, quite a helpful singleton.
It started out unobtrusively. The odd potion bottle or scroll that didn't reappear when the traveler had arrived home. Perhaps the traveler appearing a couple days journey from their original destination. But upon the completion and activation of the 13th Mist Gate in Twinspire, that all changed. Soon people were walking into the mists but not reaching their original destination. Rather a broken and shattered wasteland would appear before they were sent back to Twinspire. Some who went into the mists never returned. Then similar events began to spring up across Parna. The travel became less pleasant - rough terrain, weather anomalies and even electrical shocks would wrack those that managed to pass through - who knows what became of those that didn't.
Soon the Mists weren't just seeking out people but objects as well. The vaporous mass would roll across a farming valley, lifting to show that all of the crops and even livestock were gone. Sometimes carts, houses, even the Mist Gates themselves would vanish when the grayish white cloudbank would leave. People would flee from their homes at the first sight of any fog that didn't seem to belong with the weather, and even some that did. After a while, both the Parnan and Twinspire people began to realize that there seemed to be a purpose and intelligence within the Mists. Although they had no idea what it was, it was obvious that the Mists would not be held at bay and would steal away its target, even those protected by circles and other magics.
Then the day came when you saw it. The swirling white, with flashes of silver within it, sliding stealthfully and speedily towards you. Knowing that running was futile, you turned towards it, readying yourself for what might be within its nebulous mass, and strode purposefully into it.
Okey, I had the introduction, but have yet to begin even contemplating the type of world I'd create. Something that has bothered me about a good number of LARPs out there, and Alliance/NERO games especially, has been the lack of any maps of the lands that the games take place in. For some reason, the plot team thinks it is better that the players learn about the region and not provide any maps for them. I think that this is silly as there would definitely be someone in the world who has made such maps if for no other reason than to sell them so people knew how to get to one place to another. I think that people who run games do this because they haven't fleshed out their worlds enough and don't want to put anything down in stone.
But I would have the same issue as it can take close to a year to come up with a fully functional world. So what to do. I then saw Avatar and was reminded of another LARP I heard about called the Shard Realms. Basically, the land was split up into a bunch of floating islands the size of US states. Expanding upon this idea, I came up with the design of a land fractured by the Mists themselves, and now the pieces are floating like jetsam upon a sea of the Mists. This, in turn, began to lead to more ideas about the world so I expanded upon it.
Plus, one of my friends started talking about a Roman setting for a game and I thought that that would be a cool idea. Although almost no adventurers would be walking around in togas, having some that are worn by officials during official meetings could be interesting (like the powder wigs and robes of British lawyers). Plus there is a basic system of government that people could relate to as well as other things to borrow from. I also have a background in some greek plays so that would help to tell the story as well. Which immediately made me think of the chorus. These were a group of actors that would come out between scenes and give the basic backstory of what is happening, who is who and so on. So, I figured what better group of people to first meet the players and establish the world they just walked into. So I began a stream of consiousness of what the Chorus would say to the characters and this is what I came up with:
We are the Chorus. We speak for the land. We do not lead, only advise. However, with many of our leaders missing, the masses have turned to us. With our divinations, we have taken this course of action and summoned you here.
This land, this fractured land, resides in a place between the other lands and the Mists which flow to them. We are as flotsam upon the river of the white vapors. We have lived without fear from them for a century of millennia, our own world progressing very much like those of others. But as our knowledge increased, so did our hunger for more. Some of us decided to attempt to harness what we considered the benevolent power of the Mists, to use it to increase our power. But we had no idea of the torrent we were attempting to control. The Mist rebuked our attempts to break it, to rein it in, but we persisted until the day that the Mist decided to show us the folly of our ways. With a surge of tsunami strength, the Mists exploded through our land, rending it to pieces. Many died, more were horribly disfigured - both physically and mentally. And now the debris of our great empire churns uncertainly upon the rolling vortex of magics.
So we were asked to help. We were begged to help. And so we, in turned, asked the Mists themselves to help heal what they had torn asunder. The Mists, a very forgiving power, began to bring to us food, shelter and succor from far and wide. Unfortunately, the fracturing gave many of the darker races the opportunity that they desired and they surged forth. With our people separated and scattered, trying to put together their lives once again, they were no match. With our heroes gone, we once again asked the Mists for its help and it has answered our plea. It has brought you to us. To help us once again become a whole world.
The Mists looked for those who are not only kind of heart but have the dedication to see the tasks completed. We know that many have their own reasons and we will see that their rewards for their help are fair and just. We only beg that you do not allow our own folly to be the end of us. The riptide of darkness comes to finish that which the Mists had nearly wiped clear and we beg you again not to let this happen.
Another friend of mine reminded me that the chorus in greek plays would speak in rhymes, so I took the above and turned it into the following speech that would be given by the NPC's playing The Chorus. To make things easy on the NPC's, I'd make them wear big, stone looking masks (like the ones that were worn by players in greek plays) and simply have the speech pre-recorded on a sound system that would play behind them. That way, they wouldn't even need to move their lips, just their hands, while the speech went off without a hitch. They'd then leave 'the stage' and new NPC's would come in and play with them:
We are the Chorus and speak for the land.
We do not lead, only advise.
For we help out with the troubles at hand.
And people seek us out for we are wise.
Now to the reason that you are here
We need heroes from far and wide
Our uncertain future we do fear
But we cannot and will not hide.
This fractured land floats upon the Mists,
It's travel oft placid and calm
But a great calamity pummeled like fists
And our world befell to great harm.
The power of the Mists tempted many a man
Who schemed to be able to rein it in
But the outcomes did not follow their plans
And now the land lays in ruin
The world was torn asunder
The ground now in fragmented parts
The sky clangors with thunder
And the people have lost heart
Leaders have tried to help
But all has been in vain
For all the evil whelps
Rose up and gave us pain
So we called to the gray nil
Begged the white vapor's balm
And soon our larders began to fill
While the Mists began to calm
Now before us you stand
Your help we plead
That you will defend the land
And the people, lead.
This is our chosen path
For good or for ill
We ask not for your wrath
But triumph by your will.
I now have a very basic idea of the world. But something that was still nagging me is the system. I could go with another game system but figured that trying to create a game I'd enjoy running in a system I'm not fond of. So, I wanted to address my first concern. The fact that even the lowest character, with a couple of spells, don't have to fear the first couple of hits from something. In addition, even if they do die, they're guaranteed to resurrect twice without any fear of permament death. This leads to some really strange outlooks on how to take care of a problem, and it is almost always with violence since the healing, resurrection and sheer amount of damage that has to be done to take someone out.
Now, one of my favorite book series are the Vlad Taltos/Dragera series by Steven Brust. In this series, they have something called Morganti Weapons. A scratch by one of these weapons will remove the soul from the target and utterly destroy it, leaving no chance for resurrection or even reincarnation. They don't go to the happy place of their gods, they just cease to exist. Personally, I'd love it if everyone's weapon in the game was a Morganti Weapon as this would greatly change the way people fought but I have to work within the ruleset. So, looking over them, the best thing I came up with is something that is called a Spellstrike. This is a strike of a weapon that if it hits will release the spell and it will affect the person as if they were hit with the spell itself. Next is the carrier call "Arcane" which basically means any and all mundane defences that would normally stop a spell won't work. And the damage of Obliterate means that not only do you die, but you actually die 3 times, increasing your chance of not being able to resurrect and life spells will not work. So I have created the Morganti Weapon equivalent for the AllianceLARP - a weapon with the damage call "Spellstrike: Arcane Obliterate!" Now, just to come up with a storyline/background for them and I'm good to go:
Blades of Kor
Kor was a talented assassin who eventually found himself being employed by the Dragon, Uaine. Uaine had wanted many people killed but due to the resurrection circles, Kor was not able to do the job effectively. So after much discussion and experimentation, Uaine and Kor developed a weapon of terrifying power. The dagger that they created had the ability to tear through all defenses and obliterate the target. The first time Kor used the dagger, the effect was all he could have hoped for. The target could not be lifed and the resurrection failed. Word spread of this vicious weapon and most were horrified, while a few began their own research into duplicating it. Soon, a small but popular market for the weapons were created. However, it was realized by all that were in power - and even those that used them - that such a weapon should not ever be used. Therefore, no matter what their positions, every ruling body from the chivalric orders to the necromantic liches agreed that anyone caught with such a weapon would immediately have their own bellies turned into the scabbards for the weapons.
It is rumored though that there are still those that defy this unilateral ban on the weapons and find a market for them still. Although the most common version is of a dagger size, there has been a rumor that one was fashioned as large as a short sword. The malignant evil inherent in the blade turns it into a wave of black and red and is quite identifiable as a Blade of Kor.
I feel sorry for assassins in this game system. Not only are life spells plentiful, but you can always resurrect and there is even a way to 'buy back' your deaths so that your chance of resurrecting increases. This could mean you'd have to outright kill someone a dozen times before they won't come back again. So now I look at the next issue in this line - Resurrections. You get two free. Then every death after that you have a cumalitive 10% chance of dying permamently, with a max chance of 90% - so if you're lucky enough, you'll always come back. It does involve a 15 minute story of the person resurrecting you that you have to listen to, which for some is just plain boring. So how could I make a Resurrection less palatable for you to want to be resurrected but less boring if you actually have to do it. Well below is my answer:
The destruction of the land also fractured the threads of life. Spirits are now hard pressed to return to their bodies to be resurrected and have to expend a great amount of energy to find their way to a circle. Once there, their minds remain in the Mists, the dreams of resurrection coming from the gray fog while their bodies begin to reform. When they do reform, only the most basic abilities of their mind return to the bodies - leaving them without any skills or abilities with which to operate. They can walk, talk and remember everything but that is all. The learned skills are much harder to return to the body. They do so after a period of time - usually between a week and a month.
The Earth scholars of the Fragmented lands have found an answer to this problem. In the Gryphon Hills, the ancient home of the Biata, explorers have come across an ore deep in the rocks there. This silver metal, infused with green crystals, seems to help focus the mind with the body. Using secret refining techniques, the Biata are able to create a talisman that, when pressed to the body and activated, will bind the mind to the body of the subject. If this is done prior to the death of the subject, not only will the body and mind travel to the circle where the talisman resides but resurrection will take place in half the time and no nightmares will result from an unmediated resurrection. Someone who has just resurrected without a talisman can have one that has yet to be attuned pressed to their body and their skills will instantly return.
Once a talisman is used, it is then rendered inert. Biata or Stone Elves can recharge them to the original owner through the use of some of their more complicated mind powers however many people don't want others poking around their heads and would rather pay the coin for a new one.
Okey, now I have decided to try and push the no religion thing as far as I possibly can. The most powerful creatures that I am aware of that are 'god like' in the rules are dragons. I could be wrong, but it is something that most people can identify with. Now, they can't be called gods nor worshipped. However, there is nothing wrong with coming up with a new 'title' for their species and have people allied with them and revering them. So, being a fan of the Gaelic language, I have come up with the title of 'Arach' which means Dragon in Gaelic. And using various colors in the Gaelic language, I have come up with the following Arachs:
So if they encounter the green dragon, he would be called "Arach Usine." Can there be more than one green dragon? Sure. However, the only one the PC's will ever encounter will be the lead dragon. There could be younger ones but they never encraoch upon the human domain else they are punished severely by the dragons. Of course, this could lead to a plot line. Of a younger dragon sneaking away to the human lands and attempting to start a force of their own.