Category Archives: Design process

Compound and holistic

At this years larpwriter summer school, I had the chance to playtest an insanely cool larp with the working title The Bank Robbery. As a preparation for the larp, players stand around a table, using a schematic – the floorplan of a bank – to plan the great heist our characters will attempt.

The actual roleplaying begins with characters returning to their hideout after the heist has failed. The schematic is still there, on the table, helping us to remember the back story, and improvise coherently. But now it is also scenography : turning whatever room we are in into the secret meeting-place of gangsters.


Players prepare for In Fair Verona by participating in an intensive tango course. Continue reading Compound and holistic

Does your larp have a zombie?

Does your larp have one of these?

Imagine two larps: the first one is about angsty teenagers figuring out the meaning of life in a remote mountain cabin. The second one is exactly the same, except those teenagers are being atacked by zombies. Which larp do you think will attract more players?

In “Talk Larp”, one of the three downloadable anthologies published at the 2011 Knudepunkt conference, Juhana Pettersson’s contribution “The Necessary Zombie” contains two very useful observations:
Continue reading Does your larp have a zombie?

Looking for “it”

So, some years back, I held a concept-development workshop for larpers. Groups of 2-5 larpers would collaboratively develop a few keywords into a fully-fledged larp concept in half an hour or so. It worked well, yielding some 3-4 fully functional larps with the framework of a decent dramaturgy. None of those larps were ever held. Instead, every year, we see a bunch of larps with weak concepts and dramaturgies attracting players and producing strong experiences amidst complaints of their weaknesses. Why? Continue reading Looking for “it”

1942 & The Three Affiliations Model

So it’s been a hiatus. My main excuse is that my larp writing energy has gone into a) a larp (Marcellos Kjeller, pics, to be blogged) and b) an article about the larp “1942 – noen å stole på” (FLH, 2000) for the forthcoming Nordic Larp book project. A fiendishly difficult writing project, as the article was to be less than 2000 words. Brevity is not my strong side.

Fishermen at "1942 - Noen å stole på". Photo copyright (c) 2000-2010 Britta Bergersen
Fishermen at '1942 - Noen å stole på'. Photo copyright (c) 2000-2010 Britta Bergersen

While researching “1942”, a canonical 5-day 130-player larp held on Norway’s west coast back in 2000, I was reminded of the “Three Affiliations” model the 1942 organizers used to provide activities and relationships for their characters. The model was successful enough that it has later been reused for similar Norwegian larps – larps that focus on the living of daily life in smallish communities.
Continue reading 1942 & The Three Affiliations Model

Designing universes versus designing play

Kaizers Orchestra in Munich - photo by Johanna Bocher, CC 2.0 by-nc-nd
Kaizers Orchestra in Munich - photo by Johanna Bocher, CC 2.0 by-nc-nd

“Good idea – great universe!” This is one of the most common responses I get when pitching Marcello’s Kjeller, the larp I’m currently working on together with Anders Ohlson, Arvid Falch and the Larp Factory. The larp has been announced as inspired by the music of Kaizers Orchestra – a Norwegian band with a vaguely Tom Waits-like sound and lyrics that evoke film noir, Godfatheresque mafia, a rural ambience and WW2 resistance fighters. In Kaizers’ lyrics people play Russian roulette, perform the Polka in “the traditional way”, confess their sins to the Chauffeur, wear gas masks, and dance the ompa until their death in grand gypsy finales. It is a cool universe.

But will it make a good larp? Continue reading Designing universes versus designing play