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After a discussion elsewhere:

Elements Of A Linear That Players Generally Won't Solve In Time.

I'm not a fan of the Dead Woodlouse test. However, after quite a bit of observation, some things that generally[1] don't work and should probably only be included in your linear/event plan if you've got a backup for when I was right all along:

A Fighting Retreat The Players Don't Know About

Players in an encounter will try to beat that encounter. Making them run away - making the only way to win the game being not to play the game - isn't something that fits with the game level of the event, and won't generally come to mind. If you're planning on sending in a group of hard bastards the players will run away from? They Will Die. TPK will happen.

As the end of an event, an encounter that is _known_ to be a fighting retreat can work, the characters live to plot another day, rescue their lost friends, etc.

Infinite Respawn Waves Will Be Solved By A Puzzle

Even if your waves are one hit goblins who die, and the puzzle is to stand on top of where they're respawning, the players are too busy fighting or watching for the enemies to solve the puzzle, then they run out of mana/spirit/health, thus death.

I think this is a perfectly good model for an encounter; it was a staple of the Midwife Moon series. It helps if there is an algorithm the players can pursue to solve the puzzle that is guaranteed to terminate in bounded time unless the PCs wipe first, and it is made clear to them what that algorithm is (e.g. "look it up in the index", or if you're using looser definitions of puzzle "get out of the area", "complete the ritual", "kill the big one", "give up and move on to the next encounter, abandoning this subgoal, and it won't chase you" etc). --Jacob

These are my favourite type of encounter. I think it just relies on the puzzle being easy in a middle to low hits system --Steph

Unfortunately one player's easy is another player's extremely difficult, which is I think where it tends to go wrong. Jacob's solution of giving the character party a booklet containing all the answers in an annoying format is my favourite way of dealing with this that I've seen so far :) --Pufferfish

One thought is that "perform a task" is often a better model than "solve a puzzle", because it's much easier to gauge the amount of time it will take. "Perform a ritual", "break all the summoning stones", "kill the caster at the back that keeps running away and summoning others", or even "cross-reference", may be better than "solve these riddles" or "disentangle these linked bits of metal" or "find this hidden object" - although "solve as many of these riddles/find as many of these hidden objects as you can, then end the encounter by running away when you feel like it" is much more standarisable. --Jacob

There's a huge difference made when the party are definitely sure what they need to do, too. A PC's first instinct is to hit it. Unless they know they need to break all the summoning stones - probably from someone saying "Be careful, there's a pit of demonic woe, you'll need to break the summoning stones" five minutes earlier - they're very likely to go "stab stab stab why isn't this helping?" --MorkaisChosen

Friendly NPC Who Is Lying To The Party

It's a convention. If every NPC in the world has to establish their own bona-fides as a trustable person, then putting an NPC into play is much harder than it needs to be for a larp game to work, so NPCs get an automatic "trustability" positive value, because otherwise you'd spend half the encounter bringing in previously known NPCs to say "this is a trustworthy person", and everyone else will be killed on sight. If a NPC is working to their own ends, that's fine, but that kind of needs to be established, otherwise the character party has no reason not to treat them as something of an abstract story element, rather than a character.

The alternative is for NPCs to *be* characters with their own motives and desires, so players can always assume that any NPC is also possibly lying to them (Which is what PD do for Maelstrom and ODC), but that's a big burden for a small larp system, and generally requires a larger permanent cast.


[1] Generally is not always, in either direction. These can work, but - in my opinion and experience - generally don't.

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Last edited January 20, 2013 12:54 am by MorkaisChosen (diff)