I must admit, I am a huge fan of games with detailed background briefs, style guides, and other resources designed to help you play your character better. Visual manuals for costuming and propmaking are so helpful to me when I’m designing and creating my character – I felt a bit lost without them when I tried a different fest game more recently.
Of course it’s always a design choice at the highest level to write these kinds of game world briefs and try to encourage players to look coherent. Many games prefer a more freeform and open approach to playing and world-building. There’s no ‘correct’ way to do these things and it’s certainly good to have choices when you’re a player trying to find games that really suit your style.
I like to have everything laid out for me so that I don’t have to worry about getting the brief’s wrong and sticking out like a sore thumb. Especially when it comes to costuming. Even though I’ve now got a few years experience of costuming for LARP under my belt (including a year professionally) I still think I work better when I’m working to a reasonably tight brief.
Game Manuals in Multiple Languages
With the news that Empire LRP had around two and a half thousand people in attendance this past weekend it also got me thinking about how we publish information about games in different language. Google translate is pretty good and many Europeans (like my Norwegian friends who have been considering visiting) speak great English. However I am starting to wonder if there will come a time when multilingual manuals become a necessity for large games to run.
ConQuest of Mythodea in Germany has over eight thousand people attending from all over Europe now and has a multilingual site in both German and English. It does make me wonder at what stage it would be useful for large fests like Empire LRP to start thinking about basic rules sheets in multiple languages – although the fact that roughly twenty per cent of the worlds population already speak English makes that a little less of a pressing concern.
Should Rules and Briefs be taken In Character?
I also wonder about the benefits of producing in character looking copies of the game manuals and parts of the brief. Sometimes I think it would be good to have copies to carry around if you need to query something in some of the more expansive games like Empire LRP, but on the other hand I don’t like having out of character rules and effects written into in character documents.
In the past I have reworded parts of the mechanical rules briefs to try and make them clear but not anachronistic to the game being played but it’s not always an ideal solution. I’ve also contemplated solutions such as adding endnotes with the mechanical effects or writing them in a different or faded colour to the main text. There’s no ideal solution really, so it just comes down to personal preference and how much out of character content you’re willing to tolerate in your in character props.