LARP War Journal: Incorporating Spells Into Your Adventure
Not too long ago there was a conversation started by a player concerning the lack of use made by spells during adventures. When I took those words in, I myself became concerned about the way they are neglected. It is actually something I have thought of myself. There are too many times when you think “This spells should do the trick or work against this”, and that doesn’t happen because the adventure host didn’t take that “choice” into account.
Now this is just speaking of my game Darkon, as of course other games play differently and run using a different set of rules. In my game we have spells like Legend Lore, which allows you to cast a spell on any object or NPC to understand the history/importance behind the target of the spell. In general it’s an information collecting spell. You have spells like Commune With Nature that works almost to a similar effect though through nature. Speak With Dead to collect information through a dead player or NPC. And that is just to name a few spells that should allow you more room to do some cool things, but that is only if the adventure host put the effort into accommodating those abilities. It is quite baffling when you walk up to a NPC with something, maybe cast Legend Lore and them tell you “I wasn’t given anything for that…”. I mean what kind of answer is that? How do you construct an adventure where you don’t cover all those bases? At the very least you should have NPCs who are able to improvise on the spot. Someone not telling you what to do in that situation shouldn’t keep you from making up something within reason. You don’t have to award the person anything, but surely there is something you know that will help them along the way or maybe even give them a bit of an edge.
What I am saying is that there should never be one way to win. It is not an adventure if you tell the players how they win and force them to only think a certain way. Where’s the fun in that. This is called Live Action Role Play right? Do you know how many times I would like to cast Burning Hands and throw myself at something that should be flammable and destroy-able with it? This is a spell that ignites both of your hands and burns any player on touch, shield, or door/gate. Why someone wouldn’t allow that is beyond me, especially when it takes some effort to get close enough to someone or something to make contact. The downside is that once you’re hit in the arm, its dispelled.
This takes me back to the few times that the Goblins have hosted an event. Most people had fun because the adventure was how you made it, whatever you had to do to get the job done is up to you. If you came to us with something of importance, it was easy to make something up on the fly that would send the person off to do something new. And it never hurts to give out benefits for the sake of balance. I know many adventures where it dies too quickly because a country shows up with overwhelming numbers or their players are just better. The idea tends to be to cling with other countries until you create a superteam. That’s not the answer. More important than that, we made sure that players had freedom when it came to the spells they used. I mean even if there was absolutely nothing to do with that spell it was a simple fix. Half of the other guys might make a joke out of it at your expense, reward you for the attempt, and then give you something completely new to do that would lead to other things along the way.
Any lore spell, like I said, it doesn’t necessarily need planning, just make stuff up, or make gathering information a big part of learning the campout, I would love a campout with the level of story we put into them that simply starts off with “This is where you are, this is what it looks like” and that’s it. From there you meet the NPC’s to learn the story. That’s what a role-playing game is all about. No one ever played a video game for the first time with omnipotence, why should we enter a campout adventure or day adventure that way. Most campouts these days will have that Friday into the night used to set up for the full day that follows. That is the perfect time at the very least to make sure that players can have that platform to properly engage the adventure and NPCs involved.
When I think of LARPs with heavier role-playing, it does make me wonder how they go about making sure every spell matters. They should right? At the end of the day this all comes down to the event hosts discretion, though if you are ruining player’s experience for the sake of a game played your way, does that not mean you need to step it up?