Thursday, 13 November 2014

Northmen LARP proposal (ruleset)

(Some time ago a mate was looking for advice on a Viking-esque larp. I went for a narrative approach which was different to his vision, but I still think there are elements which are still useful. This remains a high concept system that I would like to see work, though I recognise the difficulty of focusing the common gaming agenda among participants in this style of game.

For further reference, the particular mate in question is a talented fellow of particular interest to larpers and cosplayers, among others, and I recommend his website

This ruleset is intended for use in a weekend LARP environment. It attempts to follow the destinies of Viking-style noble lines. Inspired by an idea by Peter “Konga” Conversano, using elements from Houses of the Blooded by John Wick and the CLASH! battle system by Michael Edwards and Ivan Nevill.

Overview: Players take on the persona of a Skandian warrior (loosely modelled on Vikings). Every four weekend events the character will age a Season, meaning that no character can last longer than 16 weekend events. A Skandian’s life is brutal and they must protect their clans from trolls, giants, evil spirits and raiders. A Skandian’s hope is to die a noble death and have their children honour their memory. Various cultural issues will be elaborated upon when necessary.

Most of the modern conventions apply.
·         No head, groin or hand shots permitted
·         Pull your blows
·         Code Red in an emergency

Most characters will have 3 Wounds, meaning they can be hit three times before being Downed. A Downed player cannot do anything for the remainder of the scene apart from moan gently. Wearing armour may grant you extra Wounds.

Wounds use the “bubble system” meaning that a hit to any body location is knocked from the total Wounds tally. However, individual locations may be relevant to characters with Battle Scars (see Battle Scars).

Weapons tend to inflict 1 Wound, with the exception of arrows which inflict 2 Wounds. All characters are competent in wielding a one-handed weapon and using throwing weapons. Talents are required to master other weapons.

Weapons and Armour
·         Any warrior may use a 1H (one-handed) weapon. They inflict 1 Wound.
·         Any warrior may throw throwing weapons. They inflict 1 Wound.
·         A warrior with the Crusher Talent may use 2H (two-handed) weapons. These inflict 1 Wound, even if they strike a shield.
·         A warrior with the Frenzy Talent may use two 1H weapons at once (dual-wielding).
·         A warrior with the Archery Talent may use a bow and arrows. Arrows inflict 2 Wounds.
·         A Warrior with the Stalwart Talent may use a Shield. Shields may block any strike apart from those from a 2H Weapon.
·         Armour is either Light (leather, +1 Wound), Medium (chain, +2 Wounds), or Heavy (plate, +3 Wounds). The Sturdy Talent doubles the benefit of each armour type.

Character Creation
All characters are assumed to be Skandian. You may pick your Season (age).
·         Spring: Spring characters are young, most having just come of age. They are inexperienced but have their whole life ahead of them. They have 3 Wounds and 2 Talents total.
·         Summer: Summer characters are in the prime of their life. They have 3 Wounds and 3 Talents total.
·         Autumn: Autumn characters have aged into their middle years. They have much experience, but their body is starting to weaken. They have 2 Wounds and 4 Talents.
·         Winter: Winter characters are old and venerable. It will not be long until they die. They have only 1 Wound but 5 Talents
As characters age they will proceed into the next Season of their lives, gaining Talents and losing Wounds as necessary.

Talents are skills, affinities, training and abilities that make your character unique. The number of Talents you may have is limited by your Season.

The first Talent you choose must be one passed down to you from your parents. This is your Family Talent and is linked to your name. Other Talents are chosen as your character ages.

It is possible to have other Talents, some of a unique nature. This may be accomplished through Titles, performing mighty quests, or by wielding magical items.

Talents are grouped by the five virtues that Skandians admire most: Strength, Cunning, Passion, Honour, and Wyrd.

Strength Talents
·         Crusher: This warrior may use 2H (two-handed) weapons.
·         Might (1): +1 Wound.
·         Might (2): +1 Wound. A warrior must have already have Might (1) to take this Talent.
·         Might (3): +1 Wound. A warrior must have already have Might (2) to take this Talent.
·         Sturdy: Double the benefit of wearing armour.

Cunning Talents
·         Archery: This warrior may use a bow.
·         Backstab: If this warrior takes an enemy completely by surprise and announces, “Backstab!” then the victim is immediately Downed.
·         Play Dead: This warrior may pretend to have lost all of their Wounds when they are still able to act. Enemies that carefully inspect the warrior will quickly discover the ruse.
·         Slippery: Once per scene, this warrior can gain an advantage to escape a dire predicament. They may escape their rope bindings, or unlock a cell, or even slip out of a room. Marshalls have final say.
·         Sneaky: NPCs will find it difficult to detect you when you are actively sneaking. Put a finger in front of your lips and pantomime sneaking. Be careful.

Passion Talents
·         Frenzy: This warrior may dual-wield (use two 1H weapons at once.
·         Inspire: Give a rousing speech. Your allies may ignore the first hit they take this scene.
·         Roar: Once per scene, this warrior may bellow an impressive war cry/roar/banshee shriek. Until they are finished roaring, they may ignore all hits against them. Running out of breath/sound ends the Roar.
·         Romantic: If two characters have Romantic they can begin a Romance, allowing each to have access to one Talent of the partner’s choosing. This continues until the Romance is mutually ended by both parties, or by one only. If only one ends the Romance, the spurning partner is free to begin a new Romance but the spurned character is Heartbroken and cannot start a new Romance until their former lover is made to truly suffer.
·         Unstoppable: Once per scene, this warrior may stand again after being Downed with 3 Wounds exactly. Regardless of whether this warrior is downed again or not, this warrior receives 2 Battle Scars at the end of the scene rather than the regular 1.

Honour Talents
·         Challenge: This warrior may offer a formal Challenge to an opponent. If the opponent accepts, the loser of the fight gains one extra Battle Scar at the end of the fight.
·         Command: Once per scene, a warrior loyal to this character must obey a Command or lose the ability to use their Family Talent until redeemed.
·         Oathbound: Two characters with Oathbound may make a blood pact. If either breaks the pact, the oathbreaker suffers an immediate Battle Scar.
·         Peaceful: This warrior must be unarmed and acting non-aggressively to use this Talent. This character must make their peaceful intention known; eg. “I come in peace to parlay with Thane Horthgrim.” Anyone who kills this character while Peaceful immediately loses their Family Talent until redeemed.
·         Stalwart: This warrior may use a shield.

Wyrd Talents (require Marshall permission)
·         Augury: Augurs use divination to learn the hidden knowledge of the Fates. They can see the future and past by casting bones and watching the patterns of the stars.
·         Blood Magic: The power of mortal life and death is held in blood. Though blood sorcerers are renowned for their skills at midwifery, fertility rites and oathbonding, it is known that darker powers can be harnessed by blood. Those whose desire extends to sacrifices and curses seek blood sorcerers for assistance.
·         Godspeaker: The gods are fickle and strange, but some know their ways and wills. Godspeakers relate the nature of the gods and appease them in rituals.
·         Herbalism: The power of herbs can heal or kill. Poisons, potions and poultices are the domains of the herbalist.
·         Shaman: The world is filled with spirits, of beast and bird, of mountain, tree and breeze. Shamans speak with these spirits and make deals with them. Many take on a patron spirit as their Totem.

A Scene is a short period of time ranging from a minute to anywhere up to an hour. Examples of scenes include:
·         A battle.
·         An encounter with a merchant
·         Having dinner.
·         Spending half an hour healing an ally.
·         Marching to the field of conflict.
·         A riddle contest.

Some Talents can only be used once per scene. Warriors regain lost Wounds (Natural, Talents and armour) at the end of a scene, provided they have someone to tend their injuries.

Downed warriors regain lost Wounds at the end of a scene, provided they have some form of medical assistance. Otherwise they need to hobble off and find assistance.

A warrior that has been Downed may choose to die or gain a Battle Scar.

Battle Scars
A warrior who has been Downed may choose to die or obtain a Battle Scar. A Battle Scar is a terrible injury that weakens the character.

The warrior must choose one location of their body (an arm, a leg, front of torso, or back of the torso). An obvious bloody bandage must be wrapped around that body part to make it clear that the location has a Battle Scar. If at any time the warrior is hit in an area suffering a Battle Scar, the warrior is immediately Downed regardless of remaining Wounds.

Once an area has a Battle Scar it cannot receive another. A warrior with 6 Battle Scars has thus achieved the maximum and will find combat difficult when any one hit will take them out.

Battle Scars last for the remainder of a weekend event.

 More rules
Rules about the Wyrd Talents, cultural events (such as marriage and childbirth), Titles and more are yet to be elaborated upon. But for now, this should be enough to work with.

(This is as far as I have worked on this idea. You're welcome to salvage whatever you find useful.)

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