Building, drawing, creating – making physical objects of some sort during larp is bags of fun, and also provides a powerful channel of expression. We looked at designing larps during which something gets made – the making might be the whole point of the thing, or incidental, or non-real; it might be individual, team, or shared/passed around… there’s lots of great possibilities!
We brainstormed interesting ways of creating things during a larp. Some of the ideas expressed were:
- Vévé-like invocatory drawings
- Automatic writing
- Blindfolded drawing
- A photoshot
- Self-documenting larp (where capturing images is part of the diegesis)
- Cave/prison drawing on walls
- Drawing while confined inside a cardboard box
- Psychogeographic drawings (cf The Quiet Year, Vast and Starlit)
- Australian aboriginal dot paintings that embed story into landscape and vice versa
- Composing music (cf Deranged)
- Improvised drumming, humming/singing together
- Improvised semi-random speaking in the ear (cf Washing Machine)
- Inchoate flow of words
- Use.discovery.invention of language (cf Sign)
- Inner and outer layers of narrative (cf Peepshow)
- Communication from dream self
- Weaving/braiding coloured threads/ribbons to denote interactions
- Hieroglyphics – joining pre-made icons together
- Exquisite Corpse
- Concept / ‘Persistence of Vision’ / A Canticle for Leibowitz
We talked for a while about the requirement for skill. If the created object is to be beautiful, or even if it is to be nice for the players to make, do they need to have sufficient skill? For example, drawn artefacts will be disappointng if the players can’t draw. The opposite approach is to have players create by combining existing objects/tokens, so the creativity is in the vision and selection rather than in the execution. This seemed preferable in some ways, but necessarily limits them to what has been made available. Is there a middle ground where the ‘set’ is restricted, but creativity can still flourish? Written language seems a good example of a situation where that is the case.
[The Generation Game]
We moved on to talking about a scenario where information has to be passed down from generation to generation, being elaborated and reinterpreted as it goes. The ‘codex’ of information is the created artefact, and hopefully would look nice as a document of the larp, as well as being fun to create and to engage and interact with during play.
We talked about braiding coloured threads into bracelets to indicate lines of descent – starting with three primary colours, then weaving in secondary colours partway through as mutations affect the descent lines. Players would play a succession of characters with only a partial understanding of what their ancestors have encoded.
Settings suggested were (a) a post-apocalyptic bunker, and (b) a generation starship. Both have in common that the generation which starts it off knows a lot: but they have to pass that knowledge down through an unknown number of intermediate genrations, and for it stil to be useful for the final generation which will emerge from confinement.
We talked about having three separate groups of players, in three separate bunkers/ships. The players would be rotated (as a group or randomized) between generations, so they would each play the starting generation of one site, an intermediate generation of another, and the final generation of the third. Beforehand, all three groups together, they would establish the basics of a symbolic language (perhaps, this bit would be done non-verbally): but it wold be up to the three groups separately to work out what they wanted to pass down, and how to do it.
So far this is a mechanism rather than a larp, but it might make a good basis for some interesting character play, with a bit more work.