LARP Frontiers: The Opt In Experience
I recently attended the Alliance National event in Denver, Colorado, as hosted by Alliance Denver's local plot team.
Alliance is a longstanding LARP that involves boffers, and is set in a fantasy setting. The game itself has an interesting history (it is a split off of NERO) and while that story is a neat one, it's one for another time.
The Denver Alliance plot team chose to do something that's nearly unheard of in older boffers: they chose an opt in experience.
Opt in experiences are the sort of thing that's common in newer LARPs such as New World Magischola, Dystopia Rising, Utopia Dyscending and pretty much all the Nordic LARPs that aren't just combat.
It means that a player can determine the pace of their gameplay and choose when and how they want to engage with the experience.
How does that work and that is the difference you ask?
Originally boffer larps were (usually) built on two general principals:
- The fight is coming to you and you should probably deal with that.
- There's a story "hook" nearby and you can choose to ignore it or interact with it. This usually takes the form of an NPC, a letter delivered in game, etc.
You could assume that there were wandering monsters on the camp site, and that there would be a variety of town wide battles etc.
This past weekend, the plot team chose a different tact. There was a map (pictured above) and you could build a team and go out and seek adventure on a somewhat reliable schedule. Each of the coins in the picture were a different encounter as the whole game progressed along a map that contained adventures of varying difficulties.
Puzzles, cyphers, escape rooms, combat, and role play encounters were all represented over the weekend making for an experience that you could take at your own pace. If you wanted to take a nap during the day - you could do so without worry of your cabin being raided by wandering goblins.
If you wanted to hang out in the tavern and serve tea during a nobles meeting, you absolutely could do that. Don't want your meal interrupted by farmers who ned you help? Great! The game provided you with that break.
Did you want to run 12 hours of content, looting, and murder hoboing? Great! The game also gave you that option.
This weekend I saw something I'd not seen this game network do before, and it was (as far as I heard) very well received. It meant that players could opt in for combat, role play, or puzzles at their own pace instead of the plot team determining the course of play.
Several games seem to be moving this way, especially for high production LARPs which need to do things on a timeline and schedule and not just "when it's ready."
Hats off to Alliance Denver for being progressive with their National Event!