I haven’t done an article in a while, and having spoken to some folks about mod design, I think I have a good one! I am calling this style of mod a Mad Lib mod, and I would love to hear what you guys think.
Often times when you come to a new LARP, you can be made to feel very left out. Many games like to focus a lot if not all of their attention on the regular players, and new or occasional players (called NOCs for the purpose of this article) feel brushed aside or left out of the activity.
It is hard to allow for NOCs when you are planning an event. You never know if they are going to show, or if they are going to ever come back. You, as an event planner, want to be sure that your regulars are enjoying their time at the event. They are the source the majority of your income, and they are constantly there to support the plot. Your loyal players deserve as much of the limelight and attention that you can give them, and there is nothing wrong with that.
However, if you want new blood to be hooked on your game, you do have to divert some attention to them as well. Sometimes you have as few as one event to get new players to love it and want to come to your game forever. Sometimes the occasional players are looking for a new game, and are coming back to test the waters. If they do not feel wowed, they may just shrug the weekend off and go elsewhere.
But how to do that with no planning?! I mean, a lot of work goes into modules and setup, and how can you be expected to run things specifically aimed at special NOC players? How can you even predict them! THIS IS MADNESS!
Nope! With Mad Lib Mods, you can make any player feel like the center of attention with little to no effort on your part. What you do is write a pretty generic mod, that any of your younger, newer, or whatever, NPCs can run with little to no supervision, and you make it easy to fill in the blanks for whomever shows up at the event. Have a packet of five of these at any event, and if you get new folks, or occasional folks, send your NPCs out to do these mods, aimed directly at them. If the players come back, you can turn these one-shots into longer plot lines, but if they don’t, no big deal.
Mad Lib 1: Princess is in This Castle.
__(Hook)__ comes into town crying that has gone missing.
He/she needs the help of __(devout/loyal/extreme/famous)__
followers of __(god/order that this particular group/person follows)__
to help him/her rescue __(priest/princess/merchant/whatever)__ .
Sadly, the stronghold is guarded by loyal __(noted enemy, maybe of this newbie PC/Group, maybe just the same as the event, to make them feel included)_, so it will be a fight.
Mod needs 3 – 5 NPCs.
1 _(Damsel/Damsdude)_ who can do double duty as a _(BADGUY)_ until it is time to rescue him/her)
You then quickly fill in the blanks, hand your NPCs some character cards and send them on their way. Hopefully your Mad Lib Mod has a little more detail, but it shouldn’t be too hard to make some pretty detailed mods that, nonetheless, can be targeted at anyone, and tweaked to be sure that you make it look like it was for them.
Easy things to tweak are things like the race of the players (make the hook the same race as them!), the god of the bad guys (opposite whatever god the players worship), and the type of enemies (whichever the players are best equipped to beat, making them feel powerful.) This will make them feel special and like you planned this all just for them!
This includes the new guys without you having to do much work, and it looks REALLY good on your plot team. How could you have prepared this so quickly! This is amazing! Thank you so much for going out of your way to put in a mod specifically tailored to us! How cool is that?
All of the above will be what you hear from your now happy NOCs, while you cackle silently to yourself about how easy it truly was!
I hope this was useful! Here’s to great LARPing for everyone!
~Jess “The Red” C