I’ve found myself longing to play in a Live-Action Roleplaying Game that focuses on courtly intrigue. What I mean by this is the social sparring, witty repartee, and backroom dealing that happens among aristocrats in the movie Ridicule or among university professors jockeying for tenure. I’ve experienced some of this when playing Vampire: The Requiem using the Mind’s Eye Theatre rules, but that game has a major problem for me. Characters can kill each other with strange powers, so someone playing the political game has to also worry that the person they’re verbally sparring with can decapitate them with a swipe.
I’m working on the rules, but I want to design in the open so that I can get feedback and suggestions. Here are my base concepts for the game:
- This will be a LARP in the American Theatrical style. No foam weapons, and the game runs similarly to a tabletop roleplaying game.
- Sessions take approximately four hours and can be linked into an ongoing game.
- The game can be played with minimal intervention from a Game Master, although an organizer may help with bookkeeping.
- The game can be played while standing and moving around, with limited interference from out-of-character mechanics.
- Direct combat is not useful. Any victories or defeats will happen through social interaction.
- Special in-character skills or abilities may help a character, but they will not take the place of social intrigue.
- While a player’s strategy and charisma will be helpful, a player lacking social skills or cleverness can still have fun and influence things.
My idea so far is a combination of concepts from the card game Whist, the TV show Survivor, and the mancala game Oware.