So inspired by this post what would you tell someone who’d done other larps about Empire? What would you need to know as someone who hadn’t done fest larp before? Do you have any good tips on how to create a character for a game with over 2000 players compared to how you’d do it for smaller games?
Assuming someone has done other LARPs, on the more quest/linear scale…
Everyone is the main character.
There is minimal PvP, and considerable PvE, mostly focussed through the Sentinel Gate and very little on the main field.
Mechanical character growth is slow, so starting characters aren’t at much of a mechanical disadvantage vs established ones.
Nothing is immune to stuff, and no damage multipliers, so again, a starting character is able to smash stuff.
Monstering at some point is part of the social contract.
Immersion: check the rules re tents, cars, and lighting on the field. It may be different than past experience.
Battles and skirmishes are not adjusted in play. Some are difficult, and some are not, and the monster crew will not adjust things up or down in play. It is possible to overpower a quest with preparation and resources, and it is possible to screw up and lose characters by the dozen.
A group of friends and plenty of stamina is still over-powered.
And re character creation:
Most character concepts can fit into most Nations. Start with a nation you like and build the character there, instead of the other way round.
Fighting, trading and diplomacy/politics are all pretty important. Whatever you do, you can have a good effect…
Please check through the approximate look and feel of the nations, especially costume and attitude. It may seem a little restrictive, but the distinct and different styles of the nations add a great deal to the visual and RP immersion.
You don’t have to spend all XP at character creation.
While quests and battles are fun, remember to have something in the character concept (if not the character sheet) to do on the main field.
If you are a new player, the GOD desk will likely allow you to re-stat your character early on.
(I could go on, but I’ll shut up there to allow someone else to get a word in…
You aren’t the Main Character, this is a game about the interaction of PCs
As much as we talk about the players being the hero’s of the Empire, in comparison to Uni/40 person weekend games you aren’t the main character. No one is likely to write plot for you personally, and most of your game will be interacting with PC’s not NPCs.
You are relatively important in the setting due to resources, getting to be one of the heroes through the sentinel gate and your ability to vote and influence voting in the political apparatus. But this is a game where feelings of accomplishment are really earned and unlikely to fall in your lap.
Care about the Wider World
Empire is a more developed than most LARP settings with large pregame briefs in the forms of the wind of fortune, which form quite at lot of the plot. Empire is a game about multi-game arcs of what is going on in the wider world in which you from the political elite.
You don’t have to read these to play, but reading at least key ones and caring about them and what happens in them, will vastly improve your game, since it’s a lot about what Empire is about.
Empire has a aspiration focus on kit, aside from some bare minimums it’s less about what you start with and more continually improving your kit. As a result Empire has some amazing kit, but that doesn’t mean you need to reach that to play. Empire’s kit ethos also tends to be build up don’t tear down, people will tend to complement you on the bits of kit that are really working rather than criticise where you aren’t there yet.
Empire does have far tighter kit briefs than a lot of systems, it’s fine not to be perfect at the start, but you don’t really have the space to stick in a Top Hat or a Tricorn, and
This is a PvP Game
There is a lot of PVP in the game but very little of it includes Swords. There are not enough resources to go around and who gets what and for what and why your thing is the best thing are arguments that are common, expected and encouraged.
For anyone who hasn’t played a Matt P game before
Seek your character’s plot, not central plot nor linear plot. This means your character should have agendas, and schemes. You will spend most of your weekend advancing these schemes, rather than beating up the bandits or delving the hidden temple.
For anyone who has played a Matt P game before
Delete as appropriate
- The downtime system isn’t micro-management gone mad.
- Free text downtime is expensive, limited or cherry-picked.
- PvP has more pressure valves, and only the most extreme are mob’em.
- PvE exists, with a diverse range of encounters.
For Empire specifically I’d say it’s important to remember that there is no magic plot stick. The game runners do not have a 5 year story arc they’re trying to tell and there is no guarantee that everything will work out in the end. It’s a game about players working out solutions, rather than finding the plot lever solutions the GM installed ahead of time.
The battles aren’t tailored to how many people you send on them, the players are told how hard the fight will be and it’s up to them to prepare accordingly. Get it wrong and people will die.
Similarly there is no such thing as “just an NPC faction”. The other nations have opinions, knowledge and resources in some cases that equal the Empires. Most importantly they aren’t stupid and they do remember if you get caught lying or screwing them over. There are no such things as disposable mooks, if we go out and kill people it makes a difference somehow and chances are someone will notice.
( Usually this isn’t a problem because the people we’re killing are people we’re at war with, but just because you meet an NPC on a skirmish does not mean they’re fair game)
I did want to monster with letters and trinkets etc in my pocket, to flesh out the loot, establish pathos for the dead orcs, and make them seem less like disposable minions. Alas, the refs pointed out that ANYTHING would be taken as the intro to a deep and complex plot and investigated for years by an ever more frustrated player base pestering an ever more bewildered ref team.
Which is why all the monsters’ pockets are empty.
Well to be fair, we’ve all been there. You describe a few random people as the party enters the pub and the next thing you know they’ve spent the next 3 hours trying to work out if the “man in the green cloak drinking at the bar” is in fact a master assassin working for the opposition who’s been tailing them for the last 6 months because the paladin swears blind he remembers you mentioning the colour green in the previous session. Plus he’s probably a druid, because green, and by the end of the evening you’re being asked if there’s anything significant in the type of drinks he’s ordering and the warlock is trying to make craft skill - tailoring rolls to work out where the cloak was made…
… you mean Gary, the undying NPC?