Thursday, March 15, 2012

Getting Lucky at LARP

It's mid-March, and that means people are thinking about wearing green, drinking beer, and touting their 1/32nd Irish ancestry :) And when people think Irish, they think of luck, right?

Lucky characters pop up in various media all the time - either because they actually do have luck above and beyond the norm, or just because they happen to be in the right place at the right time. But it's harder to represent in any kind of game, at least in a way that's fair and not cumbersome. Dice games have it easier, since you can simply add or subtract modifiers or re-roll your results.

But what about at a LARP? Is there any way to make a lucky hobling or fate-favored son?

I asked my favorite game mechanic guru, Mr. Bill Tobin, about luck mechanics at different games. And you know what, he didn't really know of any. In Exiles we used to have a "Cheat" ability that allowed a particular persona to be able to manipulate luck so they could basically win at cards, but we changed it to Staff discretion because it was kind of not fun. So back to the drawing board. Maybe these things are out there, and I'd love to see some comments about how your game handles luck! But for the post, I'll have to speculate on how it could be done.

First, obviously if a game has any sort of randomized component, there could be a skill or ability that allows the character to add or subtract a modifier to it. For example, I've seen some staff who roll a percentage when deciding what the PCs stumble upon (such as when trying to find a particular good or person, tracking, or searching for knowledge), and at Exiles we use card draws for a few things (because you use cards in the wild west!). So a lucky character could act in a way similar to a table-top game and get a re-roll/re-draw, or they could add or subtract a certain percentage from the result.

So that's the easy one, and something that can be done while oog, setting up for a mod, and in that way it wouldn't interrupt the flow of the game. But what about trying to create a more dynamic mechanic that you can use while in-game, or even in combat?

Well, per Bill's suggestion, in Accelerant (you know you love it!), you can create a flavor and add it to any game effect. So it could be as simple as changing the call phrase on existing ability. If you want your lucky effect to represent a blow missing their lucky target, it could be a protective (“Grant 2 protection by luck” or “Imbue Dodge by Luck”). In the case of an attack ("Lucky Strike" anyone?), you could do the same thing with a slay ability or other attack. This would keep the important parts of the call (like "grant" and "imbue") but the flavor text just allows you to add that concept into the game without making an entirely new mechanic.

I think most games probably decide it's not worth the trouble of a new call to portray something that doesn't actually give you a new ability, it just gives you more of the same ability (dodges, resists, slays, etc). But it could be interesting to games that might want to play with a new type of class or who want to add some new flavor to the game (like having a luck deity).

What do you think? Do you feel lucky, readers? Do ya?


  1. I think a "lucky strike" should make the target slow, and appear "cool".

  2. There are games with luck skills out there. I think Endgame has a per weekend skill called "Lucky" or osmething similar that lets you go stable instead of bleeding out at the end of one minute. Or something similar.