Salon LARP System
Live Action Role Playing is a VERY diverse hobby. While there are some very popular systems/genres and no two groups of LARP enthusiasts do it the same way. Some LARPers want to simulate combat by using padded weapons and foam projectiles. Some LARPers want to portray powerful characters of super human nature and use complex statistic systems to simulate mystical abilities. Almost all forms of LARP allow the participants to portray something that is not themselves and in doing so immerse themselves in a storyline and plot that is made by the interactive input of the various participants who each bring their creativity into the activity.
Mad Raven Productions specializes in LARPs that focus on the intrigue and social interactions of LARP. The struggle between power brokers to resolve their conflicts using the weapons of the mind and diplomacy. In our LARP experiences participants try to out wit each other in social settings rather than wail away at each other with padded sticks. Our LARPs involve well connected and powerful characters of social stations and political clout operating in seats of government and noble courts. Settings where the outbreak of physical violence is highly unlikely and would in most cases produce no result due to security and the threat of reprisal.
This is not to say that our LARPs don’t feature powerful and menacing characters. Our events have featured everything from elder vampires to dragon lords to airship pirates, all of which could be very dangerous in combat situations, but these characters are also smart enough to realize that there is a time and place for battle and a royal wedding or a treaty conference is not the place to attempt such things. Our characters strive to outwit and out maneuver each other and even though they may not engage in combat they most certainly hatch plots to have each other assassinated, or kidnapped, or financially ruined all the time. It simply does not happen in scene. Our participants role play the laying of traps and the collecting of intelligence which comes before and between the conflicts of great powers.
That being said it should be clearly stated; OUR LARPS DO NOT FEATURE COMBAT MECHANICS AND DO NOT FEATURE VIOLENT SCENES.
If long rounds of simulated combat are your cup of tea then our LARPs won’t be fun for you. But if getting the Ambassador of the Ottoman Empire to admit he’s selling Gatling gun technology to the Fairy Kingdoms so you can disrupt the treaty forming between the Sultan and the Troglodyte Overlord sounds like fun then have we got an experience for you. Our LARP experiences run on light mechanics and encourage in character engagement and social interaction. Given that these experiences are usually set in high stakes social and political situations and filled with influential and powerful characters the subject material is still very mature and deadly with some comedic whimsy occasionally. LARPing in a social or “salon” style means realizing that the rulers who make the decisions and deals that manage conflicts are just a scary as the characters that fight in them.
Note: The rules and guidelines for running LARPS included in this document are the result of over 30 years of LARP participation and administration experience. This system is based on several good ideas collaborated on by a lot of really creative people and no one source ultimately influenced the development of this system. Should you like to copy or use this system, PLEASE DO. It is legally impossible to copyright game concepts and hand signals so please use this as you like and have fun. If you wish to credit Mad Raven Productions then you may but you’re under no obligation to do so. Have fun LARPing!
Information and Engagement is Key
The Mad Raven Productions Salon LARP System or “Salon LARP” as we call it for short is a game of information. Each Character Sheet is more like a one page briefing of the information and resources your character has to work with in the event.
This system does not make use of a standardized Character Sheet but rather has standardized sections of information included in the Character Sheet that is designed to accommodate the event setting and theme. If the setting is a Bal then the Character Sheets may be designed to look like dance cards. If the setting I a ryal court then the Character Sheets may be designed to look like official papers and travel visas. Your Character Sheet always includes the following:
What Everyone Knows:
This is the basic premise for the event and the background knowledge and lore that will appear on every Character Sheet. This is a the base line of in character information.
What Some People Know:
This information is rumor or unverified intelligence that will be present on some Character Sheets and not others. It is fair to assume that anywhere from 5% to 10% of Character Sheets have the same information in this section that you do.
What Only You Know:
This is the information that only your character brings to the event. Other characters may also have similar information from a different point of view but your information in this section is your most valuable and most sensitive.
Assets and Resources:
The assets and resources here are the tools the Character has to complete their Objectives. While the primary power element in this system is information certain assets and resources can aid in “closing the deal”. Resources are typically the ability to provide goods and services. While characters do have wealth listed here it is usually in the form of their operating budget given them by the organization they serve. Other assets and resources may be technical blueprints, site coordinates for archeological digs, or even job postings of power and influence within institutions. The ability to award contracts or sign treaties will be in this section as will any physical materials/mechanisms you can lend, sell, or grant in the pursuit of your Objectives. Remember these Characters typically represent powerful interests so these Assets and Resources can be quite outlandish.
Your Objectives are your Character’s goals for the event and are the primary driving force that makes the LARP work. Your Character needs to accomplish these tasks and should make concerted effort to complete them. Characters typically have between two and five Objectives depending on the length of the event. Occasionally Objectives will have limitations on which Characters and factions you are allowed to work with to complete them but in most cases Characters may roleplay the attempt of these Objectives as they wish.
Adjudication and Safety Team
Mad Raven Productions makes use of four basic types of event staff for hosting LARP events. Each of these staff roles have unique duties to assist making the vent as enjoyable and safe as possible for all participants.
Both in and out of Character the ENIGMA agents (Mad Raven Productions Event Team) are in charge of adjudication of event issues. This means if you need to deal with a game play issue or have a Lore question about the setting the ENIGMA agents on the event floor will assist you. These event staff members are involved in the development of the Characters and storyline as well as being trained in resolution of conflict and out of Character issues. They will most likely be the first staffers you encounter when signaling for assistance. The ENIGMA agents will be working the “Paperwork and Customs” table which is at every event. In Character this is where your Characters must go to formalize any interdimensional treaties, contracts, and schemes you make in Character. This table will have blank official paperwork that will codify the actions of and decisions your Character makes. Out of Character this table will always have event staff at it and is reliable place to locate them if needed.
Empowered NPCs are members of the Mad Raven Team that are performing designated roles in the cast that are necessary for the storyline. Theses roles are by writing team design and the participant playing the Character has no direct control over their scripted progression. These participants are familiar with the lore and system and can render quick aid in game play issues. Empowered NPCs will be pointed out in participant briefings before role play and will usually have some form of identifier on their costume. Allowing these participants to answer simple questions and resolve basic issues quickly means less staff have to be used as ENIGMA Agents and play moves smoother with less pauses and breaks in scenes.
The Safety Team is a group of Out Of Character event Staff dedicated to event safety and monitoring the event to assist in any issue that develop Out of Character. These staffers will be introduced to all participants at safety briefings and will be clearly identified usually with bright safety vests. Safety Team members cannot make game play decisions but can help participants get an ENGIMA Agent . If a Safety Team member tells you to do something then you are expected to comply for your own safety and the safety of others.
Venue Staff are people that work for the venue such as management, wait staff, maintenance, custodians, DJs, kitchen staff , and bartenders. While these people don’t work directly for Mad Raven Productions they are still critical to the success of our events. Participants are required to listen to a comply with venue staff requests as it relates to the property including parking areas, entrance/exit protocol, and use of furniture/equipment.
How to Play
Since intrigue based LARPing isn’t the norm and can be intimidating he’s a couple of examples of participants moving their characters through the process role playing through some “Scenes”.
Bob is playing the role of “Sir Gustav Farthington, Earl of Derbyshire” and his first Objective is to figure out who in the room has discovered the secret to interdimensional broadcasting and secure the rights for his Queen.
Bob makes a few introductions and meets some other Characters including some that have been identified on his Character Sheet as potential allies and sources of information. Bob meets Helen, playing “the Archbishop of the Church of Herod” who informs him that she met such an inventor early in the evening and would be glad to trade such information to Bob if he knows where to find the heir to the Turkish throne. Bob has this information on his Character Sheet and decides to trade info.
Helen introduces Bob to Candice who is in the role of “Dr, Brainswallow” who has in fact made a break through in broadcasting between dimensions but lacks the facility or funds to make it practical. Bob’s Sheet tells him that his Character has the funds and the ability to grant a fellowship at a prestigious academy but he decides to negotiate a while with Candice who decides that her character is willing to take a smaller amount and a trial basis for the research.
Bob and Candice approach the Paperwork and Customs table and outline for the ENIGMA Agents there what they wish to do. The Agents draw up the proper contracts and bank notes and have each character sign. Then notarize and seal the agreements. Bob has completed an Objective!
Late in the event Candice learns that Bob’s character Sir Gustav had negotiated her funding down below want he could have given. Candice’s “What Only you Know” Section tells her that Dr, Brainswallow is very vain and vengeful and she decides that her character will take out a contract on the life of Sir Gustav.
It takes another hour for Candice to role play her way through the room looking for an assassin tye character who can arrange the hit. Fortunately she runs into Larry playing the character of “Sydney the Snake” a down on his luck mobster trying to regain some clout in his organization. Candice role plays a tough negotiation with Larry where her Character has to agree to develop weapons technology for his crime syndicate in exchange for the assassination of Sir Gustav. Candace doesn’t see this research listed under her Assets so she makes the Assistance Please hand signal to the nearest ENIGMA Agent who listens to Candice’s question and tells her given the nature of the character as a brilliant mad scientist she can totally guarantee to research weapons for the syndicate even though it isn’t specifically on her Character Sheet.
Candice and Bob go to the paperwork and Customs table and outline their assassination contract. The ENIGMA Agents at the table prepare the document for the hit and they signed notarized and sealed. This is of course not one of Candice’s Objectives but is very much in the spirit of her character and so is valid roleplay.
These Hand Signals are designed to facilitate smooth game play and are required for participation. Ignoring Hand Signaling or attempting to manipulate signals to avoid in character consequences or detract from role play will not be tolerated and can result in ejection form the event. If you believe someone is abusing Hand signals alert event staff immediately. Verbal Signals are also listed and can be said aloud or mouthed quietly as a cue to other players in concert with a Hand Signal.
Status Check is the first step of any In Character interaction between two participants. The status check signal is showing the flat palm to other participants in the tradition “hello” gesture below the shoulder and above the waist. This signal works is easy to role play and is also easy to shift to a STATUS GOOD, STATUS BAD, STATUS UNCERTAIN signal quickly. When one participant approaches another for role-play they must make this signal to show their intent to role play. When the target participant returns the wave to acknowledge the first then follows it with their status the two participants will know whether it is okay to proceed with a scene or not. A Status Check can also be instigated to asses the real world status of a participant during a scene. Simply making a small wave at the player where they can see should elicit a Status response signal from the other participant.
VERBAL: “I’M OKAY”
The Status Good signal is a traditional thumbs up gesture. This signal means you are good to roleplay a new scene or you are doing okay in the current scene even if it appears stressful or difficult, if the participant makes this symbol they are real world okay and are just really good at acting. Making this signal and bouncing it indicates that the participant is enjoying the role play and the other player can increase their passionate performance if they wish.
VERBAL: “I’M NOT OKAY”
The Status Bad signal is a traditional thumbs down gesture. This signal means you do not wish to enter a new or wish for the current scene to stop. Seeing this signal brings role play to a stop and participants in the scene should go out of character to determine what needs to be done for the signaling participant, including calling for the Safety Team or going to an OOC area. The scene can only continue if the participant initiating the Status Bad signal is confidently comfortable doing so or has left the scene.
VERBAL: “I’M NOT SURE IF I’M OKAY”
The Status Uncertain signal is the traditional “so-so” gesture of the hand extended with the palm down and a back and forth rotation at the wrist. The reaction to this signal should be identical to the Status Bad signal. Participants in the scene need pause role play and to assess what needs to be adjusted. The scene can only continue if the participant initiating the Status Bad signal is confidently comfortable doing so or has left the scene.
ADJUST AN ELEMENT
VERBAL: “ADJUST PLEASE”
The Adjust Element signal is used to indicate that an element of a scene is discomforting to a participant. This signal is made by pointing to the element with the hand out, palm flat in the “finger blade” hand gesture and then closing the hand to a fist usually while saying the item of discomfort such a prop or a piece of decor . This allows the other participants to adjust quickly to accommodate without breaking role play too much. This signal is used typically if a participant is disturbed by a certain element of a scene and wishes to simply adjust it’s use as to no longer bother or trigger them out of character.
Beth is playing a gun slinger type character and likes to twirl her prop pistol around while roleplaying. Even though it’s a prop it looks very real and is making Evan very uncomfortable due his issues with guns. Evan uses the Adjust Element signal indicating the pistol prop and saying “please holster” while doing so. Beth is able to quickly holster the prop for the rest of the scene and makes sure to not bring it out again when in scenes with Evan.
The Adjust Element signal cannot be used to alter the storyline or to fundamentally alter other characters. In the above example Beth kept the prop pistol as it was a clear part of her character but holstered it and adjusted her play style to accommodate another player for a smooth scene. The Adjust Element signal cannot be used to alter the physical and safety attributes of the scene location such as removing furniture or turning off of lights but can be used to temporarily adjust factors like the volume of back ground music in a specific area is possible.
VERBAL SIGNAL: “ASSIST PLEASE’
The Immediate Assistance signal is to alert Safety Team and event staff that you need assistance but the matter is not a 911 level emergency. This signal is the extending of the index finger in the “number one” gesture while getting the attention of the event staff needed. This signal means you need to address scene issues or facility issues that are not dire emergencies.
OUT OF CHARACTER
VERBAL: “GOING OOC” or “I’M OOC”
The Out of Character signal simply alerts the other participants that you are going Out of Character or currently are. The Out of Character signal is the traditional “crossed fingers” gesture and should be used to indicate that a participant is Out of Character momentarily or heading to an Out of Character area.
VERBAL: “LORE PLEASE”
The Steampunk Multiverse is a complex setting with a lot of material. Even experienced players can’t remember all the bits of information from the setting and occasionally you may need a reference to convincingly continue role play. This signal can be made to Empowered NPCs and ENIGMA Agents to request the relaying of background material. This request can be done out of character but participants are encouraged to gather the information in character with saying cues such “Remind me again…” or “I can’t seem to recall…” while making this signal.
VERBAL: “STEPPING OUT”
The Stepping Out signal is given when a participant needs to step out of a scene for comfort or personal reasons. This symbol is the index and center finger raised in the “number two” or “peace” symbol. When a participant gives this symbol they are leaving the scene but do not wish to halt roleplay and as such the other participants should consider the stepping out participant’s character to still be in scene only silent until that participant can return. Participants may Step Out to check on the initiating participant, pause scene by going OOC, or end scene if necessary as well.
EMERGENCY ASSTISTANCE !!! IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ !!!
In case of a real world medical, criminal, or facility emergency participants are expected to break character and do whatever is necessary to acquire assistance including to calling 911 on their phones for criminal or medical matters. Yelling out “911” will also immediately bring Safety Team and event staff personnel to the issue. Once again, in case of a real life emergency participants are expected to wave their arms, send others for help, yell at the top of their lungs, and whatever else is needed to bring attention to the emergency ASAP.
Given recent epidemic concerns and differing views on personal space we encourage everyone to assume that no one wishes to receive or give any physical contact, however if participants wish to offer their hand to shake or offer a hand to assist someone these will be considered social offerings and not aggressive acts. If you do not shake hands or allow contact then simply saying “I don’t shake hands” will be sufficient to alert other participants and is easy enough to incorporate into role play. Once this has been stated participants will respect this request and failure to do so will be considered harassment.