Wickedly Archetypal Character Kreation and Development, LARP Edition
The Structure Of A Threshold LARP
Origins, Occupations, And Offices
The Anatomy Of An Occupation
Locations And Travel
Miscellania (Fortune, Rumors)
The Structure Of A Threshold LARP
A Threshold LARP takes place over the course of an evening, during which time a segment of the LARP's story is created as characters interact with their setting and with each other.
The Setting within which the game takes place is composed of Locations - rooms or other areas that are informatively labeled. Hallways and other between-Location areas are all considered to be part of one Setting, the generalized area of the LARP itself, which is typically very difficult for the characters to affect directly. Any effects applying to the Setting are assumed not to apply to individual Locations unless otherwise specified. Areas that are part of the Setting, rather than specific Locations, in Invasion include the streets of Victoria (hallways).
For convenience's sake, game flow is broken down into Scenes. A Scene begins when at least two characters in a Location begin to interact (conversation, Ability use, etc). The Scene encompasses all characters currently in that Location. The Scene ends for a given character when that character has moved to a different Location, although if he or she returns within five minutes, the same Scene resumes for him or her. So if a character has been afflicted by a Scene-long effect, he or she may not escape it by leaving and then returning again. What falls within the bounds of a given Scene will occasionally be a judgment call.
Origins, Occupations, And Offices
The competence, power, and overall remarkableness of Invasion characters is tracked by their Character Points (CP). Characters begin with 32 CP, and have the option to acquire additional Character Points through the following means (as well as any others specified on the mailing list or during a session):
Optional One-Time $5 Donation: 1
Attending A Session: 2
Submitting A Session Summary: 1
NPCing One Hour Of An Invasion Session (In Addition To PCing): 1
NPCing A Session Of City In Shadow: 1
Characters in Invasion are modeled by three types of system: Origins, Occupations, and Offices. All characters have exactly one Origin, which depends upon where they come from. Examples of this are Upper Class, Orphan, and Bolt Squad, though far stranger ones sometimes show up. It is possible for in-game events to necessitate a change of Origin, in which case it should be possible to arrange this by speaking with the GMs between sessions. Unless otherwise specified, a character's Origin has no Character Point cost.
Characters have one or more Occupations, which represent what they do on a day-to-day basis, though at higher levels these encompass an amount of competence that may at times seem almost superhuman. It is possible for characters in Invasion to be very, very good at what they do. A character's first Occupation costs one Character Point or Flaw Point (player's choice); his/her second costs two more, his/her third three, and so on. Furthermore, each Occupation has three "tiers," which distinguish different levels of mastery. Once the Occupation has been purchased, the first tier is free; the second typically costs one Character Point or Flaw Point to access; and the third costs two more. It is therefore relatively inexpensive to dabble in many different Occupations, but somewhat taxing to be a master of more than one or two.
The following Occupations are typically available to Victorian characters:
The following Occupations are typically available to Machine characters:
Finally, characters have zero or more Offices. These have no Character Point cost to acquire, but they always derive from in-game events or backstory. Offices are typically the same size as Origins - i.e. one of each type of system effect (see below). Examples of Offices include The Duke Of Steel and Grid Squad.
There are three main Attributes in WACKD, three statistics that represent your character's strengths and capabilities. These are Body, Mind, and Soul.
Body is your character's physical strength, agility, and stamina; the quickness of his or her reflexes; and his/her determination. It is an abstract quality; it has little to do with apparent might or the size of his or her body.
Mind is your character's mental acumen and intelligence; his or her breadth of knowledge; his or her intuition or uptake speed; and finally his or her awareness and understanding of the world around him or her. It covers a great deal more than "book smarts."
Soul is a very difficult quality to define. It has to do with a character's force of will, strikingness of personality, and in-touch-ness with the world. A high-Soul character might be very fiery and passionate, extremely devoted to a belief or ideal, or extraordinarily self-assured and confident, while a low-Soul character might be somewhat apathetic, reserved or lacking in self-confidence, or easily influenced by others.
All characters begin with a Body, Mind, and Soul of 1; generally, these can be bought up to 2 for 2 CP, then to 3 for another 3 CP, etc. There are factors which may modify this progression, however. Having (for example) a Mind of 3 means that the character throws a 3 in all challenges using or against his or her Mind, and furthermore that he or she has 3 points of "temporary Mind" per session. These points may be expended to increase the character's Mind score for one Challenge, to aid him or herself or another person in Mind combat, and to activate a Mind ability. Once spent, they do not return until the next session except as allowed by a character's Recoveries.
The Anatomy Of An Occupation
The following elements may be found within each Origin, Occupation, and Office. The CP cost for taking an element is listed in parentheses to the left of it within each system writeup.
The "Sample Character" Office (opens in a new window) is a fictional example of what a system writeup actually looks like. It's a hypothetical Office for a character who is being used as a demonstration, and utilizes many common elements of the system.
Properties are general modifiers for your character. They often tweak some aspect of the system for him or her, or allow him/her to do something that he/she otherwise couldn't.
Attacks are penalties or other Bad Things that may be imposed upon someone you have succeeded against in combat. These are based on a type of combat (Body, Mind, or Soul); the character must have won that kind of combat for an Effect based on it to come into play. For more information, see Combat, below.
Abilities are things that your character may do. They may affect some combination of yourself, other characters, a Location, the world in general, etc. Abilities cost a point of one Attribute to activate (indicated in brackets next to the name of the Ability), and may require a challenge (listed in parentheses) to succeed - see Challenge Mechanics, below.
One Uses are Abilities that require no attribute expenditure, but may only be used once before they must be purchased again. They generally have a very significant effect. It is possible to have more than one "instance" of a given One Use Ability purchased at any point in time. One Uses (like all other powers) may only be purchased between sessions.
Recoveries are ways to recover one's Attributes during a session.
Influence pools may be bought up as high as you like. They may be expended between sessions to attempt to change the course of events within Victoria. See Resources And Influence, below, for more information.
Modifiers are effects that may be purchased once at least one point of the specified type of Influence has been acquired. They often function by allowing you to expend a point of Influence during a session, achieving some purpose at the cost of preventing you from using it between sessions in an influence action. Modifiers allow Influence pools to be more versatile than simply "influence" in the strictest sense.
Flaws do not give you Character Points; rather, they provide you with Flaw Points, which may only be used towards certain limited things (typically acquiring new Occupations and buying up to higher levels in the ones you have). Some flaws (those with a "1* per level", for example, rather than just a "1*" next to them) may be bought up to whatever level you please, becoming increasingly unpleasant as you do so.
Locations And Travel
As was previously mentioned, a Location is a room that is being used to represent a specific in-game area. Locations have Properties - they may be Well-Lit, Dark, or neither of these; Upper-Class, Lower-Class, or neither of these; and any number of other characteristics. Locations have an Integrity, which is how solid and enduring they are, and an Obscurity, which is how well-hidden they are. Locations with an Obscurity of 0 are considered to be known to all, and anyone may enter them, but a relevant Ability or Property is required to find Locations with a higher Obscurity.
Locations also have a Security rating. If this is higher than zero, then a special Ability or Property must be used to enter the Location, generally involving a static challenge against the Location's Security number. (As always, the defending party - the Location - requires twice the value of the Ability's initiator to succeed.) Finally, Locations have a Population rating, indicating how many people can be assumed to be present in addition to any PCs. Doing dangerous or scandalous things in populated areas is not advisable, but you knew that. Locations change over time, sometimes even within the course of a given session.
To proceed from one Location to another by conventional means, you *must*
travel at a slow walk to represent travel times, although there is no delay
on stairways. It is up to you whether your character takes notice of
another character passing by; Victoria is a small enough city that if you
are looking for someone, you should be able to find them with relatively
little difficulty, but conversely it is quite easy to miss someone as you
pass them in the fog.
Thanks to a new, as-yet-fairly-rudimentary trolley system, you
may travel briskly from one Location to another "not here" if you do not
possess the "Destitute" Trait, declaring the destination before you leave.
If you do this, you may see things going on in the hallway, but may not stop
to interfere with them; you must proceed directly to your destination, and
may then walk back to a place that you have passed.
Finally, characters with at least one point of Influence: Wealth are
assumed to have enough money on hand to hire a private carriage for the
evening. Travelling by carriage is like travelling by trolley, except
that you may stop wherever you like along the way, and may take up to
three others with you. Also, travel by carriage better befits a proper
gentleman or gentlewoman.
When one character initiates a Challenge against another character, such as via the use of an Ability, a brief time freeze is entered. Challenge resolution is very straightforward, however, and should never take longer than thirty seconds. The initiator of the challenge must immediately indicate what appears to be happening - it should always be possible to tell roughly what kind of Ability is being used against you while attempting to defend yourself. If you don't know anything about the Ability or effect that you're being targeted with, please ask for clarification, which the initiator should be happy to provide. The initiator must publicly indicate what Attribute he or she is using (which may be different than the one listed by the Ability if other effects are coming into play), as well as what Attribute the defender must use. If the defender is able to use a different Attribute instead and chooses to do so, then he/she must indicate that fact.
Now anyone else present must indicate which, if any, of the Challenge participants they are assisting. You may assist only one of the participants. To assist in a Challenge, you must spend temporary Attribute points; your contribution is equal to the number of points spent. You do not reveal this number immediately, however. Instead, once assisters have been sorted out, all participating characters turn away, figure out what their total is, and on the initiator's count of three turn back to face each other, holding up that many fingers.
The total of the initiator and defender are equal to their total (maximum) value in the appropriate Attribute, plus any temporary points that they may wish to expend. The total of an assisting character is equal to the number of temporary points of the appropriate Attribute that are expended. The total of one side of the Challenge (initiating/defending) is equal to the sum of its characters' totals.
The initiating side wins the Challenge unless the defending side has twice or more its total. Thus, it is far easier to affect others than it is to avoid being affected.
Sir Beowaffle (Body 3, Mind 1, Soul 2) is using the following Ability on Lady Midge (Body 1, Mind 3, Soul 4):
Flabbergast [body] (Body vs. Mind challenge)
The target becomes most dismayed and shocked. He or she is utterly at a loss for what to do, and may take no action beyond conversation for <margin of success> minutes.
Sir Beowaffle declares, "I am attempting to shock Lady Midge with my flamboyant cravat! Body vs. Mind challenge, my dear." Lady Midge, never one to be easily dispensed with, decides to use a Characteristic to defend with Soul instead of Mind, replying, "I'm defending with Soul." The assembled crowd gasps at her insouciance, and Sir Beowaffle's face reddens.
Lord Cromsworthley (Body 2, Mind 2, Soul 2) steps forward and proclaims, "I am assisting Lady Midge against this bold upstart! Lady Midge, don't let his foolish posturing dismay you." (His feud with Sir Beowaffle is, of course, much talked about.) Mister Porter (Body 4, Mind 1, Soul 1), one of Sir Beowaffle's ruffian friends, then retorts, "But I am taking Sir Beowaffle's side. What do you say to THAT?" A brief, tense silence ensues, and when it is clear that no one else is participating, everyone turns around to figure out their totals.
Sir Beowaffle automatically throws a 3, since that is the rating of his Body and he is one of the main participants in this challenge; but since so much is at stake, he decides to spend his remaining two temporary points of Body (the other one having been used to activate the Flabbergast Ability) to increase his total to 5. Lady Midge is defending, and so is at a disadvantage; as such, she decides to spend three additional points of Soul. Her total is equal to her Soul, a 4, plus these three points, for a total of 7.
Lord Cromsworthley aids Lady Midge with both of his temporary points of Soul, holding up two fingers. Mister Porter has unfortunately expended most of his temporary Body already in the bar room whence he just emerged, so he chips in his remaining point of Body, contributing a 1 to Sir Beowaffle's side. "One, two, three," counts Sir Beowaffle slowly.
Everyone turns around, and there is a moment of quiet as everyone tallies the numbers in their head. Lady Midge and Lord Cromsworthley have collectively scraped together a 9 (enough to beat an offensive 4 or below), while Sir Beowaffle and his dastardly friend display a collective 6. Lady Midge cries out in dismay and sinks to the ground, flabbergasted utterly for the next three minutes (her total would have need to be three higher to win), and begs Lord Cromsworthley to take care of these cads.
There are three kinds of combat in Threshold, just as there are three Attributes: Body, Mind, and Soul. Each of these represents something intrinsic to the character, and in this fantasy world, each may be directly assaulted independently of the others. An Attack against your Mind has the potential to be every bit as deadly as an Attack against your Body, and likewise, an attack against your Soul could leave you spiritually crippled or violate your identity.
Combat is not inherently deadly in this system, however. In fact, it is quite uncommon for anyone to actually be injured or killed as a result of combat. Most Attacks that may be used by the winner of a combat challenge have more to do with weakening, changing, or taking from the victim. Sometimes there isn't even a viable Attack to be imposed, in which case the Default Attack kicks in: no one on the losing side of the combat may initiate combat against anyone on the winning side for the remainder of the Scene.
Even though combat may not always be deadly, it is obvious. Relentlessly spouting obscure theories at a cowering victim is considered every bit as improper and dangerous as verbally cutting away at all that he or she holds dear, or drawing a knife on him or her, and the public response will generally be immediate and fierce.
Mechanically, Combat is different from a simple challenge. To initiate Combat, declare your target, and give a description of what your character is doing. At this point, an Initiative Challenge takes place. Each of the two primary participants decides which attribute (Body, Mind, or Soul) he/she will use in the Initiative Challenge, and it proceeds like a normal challenge (with anyone assisting who desires to), except that the initiator has almost no advantage - whoever has the higher total in the Initiative Challenge decides what kind of Combat (Body/Mind/Soul) takes place, with the initiator deciding on a tie.
Once Initiative has been determined, the winner declares what sort of Combat this will be. The two primary participants determine their totals as for any challenge, with anyone who has already taken either of their sides chipping in attribute points as desired. The two sides tabulate their total values.
Totals are compared. If the totals are even, neither side has won - the combat was a stand-off, and the Default Attack is used against both main participants. Anyone who desires to may leave the Location, and the Scene returns to normal. But if one side had a higher total than the other, then in addition to the Default Attack, the winning main participant may choose to use an Attack against the other. This may only be done if the desired Attack is of the same type (Body/Mind/Soul) as the Combat was. Alternatively, anyone who helped the winning side may offer to use one of their own Attacks instead of the primary participant's; the primary participant may decide whether or not to accept such an offer.
Lord Cromsworthley (Body 2, Mind 2, Soul 2) cannot simply let stand this affront to his dear friend Lady Midge. He cries, "Have at thee, ruffians!" and draws his family rapier (a special item that grants him +1 to Body combat). Suspecting that both Sir Beowaffle (Body 3, Mind 1, Soul 2) and Mister Porter (Body 4, Mind 1, Soul 1) are somewhat tapped by their Flabbergasting, and believing that Mister Porter will once again help his associate, he declares Body combat against Sir Beowaffle.
At the sight of his flashing rapier, the room empties nearly instantly, several of the more weak-hearted onlookers nearly fainting with fright. The two sides prepare for the Initiative Challenge. Lord Cromsworthley decides to base his Initiative off of Mind, as he has already spent his Soul assisting Lady Midge and is hoping for Body Combat; Sir Beowaffle, out of Body entirely, uses Soul. (Lord Cromsworthley is attempting to put the two ruffians off-balance with his witty tongue, while Sir Beowaffle hopes to cow his opponent with a roar of anger.)
Lord Cromsworthley once again spends all of his temporary Mind, bringing him to a total of 4 for the initiative; Sir Beowaffle spends one of his temporary Soul points, saving the last for an emergency, and Mister Porter chips in one point of Soul to help him. As totals are revealed, it seems that they are evenly matched, and so the initiator (Lord Cromsworthley) gains the initiative. He declares Body Combat.
Now the actual fight begins. Mister Porter, lacking any points of temporary Body, cannot assist his friend and says so, leaving the exhausted but angry Sir Beowaffle to face his foe alone. They turn around to prepare their totals.
Beowaffle throws a 3 (his Body), as he is still tapped from his assault on Lady Midge. Lord Cromsworthley has a Body of 2, but he expends both temporary points, bringing him to 4. His sword gives him an additional +1, bringing his total to 5. "One, two, three," counts Lord Cromsworthley slowly.
As they turn around, Lord Cromsworthley can see immediately that he has won. He opts to use his "Say You're Sorry" Attack in addition to the Default Attack, crying to the cowed Sir Beowaffle, "Apologize to Lady Midge this instant, or you'll pay with your life!" Having no choice, Sir Beowaffle mutters an apology and slinks from the room.
Lord Cromsworthley is promptly arrested for dueling without explicit permission.
Each Origin, Occupation, and Office allows you to purchase a specific kind of Influence. Typically, Influence is used between sessions to attempt to effect changes in the world; for example, you could spend three points of Influence: Aristocrats to attempt to borrow a wing of someone's mansion to host a party in, or to attempt to learn what's being said about this or that personage in high society, or to try to gain favor in a certain social circle. The names of the Influence pools should be sufficiently flexible that a wide variety of things may be done with them. More than one type of Influence may be used in a single influence action, assuming that all are relevant.
At the beginning of each session, all Influence pools refresh; any unused Influence points disappear. It's possible that one or more of your Influence pools will not be fully restored at the beginning of a session, usually because an Influence action that someone else has taken is temporarily affecting your ability to utilize that pool.
You may also "lend" someone else a point of any of your types of Influence. In this case, they may spend the point for the specified time period, and you may not. For example, Miss Woolington approaches Sir James Farrey, whom she knows to be quite wealthy. She asks whether she might make use of some small part of his vast fortune for her own purposes, which she is not at liberty to clarify, and reminds him that he owes her a favor. He reluctantly agrees, and lends her two points of his Influence: Wealth. If she does not use these points by the beginning of the next session, they will disappear, though she could attempt to engage in an influence action to invest them with a firm known to her if she wished to keep them longer. Of course, Sir Farrey could also decide to be the patron of a famous artist; he might lend her one point of Influence: Wealth each session, while she would lend him one point of her Influence: Art each session in exchange. Such working arrangements can be vastly beneficial to all involved, as they allow characters to have influence outside of their own narrow spheres.
Influence points can sometimes be spent in other ways; a silent auction is a good example of this. Characters would write their bid next to their name ("Attendance at a tea party with Her Majesty The Queen," or "A rare opal necklace from the Emirate of Khadir") and the amount and type of Influence points offered in the space provided ("1x Influence: Queen Victoria, 2x Influence: Socializing" and "2x Influence: Wealth, 2x Influence: Foreign Lands," respectively). While these points are tied up in the leading bid, they may not be used to fuel Modifiers or lent to other characters, and if the bid is accepted, the points are considered spent.
Finally, Modifiers often allow Influence points to be spent in unusual situations, sometimes even during a session, or to produce effects that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. A Modifier only applies to the specific type of Influence that it is based on. Modifiers are there at least partially so that, should you find yourself with no good influence action for your Influence: Fungicide this session, you can still put it to good use (as a Body Combat aid, perhaps?).
It can be difficult to know, for an influence action being performed between sessions, how many points of a given type of Influence should be expended to have a decent shot at success. Hopefully, this table may provide some sense of scale, although it's by no means a hard-and-fast determiner, especially as others' influence actions could make your own more or less difficult.
Small alteration; get word out to a few people; find something out
Get word out to a group; somewhat influence an NPC; find out something rather hush-hush
Affect a Location; significantly influence an NPC
Create a Location; make anyone related to the action take notice
Dispose of a Location; generate an NPC
You get the idea...
Fortune Tokens are distributed to those who are especially helpful in setup and cleanup, who loan props and costuming, and who help in other specified ways. A Fortune Token lasts for the duration of one session, and may be spent to increase the character's total in any one challenge of any kind by +1 (this bonus stacks with multiple Fortune Tokens).
The Rumor Deck is located on the GMs' table in the Out-Of-Game Room. It is a stack of cards, updated each session, containing juicy gossip about various other characters, and possibly also NPCs. Some characters will be able to purchase abilities allowing them to draw from the Deck, or alter it in various other ways. Additionally, any character may draw one card from the deck per session, but must believe that the rumor he/she has drawn is probably true unless he/she has direct and verifiable evidence that this is not the case (if the rumor concerns him/herself, for instance). Always replace the card you've drawn and shuffle the Deck afterwards, unless an ability specifies otherwise.