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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 167 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Limbo - more or less finished game, critique?  (Read 1292 times)

Posts: 3

« on: August 29, 2009, 08:52:18 AM »


Myself and my brother wrote a game a while back but never really got around to doing anything with it.  It's a boffer weapon larp.  (anytime you see a weapon mentioned, just picture a foamed piece of pvc pipe, packets are cloth filled with bird seed used to peg each other dodgeball style)  The game takes place in a trance/dream world - in the land of the dead.  We were going for a sciencefiction-purgatory.. sorta.   

Anyways, we've played around with the combat system with up to four people with good results.  Though we never got to see how it plays in a larger larp setting with a dozen or more players, so in a way it's never really been truly playtested.  At least we don't feel like it has.       

I was wondering if I could get some brutally honest feedback on it before taking it abroad for real testing.  I'm just curious what parts you like, what you don't, how well the manual conveys the world, where you feel like the loose ends are, or any other thoughts you might feel like sharing.

The game is called Limbo.  The manual is 12 pages and in word format.  It can be downloaded at:


Thanks for reading
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2009, 05:15:58 AM »

Hi there,

Before I check out the rules, I'd like to learn a little more about the playtesting, in your own words. I know little about boffer LARP play beyond the basics (although there are other people here who know a lot), so it would help me to understand exactly how your rules, or some of them, differ significantly from those in other games. If you can describe those in terms of what happened in your small-group playtest, I think I'd be able to read the document in a helpful way.

Best, Ron

Posts: 3

« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2009, 02:16:05 PM »

Our playtesting was combat only.  There's four different "sets" of abilities.  We did one on one runs with each set verses another as well as some mixing of ability sets to see how they work together.  There's a few roleplayish abilities that haven't been truly analyzed at all.     

Most of the boffer larps that I've played have involved verbals such as:

"2 normal"
"2 normal damage"
"2 iron damage"

when swinging a weapon, thus dealing 2 damage.  Everyone's got a set number of hitpoints, you just keep track in your head.  Spells were always a bit trickier, you'd say a verbal such as:

"i summon a magic missle"

then you'd take whatever amount of damage that spell did.  (lot's of memorizing for numerous spells)  There were also numerous ability or spell effects such as rooting someone to one spot, poisoning them, instantly killing them, etc. 

Often times in larps, players would be swinging 6 damage, 9 damage, 13 damage or any other barrage of random integers.  When writing limbo we wanted to step away from this complexity by simply defining 3 kinds of hits. 

"white damage" (does 1 damage)
"red damage" (does 2 damage)
"black damage" (does 4 damage)

Playtesting using these 3 colors for damage yielded much, much easier combat counting at a loss of character customization.  We were happy with the results.  Another problem we had with the traditional larp mechanics was the "tags" system.  Each spell or ability you could use had it's own tag.  When you used that spell/ability, you tore that tag.  Tags were basically ammo, once you're out, you're out.  Often times during larp games people would be out of "ammo" and feel useless till the next "reset."  (when everyone gets their abilities renewed)   

We wanted to step away from this by making "ammo" renewable through combat.  Anytime someone dies, they drop the equivalent of "health" and/or "mana."  Playtesting with this mechanic felt limited given that we never exceeded four players, though it added an element of strategy to the game whenever someone died.  We were pleased with the results we got.  We pushed this mechanic further by setting hitpoint and mana packets in the center of the combat arena where it became a strategy point, trying to either get to the packets first or keep your opponent away from them.             

These are the two biggest fundamental differences I think.  Again, when comparing Limbo to other larps, I'm only comparing to the larps in my region.  I've seen games where the color of the weapon indicated damage, others where it's "army style" i.e. you get hit in the arm, you can't use that arm, etc. though I've never gotten the chance to play one.  =\

Hope this helps 

Posts: 3

« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2009, 02:46:37 AM »

I'm still interested in feedback if anyone cares to share.  =D
Joe Endzel
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2009, 05:19:38 PM »


I've been a LARPer in a combat heavy game for about 4 years now. I like that you're trying to simplify things to help with balance. I feel that a subtractive approach is great in LARPing as the games are almost always complicated. Now I do have some questions which will help me, help you. Smiley

How much is combat going to be a part of the overall game? Are most problems resolved with battles, or is it a rarer occurence?

What skills are you trying to support and reward with combat? Is being good at the combat game more/less important then being good at using your characters abilities? If that sounds awkward I'm asking if a fragile ranged character can win in melee by virtue of swinging his sword better. Or will the tactics be more character and ability based?

Thanks in advance. BTW, I play a game that is "army-style" so if you have any questions on how that style of play influences that game, I can shed some light in that area.

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