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In the past there has been a thing known as the Role-Playing varisty match between the role-playing societies of Cambridge and Oxford. This hasn't happened for a while. But we hope to resurrect it.

This page is here to discuss an idea for the next one:

tjm, if I've misrepresented your idea for this, please correct my ramblings, I can only remember about half of our discussion.

An idea tjm had a while ago (and was subject to much discusssion when he came to visit recently) was that we hold a political LARP (although various people have argued this is not actually LARP) as a varsity match.

Without giving too much away, the setting was a kingdom (or empire, or galaxy or farm, it's scalable) had just lost its glorious leader and the players were members of his governing cabal. Each scrabbling for power in the new regime. Throughout the course of the game there would be a series of meetings and events to allow the players to conive and backstab each other and with the end result being a new order in the kingdom, each player being allocated points for where he/she ended up in the new regime. Oxford and Camrbrige players pool respective points at the end, the side with the most points wins. Simple.
Well, as you describe it here, it's really more of an Amber/ThroneWar? - which is of course not a bad idea for a varsity match either. My idea (which was of course somewhat a reflection of the politics of the time) was more to see how an immensely strong and hated foreign force on the verge of invading (who had probably offed the former glorious leader themselves) would affect the dynamics of such a game. Appeasement versus hatred, the nation's preservation versus the PCs' own benefit... it introduces a few more of the dilemmas and conflicts that (should) make up the lifeblood of such a game. There were other thoughts, too, but I've forgotten many of them; the ones I remember are added below. - tjm
It would be nice to have a discussion with the various gamers who kick about on ToothyWiki about how this might work. Possible ideas on

I've been in a couple of things like this.  I agree that different characters should have different sets of aims (and I suggest that each character has several aims).  Sort of "You are after MONEY and REVENGE.  You get 8 points for becoming chancellor, 5 points for becming head of the secret police.  You lose 6 points if your nemesis Petrucio becomes King." or "You are after LOVE and PEACE.  You gain 7 points if the person who becomes King is not from a military background.  You gain 7 points if you marry." --DR

I would suggest not making all the points be due to achieving aims.  There needs to be a substantial component for staying in character, playing the role well. (at least a quarter of the total points awarded in the game). --DR

Player Characters:

The players would of course be playing different characters. Everyone playing a senator or cabinet minister would be dull and encourage Oxford vs. Cambridge teams to swiftly congeal. Possible characters include: The Leader's consort, The Intelligence Minister, The Court Jester, A General, A Baron. This would give the characters different abilities and attributes which would be desirable in the new cabal, meaning that teaming up on a meta-game standpoint would be silly. Each player should be playing for themselves first and their University second, this is the spirit of the game.
A side note; my original idea envisioned a former leader who had completely centralised power in his own hands, to the extent that the country would begin to fall apart within days of his untimely demise. He would have kept all the members of even his inmost cabal isolated and unable to obtain influence or knowledge outside their own specific areas (so for example, the political leaders have no control over or even understanding of the military forces or the organised religion, and visa-versa); this would have the effect of forcing the players to co-operate rather than making unilateral bids for power, and to do so quickly before the regime collapses utterly. (Scholars note; this little twist was developed largely to counter the high-bid-on-Warfare, kill-them-all strategy.) - tjm

Outside Influences:

The Kingdom does not exist in isolation. There are neighbouring kingdoms. Some big, some small. War/Trade/Federation with certain kingdoms may be profitable for some players, but not for others. Other Kingdoms could be much more of a plot stick (ie: you must have a cabal which is symapthetic to both empires A and B or they will invade). This opens the possibility of NPC or even PC Ambassadors from the other kingdoms.

Internal Strife:

The Kingdom is split into a number of principalities. Some of these principalties may wish to split from the kingdom, some of the PCs may want their principality to split from the kingdom. Others may want to prevent this.


The Kingdom has resources. The kingdom has production centres. The Kindom has population. The Kingdom has taxes. Each player will have a different agenda on these and difference area of control over these. A simple economic sytem would be required here. This might tie in nicely with the region idea, altering taxing to make someone's plans for seperation uneconomic or even threatening to becomes a viable tactic. As do Different regions having different resources and production facilities.

The People:

How happy are the people going to be? The final regime will need the support of the people to survive. It must appear to be both legitimate and either kind or too scary to take on. Some simple system for modeling this (even if it's simply the GMs deciding "Yeah, lose three popularity points for imposing those new taxes") may be useful.


The kingdom does not exist in a static environment. Events could happen to disrupt the political status quo. Foreign Leaders may die. Neighbouring countries could go to war. Volcanoes could erupt. Some of these the PCs may have a hand in. Others they may not. Manipulating foreign countries to go to war may be interesting.


Not everybody should have the goal of becoming leader. The final score should not simply rest on being in charge. The final scoring system should rest on a number of things: Achieving primary objectives, the general state of the kingdom with respect to your interests, etc. Again, something to differentiate the players and make sure they're interests to not necessarily conflict or combine in predicable manners would be useful.

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Last edited December 9, 2003 3:28 am (viewing revision 6, which is the newest) (diff)