The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Non-LARP live action games

While thinking about Hollywood Lives, I thought about the games I’ve played where you walked around a lot. Almost all of these are in Haggle variants. In Haggle (described in Sackson’s Classic Gamut of Games, I believe) the players have various slips of paper (or chips, etc) of various colors and a rule or two on how scoring works. The actual scoring usually involves two dozen or so rules, and players have an hour (or so) to turn in their scoring packets. So players trade rules and chits frantically while trying to figure out what scores. For example, one rule may say “Blue Scores Five points each” and another rule may say “Anyone with more than five blues in their scoring packet is disqualified”. Important to know.

The most innovative game in the genre I’ve ever played is Brandon Brylawski’s Philosopher Stone. Here players take the role of alchemists. In this game, players have a variety of rules and “Lab Time” chits. The rules aren’t straight forward, though. They are written in obscure language (frequently in metaphor). Players can go to the moderator and describe an experiment (usually mixing the basic elements or items created by earlier experiments). The moderator tells how much “lab time” it costs. If the experiment is done, the alchemist will (if it follows the rules) get a nifty item or (if it fails) get a clue as to what the problem was (perhaps another rule, perhaps a less cryptic version of the previous rule).

This was a frantic game, lasting longer than a typical haggle game. We played with a team of 4 or so, and it took us about three hours before we figured it out. [Thanks to Brandon, I also ran the game once].

The problem with Haggle-style games is that once you’ve played them you need a new rule-set. (This is particularly true of a puzzle game ala Philosopher’s Stone). But they make great events.

Brandon also plays and designs LARPs. Glancing around the web, I see that he’s designed one of the funniest LARP ideas I’ve ever heard.

Written by taogaming

March 20, 2005 at 10:11 am

Posted in Misc

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  1. Philosopher Stone looks interesting. How do you get hold of it?


    March 21, 2005 at 11:06 am

  2. It’s not publicly available. After playing I asked Brandon if I could run it locally, and he gave me a copy (cut up to run the game). Too bad, as it should get a wider audience. I’d like to play Brandon’s new “haggle + logic” game, called Inferno (described on the same site linked above).


    March 21, 2005 at 8:02 pm

  3. Brian, didn’t you play Inferno at the Gathering? I know Jacqui was on my team. Brandon ran it in 2000 I think. The teams are investiating an alien space station when there is a Solar Flare, and you have to figure out how to apply the alien technology to escape. I liked it a lot, although I prefered Philospher Stone due to the increased flavor of the clues. They make a nice fantasy/sci-fi pair though.


    March 22, 2005 at 2:28 pm

  4. I have absolutely no recollection of Inferno. I may have played it, but I doubt it. Perhaps it conflicted with some other event….


    March 24, 2005 at 9:24 pm

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