Author Topic: Turning rpg:s into improv games?  (Read 2957 times)


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Turning rpg:s into improv games?
« on: March 22, 2015, 10:51:02 PM »
Hiya guys!

I'm a lover of all forms of interactive entertainmen: video games, rpg:s and theatre. I'm going to hold an improv exercise with a gaming and competitive mechanics theme at my local theatre club, so I'm thinking of various ways of converting the systems of 'game' games into faster and looser improv games. Often the rewards in improv are simple, the laughter of the audience, getting to stay up on stage, guiding the direction of the story. In order to make challenges or settings a bit more rule-bound I think I could try to constrain the reward systems.

One exercise could be: three persons on stage, they have a character weakness each, there is a challenge in the scene such that only a strong effort of one or many players can clear it, as reward the players who cleared the challenge gets to overcome their weakness, they end the scene when the outcome is obvious.

A variant can use status as the placeholder for other weaknesses, letting them go from low to high or vice versa.

How could we gamify this a bit more? One way is to force a ranking, let the players feel who weighed in the most vs least and let their transformation be the most or least. Another can be to add some kind of points that they have to bet on their actions. We could also try to qualify the challenge somewhat more, like having a series of distinct requirements for it to be cleared.

Another exercise: three persons on stage, one is a game master and does not control a character but have the power to define the setting or outcomes of actions, the others are actors who only author their own characters, the GM defines some challenge and narrates the outcomes of the players actions, the scene ends when the challenge is cleared or they fail.

A gamification here could be that the players both win if they work together, but if one of them clears the challenge alone then s/he and the GM wins.

What do you think of ways to merge rpg mechanics with improv? Any input on my examples?


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Re: Turning rpg:s into improv games?
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2015, 04:04:18 PM »
Those sound like cool ideas!

I'd say a couple of the main elements that distinguish RPGs from straight improv are: 1) mechanical conflict resolution (e.g. rolling dice to establish success or failure), and 2) external refereeing of the situation (i.e. having a GM tell you what is happening around your characters).

I like your ideas for introducing game elements to improv. LARPing is already a pretty well-established combination of the two. Have you looked much at common LARP mechanics? Things like using Rock/Paper/Scissors to resolve conflicts, or perhaps giving each player a number of "bidding chips" that they can spend to try to resolve challenges could work well. Some improv games already use someone sort of like a "GM" to introduce twists on the situation during play, so I don't think you'd have to come up with much new there.
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