In early April 2019, I had the pleasure of being invited to cover Hanging Lantern’s event “Real Royalty” written and designed by Natasha Borders, Jeffrey Steele, and Benji Michalek. The game was a dark fairytale incorporating stories and inspiration from the world’s most famous, classic stories. From a designer’s standpoint, Real Royalty was an amazing and fascinating game. While not everything worked and the experimental mechanics certainly could have used more playtesting before going live, the fact that the Hanging Lantern team was willing to try so many experimental things meant that Real Royalty helped push freeform mechanical design forward dramatically faster than any game I’ve played in the last two years.
I recently attended Eskhaton by Reverie Studios. It was talked about as a horror game, but in truth, it was a game of modern day cults and the end of the world. The characters and cults were the horrors, not the things being horrified. It was interesting to walk on the other side of that classic gaming genre. Here is a full review of the things that worked, what didn't, and what we can learn from this engaging, dark experience of an event.
Death is not a subject I’ve managed to find my comfort with yet. I think most people live in the same ‘pretending it’s not going to happen’ bubble that I do, and yet we participate in games where it’s something we need to face on a semi-regular basis. From long term campaign larps where there is a possibility of permanently killing a character in unplanned fashions, to events like Inside Hamlet, where the goal of many players is to create the most epic death possible, it’s a theme we often explore in larp. For game designers, deciding on how to handle death in your event is a pivotal design choice and one that will make or break a player’s experience if it’s handled well.