The coolest pervasive thing I heard of in this Knutepunkt was the Danish collective pervasive larp campaign Begyndelsen (Eng. “The Beginning”) designed by Jonas Trier-Knudsen. The simple but effective formula goes like this:
- The players form groups of 4 people each.
- The people in the groups create character teams that investigate paranormal events.
- The groups also serve as organizer teams that stage paranormal events for other character teams.
In the beginning of the campaign, the participants had a workshop where they found out which themes were cool topics for the game (Nordic mythos: in, vampires: out), and after the workshop all organizer teams are free to explore these themes as they want.
Begyndelsen relies totally on player-created content. The cool thing is that the investigators define the ultimate truths of the game world. After the scenario is played, the characters report their findings to other characters. Everything that is said in the report is “true”, while all following discussions are “speculative”. Thus, a mythology emerges. Jonas told about a scene where one organizer group had created a satyr creature that the other players could encounter. However, the investigators concluded that there was no satyr demon, but merely a shaman dressed up in horns and furs. Their interpretation is now the fact of the matter which the future scenes will build on. Cleverly written reports of course always leave open questions and further leads to pursue.
Jonas called this karma larping: roughly speaking, for every scenario you organize, you get to play one as well. Give, and thou shalt receive. If you want to be a hyperactive player, you also have to be a hyperactive organizer. The only real job of the initiating GM is to make sure that teams are assigned to cases in a manner that maintains a proper karma balance. You can actually count karma points if you want to.
Begyndelsen is not the first pervasive larp going for communally created content: For instance in Helsinki there is a new weird campaign Neonhämärä (Eng. “Neon Twilight”) running on quite open-ended player creativity. But the beauty of Begyndelsen is its structured, formal and karma-based approach.
Oh. Jonas also emphasized that not all paranormal occurrences need to be your average pervasive larps. For example, a brief ARG thingy could also very well work as pleasurable game content for the other investigator teams. Also, there is nothing that would prevent international investigations from country to country.
When we talked with Jonas, Begyndelsen had apparently started winding down. They decided to break down the teams and allow players to self-organize freely, which apparently broke the karma system to some extent. Obviously, a game like this only runs as long as people are motivated to create content for others to explore.