Hard as Nails Paddy Delaney talks about your Survival
o, you are hoping to run a new role-playing game or LARP for your friends but want to avoid the usual “So, you guys are in a bar right, when suddenly the door is kicked in...” start to your adventure? Well, how about using the theme of Survival as the vehicle for cementing lasting bonds and loyalties between characters? Survival is a well explored trope in fantasy and sci-fi literature. You don’t have to look far to find a group of unlikely characters thrown together in desperate circumstances. Many of your favourite fantasy books and movies are prime examples e.g; The fellowship in Lord of the Rings, The Bonehunters in the Malazan Book of the Fallen or the Skin Eaters in Scott R. Bakker’s Aspect Emperor books. First of all, what are they surviving and is it survival for its own sake or survival as a means to move to some other plot device or story arc? It could be dramatic, such as the hordes of orcs The Fellowship encounter in the Mines of Moria, or even more dramatic, an alien invasion or post apocalyptic scenario. It could be simpler, harsher,
perhaps just surviving a murderous, harsh environment with dehydration, lack of food, lack of sleep or murderously hot sun as the main enemies (incidentally a siege encompasses a lot of these quite nicely). You need only read any account of a soldier from nearly any war to get some real life inspiration.
is it survival for its own sake or survival as a means to move to some other plot device or story arc?”
In the former scenario the overall theme to the game is also the thing that you are surviving but in the latter type, the characters are mostly concerned with the necessities of clean water, shelter and food as a means to some other end. Reducing the narrative to such stark storytelling can be a very powerful role-playing experience, focused more directly on the characters and their interactions. It takes only slight tweaking to add
Paddy Delaney Paddy lives in Galway where he originally started playing RPGs and other assorted madness in the now infamous No. 57. Since then he has moved on to writing and running RPG games. He has written and run games for several cons across Ireland but Itzacon is his home con.
layers of horror to such a situation, after all if a soldier hasn’t slept in days because of constant shelling and then he runs out of clean water his nerves will be frayed, imagine how horrified he will be if he then turns to find a creature
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