LARP techniques for creating characters (also applicable to TTRPG One Shots)

This is a video of a talk by a really good friend of mine, Mo Holkar.

He talks about the middle ground between characters entirely created by players and characters entirely created by the Larpwright. It is interesting in and of itself but I think there is some really good stuff in here for prepping one shot TTRPGs. Especially where you want to create or partially create characters ahead of time, or if you are presented with a partially created character at a convention game.


Some ideas topics in there - I say that as someone who is LARP-suspicious. A lot of the techniques could be added in a surveymonkey around typical 4 session Gauntlet games as a way of filling in themes of play. Some pre prep from the game facilitator - but clear insight and by in before you do the char gen stuff.

Why are you suspicious of LARP - I thought you’d done lots of Cam UK stuff?

I’ve not had anything close to a good Larp experience in about 10 years. I’m really not a fan of structured play in one off LARP/freeform.

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This is sort of a funny blind spot for me, because as someone who makes larps and tabletop games I’m totally conversant in what Mo’s talking about, but it never occurred to me to do it for tabletop.

Now I want to do it for tabletop.


When will it drop? Or, oh, did you use a time machine and this is what Seat Five does?

Are you thinking of something specific @Jmstar, I have always done a bit of this when creating one shots - although without the pep talk encouraging my players to think of themselves as co-designers.

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I’m thinking that the next time my crew agrees to play The Warren (for example) and I’m going to be the GM, I’m going to give them character write-ups that they can finish - but with tightly-integrated relationships tied to my ideas. “Your character is a leader in spirit but held back by the Owsla, and Steve’s character is their sister, who is a little slow but the best nose in the warren. You share a desire to solve the mystery of what happened to your mother, and you share a love for the doe who raised you as her own kits.” Normally I’d do it in reverse, and work around their inputs, and that’s fine, but this seems really fun and interesting.


Great post. I have experimented with finding a middle ground between pregen characters and total from-scratch character creation, and I find it to be a really fruitful design space. It’s one of my favourite things to do.

Jason probably remembers my Lady Blackbird hack, where I split up aspects of those five characters into a variety of traits and keys (e.g. “you’re a former slave”, “you’re the captain of the Owl”, etc), and then tied each of those to my own prep in some way. To create characters, players would combine these, and end up with interesting and unique combinations, like the Captain being a former slave, or Lady Blackbird being a skilled mechanic.

In addition, I’d say that Fiasco’s playset/setup procedure does this already! That’s more or less “by the book”, as far as this procedure goes.