A “Love” Letter to Murderhoboes

Sometimes it is easy (or just simple and convenient) for players to view every NPC (non player character) they encounter as an adversary to be defeated and looted, regardless of the NPC’s intended purpose in the story or setting.  Sometimes this fault lies with the gamerunners for failing to set expectations and standards, other times, it can simply be the culture that players come to the game with from their experiences or preferences elsewhere.

In tabletop RPGs, gamerunners typically have a lot finer control over the narrative and more tools & techniques to work with,  not to mention how much more practical it is to have a frank discussion with a small handful of players.  However, LARPs tend to be larger and the story tends to unfold in real time and in first person.  While it isn’t impossible to have a sideboard about the tone of the game with LARP players at this scale, below are some brainstorming on how one might approach it from within game play. Most of these are aimed at creating empathy and showing that not every “adversary” is a nameless loot box on legs. Not all of these may be suitable for every setting and group. In particular, consider which topics and themes your group may be sensitive to.

Furthermore, select the NPCs that “drop” these items carefully.  Having these potentially emotionally powerful items on every NPC defeats the purpose and might come across as punitive and actually create more problems.  For example, in most cases these would probably not be suitable for mindless undead or constructs, but perfect to find on the bandit that was cut down while legitimately trying to surrender.

  1. Batch of cookies and note from parent wishing the victim a safe return home
  2. Small handmade toy, partially written, heart-felt notes to spouse and child about sending a gift and money soon.
  3. Small pouch of money and touching note to elderly parent(s).
  4. Small pouch of money and note to orphanage where younger sibling resides.
  5. Letter from doctor explaining cost of treatment and care for a very sick loved one.
  6. A letter to spouse/partner back home with list of potential baby names
  7. Engagement ring and notes for a proposal and/or vows
  8. Religious flier/pamphlet about redemption, turning over a new leaf and upcoming services
  9. A potion to cure a disease and letter explaining they’ll be home soon to help
  10. Shopping list with items that are obviously for a new puppy or kitten
  11. An overdue/expensive bill from priest or funerary service for a recently deceased love one.
  12. A note from parent(s) explaining that all is forgiven, pleading them to come home.
  13. A note from local noble demanding back taxes, threatening foreclosure/seizure of family farm
  14. A note from kidnappers with demands for money to release a loved one.
  15. A note from the bandit/monster leader blackmailing the holder into service.
  16. Locket with loved one’s name/inscription and/or portrait
  17. A note from family thanking for sending money, debts paid, please come home
  18. Partially knit pair of mittens or booties for a baby or small child

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