Design in Fatal Bonds
Fatal Bonds is in essence a noir style family drama, set in a rules light storytelling framework with high player agency.
It is our intention through the design structure to allow for play of certain types. We aim to accommodate both the players that are very active and seek something to do with many players, as well players who look for more introspective role play. However, two main themes of the larp: family drama and noir, will have clear impact on players’ activities.
Family drama means most of the relationships and activities will be centered around the wedding, the four groups being together, and the interplay this creates. Characters will have varied and intermingled relationships that will drive their activities and play, and we will through specific events during the game create situations for players to react to that will eventually intensify as the weekend progresses. We fully expect that as secrets people hold come to light, relationships will change or be irrevocably broken, and that new ones will form.
Though each person will probably have their own thoughts on what “noir” is as a genre, we have seen it as the idea of shadows and light, dualities, and things not being what they seem, and these concepts have been a driver in our plot design. Characters’ actions and motives will often be complex and shadowed by events that occur within the event. Another powerful aspect of the noir theme is the narrative tool of turning points. In noir films you often see situations where the unexpected happens, and that drives new and more urgent actions.
We believe that larp is a great medium for being genuinely surprised, having to react to that and feeling the good sense of stress that comes from things escalating, and we have worked hard to incorporate that into the design and player experience.
All of our games are heavily buildt around player agency and the "Play to Lift" philosophy so prevelant in nordic game design. The Nordic Larp website describes this best, when they write:
”Play to Lift means that the responsibility for your drama and your character also rests on all your co-players. You have to _lift_ each other. You don’t, off game, have to worry about delivering the best speech ever just because everyone knows that your character is the best orator in the country. The reason that you don’t need to worry is because the other players will lift your character up, and applaud loudly – they will give you a win. An alternative name to Play to Lift might actually be: “Play to Let Others Win”.
Why is this so effective? Well, it is much easier for a particular individual to lose than to win. And it is much easier for me to give you a win (I happen to spill my secret in the middle of our heated argument) than for you to carve out a win (You must out-of-game-cleverly manipulate me into spilling my secret). The drama that we both want rests on the secret coming out, however – and the easiest way for us to ensure that to happen, is for me to lift you. So trust that the other players will lift you to wins, and you can focus on losing.