I never had a pony. It gets worse though. We didn’t have a color tv till i was in my early teens. Now i’m old, but trust me when i say that color tv had well and truly taken off well before we got one. Now just to show how i really didn’t have any hope, we did however have a telex machine and a room full of computers. Guess what my dad did for a living? See i had no hope, i was bound to be a geek. He used to sit and draw Battlestar Galactica with me! Oh and he looks like Terry Prachett, even has the hat you know. Yep from a young age i was groomed, in the nice way, to be a geek.
I also never owned a motorbike, chainsaw or a particularity cool hair cut. Now i hear in the background the mumbling of first world problems. Well to be honest i’m better for it. I don’t want a pony, i appreciate sitting around sketching rather than the telly and a chainsaw? Bad idea. Drawing spaceships, retro sky galleons or Bauhaus industrial cruisers, is something far cooler than the telly and has led me to develop those skills, i went to art college you know. I actually find watching telly without something for my hands to do really quite difficult. Stop giggling at the back there, i don’t play with myself while watching Ant and Dec.
Yep i’m getting round to bling, ming and lammie ho heaven. Now lammies, the street name for that thing you want. Be it a spear and magic helmet, archnotech ray gun or steampunk coffee machine.
They are the crack cocaine of LARP, well for some. Some couldn’t give a crap to be honest, but i’m getting ahead of myself. Seeback in the day when LARP was very D & D. It was get the xp, kill the bad guy and save the entire planet. Preferably with some cash on the side. The Magic item was the end game, the cool toy, the look at me bling. Yep that sword of slaying was the pimp stick and hat in one.
In this system, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the magic items. Then when you get the magic items, then you get the women. Yep magic items are the ‘bomb’ as one might say to ones hommies.
In my LARPing history, outside of empire, i have owned only two magic items. Both of those are in frail realities. One magic wand and one chalace of bom chika wah wah. I borrowed one in CP once. However my swagger is sadly without bling.
Well in the long history of fables there have been some legendary magical items to drive forward the narative. Excalibur, the one ring, Mjolnir or the cavaliers shield form that cartoon. Many times the hero must go through great trials to gain these great things.
Now in the annals of LARP history there have been all sorts of stories of various ‘favors’ exchanged for lammies, be that money or otherwise. These tales may or may not be true, however the people wandering after battles looking for lammie’s that have fallen off weapons is true. Yep such is the allure of the lammie that people will do all sorts of stupid shite to get hold of them. Ritual slots are taken up with making and maintaining them like some sort of dance of mad men eternally locked into a mystical addiction.
Now what does this cat nip for LARPers add to the game? Well on many levels it brings game. You have the need to gain resources, gather people to work together and possible go get the bits. Sometimes your putting something together for the plot. These are very cool things tm.
The problem is when the item becomes more important than than the roleplay or the story. That’s when lammie hoing gets in the way and acquiring of stuff becomes too important. You know the conversation i’m talking about. ‘I’ve got an x that does y’ Now i read this as one of two things. Either ‘look at my +5 sword’ or ‘my penis is very small and have you seen my Porsche?’. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t magic item envy….hmm stretching that metaphor now. In empire i look like the Mr T of ribbons. In fact i kind of like the access that everyone has to them, as they no longer have that crack feel, it’s more of a tool. The fact they are time limit means they feel more like enchantments than some tool of legend. In fact i don’t have magic items in Empire i have performance enhancing ribbons…yep that’s it i have managed to take the drug reference full circle.
So where am i going with this? Well in many ways roleplay has cheapened the magic item. The legend has slipped away and been replaced with utility. Does this item fulfill a need? lets make it. Rather than being a thing of power and mystery with long histories the magical armor is nothing more than a bulletproof vest to be strapped and packed and their bow becomes a gat.
A good way to avoid this is to make the carrying of it an annual ritual of import as the wolves do in CP, the hammer of Thor is important, really important culturally. The kettle of the arcane tempest and their tea ritual was interesting and very characterful. However when you start leaving them laying around cause they will savage someone for comic effect, maybe the awe and magic has gone a little. I suppose that’s one of the problems of making the damn things is that they become a thing, a game token for use. That is the problem with a world where magic items become common place or are taken for granted.
The thing is the items that are cultural artifacts are in fact tend to be a bit more interesting than the ones created by players, kettle obviously an exception. So what can you do about this? Well you can add flaws to them, don’t create them scry for them and let the game team come up with a cool back story and make you go get them. One thing i desperately hope is that there is a secret brief that PD hasn’t shown anyone that says when you make an artifact some of the labyrinth or realms leaks in and adds a flaw or gives it some reason to treat it with respect. You know that video of the guy on crutches smashing a pole attached to his penis on a metal frame, that is what i want magic items to do to you. Abuse them and you turn into a disturbed performance artist. Far better than going all golum, become over reliant on magical items and you have to do a naked avant garde dance that represents the interaction of communism and world of warcrack.
So as always i’m going somewhere with this. Whats the items story? How does it improve the roleplay? So you have a cock ring of invulnerability? Whats the curse? otherwise you just took fear out of your character and no flaws makes you Mary Sue rather than a person. Maybe bringing some old skool cool to items and giving them some flaws might bring some respect back to them. What i’m basically saying is before you create a permanent magical item in a system are you going to be adding to the world or are you just creating a crutch or snazzy tool?
One of the coolest magical items knocking around in a system at the moment in CP is a sword that can kill anything, absolutely anything. The catch is a true Fey has to die to use it. That’s one hell of an item with one hell of a flaw. Now i’m not saying that your bracers of defense should have a village sacrificed before each battle, but maybe a flaw and a little chink in that magic. Maybe you feel invulnerable or becoming addicted to pain as the bracers do their magic. Maybe that helm of the wilderness makes you want very angry sex with badgers. Something more than the yearly grind of powering up in the ritual circle. Lets face it those ritualists want to do something other than making lightsabres! In fact ritualists, break free of your bonds and start adding stuff to your items ;).
What do you think? Well one day I will get my item of my dreams, a chair that only i can sit in that repels anyone else on command.
The result of too many magical item ribbons.