Writing a LARP – Boost your creativity

Original articlehttp://www.electro-gn.com/286-ecrituredegn-boostezvotrecreativite

Translation: Karine Coquelin & Leïla Teteau-Surel

We had already written a paper in the same vein. But the methods to improve one’s own creativity are legion. Amongst the most famous books by creativity theorists, we’ll name Gianni Rodari’s “Grammar of Fantasy”. A work that groups together the most important games and exercises. I’m going to do my best to apply them to LARP writing, let’s say… an unusual western.

Go! Terry Gilliam is shooting a burlesque western in Bakertown. Using Rodari’s games, what would outcome of that?


The imaginative pairs

The game is to take two words and associate them in the most original way possible; each word being use without taking its primary meaning into account. Its freed of its semantic field and “disoriented” in order to use one against the other and break every link with an obvious common sense.

I randomly catch a book on a shelf and here we go: “lead” and “dead”. A few ideas come up:

–   Bakertown’s mayor is dead and irreplaceable;

–   Bakertown is controlled by a gang of living dead bandits;

–   A necromancer is plaguing Bakertown;

–   The leader makes his decisions after interrogating the spirits;

–   Bakertown is heading towards its end: a plague epidemic.


Not very much satisfied of a somehow very classic (very “Deadlands”) result, I try again with two nouns randomly chosen in the same book: “combat” and “cardinal”.

–   No one knows its South from its North anymore, Bakertown is lost, cut of the world;

–   Bakertown is ruled by a church man with a red-dressed militia under his heel;

–   A priest is going to have to learn kung-fu to save someone;

–   Those who stand and those who crawl will have to fight (cardinal in its artistic meaning);

–   Two manufacturers decide to grow vines in the West (cardinal grape).

What woud happen if…?

For this game, we need a subject and a predicate. Harder to find by accidentally, but not impossible either.

Let’s still use the same book (even if it reduces the lexical field): “work” and the predicate “find ways to talk”. What would happen if a work (e.g. a painting) found a way to talk?

–  The cowboys could worship it, fall in love with it;

–   A performer would find a way to make money with it;

–   A teacher would try and educate it;

–   A witch hunter would come to destroy it;

–   A priest could be the only one hearing it and believed a fool.


The arbitrary prefix

Again, I’m going to pick up a random word and apply a prefix to it (de, over, anti, semi, bi, under, vice, mini, intra etc.): “Agitation”.

Some ideas:

–   Anti-agitation: the end of the world is coming soon. The preachers call it The Great Agitation.

–   Pro-agitation: certain groups try to accelerate it.

–  Bi-agitation : in this pre-apocalyptic world, marriage is a consumable. You can get married for a week and take the most you can from it before the end.

  OR :   two agitated neighborhoods, competing to know who’s organizing the most beautiful party.


This work evokes to me the end of the world, subject I think to often used, I’m not happy with it. In trying to choose another one, my finger stops between “face” and “fog”. Fog also being over exploited in fictions, I’ll go with ‘”face”, less obvious.

–  Disfigure: a real word which can mean many things;

–  In Bakertown, the social ladder shows on people’s faces through marks, e.g. numbers tattooed;

–  Anti-figure: card games with anti-figures. Anti-jacks and other very special rules, transforming poker into weird games already existing or yet to be invented;

–  Pro-figure: in Bakertown, all the artists must only do sacred works. One of them will try to represent something else than God.

–  Semi-figure: the megalomaniac forger has represented himself on all his counterfeited coins.

The “exquisite corpse”

Hard to do alone, I asked of my friends for help to produce a few “exquisite corpse” following the same pattern.

Who was it?

Where was it?

What was he doing?

What did he say?

What did people say?

What came out of it all?

Each of us answering every other question, we produced this:

–  A notary who just escaped the seminary;

–  At the undertaker’s;

–  Taking his temperature with one of his own inventions;

–  “They’re alive”;

–  People would have loved to be in his place, but weren’t the same size;

–  Result : three to zero


The idea of story we took from it :

Two solicitors arrive in Bakertown. They pretend to know where the gold is and sell some plot. One of them is a scientist. The other is a solicitor that fled from the seminary. He can have visions when putting an artefact in his bottom. A contest begins between the two of them. The town counts the score. At one point they ‘ll be asked to use their power to get back some miners lost in a mine.

 Another try :

–   A coward cowboy is in love ;

–   On the hill of thousands graves ;

–   He stole red objects ;

–   He said “I refuse straight away” ;

–   People said : But who speak this language ? ;

–   Despite his efforts, he was soon penniless.

 The idea of story we took from it:

A cowboy pillages the graves to find money, so he can marry a young girl. A spirit punishes him. He is condemned to speak another language which nobody understands. So he is dismissed from the ranch penniless. He discovers that if he finds an object which belonged to the spirit, he can release himself from the spirit. A riddle describes the object. He knows in particular that it is red.

Here you are, this was some examples of creative games that allow -even if it’s not a guarantee- to take some distance from clichés. It sometimes seem to me that the imaginary culture which is the foundation of today’s geek culture is incapacitating because it copies itself endlessly and sadly kills its inherent poetry. I think it’s more than ever necessary to give ourselves the means to think different (damn, the slogan is already taken!).

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