Okay so there’s been a lot of disagreement on this subject and I wanted to bring it up here. To start I want to remind everyone that the suggestions I discuss here aren’t something I’m trying to push staff into implementing - this is their game and they can run loot however they want. But we were theorycrafting about how to build a better loot system and I thought I’d clarify my views on the subject a bit here.
Currently the loot system we have is…
First Come, First Serve, Pure Exploration
Components are scattered about on “mods” which in this case include both indoor and outdoor staff led experiences. These include but are not limited to nature walks, a specific type of mod where gathering components is the primary goal. This is in all cases first come first serve. You find it you get it. Distribution to the less fortunate is at the whim of the players and staffers on the mod.
Loot can be found on bodies after fights. This is also first come first serve. As soon as the bodies hit the floor they can be looted and whoever gets to them first gets it.
Occasionally some loot will have a tag that requires something specific in order for you to be allowed to harvest it. For example: Requires 5 people or one shifter in a specific form. Requires 3 garians. Etc.
People with different physical ableness or who don’t like fighting, or who are averse to risking injury to their physical person or costume (all of which are extremely valid concerns) don’t like a system that disadvantages them, because they don’t have opportunities to get the cool stuff. Once again: This is an extremely valid concern and I’ll be addressing it.
Some people use the current system to be complete dicks. They are always there first, and they do not share or back off and let other players have a shot. And they get massively rewarded for it. WTF guys
Loot sharing that does happen tends to be between the big groups and the little guys get left behind.
Sometimes someone misses a hook and doesn’t get a chance to go on an experience with a high likelihood of everybody getting loot.
Exploration is HIGHLY rewarded. Remembering to check that body or look in that container or taking the trouble to wade out into the pond gets you in-game rewards. Some people really like to be rewarded for that kind of exploration, revealing hidden rewards.
It also is great for immersion when done well. You can feel like you are actually a skilled gatherer in the world. Just… as long as you’re the first person to get there. It can be done poorly, but so far staff here has been doing well. Second Dawn had some problems in the middle years.
Other systems that have been used at other larps include:
Description: After each mod (not specifically fights, but these might be included) everyone gets a bag of loot. The bags aren’t all the same but they have the same value and there’s one per player. Nobody gets any extra. In theory the group could be rewarded or penalized based on certain conditions (every player gets an extra red bag for getting the win condition or the green bag gets removed from your main bag because you got the fail condition) but in practice it sounds like this does not happen - the reward for failure or success is mostly narrative, which is also fine.
No first come first serve. Everybody gets served.
Perfectly fair. Everyone gets equivalent loot for every activity.
Perfectly balanced. Staff has tight control over the economy. You can know exactly what’s in it at any given moment, how much goes out, what people find and in what combinations.
People with different ableness or different risk aversion don’t get left out.
Fewer lost components = less trouble for staff to replace.
When done right, it doesn’t break immersion that badly. There are in fiction ways to present these loot bags if the staffer is creative.
You always know when you are getting your rewards. It is never a surprise.
No reward for exploration
No reward for taking extra risk
If it starts feeling repetitive that can harm immersion. Like I said you always know when your reward is coming.
So I’ve been trying to argue that these systems are not inherently mutually exclusive, and that if you make the loot bags a little bit more immersive and add in some systems to manage abuse then you can arrive at a more perfect hybrid solution with elements of each and none of the potential for hurt feelings.
Stash Based System
In this system, each player starts the weekend with a given number of tokens. All players would have the same ammount, to make planning and balancing the economy easier.
There are two types of stashes in game:
Group Reward Stashes - Granted as part of a Mod or other Adventure. Require no loot tokens to open, contain rewards for all players who participated in the adventure in separate bags, one for each participant. Each player can only take one from a given stash, period. Everyone gets one. Extra bags go back to staff center. These need not be the ONLY type of reward in a mod, and a mod need not have them at all. It’s just one of two options.
Exploration Reward Stashes - Hidden through out the environment at in-game locations, off in the woods or around the open areas of the site where players can explore, or even in challenging to reach locations in a mod (or within a monster, whatever works, get creative). Requires one or more loot tokens to open. May specify that each required token must come from a different person - in this case there would actually be bags for each share of the loot and a player can only keep one. May further require specific knowledge or skills to open. May also require specific knowledge skills to even find the stash. Stashes are balanced so that if they cost two tokens they are worth twice as much as a one token stash and so on. Fixed value. You have to leave your token in the stash when you use it, and once you pop it you can’t take it back. Some stashes might not have their loot placed in boxes but instead be placed out in the wild (lillies in a lake for example), in this case you’d have to find the box associated with that loot and deposit your token in order to harvest.
Stash tokens prevent players who are using the exploration mechanic from abusing it. You can’t loot everything if you only have so many tokens. And they do this without removing reward for exploration. On the contrary, it INCREASES reward for exploration because EVERYONE is allowed to participate who is able to do so. With equal tokens, everyone gets an equal chance to explore, and you create a meaningful choice for the player: Do I burn the token on this stash or save it for an opportunity that better suits my character? Maybe wood is more valuable to me than lillies? Additionally, this encourages people to share their finds if they aren’t keen on spending their token on that particular stash. “There’s some really great wood on that north trail but I had no use for it. You should check it out.” “Thanks!”
Additionally, it gives the differently abeled a way to participate in these plots! Those who know they will not make use of their stash token can trade them to other players. Because the value of a stash is always a known quantity, you could either do an up front trade for a value equivalent to one stash, or give them the token in exchange for a share of a multi-person stash (because they’d be able to open the stash with your token but they could only KEEP one share of the treasure).
You could come upon an exploration stash in the wild without a staff guide and this mechanic still works. You can leave it and let players discover it without worrying that you are breaking the economy or causing hurt feelings.
Requires adding a system. TBH I feel like this is just what we do as game builders and isn’t a huge issue.
Requires tracking tokens. We’re already tracking loot every game.
Some components or tokens might get lost and require replacement. But sometimes shit breaks or gets lost and you replace it. That’s kind of what game organizers do.
Requires some adjustment from the player base, and mistakes will happen. People will open a stash they shouldn’t, or misread a tag. But mistakes already happen, so the question is whether these particular mistakes are an acceptable risk? I personally don’t think this requires us to put any more trust in the honor of our player base than we already do.
Anyway to be clear this isn’t something I suggesting or demanding that staff implement. This is their game and they are going to have to do what they think is right for the type of game they want to run. This is all about theory. I don’t know about you, but none of the options that are out there right now really satisfy me. You’ve seen what I think about them. Loot bags is boring and First Come First Serve is like the crown example of how people are our own hell.
But I hope that this is an exercise in listening to each other and working together to build better solutions. I think that it’s interesting to consider that this is really an analogy for real struggles with our world’s economy today - socialism vs. capitalism - in fact, the entire concept of capping off personal income is precisely what gave me the idea for loot tokens. You are allowed your success but not unlimited success at the expense of others! Beyond that, you have to give back to the community in a way that benefits the disadvantaged and makes the world a better, happier place. That’s the whole goal of this system. So let me know what you think, I figured this was a better place for it than Slack. Mostly because I have a keyboard here.