Real World Skills vs Roleplay Skills

Most people pick skills for their LRP characters that they would not normally be able to do in their normal lives, such as being a surgeon, flying a spaceship, wielding mystical energies and so on.  But how to simulate these skills within a believable framework?

4716_originalArguably one of the harder aspects of your system will be how players recover from injuries after combat (due to the potential inevitability of combat at some point during the event).  This article is primarily from a perspective of games within a sci-fi/modern day setting but I think the could easily apply to a low fantasy setting (high fantasy has all kinds of wondrous magic at its disposal).

A medical system has to enable the Medic/Healer character to resolve injuries sustained to a player character during the combat encounter.  A completely realistic system might entail that if the player character receives a serious enough injury then they would effectively be out of the game for the rest of the event.

Realistic?  Yes.  Playable?  Not so much.   (Unless you are going for an ultra realistic game system and your players are on board with this but in my experience that’s definitely more of a rarity).

Some middle ground is required.

The healing period after combat is effectively a penalty of some kind for getting injured in the first place, typically there are three parts to this equation: –

  • Location of injury
  • Severity of injury
  • After effects of healing

How you resolve the first two is up to your system, whether they pull beads out of bag, roll an electronic dice or draw a playing card, any of those methods are perfectly viable.  Typically once you have resolved the first two elements, there is then a recovery period before the character is able to fully resume play.  But how to resolve the third element?

Do your players apply a poultice of crushed herbs?  Wrap a bandage around the wound?  As I alluded to in a previous post its all about balance.  Getting a medical character to play Operation to simulate a medical skill seems like a reasonable request but what if that player really doesn’t have the dexterity to play the game?  As a friend who’s opinion I respected told me “it’s called role-play not real-play” and that’s another statement that still stays with me when both writing and running LRP games but as I’ve said before I like my players to actually have to do something in order to use their skills.

In a similar vein, in another game system I’d bought a bunch of old Gameboys and players would play Tetris to simulate hacking into computers, the harder the system the higher the score needed, but then one player had problems as I’d bought first gen systems with a monochrome screen and he had difficulty differentiating the shapes but he wanted to play a hacker, we were able to settle on a compromise that didn’t spoil his enjoyment of the game.

So I seem to disproving my own statement?

Well maybe, but then again it comes down to game balance, any skill has to reflect some challenge that the player is capable of performing without spoiling their enjoyment of the game.

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