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Writing Freeform Larps


Freeform larps are interactive roleplaying games involving anywhere from six to as many as eighty players, all with detailed character backgrounds.

Writing Freeform Larps outlines a structured process for writing freeform larps, covering the initial concept through to running the game. Topics covered include writing plots and characters, character sheets, and rules and mechanics.


1 Introduction: A short explanation of freeform larps and why I wrote the book.

2 The process: The ten-step process I use to write my freeform larps.

3 Character sheets: A detailed look at freeform character sheets.

4 Structure and events: How I structure my freeforms, from game start through to wrap.

5 Plots: My four-step process for planning and writing plots.

6 Characters: What makes a good freeform character?

7 Rules and mechanics: A discussion of freeform larp mechanics, including combat, romance, contingencies, crime and punishment, abilities—and more.

8 Running freeform larps: My approach to running a freeform larp.

Appendix A: Freeforms: Details of the freeforms mentioned in the text, along with links.

Appendix B: Abilities: Example abilities from several freeforms.

Appendix C: Other freeform styles: A discussion of other freeform styles, including horde games, workshop games and faction games.

Appendix D: Where to find more: Links to other resources.

The freeform writing process

This is a brief summary of my writing process (discussed in more detail in chapter 2):

  1. Concept and constraints: Ideas and setting boundaries.
  2. Themes: What is the game about?
  3. Character types: In broad-brush terms, who are the characters?
  4. Outline characters: Characters in more detail – their public and private faces.
  5. Character sheet layout: What the character sheet will look like.
  6. Structure: Determining the freeform’s structure.
  7. Plots: Writing plots – the heart of the process.
  8. Rules and mechanics: Deciding on rules and mechanics.
  9. Background: Writing the game background.
  10. Finishing off: Getting it finished and ready to run.

(In reality, I hop between sections as the muse takes me. But the overall flow follows this process.)

About the author: Steve Hatherley has been playing and writing freeform larps for thirty years. He has written many freeform larps in different genres for different numbers of players – from six players to more than sixty. As one half of Freeform Games, Steve brings freeform-style larps to a broader audience by disguising them as murder mystery games.

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File Last Updated:
March 30, 2023
This title was added to our catalog on March 20, 2023.
Steve Hatherley
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