This is a descriptive definition of the style of games that are generally written at Peaky Midwest. It’s intended to be a starting point so we can talk about what we have done and what we intend to do in the future without confusing people.

It is NOT meant to be a prescriptive definition of the kind of LARP we will write at Peaky Midwest. We want people to feel comfortable experimenting with new and innovative mechanics and styles of gaming. If your writing team is excited to develop something totally outside this definition at a Peaky Midwest, more power to you!

"Theater-style LARP" in Chicago and at Intercon

Peaky Midwest grew out of a community of people in the greater Chicago area (stretching out as far away as Madison, Wisconsin and the Twin Cities) that socially centers around Fete Fatale’s games. The community also extends and intermixes enormously with the Intercon community from the greater Boston area.

These communities have a long tradition of several, related styles of games. There are many overlapping and confusing names for these styles and only some of them are related to what we’ve done at Peaky Midwest so far.

This is a good overview of styles, written by Nat Budin from the Intercon community. It includes descriptions (and some relevant links) for Secrets and Powers LARPs, Horde LARPs, Tale-telling LARPs, and American Freeform. There is a tendency in the Chicago crowd to call many of these games Theater-style LARPs, but that term hasn’t been very rigorously defined.

Peaky Midwest is also heavily influenced by the freeform games that are popular at Consequences. We would generally call these games LARPs. The term “freeform” has also been used to describe a number of hybrid LARP/tabletop games and has a very different meaning in the Nordic countries*, so the Chicago community has historically tried to avoid using it to describe our games.

There is a sub-group of British LARPers who travel regularly to Intercon and whose games have had a strong influence on our designers. This influence is even stronger in Peaky Midwest because our workshop grew out of the traditions of the Peaky writing workshop held in the UK. The first year of Peaky Midwest we even had several people visit from the UK to help us learn how to run a workshop similar to theirs.

* American Freeform draws more directly from Nordic traditions.

So, what is a Peaky Midwest style game?

Peaky Midwest games tend to share most (but not always all) of the following:

During Peaky Midwest writing teams are generally formed of three to six people (with a preference for four or five) and teams have only a day and a half to get their game ready for play-testing. Because of these limitations Peaky Midwest games generally: