We have attempted to look at the Totem design through the lens of the Mixing desk of larp. We have set the sliders on a scale from 0-10.
Transparancy/secrecy (transparency +7)
Players are told how the scenario should be played, what they can expect from the experience and are included in creating and rehearsing culture at workshops. However players are not told how the rituals are going to work and how the storyline of the larp will be run.
360 illusion/minimalism (360 illusion +8)
The intention of the larp is to create a perfect 360 illusion and this should be strived for.
The scenography at the first run was made of the materials at hand, but the post-apocalyptic setting allowed for a strange mix. The scenography respresented a ritual ground where “what you saw was what you got” – everything represented what is was physically.
Character creation responsibility
Organizer /player (players +4)
The players at totem have most of the responsibility for character creation at the workshops. However organizers should direct the process and keep the creation process in line with the experience of the larp. Players have freedom to define their own stories and how the cultures should work, but not to define how the larp should be played and what will be the importance themes.
Runtime game mastering
Active/passive (the game starts on active 10 and ends on passive 10)
The story in totem is driven by NPC based rituals and challenges, but the amount of game mastering fades during the larp.
In the beginning of the larp, the old ones define everything for the players, but leaves more and more freedom up to the players during the larp and ends up by the old ones leaving their own fate to the players to decide. The players end the game alone.
Collaborativity/comptetivity (Collaboratory +10)
Totem is designed and played collaboratively. The larp is story and experience driven and there should be no off-game competition – the players will play to loose. However there will be plenty of ingame competition during the larp – the narrative of the larp is a conflict situation.
Loyalty to setting
Playability/plausibility (Playability +10)
All design choices in Totem has been made based on playability, as the whole of the setting is defined within the frame of the experience. Thus the scenography and play style matches this experience.
Close to home/differentiation (close to home +8)
The character creation process in Totem is based on exercises at the workshops, where the real life social status and relations of players are used to create the characters. During the larp status relations will change often and will be based on the players ability to take status, not to play a role.
The game attempts to place players in characters and relations, where everybody experiences the other characters as “real”, as opposed to the 16 year old, unsecure boy playing the person with the most status. We make no attempt to change the social configurations of the player group, but encourage them to explore these relations.
We encourage players to use their real life emotions in the game.
Physical/verbal (physical +8)
The play style at totem is very based on body language and physical play through meta techniques. The tribal, primitive setting, limits verbal language, but it is still used in a more simple form.
Representation of theme
Abstraction/simulation (simulation +10)
The experience of Totem is three days at the ritual grounds of the tribes and simulates the coming of age ritual. All meta-techniques are diegetic.
Intrusive/discrete (discrete +10)
All metatechniques are diegetic and should not challenge the flow of the game even though they play a big part in the experience.
Hardcore/pretense (hardcore +7)
Totem is supposed to be a hardcore, intense experience. It is a rough psychological experience to play totem, but the players should not be pushed physically beyond the border or the tribal culture.