Developer Diary 2: Night in Berlin

This is Greg (occasionally known as the Insidious Dr. Narwhal). I’ve settled in at Stately Pamean Manor v. 2 (the house we’ve rented for the week), and I’m mulling over the games that I’ll be running for the weekend. As always, I’m excited to see what players come up with for the LARP. Ken’s talked a bit about our design process for LARPs, though, so I’ll talk a bit about how we (or I, at least) go about writing a tabletop game. I’ll be focusing on Nacht im Berlin, one of the tabletops that I’ve produced for this year’s GenCon.

As is often the case when I’m writing, the seed for this story came from a mixture of historical material and fiction. (Given that I work as an academic historian and am a gigantic science fiction nerd, this isn’t terribly surprising). In this s instance I used two specific sources. The first was a novel, Fatherland, set in a grim parallel Europe in the 60s where the Nazis had won the war. The second was one of my favorite works of German political history, Battleship Building and German Politics. The two went together to form a murder mystery with a core of political scandal, which I hope will make for an interesting gaming session.

This particular adventure was especially interesting for me to write because it’s the first adventure that we’ve run with characters from one of the nations in the Three Emperor’s League. They often come across as the “villains” of Brass & Steel… and we may feed that stereotype a bit by using Austrians as our dastardly evildoers. In this scenario, I wanted to showcase some of the complexities within German society – which, in our world, is every bit as complicated as was the real Germany, where aggressive nationalists argued with internationalist socialist pacifists over the correct course for the nation to follow. The characters are mostly German patriots, but their convictions are going to lead them into some very murky and dangerous waters, and the scenario will explore some of the reasons why our world, like the real world in 1905-6 is marching toward a terrible confrontation. (you know, a game, for fun!)