We play out of Camp Harmon, part of the Easter Seals organization, dedicated to helping Austistic individuals lead fuller lives. The camp has a requirement for quiet hours after from 10PM to 6AM. This doesn't mean we can't use signature calls or provide some volume, but we are required to keep from making excessive noises (all-out screaming) during this time. Because the camp is making many allowances for us, we want to do everything we can in order to ensure the camp stays happy with us. Kitchen use is limited - please contact an Executive Officer to use the kitchen. Be sure to clean up any mess you create at camp, and help during game-down if at all possible.
To understand what Dark Prospects is you may need a bit of California history.
Over 13,000 years ago humans first pushed into the Americas by way of what is now known as Alaska. About 10,000 years ago these peoples made their first push into California. Over the next 9,500 years California, a virtual paradise, grew in population. During the 1500s the Spanish and other Europeans began to claim territory. In 1821 Mexico declared independence from Spain - the territory of California came with it. Then, in the 1840s a war broke out between Mexico and the United States - at the end of which Mexico ceded the coastal territory to the Americans.
In January 1848 something of particular interest happened. A man in Coloma, California discovered gold. This didn't become a big issue until 1849.
This is where our story begins. When gold surfaced in California it started a boom - people came from all over the world to join in the search for gold, creating an environment full of opportunity - anyone could be the next one to discover a massive vein of gold and become rich, or just profit off of all of the prospectors barely making it by.
What is our goal with this game?
With Dark Prospects we wanted to create a total immersion game, one which would allow you to stay in character for an entire weekend. More than that, we wanted to make sure that we stayed true to the source material wherever possible, and that the setting was well respected. We chose the California Gold Rush of 1849 for a number of reasons - it provided a setting where everyone could be involved, but was truly historical. The California Gold Rush was a wonderful example of equal potential between races, creeds, sexuality, and gender. While there may have been plenty of isms, it didn’t seem to impact whether or not you could work a field. There was still plenty of inequality, and thus conflict. Really though, part of the reason is that it’s California - the place that many of our players call home. There’s plenty of Historical documentation for the period, and it should be pretty easy to have a good time in the setting. Above all else, we wanted to create a game that you, the player, would enjoy. So we do hope you’ll enjoy it!
What is this book?
The Dark Prospects Rule Book is intended to give you the mechanics and setting information that you’ll need to play the game. In it, you’ll find information about 1849 California, resources to use for more information, mechanics, and rules for how to play. The following pages are a loaded with information that we hope you’ll find useful.
What is a LARP?
If you’re completely new to LARP, you might not know what we’re talking about here - LARP stands for Live Action Role Play. It’s what we’re doing here! In this game, you’ll take on a role of a historical character (one you create, not a real person). Throughout the weekend you’ll spend time being this person - from their personality, to their behavior, to anything that might happen to them.
What is WYSIWYG?
You may have seen it before, but WYSIWYG is an acronym that stands for "What You See Is What You Get" - it means that we’re trying to keep everything as in character as possible - everything that happens to you, our players, is as close to reality as we can make it (we’re not giving you real guns and swords to play with, but we’re using the closest analogs we can for a Live Action Game.) There are some obvious exceptions to this rule, such as a body card being left behind or headbands representing different planes of reality, but we generally tried.
A quick note on Trust
Our rules system is loose in many ways because we intend to trust our players and hope that our players trust us in turn. We support the idea of rarely using a mechanic in an abusive way in order to supplement your RP experience. That said, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you or someone you know is repeatedly abusing a system, please contact the Rules team and get help. Seriously, if you don't actively abuse it, it will remain flexible. If you are seen abusing it regularly, it will get fixed.
What is the World of Darkness?
The World of Darkness is a setting created by White Wolf Publishing. It’s a world not entirely dissimilar to our own, except that in it everything is a bit darker - the monsters you know from legends are real, though normal people don’t know anything about them. Every supernatural creature in the World of Darkness wants to keep its secrets because without them, humans would likely try to wipe them out, and nobody wants that! We hope that through our mechanics and our storytelling we’re able to stay true to the Source Material while still being lots of fun for you, the player.
Dark Prospects is a dramatic game. Life in a LARP town is more exciting than real life and you should expect to be in lots of dramatic situations - if you find yourself getting overwhelmed it’s okay to take a step back, take a deep breath, and relax.
You may notice some kind of odd abilities in this game - ones that don’t necessarily fit in with reality, but that you’ve certainly seen in movies. Totally intentional, folks. Be theatrical - what’s the point in playing a game if you’re not having fun with it!
Representations of the 1850s
We ask players to try your best with costuming, but we also understand budget and space constraints. While Levi’s iconic 501 wasn’t created until 1890, and they did not sell a pant until 1870 at all, we believe that it’s an acceptable element of costuming to help keep your costs down. Similarly, true revolvers weren’t readily available until the 1860s, but we use both those and repeating rifles in our setting. We can explain this a few ways. Firstly, it’s more fun to have these types of weapons. Secondly, this takes place in an alternate reality - it’s quite possible they were created a few years earlier in our universe.
The person you will become during our game weekends is your Character. He or she is a personality you will assume. Characters may either be completely normal mortals, or various forms of supernatural monster. Whatever you choose to play, you’ll find some mechanical information about them in the rest of this book, as well as some information on playing them.
Primary Characters, Secondary Characters, and Alternates
Primary and Secondary characters are two characters who have linked XP and are otherwise not connected. The characters may not have linked backstories and should not be part of the same supernatural Type. They absolutely cannot share knowledge between them. Both characters belong to you. You may not spend earned XP directly on your Secondary character, but as you spend XP on your Primary, you receive ⅓ as much spendable XP on that Secondary character; ½ if one character in the pair is on a Mortal sheet. Alternate characters are simply other characters you have on the books but are not being played on the current weekend. Any Alternate character that is not already in a pair can become a Primary and can have its own Secondary, though we recommend you stick to a small number of Primary characters. During a game you receive a special benefit for having a Primary/Secondary pair, allowing you to swap between these characters twice during the game weekend. If a Primary character exits play (retired, killed) then you may make your Secondary into a Primary with all of the surviving character’s current XP available. If a Secondary character exits play, you may attach a replacement secondary the following game. If a character is killed (or dispersed) or otherwise made unavailable for more than 6 hours during gameplay you may switch to the other character at game even if you have already switched twice. When switching between your Primary and Secondary characters please notify ST camp.
Splitting a Primary/Secondary Pair
- You may not attach a pre-existing character to a Primary unless the proposed secondary has never had XP spent on them.
- Newly built secondaries are recommended for attaching to primaries.
- If your Secondary character is killed, you may replace them - however, abuse of this system (Creating characters specifically to kill them, losing characters multiple games in a row intentionally) will result in that being disallowed. New secondaries attached this way receive the full amount of XP that a Secondary for that Primary should have.
- If you retire a Secondary character, you may replace them as above, though this may only be done twice a season.
- If a Primary dies, your Secondary becomes a Primary, operating at their current XP level going forward and may have a new Secondary attached to them.
- You may break a Primary/Secondary pair at any time. If you do, your Secondary may become a Primary operating at their current XP level and may take on a new Secondary at any time. You may attach a new Secondary to an original Primary split this way without delay once per season. Beyond once per season, attaching a new Secondary to an original Primary split this way incurs a 3 game delay. The characters who were previously paired cannot be reattached, and cannot ever be played in the same session as each other again.
Creating your character
Every character should have come into this world as a mortal concept. That’s the person your character grew up as - maybe he was a street rat, or a businessman, or a circus performer. From there, you’ll have to decide how they got to be the person they are today. Are you a human, or a monster in human skin? Did you stay the person you grew up as, or did you evolve into someone very different?
Once you’ve decided on the key events that led your character to our town, you can send your concept into our Character Guides - their job is to help make sure your concept fits into our world at large. If he/she doesn’t, they’ll help you find your way until he/she does. Their job isn’t to make your character for you, it’s to help you make a character who works for the setting.
Progressing your character
Experience (referred to as XP, or Experience Points) is used to allow you to progress your character. As you play the game, your character becomes more powerful, and XP is how we measure this change. You gain XP in the following ways:
- 3XP for attending a game.
- Up to 3XP for NPCing at any given game. (Storytellers receive this XP at all games)
- 3XP for being active on Staff.
- Up to 3XP for writing literaries (short format fiction)
- Variable XP for participating at non-game events, such as workdays.
- Variable XP for donating materials, written articles, or accepted rituals
XP remains on your account until you spend it on a character.
Every Character has a Character Sheet. This is a record for what your character is mechanically capable of (there are plenty of things you can do that don’t have mechanics as well). It’s also a record of how your character has progressed. Creating a character doesn’t mean you now have a static person that never changes, it means you’ve codified what your character can do right now on paper. There’s an advancement mechanic as well, and we hope we’ve made it easy to take advantage of. We highly recommend using the online Character Creation tool to build your characters.
The Character Guides are available to help you with your character, and you should likely work with them to help make sure that your choices make sense with your concept. A character who has never touched a gun in their backstory probably shouldn’t be a Crack Shot, but if they used to be a cattle rustler they might be really good with a gun. You should build the character yourself, but check him in with the Character Guide staff.
Things you’ll find on a Character Sheet
- Type: The natural (or supernatural) type of character you are playing.
- Player Name: This is your real life name - who you are. It helps us keep track of your character for you.
- Character Name: This is the name you chose for your character during the creation process.
- Subtypes: These are specializations within the Type of character you’re playing. Most of them will be covered as the book progresses as well. They have things with names like Clan, Tribe, etc.
- Patron: Patrons are the spiritual beings that your character may be tied to. Usually to become a Patron, you need to have a special bond with that being - a Christian character might have the Patron Jesus Christ, while a Buddhist might take Buddha. Along similar lines, some of the supernatural creatures in this world have tangible bonds with spirits like Coyote, or Bear. We’ll go more in-depth with this in their sections.
- Health: Health is a mechanical representation of how much life your character has left in them.
- Energy Type: Energy comes in a few different types, all of which will be covered in their Type-specific sections. Mortals come with an energy called Essence. This is the innate power that your character has inside of them. Shifters and Gaian Spirits use Gnosis, Vampires Blood, and Wraiths Pathos.
- Energy: This defines the maximum energy your character has, and the amount you come into game with.
- Secondary Energy Type and Amount: Some characters have an additional secondary energy - if you have one, it will be called out specifically in the type-specific rules section of the book.
- Willpower: This is a psychological resource for your character! It’s sometimes used to resist certain effects that are used on your mind, but it has more purposes including changing how the Delirium (mask) effect works on mortal characters.
- Powers: These are special abilities your character has that use your energy resource. Most characters can get access to some kinds of powers, but you’ll have to read on for more on that! Powers can either be Innate (your character has access to them naturally for some reason) or Learned (you have picked them up from somewhere) - Innate Powers generally have a lower purchase price than Learned ones.
- Skills and Abilities: Abilities are things that your character either can or can’t do - they might have the Ability to use firearms, or fighting knives, or fight with their fists. Abilities only have one level because they allow you to use your skill as a player to perform them. Skills are things that your character has learned but come with more than one level. A list of Skills and Abilities comes later in this chapter.
- Merits, Flaws, Advantages, and Weaknesses: These are usually referred to as “final touches”, or sometimes “quirks” - they provide some mechanical advantage or detriment to create more role play options for you - think of it as an additional framework for your character’s behavior.
New Rulebook Releases
We will only publish new rulebooks between seasons, or at mid-season, but some errata may appear on the forum between releases.