Monthly Archives: June 2013

Where did the name “Freeform Games” come from?

sharpandsensibility
In Sharp and Sensibility, I played the British Prime Minister who, as well as running the country, had to deal with his demanding daughter and her friends.

In the UK and Australia, the games became known as “freeforms” whilst in the USA they became known as “theater-style larps”. They are often run at games conventions.

Thus Mo and I started Freeform Games, and started bring freeform-style murder mystery parties to the Internet.

The main differences between a Freeform Games freeform and the freeforms run at games conventions are:

  • We provide detailed instructions for our hosts as we appreciate that our game might be the first time they have tried this sort of thing.
  • Freeforms at games conventions are often steeped in the fantasy or SF genres – it’s not unusual to be playing a vampire or a spaceman or even a vampire spaceman. We try to keep our games fixed in the real world. (Although we have made a couple of exceptions, such as Spellbound and A Heroic Death.)
  • We also ensure that our murder mystery games are fairly simple and take no longer than about three hours to play – other freeforms can be quite elaborate and involve dozens of players and take an entire weekend (see my post on The King’s Musketeers).

So when Mo and I talked about starting a business bringing murder-mystery style freeforms to the Internet, “Freeform Games” just seemed to be perfect.

There are perhaps two downsides to calling ourselves Freeform Games. The first is that the name itself doesn’t mean anything very much, particularly if you aren’t involved in freeforming. Second, and probably more importantly, it’s not a particularly good name from Google’s perspective, as it doesn’t contain the words “murder mystery”.

Despite those two drawbacks, I can’t imagine being called anything other than Freeform Games. It suits us just right.

Bit parts

Way out West

Here’s an idea that you may wish to include in your game. (Note that if you’ve not played our games before, we suggest that you stick with the basic rules – but if you’re an old hand, go crazy!)

Bit Parts: Use a co-host or two to play the “absent” characters as bit-parts or minor roles. The co-host would play all of the “absent” characters, each of them in short bursts depending on what was going on at the time.

Tips for those playing the bit-parts:

  • Remember that you’re helping the host.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to read the extra characters.
  • Don’t play a single character for very long – you should be prepared to chop and change between the characters.
  • Try not to worry too much about solving your goals – your main purpose is to help the “main” characters with their goals.
  • Expect for any rules issues to go against your current character. After all, if that one is killed (or locked up, or has all their money stolen) you can simply take your next character.
  • It may be useful for you to know some of the rules (such as the combat rules) so that you can help the host when needed.