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How to run the game

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The Devil’s Brood is designed to be a parlour larp which largely runs itself.  While there are Rules, they are intended to be resolved by the players without the GM’s intervention.  The GM’s role is therefore largely logistical, organising a venue, gathering a group of players, assigning characters, printing and handing out the character sheets.  During the actual game, they may need to answer questions, clarify areas of uncertainty, and (if necessary) adopt the role of a Bishop to marry or annul people.

Venue

The ideal venue is a large room, with some chairs, a table, and lots of corners to plot in.   Two of the chairs should be arranged as thrones at one end, with others along the walls or clustered to provide talking spaces.  The GM may wish to provide refreshments (grapes, bread and cheese are good “medieval” foods), and should have a large copy of the map pinned to a wall or weighed down on a table.

Players

The game is intended to run with a full cast.  If there are not enough female players, drop Margaret, then Constance.  The core group of Henry, Eleanor, Phillip, Richard, Geoffrey, John and Alais are all essential.

The GM should email all players the Rules, background, and their character sheet some time before the game, to allow them time to familiarise themselves with the contents.

Printing, photocopying, and logistics

The GM will need:

  • one copy of each character sheet
  • ten copies each of the Rules and background briefings (one per player and one for the GM)
  • a large (A2) copy of the map (this costs a couple of dollars at Warehouse Stationary)
  • smaller maps as desired
  • one copy of the nametags
  • nine envelopes
  • nine plastic badge holders


Each player should receive an envelope containing background, Rules, and character sheet, as well as a name-badge in a holder.

Starting the game

The player should be separated, with Henry and Alais starting in the venue, and the rest outside.  Those outside can enter in whatever order they wish, with the GM loudly announcing their name and title as they enter.  Henry should be encouraged to give a short speech of welcome to begin proceedings.

During play

The GM should adopt the role of a servant, fetching food and drink as requested, and making sure that everyone’s cup is full.  This allows a perfect opportunity to eavesdrop.  When not required, adopt an unobtrusive position so as not to interfere with play.

Players will likely ask questions during play.  The most common question will be to confirm their assessment of who will win a war.  The Rules for this are on the Rules sheet and are a simple matter of addition.

Physical combat between characters should be rare.  Richard is the only great knight, and John the only poor one.  If a character kills another (by defeating them twice, first to have them at their mercy, and the second time to kill them), they are automatically excommunicated and disinherited. 

If characters wish to marry, the GM should adopt the role of a Bishop for the ceremony.  Take the lead from the characters; if they wish to marry in secret, then conduct a short ceremony in a corner.  If it is part of a settlement at the end of the game, then be more formal, perhaps asking the parents or male guardians of those involved (Henry for any of his sons and for Margaret, Philip for Alais) for their consent beforehand.  If anyone interrupts the ceremony, let the players resolve it.  Only unmarried characters can marry.  Richard, John, Alais and Margaret are unmarried at the beginning of the game.

If two characters seek an annulment, they must both consent and show just cause, either adultery, consanguinity, or unnatural military rebellion of the wife against the husband.  Ask why they are seeking an annulment, explain that this means that both parties will keep whatever lands they brought to the marriage and that any children will be declared bastards and unable to inherit, and ask each one to consent.  If Henry and Eleanor’s marriage is annulled, Eleanor retains Aquitaine, and Richard, Geoffrey and John are declared bastards.  It is up to Eleanor whether she wants Richard to continue to rule Aquitaine in her place or not (if not, her combat value becomes 2 and Richard’s decreases to 1).  If Geoffrey and Constance’s marriage is annulled, Constance retains the Duchy of Brittany (increasing her combat value to 2), and Geoffrey becomes landless (reducing his combat value to 0)

Ending the game

The game should run for two to three hours.  After two and a half hours, the GM should remind Henry that he needs to decide on his will before the end of the court, and that he should make a formal announcement soon.  This will likely produce a spur of last-minute activity as Henry seeks a final settlement.  Once Henry has made his announcement, the GM should conduct any necessary annulments, allow the characters a few final words (or last minute murders), and end the game, perhaps with a toast to the heir.

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