of Gray Manor
Story & Gameplay
Rules of Play
What is The Haunting
of Gray Manor?
The Haunting of Gray Manor is a larp for 50-70 participants about a haunted building. The larp occurs in the present and will be held within the Cambridge Masonic Lodge, utilizing the full space. It is an intense larp focusing on the supernatural, and will utilize sound, light, and other techniques to amplify mood and intensity of roleplay, as well as provide an easy suspension of disbelief.
This larp centers on a mysterious medium who has invited people from a diverse range of backgrounds to come and join a ritual to connect to the land of the dead, and to remove the haunting of the building. The characters who participate will be diverse and fall into a spectrum of believers in the supernatural, skeptics, or those unsure. The larp assumes that the supernatural is real and includes mechanics that intensify the experience, giving opportunities for participants to explore a world where ghosts are real, and the building is haunted. The larp will focus heavily on mysterious deaths that will occur as Participants are marked by a black spot mechanic and choose whether this means they will die or not, crossing over and becoming ghosts that haunt the building and adding to the growing sense of dread among the remaining.
Participants will have several tasks before them. The primary “goals” of the event are to explore the manor, interact with the other guests and determine associations, join seances or perform other minor ritual activity to contact the dead, and be marked (or not) and choose to die and join the ranks of the ghosts haunting the building.
Along the way there will be:
- Debates – Characters will be debating the existence of the supernatural, what it means, what to do, and exploring the depths of their imaginations.
- Mysteries to solve – The host of the event will pass early, with the characters then exploring and engaging with the event space. The mysteries of the supernatural world will be a major appeal, with seances and other rituals conducted to contact the dead and learn more about what is going on.
- Personal stories – The characters will have rich back stories and reasons for being at the event. They will have ties to each other, mixed into a variety of different kinds of groups, and this will be part of the larp experience of roleplaying through their stories.
- Death – An aspect of this larp will be confronting death and what lies beyond, and characters may pass on themselves, becoming part of the world of the ghosts. They will then need to understand what that means for their character, as well as finding ways to interact with the still living.
- Contextual drama – The intensity of the supernatural experience intended and the haunting of the building will drive conflict in dramatic ways. The characters will likely have points of emotion that will be driven by motivations and aspects of their background.
Sound like a fun time?
Safety and Consent Mechanics
We wish to ensure peoples comfort and security levels, so we will have safety, consent, and calibration mechanics in play. They will be chosen based, in part, on responses to the player surveys that we conduct. We have used mechanics like “Check-Ok,” safe words, and green/red/yellow cues in the past, and those used for this game will be along those same lines. We will design specific mechanics for safety that will allow participants to engage with the story safely, and to allow participants to intensify or diminish the mood and atmosphere as they choose.
This larp will be mediation based with outcomes fully determined by the participants on a consent basis. If Participants come into conflict, they are empowered to resolve the conflict for themselves. We will be holding a workshop at the beginning of the game to ensure that people understand the basics of mediation -- what is mediated conflict and how it works. All participants are in full control of what the outcomes are, and determine for themselves anything that affects themselves, including whether their character dies or not.
This larp utilizes several mechanics to amplify and intensify story. Though there may be other mechanics utilized after the creation of this design document, the initial mechanics considered core and integral are:
- The Black Spot: this is a major mechanic for this larp. When marked by a game staff member by a black ink stamp, the participant can choose to incorporate this into their story (or not) and aim for a death. The mechanic assumes that the character is marked by fates and will die. It is up to the participant to decide if and how this occurs.
- Shrouds: this is a mechanic whereby if a person is wearing a shroud, they are considered a ghost and immaterial. They must be ignored by those not in shrouds, and interaction with other shrouds in most larp space should be minimal. If a séance is occurring, or some other ritual manner of communicating with spirits, the shrouded person may lightly whisper or interact with surroundings. There will be one designated space where all shrouded individuals may interact freely, being ghosts but without the normal constraints.
- Gates: this larp will utilize a symbol to indicate that a room is barred. This means that a non-shrouded person cannot pass through the door. We use this symbol to show areas that are off-limits, as well as to gate participants into areas to intensify certain events. This is also a safety mechanic, as no door will ever be truly closed in case a participant needs to exit or get into an area for any reason.
Characters and Groups
This larp will feature several different groups and types of characters with varied motivations. Some suggestions of the kinds of characters present are:
- Believers: those that believe in the supernatural and are interested in interacting with spirits, the occult, or anything unusual.
- Skeptics: characters that are looking to explore reasons for the supernatural not existing. The larp assumes that the supernatural is real, so these types of characters will grapple with that understanding.
- The unsure: characters that are not sure what to believe and come into the event with growing awareness of what is happening and intended to explore the dread or exhilaration of the unknown.
- Cultists/Ritualists: members of cults or ritual groups that are at the event to gain knowledge, or to raise their level of prestige within the occult world.
- Ghost hunters: explorers of the spiritual world that use technology or other devices to root out and explore hauntings.
- The elite: the powerful and rich characters that operate in higher class society.
- The confused: characters that are at the event for reasons unknown to them, having been invited by the host and representing people who are called by fate or other circumstances to be present.
- The supernatural: characters that have a true connection to the supernatural, perhaps being possessed by ghosts or having other unusual circumstances that connect them strongly to knowledge of ghosts.
Leadership and Status
This larp will start with the premise that everyone is on equal footing, though the host and their attendants are the guides for the evening. It is presumed that when the host is marked by the Black Spot mechanic and dies that characters will organically come to arrangements of leadership after this, but that no one is assumed to have a character in control or possessing status. Workshops will establish creating space and opportunity for individuals to explore different aspects of finding their voice, and this larp will cover breaking down normative control in favor of collaboration techniques so that everyone can explore the story they are interested in.
What is most important to us in running this event is that you have a strong, immersive experience. While there will be plenty of things to do, there will also be time to explore your character and to live in their shoes for a bit. Because everything is on site, there is more opportunity for bonding experiences, as well as intense emotional moments. We will provide safe, out-of-character spaces, as well as trained counselors in case they are needed, and have a large staff whose goal is to make this event as comfortable as possible for you to relax into. As well, our workshop will address issues of consent, safety, trust, comfort, and gameplay. You will have the opportunity to explore the supernatural and unknown.
Reverie Studios, LLC believes strongly in collaborative storytelling. We design our games to be immersive and theatrical, and we work hard to give our players a moving experience that will stay with them even once they are back in the real world. The ideas here provide a framework for the stories that we create and the characters that we write. We hope that you will take these precepts to heart to help us create a powerful and entertaining experience for you.
Every character we write is built along one fundamental principle – it must be a character that we would want to play ourselves. We carefully construct intricate, detailed backgrounds with a web of connections to other characters, in order to provide a fully fleshed out game experience. All of our characters have rich histories, clear motivations, and a list of allies and rivals that we hope our players will use as tools to fuel their roleplay.
Play for Interesting
The event being run is not a game that can be won; it is an event to be experienced. Character histories are filled with angst, drama, secrets and emotions, and these should drive your in-character decisions. To better achieve this, we encourage our players to adopt the philosophy developed by several Nordic larp communities – Play for what is interesting (aka play to lose). The goal of this play-style is not to strive towards successfully achieving particular goals, but to collaboratively build dramatic moments. An excellent example is in the way we want our players to handle a character’s secrets: the “winners” of our game aren’t the ones who managed to stay safe and maintain their secrets, but the ones who allowed their secrets to emerge in the most entertaining way for everyone in the game.
Try not to interpret your characters in a way that prevents them from engaging with other characters, the plot, or the drama. Instead, find reasons for your characters to risk themselves, or speak with rivals and those you may have in-character reasons to fear. Information discovered should be shared, not hoarded and protected, unless there is a more exciting and interesting moment for that information to come out.
We hope that you will embrace these ideas as we have and will join us, and the other players in our games, to create immersive, dramatic experiences that you’ll tell stories about for years to come. We want this game, and all of our games, to be the best thing you do this year. Please help us achieve that goal!