Motivating a horde


Rune Priest
As I was thinking about horde games (a type of larp) a couple of months back (see here), I thought I’d talk about something the horde can use based on Monster of the Week (MotW).


One of the problems I sometimes find with horde games is that the horde swamps the permanent characters. Horde characters are often little more than two sentences that need something from the main characters. And as a main character, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the horde.

(One of the things I liked about Across the City (the horde game written at Peaky 2023) was that as a permanent character, I had a plot, and while there was a horde around me, I didn’t always have to interact with them. But occasionally, they were very irritating and got in the way of our main plot.)

Anyway, it occurred to me that it might be worth thinking about the horde characters’ role – or motivation, as MotW puts it.

MotW gives everything a motivation – locations, monsters and NPCs. And the motivations explain their role in the story. So dark woods with the motivation maze will confuse and separate the players, while a den will harbour monsters.

(Sometimes the motivations are obvious, but even then, I find it useful to think in those terms: what purpose does this location have in the story.)

And the NPC motivations could easily be used in a horde game.

MotW bystander motivations

So rather than invent the wheel, here are MotW’s NPC motivations. (If they’re not minions of the baddies, MotW calls its NPCs bystanders.)

  • Busybody (motivation: to interfere in other people’s plans)
  • Detective (motivation: to rule out explanations)
  • Gossip (motivation: to pass on rumours)
  • Helper (motivation: to join the hunt)
  • Innocent (motivation: to do the right thing)
  • Official (motivation: to be suspicious)
  • Skeptic (motivation: to deny supernatural explanations)
  • Victim (motivation: to put themselves in danger)
  • Witness (motivation: to reveal information)
How does this help the horde?

If I was playing one of the horde, knowing the intent behind the character would help me play them. As well as the usual two-line character, it would help to know that my job is to throw myself in the path of the monster so that I can be rescued. Or whether I should be helpful – or a hindrance.

I know I would find this useful.

(I have a horrible feeling that I’m talking myself into writing a horde game…)

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