What is a Freeform?


This is a subject of much discussion, particularly on the uk-freeforms e-group, where every so often people try to define exactly what the term means, and normally end up deciding that it means different things to different people.

What I mean by a freeform is probably best summed up by a quote from Steve Hatherley's web-site:


What's a Freeform?

Freeforms are similar to Murder Mystery parties - but you commit the murder yourself. Freeforms are a little like plays - but without a script or audience. Freeforms are rather like roleplaying games - but lack the tables, dice and have many, many more players.

On the other hand, SFC Press describe freeforms as "an interactive social game in which you assume the identity of a character and try to accomplish goals by talking with other players and using simple game systems to handle such things as combat, romance, etc."

You know, it's a lot easier to play in a freeform than it is to explain one.


Brian Williams' article goes into greater depth


The sort of freeforms that I enjoy playing and developing are the sort of plot-heavy, single-session, pre-generated character games like Café Casablanca, 1897 - Queen Victoria's Jubilee, Kings Musketeers, Torch of Freedom, Tombstone, Here be Pyrates! and our own Siege of Troy and Shogun


After taking part in Masquerade in 2011 Kirstine Heald wrote this excellent blog post about how to survive your first freeform - recommended reading for any Newbie.


InterCon is a freeform convention held annually in Boston since 1998 which as well as providing some excellent games also has a great stream of panels. In recent years some members of the UK-Freeforms group have attended the convention and provided some greatly enjoyable panels.

Tony Mitton ran a panel at Intercon L exploring the viewpoint of freeform GM's: Players are Scum

QueenorTart followed up Tony's panel the next year with a response from the players perspective: GM's are Bastards

With the current rise in popularity of 'Nordic' Freeforms, Tony stepped back up to the plate at Intercon N with: Nordic Larps are Toss

At Intercon O, QueenorTart ran the panel Writers are Cocks


If anyone is ever thinking of taking the plunge into writing a freeform game, an excellent starting point is Jeff Diewald's LARP-101