Synergon was conceived as a satire of office culture and corporate-speak, but expressed in the language of a D&D-style role playing game. What originally started as a joke among employees quickly expanded to include basic rules and longer lists of abilities and skills. Pretty soon it became apparent that it could be made into a fully playable table-top RPG.
Synergon is supposed to simulate BLARPing. LARPers (or Live Action Role Players) are a group of people who get together to act out roles, usually in a vaguely medieval or fantasy setting. You may know them as those-guys-that-hit-each-other-with-foam-swords. BLARPers, on the other hand, are Business Live Action Role Players, and they play make believe every day in the office.
The comparison between LARPers and business people quickly becomes apparent when considering how many people in the business world are just making things up as they go along. They often don’t have any expertise in the area they’re responsible for, but they feel that the right amount of zeal and showmanship can make up for any deficiency. You know the ones; they’re in every office, acting, not working. They don’t know what they’re talking about, they just know they’ve heard all the words before.
In fact, it is that business jargon that makes the most compelling case for saying many businessmen are just BLARPing. For example, take a meeting where some manager or executive (the master class of BLARPers) keeps using terms that mean nothing to the average person. That’s not much different from people dressing up and talking about mead, mana points, mages, morning stars, and maidens.
Here’s an example. Watch this short video of a LARPing session:
Just because someone is wearing a power tie instead of a codpiece doesn’t mean he’s not a role player too. Instead of a guy in a kilt yelling “Lightning Bolt!” picture a guy in slacks yelling “ROI” in a meeting, or maybe KPI, or RFP. There are a million of them, and they are all said as incantations that, if spoken forcefully enough, will indeed bring revenue and fame. When people are invoking the spell of “leveraging our synergy” (a phrase that was actually used in a business meeting) without even explaining what that means or how to accomplish it, it’s clearly all just an act. A BLARP.
Here’s an example. Just listen to the series of incantations this guy invokes:
Some people think LARPing is absurd. But frankly, BLARPing is far more ridiculous. LARPers know it’s just a story (well, most of them anyway), a fictional role they play. They come together to spend time with friends in a common interest, and at the end of the day, they give each other the medieval equivalent of a high-five, pack up their stuff, and go back to regular lives. BLARPers, on the other hand, think the show is real, which is actually dangerous.
Synergon is intended to walk a fine line. As mentioned, it is supposed to be a full-fledged RPG, and yet it is also intended to be a funny look at corporate culture for those who don’t have any intention of rolling dice. If you want to play a new RPG, give it a try. If you just want poke fun at “the man” and his minions, read through some of the ability, skill, item, and frenemy lists. You’ll surely find something to relate to, and it will be so much funnier when someone invokes a BLARP spell in the next meeting. Laughter is cathartic even if you can’t change the situation.
We’d love your help in improving Synergon. If you find problems with the gameplay, let us know. And if you have any feedback on the satire, we’d love to hear it too.
May you all see a larger ROI in the next fiscal quarter,
CEO of The Blarp Consortium
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