Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Game Design: Looking Through Lenses

I've always been a sucker for game design and try to read everything I can get my hands on. One of the presents I got for Christmas was a book I've been lusting over called "The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses," by Jesse Schell.

Even after just starting this book, I can tell you that it's amazing. It is a text book (which means expensive, long, and boring), but what is really great is that they teach you to look at your game from specific points of view - something I think many game designers lack the discipline to do.

I could easily design a game that I think is fun, but what about other people? What would be the main goal of various rules? What about a theme?

This book provides 100 different lenses in which you should analyze your game, complete with the questions you should ask. Lenses include:

Lens of Fairness
Lens of Economy
Lens of Reward
Lens of Punishment
Lens of Griefing
Lens of Simplicity/Complexity

And many more. So for all you aspiring game designers out there, I would heartily suggest that you pick up this book and use the lenses it gives you.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What To Do In the Off-Season?

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I was at the in-laws house for Christmas, where internet is a scarce commodity (and water is too, apparently). The family survived by playing game after game of Dominion for warmth, or something like that.


Around this time of year, I never know what to do with myself. With no games in the near-near future, I have a little bit of time to work on some of the projects that should have been done a long time ago.
  • I plan on making some Steampunk gear for Exiles, as I will most likely play a Technologist when my current character bites the big one. Technologists are a prop-heavy class, but I think it could be a lot of fun.
  • I need to go over the reps I have that need to be repaired, and throw away the ones that have been far past that point for some time now.
  • Work on a new costume for a new character. This is going to mean some scrounging, some modifying, and some sewing. Also, said character is going to need some new boffers.
  • Get the minimum stuff required to attend a Wastelands game. Essentially, this means Airsoft eye protection as well as a boffer or two that are a little more modern than what I've got.
  • Start writing up some plot for the game (possibly games) I'll be running.

So what kinds of stuff do you do in the off-season?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Death: The end and the beginning

Death as the archetypal spectre, scythe in hand, looms over the game of larp with palpable gloom. All who play larp can attest to the adrenaline rush inherent within a death defying situation. We play the game for moments where the real falls aways and we are immersed in the moments of fantasy, fear is one of the most powerful propellants to those moments. Yet we as plot runners must be careful, because death can also turn players away. The loss of a favored character can drive a person to a new game or away from LARPs completely. How do we balance these two opposing end points? How do we maintain the immersion while tempering the loss?

It is important to begin with why death is essential to the structure of a good LARP. Realism, within the confines of a fantasy world, dictates that actions must have consequences. These consequences can be large or small, but in the end there must be a final consequence to deter rash action. Death is the generally accepted manifestation of that consequence. The permanent loss of life and playability of a character is the ultimate end point for any series of bad decisions. So realism as defined here is not the same as realism in a novel, we are merely discussing actions and consequences, good actions gain rewards, bad actions lose something ending in death.

Abstractly then, when is death appropriate? It is appropriate when it was predicated by a series of bad decisions. In the game of NERO, it is highly unlikely that you will permanently die without making bade decisions along the way, multiple deaths and buyback provide a safety net from accidental death. So if death is appropriate when led to by bad decisions, how do we make other situations harrowing? NERO handles this through multiple deaths as stated before, it could also be handled by alternative consequences. Look at the comic book heroes who are not inherently death proof, the Punisher, Batman, etc, these characters fail from time to time but they do not always die. Sometimes they are captured, sometimes their identity is put at risk. Plot runners should take note, death is the final consequence not the only consequence.

When will death lead to player dissatisfaction? When it appears inevitable and unwinnable. No module should be designed in such a way that it is unwinnable. There can be fear, a dark period where the heroes are unsure if they will pull through but they should always be able to see that light at the end of the tunnel. Victory should be a handsbreath away and they should succeed or fail on their own actions and decisions. This is why it is so important to have experienced staff and plot, on the fly scaling can make an encounter feel right on the edge much more cleanly than prescaling can. A classic example of this in media is the original Star Wars trilogy, A new Hope ends on an upbeat, then their is the dark period of Empire and finally the poignant victory of Jedi, victory is always in sight but the decisions of teh main characters decide the ending( I am such a dork)

So then what is death? It is our final stick, the big motivator, it drives the players to make accurate, concise, timely decisions. We as plot must be careful to not under or overuse it. Underuse leads to a story that feels unpressed, overuse leads to player disatisfaction. Death is your greatest tool ladies and gentlement, keep its edge sharp with constant reminders but do not dull it on menial tasks.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Paradoxically Delicious

All the games we follow in Ohio are over for the season, so we'll be holding off on the Week In LARP posts until 2011. You'll have to hold yourselves over by repairing reps or watching movies like Army of Darkness and The New True Grit.


There are a lot of things I take for granted when it comes to LARP. I assume that everyone knows these things, regardless of their experience level. Of course, this is not always true, because not everyone is into the same aspects of the game as I am.

So imagine a time when you started your first LARP. You were a newbie and didn't really know what was going on. Now, imagine that you can go back in time and give one piece of advice to your past self. What would you tell him?

  • Bring extra socks, a warm sleeping bag, and an air mattress?
  • Try and remember names and write everything down?
  • Stay away from the guy who wears all black?
  • Bring your own Toilet Paper?
  • Remember to drink water, eat food, and sleep?

What do you think is the most important piece of information for a new player?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Review Ring Mesh Chainmail

Today I am going to take a quick look at a product that I have owned for around 5 years. Ring mesh chainmail, whoever thought this stuff up was brilliant. It is essentially a butchers mesh shirt made from stainless steel welded rings. The resulting masterpiece weighs less than 3 pounds, looks like a mithril shirt and lasts for a very long time.

Style: These shirts are really cool looking. The chains are welded and the pattern is a machine weave so you will never see a handmade shirt that looks this good. There are no alternate patterns or colors and you cannot anodize stainless steel very easily but for plain jane chain mail this is definitely a 5/5

Functionality: The use of a chainmail shirt in larp is really just to get you armor points and look cool. These shirts do both. If you plan on wearing this shirt to a knife fight you should realize that although it will probably stop slashs, stabs are gonna kill you. Overall if you get the right size this shirt is a 5/5 for larp. Remember that chainmail does not stretch like a shirt, order a size up.

Durability: Zero tears after over 100 larp events. have not popped a single link. Perfect durability. I actually tried slashing at it with a cavalry sabre, no links popped. 5/5 on durability too.

Value: Now the sticky point the short sleeved shirt is 172 bucks, that is pretty pricey. Still look what you get, an almost permanent interchangeable costume piece that has mechanical benefits. For me it seemed like a value but since you can make your own chainmail for way less, I am going to give it a 3/5

So overall you get (5+5+5+3)/5 for a total score of 4.5 I highly reccomend their work but you may find yourself priced out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

YouTube Thursday: NERO 9th Edition

A little birdie told me that they're giving 9th edition another shot, and they're getting pretty close to a release. This is pretty amazing news, but I was still skeptical.

That is, I was skeptical until I watched this video.

It's got Joe V talking about the changes that were made since the draft, what they kept and what they dropped, as well as some major changes to how melee combat will work.

Of course, it was posted in yahoo, which I'm not sure how to embed the video. You'll just have to click the link.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Social Networking

Social networking has been "the thing" for the last decade. As Seth Priebatsch showed us, it's time for us to step up and start using the foundations of social networking for benefit. Since we're LARPers, we'll assume benefit means spreading the word of LARPs and getting more people to attend.

But Bill, I've got a facebook page and everything. That's enough, right?

No way, Josè (or whatever your name is).

We need to start to use these social networking tools to affect the game. Draw more attention to the game. Make it look like everyone is having fun, and that it's easy to get into.

There was once a game called "The Dreaming," created by Dan Comstock. It was totally awesome. Some of you have played it or heard of it. I know Tim ran it for a group of us, and it was totally fun.

But the big part of the game was that you post all the information up onto one main site, where everyone can see it. That way, you can effectively interact with everyone in the game, regardless of where they're playing it.

More games should be like this. We've always had people who submitted things for plot credit or for character background, but they never got anything out of it (except for rare cases where people payed money). What a waste!

Imagine, if you allowed players to write up stories, poems, and backgrounds based in the game world, and you gave them IG credit for it! Obviously, you'd run into issues like having someone review everything for continuity sake (avoid god-moding and poor writing) and capping the amount one person can earn from this over a time period (to prevent players with more free time from getting an edge on busy individuals). And then you made it public knowledge, and posted it for everyone.

You've just built your world, without actually doing anything other than awarding imaginary points for an imaginary character.

Can you think of any other ways to make social networking work for your game?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Off-Season Rules Revision

After this weekend, pretty much every game will be in its off-season. Plot teams will change, camp sites will appear and disappear, and most importantly, rules should be revisited.

One of the biggest problems in any game is the stagnation of the rules. There is always something you can do better - you just have to do it. But in order to find out what those are, you have to take a step away from your creation and listen to the players.

Blizzard did.

World of Warcraft started out as an imperfect game, yet has become the biggest MMORPG in the world. They did so by listening to their customers, implementing UI functions that people created with addons, streamlined parts of the game to make it more user friendly, just because that's what the customers wanted. It's also important to note that what the customer wanted has changed over time. That's why you can't be content that one system of rules will work forever.

I encourage every game to have some sort of survey where the players can discuss the rules, list what they like, list what they don't like, and so on. That way, if there seems like an overwhelming number of players that dislike something, you can change it. This is particularly true if you're using playtests.

I know that Wastelands already does an end of the season rules revision. How about your game? If you run it, have you listened to your players lately? If you're just a player, have you voiced your concerns to the ownership lately (or at least tell them that they're doing a great job)?

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Week In LARP - December 13th

Last Week In LARP

Did you attend a LARP event last weekend? Let us know how it was in the comments!

This Week In LARP

Don't let the snow get you down, unless you're in traffic right now. And if that's the case, maybe you should put down the phone and put both hands on the wheel.


NCN will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, December 17th and ending Sunday, December 19th. The game will be held at Camp Muskingum at the IG location of Hudor. It's $50 to PC ($40 if you pre-register on their forums) and is free to NPC, but any players attending for free need to bring $2 for insurance.

ARGO will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, December 17th and ending Sunday, December 19th. The game will be held at Camp Bucoco in Pennsylvania at the IG location to be determined. The cost is $50 to PC ($40 if pre-registered) and is free to NPC, but all players must pay a $10 clean-up deposit, which is returned if you do, in fact, clean up.

If you've got a game running this week and we didn't mention you, either drop a comment here or shoot an email to, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Keyword Fun

I get to see the keywords people use to get to the site. It's part of Google's plan to rule the word and have all the information. That, or it let's me know if I'm getting to the site with keywords I want them to use.

Sometimes, the keyword searches are very specific and... odd. I thought I'd take the time to address some of the specific searches that people made.

yo dawg I heard you like blades
Really? I heard that about you. In fact, here's a picture of bladezz holding some blades, so you can look at blades while you're looking at bladezz.

magic weapons larp rule 7
LARP Rule #7: Thou shalt not make a magic weapon that looks like the buster sword from FF7.

can you make larp weapons out of wood and a pool noodle
You can make anything you want. But I wouldn't suggest that.

the economy stupid game
The economy is only a stupid game when you're losing.

how thick should the foam be on a full contact larp sword
If you're going for full on contact, you'll want at least 1" of foam on all striking sides, and you won't want any part of the striking surface to pass more than 1/2" through a 2.5" ring (to prevent eye damage).

crisis core larp weapons
See LARP Rule #7

riddles using attain
How does one attain greatness? Answer: Vanquish thine enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the women.

movie with 3 larpers
Transformers 2

larp stupid
Is that when you can't tell the difference between a lightning bolt and a slow spell?

http://www.penny-arcade blamination
I think you need to learn how to use search

Thursday, December 9, 2010

YouTube Thursday: Foam Weapon League

Alright, I admit it. I used to watch professional wrestling. It's no big deal. I never pretended like it was real, but the people were still athletes and still got you cheering for your favorite wrestlers.

Anyways, out in California, a group of people created the Foam Weapon League, where players take on personas, much like professional wrestlers, and duke it out with foam weapons. I know, "So what, we do that all the time."

Yeah, but not like this. Each person wears a harness with "Blood Bags" on various portions of the body, and you defeat your opponent by breaking those bags, spilling the red contents everywhere.

I don't know the rules about it, but I do know that I would love to drink some beer and go watch this. Someone should bring the Foam Weapon League to Ohio.

Edit: The link above is for the facebook page. The official page is

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Costume Exchange

Sorry about not having a post yesterday. Between being in the middle of god forsaken nowhere and the release of Warcraft: Cataclysm, I didn't get a post up.

Anyways, this one has been brewing in my mind for a while now. I've seen the costume room that WAR has, and I must say, it was spectacular. They've collected a lot of great specialty costumes to represent unique NPCs or monsters over the years. Pretty intense.

However, almost no one ever sees that costuming. If a sweet looking robe was worn by a naturalist 5 years ago, they might be hesitant to bring it back into game. Maybe no one is there to do the daunting task of upkeep to make those costumes ready for actions (washing, ironing, folding, etc.) Maybe there just isn't room to transport everything to the site.

It really is a shame that we don't see more of it. But I've figured out a way to at least eliminate the issue with unique costuming.

Create a Costume Exchange.

How awesome would it be to put a costume up on a site for trade after it's been used at your game? And in return, you get a costume of someone else's, ready for action, for free.

Kill the big bad? Send the costume out east for them to use as a completely different monster. Major noble die? Make a trade with someone out west for a costume for your new, dastardly noble.

Now, I know there are going to be some issues with costume quality, but what do you all think? Do you think it's better to trade costumes after their used, rather than having them collect dust for years?

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Week In LARP - December 6th

Last Week In LARP

Did you attend a LARP event last weekend? Let us know how it was in the comments!

This Week In LARP

Snow. Srsly?


NERO Cincinnati will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, December 10th and ending Sunday, December 12th. The game will be held at Camp Friedlander at the IG location of Beronis. It's $50 to PC ($40 with pre-registration) and is free to NPC.


Bloodlines will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Saturday, December 11th and ending Sunday, December 12th. The game will be held at Camp Burnamwood in Kentucky. I am not sure of the cost, but if you're interested, visit the forums for more information.

If you've got a game running this week and we didn't mention you, either drop a comment here or shoot an email to, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, December 3, 2010

LARP Gift Ideas

I was going to post a more detailed description on how to form a stance, but Warlord Sports is currently down. So I'm going to talk about the next best thing...


Buying presents for a LARPer usually depends on how crafty they are. Players who sew their own garb and build their own weapons are certainly less expensive to buy for, but they might not appreciate completed goods as much as someone who doesn't make their own gear and garb.

So here's a list of gift ideas for the LARPers in your life.

1. Waterproof Boots
There's nothing better than fighting for hours in the cold and snow and coming in to find that your feet are still dry. It's amazing. You can generally find good quality boots for around $80-$120, but there's also a fair amount of boots you can find in the $30-$50 range. The less expensive boots can't wick the sweat away from their feet, but believe me, it's much better than being drenched in ice cold water.

2. Foam
This one goes out to the craftier types. There are many different kinds of foam out there, and some of them can be pretty expensive or hard to find. Camp foam is always nice, but you can also buy plank foam (#2) or non-standard wall thickness pipe which are hard to find and usually have to be ordered. But do it soon, because those places usually have high shipping costs to start, let alone the cost of expedited shipping.

3. LARP Movies
There are a ton of LARP-ish movies out there to choose from. Either you can try and find a copy of an actual LARP movie (Darkon, Monster Camp, The Wild Hunt) or one of many LARP Pump-up Movies. Watching a movie is a nice thing to do when there's too much snow outside to do anything else.

What other gift ideas can you think of?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

YouTube Thursday: On-Foot Stance

There's a lot of differences between the various boffer games, but one thing remains true to all of them.

A bad stance will make you a bad fighter, and a good stance will make you a good fighter.

Here is a short video of Brennon (Amtgard/Warlord Sports) talking about the On-Foot Stance, which is the most common stance. He's also got a video about the Off Foot stance which you can find here.

This is pretty basic stuff, but as you fight, take the time to occasionally check what your stance looks like. You'd be surprised how often you slip into bad habits. I had this problem a few years back with my grip.

Tim prefers the On-Foot Stance, while I prefer the Off-Foot (but use the On-Foot in certain situations). Figure out which works best for you.

Note: Brennon uses conversational descriptions and tends to drop the F-Bomb. This one's probably better for headphones.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Numbers Crunching: The Game within the Game

Some people naturally play every game on several levels. There is the first level, in which we are with our friends having fun and the second level, where we are determining the nature of the game. The second level is fun for us, it adds depth, it lets us exert control over the game. Many assume that we play this secondary game to be better than others, that may be true for some, but I play this game to make myself better. Analysis and comprehension, understanding and completion the game within a game provides an outlet for out competetive spirit. Within a LARP setting may find these people useful, they are the ones people go to when they want to know how to improve their combat effectiveness. They have built spreadsheets to determine optimal builds, they understand the proper itemization for a fighter and they can tell you why rogue is the best class past level 40. It is important for those who only play the first game to remember that our game has value too.

The first step to playing the secondary game is the breakdown. Every game has fundemantal components, after you remove the fluff, the remaining rules and statistics make up the core of the game. Most games have a value system built in and the most obvious exploitations occur in misvalued skills, abilities and equipment. This is where we look first. A good example of this is spell points in one of the offshoot games from NERO. Spellpoints in this is system are the equivalent of one first level spell per point, they cost 3 experience points, potion making has a mana potion that can be produced with one level of the skill, the skill costs 2 experience and the potion restores one skill point. Fom this example you can see that it is more effiecent to buy a few spell points and a more potion making than to buy a number of spellpoints. The immediate outer game players response is that they do not wish for their character to be a potion maker, they want to be a wizard, the inner game player does not care he will still play as a wizard but have more spells available. Both of these options are correct one just has mathermatical analysis behind it, the other is primarily feelings based.

The second portion of the inner game comes when its players become aware of the physical skills necessary to excel at the game. Some players never get to this point, content with the numbers crunching portion of the inner game. Being the most efficent at a game that involves a physical component naturally invovles physical work. A classic example of this is the players who practice fighting with boffer swords between games, or begin a workout regimine to be better at a LARP game. The physical portion of the inner game usually follows teh mental portion as the players master the game system itself and begin to realize that the mechanical aspects can alo be optimized.

Combining the two parts of the inner game produces the power gamer. The player who bth physically and mentally dominates the game. This player is not naturally a detriment to the game. The game can be equally damaged by an aggressive roleplayer or a pvp player who preys upon the weak. The power gamer is just playing a second game, next time you see one, ask him how his game is going. Maybe he will help you with yours.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Borrowing from others: Stories that translate

I am a notorious thief. I spent most of my teenage years embedded in various fantasy novels and game books and my head is filled with useless knowledge about worlds that do not exist. I know that many people who run LARP games have also read a great deal. What then is the correct way to borrow a story line? How do you make it so that people who have read it do not recognize it and how do you determine which stories, monsters or characters are good to borrow?

The correct way to borrow a story line depends upon your player group and the obscurity of the story. It is almost never correct however to use characters names from any work, changing one letter does not make this ok. No one wants to play the story of Marth Bader. Best practices say that, using the framework of the story and filling the gaps with characters of your own creation is almost never wrong. Take a story and remove the dialogue, remove character names and places, take what is left and distill it still further into a series of actions and encounters, this is your starting point. For instance let us use the Star Wars reference above. No one wants to play Marth Vader, few would be opposed to being the centerpoint of a story based on the life of a young farmboy who through a series of misdaventures becomes a powerful magic user, and eventually defeats an emporer. Of course your own webbing would need to be significantly more detailed to run a succesful plot but the idea is sound, most will not even recognize that story out of context. That is the goal in its essence, removed from context will anyone recognize this?

Digging deeper into recognition, the mind is wonderful at recognizing patterns. Intelligence increases pattern recognition and since we play with a bunch of nerds you are going to have to take that into account. It is advisable to change the order of some of the encounters in a borrowed story to prevent subconcious recognition. Look at the Star Wars example above again, if you follow the exact sequence of events from the movies, someone may catch on when the pirate with the fastest vessel ever starts wooing the princess. You may want to leave that part out or change the character archetypes signifcantly enough to remove them from the pattern.

Determining what to borrow is fairly simple, you already have to run your plots through the filter of what works in a larp. Remove the special effects from the monsters and the expensive props from the characters if they are still interesting then this is a good candidate. The giant slug like humanoid that will require 500 meters of foam to build may not be a great fit but the witch with robes and blue glowing eyes has a much easier row to hoe. Even with monsters we must be careful of the recognition factor, if we place a monster in the same environment in which it appears in a story, we run the risk of someone putting the two together. In other words, Grendel's mother should not be in a cave underwater, put her in a forest and sudddenly you have an interesting and unique encounter.

I am sure that many of you already practice the art of plot borrowing, I just thought it might be helpful to codify some of the ideas behind it. Let me know if this was helpful or fun!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Week In LARP - November 29th

Last Week In LARP

Did you attend a LARP event last weekend? Let us know how it was in the comments!

This Week In LARP

We're nearing the end of the season, but there's still some LARP to be had in Ohio!


WAR will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, December 3rd and ending Sunday, December 5th. The game will be held at Camp Oyo at the IG location of Ashton. It's $50 to PC ($30 with a good NPC ratio) and is free to NPC.

Northcoast NERO will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, December 3rd and ending Sunday, December 5th. The game will be held at Camp Muskingum at the IG location of Port Windless. It's $40 to PC and is free to NPC, but any players playing for free must bring $2 for insurance. There is also a $10 door fee if you do not pre-register on the forums (although you can pay at site) In addition, if you plan on PCing the next Windless events, you can pay $70 for both.

NERO Northlands will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, December 3rd and ending Sunday, December 5th. The game will be held at Rolling Hills Lodges at the IG location of Bramblethorn Glade. It's $40 to PC ($35 with pre-registration) and is free to NPC.

NERO SWV will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, December 3rd and ending Sunday, December 5th. The game will be held at Chief Logan WV at the IG location of Haven. It's $40 to PC and is free to NPC.


Wastelands will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Saturday, December 4th and ending Sunday, December 5th. The game will be held at Camp Birch at the IG location of Stormbreak Post. It's $20 a day to PC and is free to NPC. Additionally, a $10 food donation is requested.

If you've got a game running this week and we didn't mention you, either drop a comment here or shoot an email to, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, November 26, 2010

IBGA's and You

Don't worry, IBGA's are not sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, they stand for "In-Between Game Actions." Since we haven't yet perfected the ability to play LARP 24/7, people are looking for ways to extend the experience. There are often a number of things that characters would want to do which are simply easier to do in writing than acting out.

But how much IBGA is too much?

Ultimately, IBGAs are difficult to control, since they require interaction from volunteers who run the game. I know there might be a lot of things your character might want to do, but remember that there are 15 other characters with things to do as well, and one or two people have to read through all that and comment on each one. It's a tough job.

A lot of games have specific rules regarding IBGAs. Exiles uses IBGAs to help direct the personal plot of characters and gives them goals for the next game. That way, doing IBGAs doesn't give you any actual benefits, other than the possibility for personal plot learnin'.

Wastelands have a number of skills specifically designed for IBGAs, which allow players to follow leads, establish contacts, and acquire goods. However, you have to purchase the skills with karma points to get any benefit, so it's not like players get anything for free.

Games like NERO and Alliance don't have any set rules for IBGAs. Generally, you can communicate with players and NPCs all you want, but you can never actually receive any items or gold or use skills without purchasing a plot submission.

So what should you consider when you are looking to perform an IBGA?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

YouTube Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!

There aren't many Thanksgiving LARP videos out there, so instead I thought it would be better to educate you on Canadian Thanksgiving, courtesy of Ellen Page (Juno) and Justin Long (Dodgeball).

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review: Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks

I recently had the chance to read the book Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks by Ethan Gilsdorf. As the title indicates, the book covers swaths of geekdom including Tolkien, Tabletop, LARP, SCA, Online Gaming, Conventions, and even Guédelon Castle.

Gilsdorf was an avid Tolkien and D&D oficianato as a child, and often used these things to escape things in real life, most notably being his mother who suffered a brain aneurysm, changing her personality and crippling her. In college, he drops the fantasy and gaming until he has a mid-life crisis-esque event in which he returns to gaming and fantasy 20 years after he last played D&D. As a journalist, he vows to pursue as many gaming/fantasy endeavors as possible in order to see if he's still a gamer after all these years.

There are some things I really liked about the book. Throughout the entire book, I was well aware of Gilsdorf's journalism background. In each of his geek topics, he interviews one or two people and does these interviews very well. It's tough to be biased, but he never demonizes or degrades anyone he's talking to, whether it's the Mom with the WOW problem, the guys at the Gygax convention, or LARPers. He seems to spend the right amount of time on each topic before moving on (for the most part). And, of course, the topics are quite interesting and not super common in reading materials.

However, there are parts of the book that I skipped outright or breezed over. Whenever Gilsdorf got onto an editorial slant or talked about his personal life, it was hard to take him seriously. At times, he would lament the lack of romantic relationships, to the point where he pretty much was trolling for tail at Dragon Con. I skipped the chapter about dating gamers, because it seemed boring and unnecessary towards his major premise, which was supposed to be escapism.

I say supposed to be, because Gilsdorf must have run into a deadline at the end, writing the last three chapters in a Red-Bull induced fever dream. The book spins wildly out of control in these chapters, as he seems to have trouble putting a coherent conclusion together about his story. At one point, he says that all gaming is a good form of escapism, then he says video games aren't, then he goes back to saying they are. Then, after the final chapter, he has another faux chapter that continues to try and state a conclusion but ends up further convoluting his point.

Ultimately, I give the book 3/5.

If you dig reading and are interested in any of the geeky topics above, I'd suggest reading the book, but don't force yourself through the Grizzly Man parts of the book where he sidetracks to "I need a girlfriend.". It's difficult to find a book that covers even one of these topics in ernest, which makes the book very refreshing despite its flaws.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Color Blind Design

A comment in MLC's recent "LARP Thing a Week" Post really struck home, and I want to talk about it.

I suffer from a form of red-green color blindness called Daltonism (named after the guy who discovered color blindness). Essentially, the green color receptors in my eyes are either absent or extrememly diminished. In day to day life, this is really a minor inconvenience more than anything else. I can still identify the colors green and red if they're sharp, but I tend to have a difficult time with green-brown-red and almost no hope of distinguishing between blue and purple.

My condition is pretty rare (1% of males, about 0.01% of females), but it's been reported that about 7-10% of males suffer from some form of red-green colorblindness.

What's the point?

The fact of the matter is that on a 15 person module, there's a pretty good chance that someone involved is red-green color blind, and you should design with that in mind. Does that mean you can't use colors at all? Of course not! But there are some tricks you can use to make your modules color blind friendly.

Use Sharp Colors
When you're using reds and/or greens (or for that matter, any color), try to use sharper colors. I can tell the difference between a red apple and green grass. I can even tell the difference between a red and a green light. This is because they use bright, sharp colors that are easy for me to recognize. Using green-brown or red-brown hues tend to cause problems. In this same explanation, if you're going to use both red and green as a mechanic for the module, use a light green and a deep red - as those are the easiest ones to discern for the various forms of red-green color blindness.

Allow Collaboration
Sometimes modules make people pick options without being able to confer with anyone. If you're going to do this, don't have people discern between red and green on their own, as they might pick the wrong one. Alternatively, allow for players to collaborate, so that the team can aid the color blind player.

A good example of this is what Matt talked about on the post mentioned above, since everyone could inform the color blind person where to step. With teamwork, the player was able to overcome his deficiency.

A bad example of this is the tasty treats trap used at the NCN specialty event. Players had to interpret a riddle and eat the correct color M&M without conferring with others. If you're going to do this, avoid color pairs like violet-blue and red-green.

Combine Shapes with Colors
If you're dead set on using color combos, tie them in with shapes. If all the green objects have a triangle and all the red objects have a square, I'm going to be able to identify them quickly with 100% accuracy. If shapes seem too unlikely, you can use other patterns to pick them out.

When in Doubt, Tell them the Color
If you've got a bomb and the player knows he has to cut the red wire and he asks you which is the red wire, just tell him. As with any other time you marshal, don't offer that up unless the player asks. Obviously, if someone asks you that and it's pitch dark in the room, you can make them produce light. If the environment dictates that he should be able to discern it, then hook a brother up.

As an electrical engineer, I'm essentially incapable of interpreting resistor color codes. I learned the codes, but without being able to read the colors it means nothing. On a practical test in my first year, I asked the teacher what the colors were on the sample resistors. He told me "I can't tell you that, it's testing your ability to decode the colors," and I explained that I didn't need the answers, just the actual colors. He never did give me the colors and I think to this day he thinks I was trying to pull something over on him.

There are a ton of people who are color blind and don't even know it. Help us all out and use these strategies to make it easier for us color blind LARPers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Week In LARP - November 22nd

Last Week In LARP

Did you attend a LARP event last weekend? Let us know how it was in the comments!

This Week In LARP

You're not afraid of a little cold, are you?


ARGO will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, Novemeber 26th and ending Sunday, November 28th. The game will be held at Camp Bucoco, while the IG location is still undetermined. It's $40 to PC and free to NPC with a $10 door fee and $10 clean up deposit.

If you've got a game running this week and we didn't mention you, either drop a comment here or shoot an email to, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The beauty of a thing at rest

NERO International has been the premier traveling boffer fighting larp for a long time. New games have better rules and better ideas but NERO stays the course with momentum. I believe that the time is nigh for a revolution in gaming the likes of which our generation of larpers has not seen. Join me brethren, viva la revolucion!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

YouTube Thrusday: Minecraft LARP

Today's video is less serious than some of the previous videos, but I think it's pretty hilarious. Anyone who's played Minecraft will get some kicks out of this video. And if you don't, well, then maybe you should start playing it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Support your LARP Community, and Post!

LARPs can be run as a business, but most are instead run as a club. We tend to depend on the players to take roles in playing NPCs, writing plot, doing logistics, and any other jobs associated with the game.

In order for the community to grow, it has to look good to outsiders. There are many public displays of the LARPing community, normally associated with forums or Facebook pages.

If you want to support your community, post on the forums!

The truth is, forum activity is a sign of the success of a LARP community. If all the posts are about the game, it's going to look less like a community. A lack of forum activity can often be a turn off to new players who are trying to find an active group. However, a highly active forum is inviting and makes it easier for people to join the club.

So if you enjoy a LARP game you're playing, go post on the forums with something. It could be a funny YouTube video. It could be a fact or a news article about something interesting. It could be Lolcats. Just go out and post!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Powergaming: The Stigma

Bill the goodly knight with a penchant for chivalry lowers his sword at the brigand hobling, threatening him bodily harm if he does not stand down, the hobling swings his sword with devastating effect whilst calling "Dodge, dodge, dodge, bane, bane" to every effect that he is hit with. Bill falls to the ground, though he is the pinnacle of nobility, he cannot withstand the onslaught of math that is being flung at him. This scenario, somewhat dramatized of course, is fully possible in the larp game. Many players who roleplay take skills that do not make their characters better at combat, because they make the characters a more complete portrait. Others who care only about the stats on the card do not have a portrait in mind when they make the character, but they do have a great card. Like all great arguments the solution lies somewhere in the middle, taking a look at both sides seems appropriate.

The roleplaying character views the game as a stage to show off his ability to portray a character. He takes great joy in portraying a character as true to the concept as possible, doing things that he believes are important to the character and not doing things that the character would never do. In the example of Bill above, he would never stand down from a lowly brigand like the hobling, even though the player knows that the hobling is 30 levels higher than him and has more skills. This is an admirable devotion to the concept of the character. I have often felt great admiration for a player who puts aside all thought of survival for the chance to enforce the idea of his character is other minds. The realist in me, however, says that it cannot be fun to get annihilated every time you come up against an encounter that was scaled for the math based character. Realistically speaking, you do not have to have a skill on your character card to act in a certain way in game. Do you?

The math based character has distilled the system of the game he is playing down to its basest essence. He has placed values on various skills and items, he understands the combat system and has made himself proficient, he can tell at the outset whether an encounter can be won or just ran away from. The math based character may have a character concept or he may just practice what is called reactionary roleplay, basically improvisational roleplay usually targeted at humor. The math based character will probably have no knowledge skills on his card, unless they give some sort of benefit in addition to roleplay. The creative person in me says that these people are missing out on a part of the game as well. They may not get the thrill of being the last one alive on the field of battle before insurmountable odds, they run away. They may never feel the urgency associated with a doomed encounter, why would they go on an encounter they could not win? If the whole game is a calculation, then where does the game part start?

I fall, as I often do, in the middle ground. It is not necessary to have a roleplay skill on your card in order to portray the skill in game. By the same token, things can be roleplayed for the sheer joy of telling a story. When we get together on a weekend or a day long game, we do it to collaboratively tell a story. The story can be made far grander by those who are better at the game, but it can be told with more artistry by those who understand the roles that they play. Both are essential, so should we not all strive towards the middle?

Monday, November 15, 2010

NPC Tracker

Matt from Mid-Level Crisis has started doing his LARP Thing a Week (LTAW) segment, and This Week's Piece is a pretty sweet idea.

I've run plot for multiple games, and I can tell you that NPC continuity is one of the most difficult things to keep track of. The biggest benefit of this is keeping the look of the NPC the same, in order to keep people from asking "Do I recognize...?" This is especially true in games where the costume options vary less, like Exiles.

Adding the table to something like Google Docs also helps when running a campaign on a grand scale, where the NPC may not be able to make it to all the games. This way, you could potentially run the same NPC at two camps on opposite sides of the US and still maintain some semblance of continuity.

Nice one, Matt!

The Week In LARP - November 15th

Last Week In LARP

Did you attend a LARP event last weekend? Let us know how it was in the comments!

This Week In LARP

Host your own Unicorn City this weekend by attending your favorite LARPs!


WAR will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, Novemeber 19th and ending Sunday, November 21st. The game will be held at Camp Oyo at the IG location of Ashton. It's $50 to PC ($30 with a good NPC ratio) and is free to NPC.

Nero Cincinnati will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, Novemeber 19th and ending Sunday, November 21st. The game will be held at Camp Friedlander at the IG location of Beronis. It's $50 to PC and is free to NPC.


Einherjar will be hosting their Last Battle of the Year on Sunday, November 21st at 1:00 PM. The game will be held at the Green Leaf Park. It's $3 to play (which includes refreshment), but you are required to have full garb and weapons that pass safety check.

If you've got a game running this week and we didn't mention you, either drop a comment here or shoot an email to, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Now That I Have the Attention of Dagorhir...

This blog is looking to represent all of the foam combat games in Ohio, and unfortunately Tim and I can't be everywhere at once. If you are, or know someone, who is in the Ohio area and is interested in writing to the blog about Dag, Bel, or Amtgard, please let us know! Writers get amazing benefits, like an email account courtesy of google, as well as an infinite source of high fives*, not to mention the respect of being a writer for this blog!

Send your name, what and where you play, a sample of your writing (if possible) and a 300-500 word example post to If we get a lot of responses that are good, we'll probably throw up the example posts and have the readers vote for the best.

*You have to pay for S&H of the high fives if you're not in the Cleveland area.

Adjudication 101

Truth time, people. We don't play LARPs. We actually play LARPGs, but that just sounds gross.

The 'G' is for GAME.

Any game you play is going to, at some time, come down to some sort of rules dispute. Was he in-bounds? Did he roll a 5 or a 6? Did he actually swing at least 45 degrees on that strike? We do our best to play the honor game, and for interpersonal rules disputes, we have marshals. Marshals are human. Marshals are fallible. Sometimes "Marshals" don't even know the rules*.

We don't have instant replay, but what do have (at least in NERO) is the system for adjudication. Anything that is lost (except your dignity) can brought back, a la retcon. Some people think this only exists for deaths, but really any loss of items or gold can be adjudicated.

I see so many people holding grudges about rules calls that didn't go their way, and I've heard, and in my younger years said, "I'm not going to adjudicate, but I'm still angry about..." In my more recent, more lucid years, I've discovered that this is actually the opposite of what we should be saying. Keep in-game shit in the game.

I'm not asking for people to adjudicate every last thing that happens ("Some Orc didn't take my slay, I want his treasure!") You're going to simply waste the time of the rules council and create a longer delay for people who have real adjudications in process. But if something is a serious rules offense that leaves a bad taste in your mouth or would keep you from going back to a town, chapter, or game, then you might want to think about submitting an adjudication.

They're easy. Simply write a cordial letter to the appropriate party in that chapter (rules council, plot team, owner, etc). In this letter, include your name, your character's name, the event, the date of the incident, and all the involved parties. Separate the letter into 3 parts.
  • Introduction, stating what you are adjudicating
  • Description of the incident, stating only facts as you can remember them.
  • Why you believe it should be adjudicated.
That's it. It's so easy, a barbarian can do it**! If it's true that you should receive what you're asking for as defined by the rules, you'll get it. Because it doesn't matter. It's a game, and the plot team certainly doesn't get paid for screwing over players and stopping their adjudications***.

This is the only method that can get what you want, unless you're asking for a pony from Ghostcrawler. No amount of name calling or making people look stupid publicly will get your magic sword back.

Now, there is no guarantee that you'll actually get what you're asking for. What you will most certainly get, though, is closure. They will explain to you why the rules fell as they did, and everyone will be able to move on. And if their explanation is terrible, you now have a few options, including going up the chain to national or Gquitting (the G stands for game).

Almost every game has rules for adjudication, but the means and what can be overturned varies from game to game. If you can't find the rules for adjudication for your game, just ask them!

This reminds me of a saying my mom once told me.
You can catch more flies with honey than with forum trolling****.

*Some marshals are plot marshals, who are given power just because they run the game. This doesn't mean that they have passed any rules tests or anything.

**Tim loves those Geico Caveman commercials. I encourage everyone to post about them on his facebook.

***Plot teams are actually paid per death wail, so learn to die quietly if you want to directly reduce their income.

****Bad analogy. Why would anyone want to catch flies? We want to kill flies! Forum trolls have beaten horses to death - what makes you think they couldn't handle flies? I guess it's more like "a penny saved is a penny earned." I've got to work on that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

YouTube Thursday: Unicorn City

Today's video was brought to my attention at the NERO International Boards. Unicorn City is an independent film that is due out next year. The summary of the movie below is from their website. Enjoy!

Voss is a selfish gamer who is currently unemployed and looking for work. When a management position opens up at a gaming company, he interviews but realizes that he has very little management experience. If he wants this job he'll have to show that he has management potential. He convinces his gaming guild to move out into the mountains where they will set up a utopia. He tells the gamers that Unicorn City is a place where they will live out their characters in peace and harmony with each other.

His right hand woman is Marsha. She is a beautiful elf who is madly in love with Voss. She attempts to show him her love, but Voss is so focused on getting this job that he neglects her. Marsha documents everything for Voss. Deep down she doesn't want him to get the job because it will take him out of state.

Unicorn City begins to grow as gamers show up from all around. Things are looking up until Shadow Hawk steals the city right from underneath him. Voss must learn to forget about himself and sacrifice for his friends in order to receive what he truly needs.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Character Attachment

Everyone who plays a fantasy game grows attached to their character. It's a persona that you were able to design (at least in the beginning) grows and changes it with time. You spend hours and even days in-character. When you're not in-character, you think about the ways that your character would react in certain situations. And once you've become so attuned to who your character is, you can even react quickly in ways that your character would react, even if it's different from the way you react.

The problem is, when you're playing games with permanent death, that character will eventually die and cease to be. Not only that, but it could end at any time - ask anyone who went to the recent Vargus event, where four characters met permanent death - something unheard of in my 11 years of NERO.

I have seen a number of people hurt by the death of their characters in these games. So the goal of this post is to help players through the pain of their character.

1. It's All About the Story
A lot of players are very conservative the way they play their characters. They avoid as many large or dangerous conflicts as possible to minimize the chances of death. Fact of the matter, these people are more likely to be hurt by their character death, as it'll be the result of mis-scaling or a fluke - neither of which is a particularly good story.

However, the characters that permanently die in the midst or climax of an epic quest have a story they'll be able to tell to their LARP friends for the rest of their life. So embrace the epic and dangerous plotlines rather than avoid them. You'll feel a lot better if you die taking out the big bad guy than getting killed by spiders.

2. Dive In to a New Persona
I find that I can come up with way more character concepts than I could actually play. I'm actually pretty excited about many of those characters, despite the fact that I'll probably never play them.

So if you're struck with permanent death, don't just NPC or play a secondary character. Start a new one! It'll definitely help you get over the permanent death of your character.

3. Write a Story
The important thing to remember is that you character is dead in that game, but the concept of the character is still alive and kicking. Have something you always wanted to do with that character but never had the chance? Write a story!

Your character suffered a game mechanic, but still exists in fantasy if you so choose. Don't confuse the skills that were on your card with who your character is. You could even play that character in a different game (LARP, Tabletop, WoW, etc). Just don't overdo it if you play those other games with the same people!

Anyone else have any pointers for dealing with character mortality?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weapon Review: Warlord Sports OMNI

Edit: These weapons were purchased about 6-9 months prior to the release of this article. Since that time, WLS has dropped off the face of the earth and the website is down indefinitely, so these weapons are unfortunately no longer available.

We have not done any reviews yet so here is my first. I am going to give you 4 categories; Style, Functionality, Durability and Value, then I will give the weapon a score out of five based on the average of the 4 categories. Without further ado, I give you the Warlord Sports Omni.

Between Bill and myself we have purchased four of these swords. I purchased two of the 33" swords, one regular and one light. They have a few different handle varieties, I ordered the cast rope. When they got to my porch, they were professionally packaged. I was impressed with that because the company is fairly new. I am not sure about the rest of you but I get super excited when I get new kit, I called Bill pretty much right away so I could beat on him.

Style: These swords look like foam baseball bats or clubs. They are not the most stylish weapon in existence. The translation from foam club, to magic sword of epicness is one that larpers get used to fairly quickly in the game so they looked good to me. Professionally built, excellent stitching on the covers, the foam was all tight and there were no rattles. Style is pretty subjective but with real looking latex sword on one end and duct taped PVC on the other I can safely give these a 3.5 on style.

Functionality The functional use of a foam sword is to hit your friends. These swords have dense foam which seems to break down very slowly. The cores are well buried on all sides and the cap on the top( Which appears to be marine foam) is really thick. I can see myself beating my friends with these two swords for at least a year from purchase. The weapons are very well weighted, they have the balance point about half way up the blade. The cast rope handle does not slip even when the air is wet. The foam appears to be somewhat waterproof as the sword does not get significantly heavier in the rain. For functionality these swords get a 4.5 they are really a 5 if you play only Amtgard or Dagorhir, a 4.5 for NERO because you need to do some convincing every time you use them that the marine foam cap is safe to stab with.

Durability I generally get about 12 events out of a latex sword before I deem it unsafe, I have already used my Warlord Sports sword for probably 20 events worth or practice and it shows no signs of deterioration( Apart from the cap of the cover coming off because I do a tip drag on a low feint) For Durability these get a flat 5 no questions asked one of the most durable weapons I have ever owned.

Value For 25$ these are an excellent value. You get a bunch of customization options and color choices. You can choose from light, normal or heavy weapons. It is strange but buying these is probably cheaper than making your own sword of similar quality. I give these a 5 on value as well.

So for an over all score you take the 4 categories
Style 3.5
Functionality 4.5(5)
Durability 5
Total 18 /4 = 4.5 (4.625 if you play Amt or Dag only)

Monday, November 8, 2010

And the Winner is...

Thank you to everyone who entered in the contest for the latex weapon. The lucky winner is...

Stephen L.

Congratulations on your new weapon! Send me an email at and we'll figure out the best way to get you your prize.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. This won't be the last contest we run, so keep on reading!

PS: We still need a LARP Ohio Logo that could be used for the blog and for shirts. If we pick your logo, you'll get a free shirt! Send all proposed designs (or design questions) to!

The Week In LARP - November 8th

Last Week In LARP

Did you attend a LARP event last weekend? Let us know how it was in the comments!

This Week In LARP

We're coming to the end of the season in Ohio! Get your fix while you still can!


Alliance South Michigan will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, Novemeber 12th and ending Sunday, November 14th. The game will be held at Camp Kiwanis. It's $50 to PC, but I'm not sure what the cost is to NPC.


Bloodlines will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Saturday, November 6th and ending Sunday, November 7th. The game will be held at the Camp Burnamwood. I am not sure of the cost to play.

If you've got a game running this week and we didn't mention you, either drop a comment here or shoot an email to, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Free YouTube Video: Jugger's Roots

The basis for Jugger.

Edit: As mentioned in a previous post, Jugger was the game played in a movie called "Salute to the Jugger" (Europe) or "The Blood of Heroes" (United States). This is the trailer to that movie.

A dungeon crawl event

I have been considering for some time how awesome it would be to rent a warehouse and run a full on dungeon crawl event. For a long time I have thought that I wanted to run it as a NERO event but with a limited invitation list. I have changed my mind. I think that I am going to run it as an Accelerant game, with a limited invitation list and the opprotunity to convert your character from any other game into the Accelerant system to try it out. I have already started speaking with some people that I know about the warehouse rental. I have begun the design of the specific Accelerant skills that I will use for the game that I want to run. I am just going to give you a brief outline of what this event might look like and you can tell me if it sounds like fun.

The warehouse is pretty big, like 40,000 square feet big. I have been inside and it is about the size of a large super market with some side offices and storage rooms. my current thought process is to rent it from Thursday to Sunday and take Friday off, go out thursday night and just build a giant dungeon. Rooms, encounters, special effects the whole nine yards. One of the larger storage rooms would be converted into a tavern and the offices on one side could be used as sleeping areas. The offices on the other side would be where plot operated from and the whole game would be based around groups getting together and going out to explore the dungeon. I would love to play this event so I imagine others would too. What do you guys think?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

YouTube Thursday: Cleveland Jugger

A short video of the Jugger games from Saturday. We played for about 3 hours and I picked some points I thought were cool.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


We played Jugger on Saturday in the Cleveland Metroparks, it was awesome. Jugger has been mentioned on the blog before and I know we have explained it but very briefly here is another explanation. Jugger is a sport version of boffer fighting, it involves teams of five individuals, a scoring mechanism, preset weapon combinations and rules. We only had 6 people show up for our game so we played a 3 man variant but it was still super fun.

The game breaks down to a lot of maneuvering with brief intervals of incredibly intense boffer fighting. Next time we play, I will post it up here and everyone should come out.

Who's up for hitting me in the stomach with a chain...;-)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review: Lake County Dagorhir - The Dunedain

Tim had a halloween party this weekend that prevented us from attending any LARP events this weekend, but we had recently heard word of an Amtgard group in the area that runs practices on Sundays nearby, so we decided to check it out.

I'll start off with the fact that we did suspect something was up, simply because the Amtgard group hadn't updated it's character stuff since 2006, and Tim remembered talking to the guy who sent the email - about Dagorhir. We went out there anyways, because we were just looking for some foam fighting.

Sure enough, we were duped. The mercenary who we talked with (who was not actually part of the unit) apologized when we got there, but whatever. We'll give it a shot.

My biggest fears of Dagorhir were that the game was a bit more physical than I'm used to. I'm a short guy without a lot of strength, so as soon as games start to involve elements like shield bashing and grappling, I get a little worried. In some ways, it wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. In others, it was exactly what I expected.

The Unit - The Dunedain
I believe there were 4-6 people who were part of The Dunedain, a few independents, a mercenary and a member of the ravens (another group).

The members of the Dunedain were actually pretty cool. We never really received any grief for being NERO players (although they kept calling us Amtgard players, since we were looking for Amtgard). They've got a few fighters that were on par with our fighting, and a fair amount of newer fighters that were still green. None of those players got too physical, apologized when hits were in the head, and had pretty decent shot calibration (didn't hit too hard or too soft).

Now, the fighting did at times get a little hairy. The mercenary pretty much runs at one level of intensity all the time, and it shows. While he's a good fighter, he was definitely not shy about getting up and physical with his shield which is totally legal for Dag. However, he did give me a pretty nasty shield rim to the face when I was legged and there wasn't much I could do. In that situation, I don't see any value in shield rimming over shield bashing, other than inflicting physical damage on the down person.

Translation: It's a Douche Move.

I don't want to sound vain, but between that and a pretty solid shot to the face that rung my bell, I am kind of worried about losing some teeth.

I was also a little concerned about the training community there. There was a newer player who the mercenary called his "Noob," but he seemed more interested in teaching him by embarrassing and beating on him rather than actually teaching him how to fight. He actually went so far to tell us about a guy who swings way to hard just beating him to make him not fear getting hit. At one point, Tim and I helped him a little bit with single sword fighting, explaining the use of the off hand for hand blocking, and talking about putting his weight on his back foot for leg control, since he kept getting legged. After we said that, the merc said "You just have to keep telling him," yet I hadn't heard him give one hint about how to fight.

I think the big thing is that they look up to the mercenary, and they back down when he's around. The Dunedain seem like they like to help each other (based on their forums), but the merc's personality is pretty overwhelming.

All and all, I think the group is a lot of fun and it would be great to be a part of it. It was fun playing with everyone, except for that mercenary. However, I think my concerns about the physicality of the fighting and fear of losing my teeth might prevent me from getting big into Dagorhir. Because even if the Dunedain guys are cool, there will always be a douche on the other side of the field that I can't account for.

Edit: After some nice discussion on the Dag boards, the Dag community has pretty much agreed with my assessment that the guy was a douche. This give me hope for Dag. Activity like his is not the norm, and they don't condone that kind of activity.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Week In LARP - November 1st

Last Week In LARP

Did you attend a LARP event last weekend? Let us know how it was in the comments!

This Week In LARP

It's starting to get cold, but there are still a few LARPs out there alive and kicking!


OGRE will be hosting a 1-day event this weekend on Saturday, Novemeber 6th. The game will be held at Camp Lazarus at the IG location of Andorn. It's $20 to PC and is $5 to NPC. There may also be a module day the night before, but I am not completely sure of the details.


Triumph will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Saturday, November 6th and ending Sunday, November 7th. The game will be held at the Sycamore State Park group camping location. I am not sure of the cost to play.

If you've got a game running this week and we didn't mention you, either drop a comment here or shoot an email to, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Yo Dawg, I Heard You Like To Make Weapons

So I put this post up so you can read about making weapons while you're making weapons.

It's been a while since I made my last weapon, but I'll be making a pair of shortswords for someone who was coveting one of mine at the last NCN event. I figured, while I do this, I might as well drop some hints and include you all in the process.

Today, we're talking about materials.

There's a lot of different ways to make a weapon, which includes a lot of variants on materials. I'm going to try and include everything I can. Before I start, I can't stress that a good looking weapons means nothing (or at least very little) if you don't meet the minimum safety requirements for your game. Foam thickness, weight (if appropriate) and length are the big three, while some games also have some additional requirements for covers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

YouTube Thursday: Prehistoric Dog

I found this little gem online a while back. The metal band Red Fang did a music video for their song "Prehistoric Dog" where they start out making fun of LARPers. The band then builds their own armor and weapons out of beer cans to harass the players. However, it doesn't end how you might expect it.

The video is kind of graphic. This is a metal band, so they're not afraid to show excessive blood or band members throwing up from drinking too much. You've been warned.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lesson Learned NorthCoast Halloween Event

So, Jenn, Noah, and I ran an event at NERO Northcoast last weekend, in case you didn't note the three other posts on the same subject. These are my musings on what went well, what went poorly, and what I can do better.

Lets start with what went well. We had an incredible plot team. Working with Jenn and Noah was a joy. Before the event started we had well over 50 pages of plot written, we had nailed down our entire schedule, and we knew what costuming we needed. Mike added to this stew further by getting us the best possible camp for our needs and providing the costuming and props necessary to add an additional wow factor. IN addition to an awesome plot team we had a great staff team, my fellow blog writer Bill Tobin and Noah's buddies from ARGO formed a solid core upon whom we could rely. Any mod that we needed run could be handled by any of the experienced staff people on hand, it was amazing. Along with all of these prerequisites we added an on the site whiteboard scheduling session with a few quick update sessions and constant communication amongst the plot and staff. All of these things came together to make an amazing event.

I have been asked to briefly describe the structure of the event, and to explain how it differed from normal events. A specialty event like this one is strange, it has no plot arcs to follow. It requires that all plots be introduced, ran, and concluded in a single weekend and that requires stellar timing. We began with the premise of a tomb opening and releasing some great evil thing into the world( Not particularly unique but horror appropriate), we then designed a number of preset, size limited mods which could directly effect the power level of the end fight. Preset in size because this allows for prescaling and also prevents the mosh pit that is generally involved in a town fight. Each of the plot people wrote 1/3 of these core modules all of which had 2 similar traits. 1. They were all fights that also involved a puzzle and 2. They all had a second level which allowed for deeper exploration into the tomb for the hard core adventurer. Using these mods and their completion as the foundation of the event, we scheduled randoms based on which module was running at any given time. We wrote up specific random charts to differentiate between the tombs and turned those charts over to the staff. Then we ran a field battle every Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday late to punctuate different events. That was the event structure all fully planned and executed. It differs from a normal event only in its tie ins to other plot arcs, meaning that our stuff needed to be done by Saturday at 3 am.

So what went wrong. Medical holds, oh man did we have medical holds. Two trips to the hospital and a LOOOONNGGG hold to get them off site made for a tough Saturday night. We had a hard time keeping everyone interested after a 2 and half hour hold, but somehow, everyone got back into it and we managed to finish with a bang. In addition my obsessive compulsive went a bit overboard. We had this staff member who was quite possibly the greatest modshack builder I have ever seen. The guy could make a tarp maze look like the Taj Mahal but I had a hard time using him to his fullest potential because I had a preset notion of a simple modshack, this was a failing on my part and hopefully I can correct it easily. I heard a few complaints about the scaling but honestly the level variance was huge so I felt pretty good about our fights. Generally speaking our failings were either me being hyper critical or uncontrollable incidents.

So we did not run a perfect event but I think we came as close as we could with the external circumstances. I had a great time and think most other people did too. Let me know what you thought, if you went, or what you think of this write up!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NPC Speech

As many of you know, the LARP Ohio contributors helped run most recent NCN event. The plot team consisted of Tim, Noah (frequent commenter), and Jenn, my wife, with me backing them up as general staff. The event was amazing (not to toot my own horn), but the biggest thing that stood out in my mind was the quality of our NPCs.

I've had events with lots of NPCs in the past, but generally they're uncontrolled balls of energy, some of which require more effort to corral than they make our jobs easier. This event, though, everyone was on the same page. NPCs were taking effects and hits, weren't blood-thirsty, roleplayed very well, and were willing to take on any role.

You guys/gals were amazing. Simply amazing.

Everyone runs different styles of games, so it can be very difficult as an NPC to understand the type of game that is expected of you. That's why we did something that I've always wanted to do but have never really been able to pull off - an honest to God NPC speech.

What makes a good NPC speech? Here are the key components:
- Key rules of the game
- Basic plan for the event
- Special effects for cards
- Things to focus on
- Things to Avoid
- Questions

After that speech, we were all part of the same team and were on the same track with what we expected out of the event. I didn't have a single complaint about any of our NPCs, and from what I saw, it was the best NPC performance I've seen in my 11 years of NERO.

Once again, Bravo to each and every one of our NPCs this past weekend. You guys showed everyone what it means to NPC.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Week In LARP - October 25th

Last Week In LARP

Did you attend a LARP event last weekend? Let us know how it was in the comments!

This Week In LARP

Halloween is a special time of year, where we can go to Sheetz after an event, while in costume, and no one will look at us funny. Take advantage!


WAR will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, October 29th and ending Sunday, October 31st. The game will be held at Camp Myeerah at the IG location of Vargus. It's $50 to PC ($30 with a good NPC ratio) and is free to NPC.

NERO Northlands will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, October 29th and ending Sunday, October 31st. The game will be held at Rolling Hills (Lodges) at the IG location of Bramblethorn Glade. It's $40 to PC ($35 if you preregistered) and I believe it is free to NPC.

NERO Elkins will be hosting a 1-day event this weekend on Sunday, October 30th. The game will be held at Riverbend Park at the IG location of Oilios (previously Freetown). It's $10 to PC and is free to NPC.

If you've got a game running this week and we didn't mention you, either drop a comment here or shoot an email to, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Running a North Coast NERO event!

I am off to run a Northcoast NERO event, all of you should drop what you are doing and come on down. I promise it is going to rock!

Contest Time!

Thanks to our dedicated readers, we broke the threshold of 4000 hits in 100 posts. As promised, we're going to have a little contest.

A while back, I was given a few weapons to review from At the time, I had been writing for regularly, and he wanted to know what I thought of their weapons. All in all, I like the foam they use. It's dense enough to prevent damage from the core, but at the same time, they're soft enough that they don't hurt. What really impressed me was the Axe they sent, which some of you may have seen, as Tim used them for his Golems in this year's Lumberton plot.

It just so happens that one of the swords saw no more than preliminary use, and we're going to give that away to one of our lucky readers.

Here are the rules:

- Anyone who is not a writer for the blog or a relative of a writer for the blog may enter.
- Entries can come in one of two ways
  1. Send an email to that includes your name, LARPs that you play, and how you found the blog.
  2. Like us on facebook.
- Each person can have up to two entries (one from email, one from Facebook)
- Entries must be made by Midnight on Sunday, Novermber 7th.

From those entries, a winner will be drawn at random (or pseudo-random for you computer nerds). If you win, we'll contact you and figure out the best way to get you the sword, whether it's shipping or having it hand delivered by one of the bloggers.

But there's more!

In addition, we're looking for some sort of Logo/Graphic for LARP Ohio that could be used for the banner as well as for a T-shirt. The logo could be multiple colors, but for the sake of T-shirts would need to have a black/white design. If we pick your logo, we'll give you a shout-out and you'll get a free shirt (once they become available).

Logos can be sent to with the word "Logo" in the subject.

Good Luck and have a great weekend. Hope to see you out at NCN!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

YouTube Thursday: Darkon

Mark brought this up last week, so I figured this would be worth showing for all the people who are not aware of Darkon. Darkon is a documentation that follows a few members of the game of the same name. From my understanding, it's a combat intensive game, much like Dagorhir, except that there is a territory game that exists, and each battle represents an attempt to expand on the territory for the country you fight for.

In the grand scheme of movies, it's not as demeaning as Monster Camp, because you get the feeling that they took a larger cross section of people who are moderately successful in real life. However, there are still a few people who make us look bad, like cardboard armor guy.

If you're interested and want to see more, you can pick up the DVD for this movie at Amazon. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Larp games come in a great variety of shapes and sizes. Most of them involve as system and most systems lend themselves to particular tactics that make the most sense. In NERO for instance a classic tactical decision is the backpack fighter combination. For those of you who do not play NERO this involves a fighter with a healer stuck to his back, always touching him and healing or fixing disabling effects as they are called. Tactical decision making is really the core of any combat system, here are a few differentiators which help you make tactical decisions in new games.

One: How debilitating are the games effects? If a game has very debilitating effects, ones that make it impossible to continue interacting in combat, then the game generally has a tight tactical layout. Tight meaning that the game is intended to be played in groups that stay together so that they can fix or protect those who have been debilitated. Most boffer larps fall into this category, it is difficult to solo a boffer larp encounter because so many of the effects make it impossible to continue fighting! One exception to this rule is the Amtgard or location style fighting games, these games have very easy takedowns but since the battlegame is not persistent, tight group fighting is not always the best tactical decision.

Two: Are the classes differentiated or do they mix roles. In some games it is evident what role each class plays, the classic example in a tabletop is Dungeons and Dragons, a single class fighter can never heal, a single class cleric cannot really fight. If you examine the classes available in your game, you should be able to determine the level of specialization in each class. Many larp games allow characters to fill multiple roles, in NERO for instance a rogue or templar can fill a fighter role in a pinch. By determining the differentiation level of your larp you will better be able to determine your expected role which should make your combat positioning better.

Three: How fast moving is the combat? In a location based system, especially one with backstabs, battlefield positioning is everything. A character who does more damage from behind the enemy needs to be able to execute tactical plans to get into that position. A character who requires range needs to partner with a melee character to insure that the intended target stays at range for sufficient time. Battlefield positioning based games can be boiled down to an almost chess like game if slowed down sufficiently, understanding the position that you should be in on the battlefield will allow you to be as effective as possible in your class.

Most larp games have fairly obvious tactics but there is still value in analyzing them to make yourself more efficent. What are your games tactics? How do you think that a player of your class can be better at the game?