Thursday, July 29, 2010

YouTube Thursday: Jugger

Back in 1989, a movie called The Salute of the Jugger was released in the US under the name The Blood of Heroes. While it wasn't that good, it is now a cult classic, if for no other reason than "The Game," which is played in the movie.

For a long time, Amtgard players have been playing "The Game." However, they call it Jugger or Jugging. It's very easy to incorporate into any LARP game since, well, the weapons used in the game are essentially LARP weapons. But leave it up to the Germans (and the Australians as well) to take it to the next level. Here's a video of a match from the German Jugger League.

Brief Rules Rundown:
- Each team has 5 players: 1 Qwik, 1 Chain, 3 Enforcers.
- Only the unarmed Qwiks can score or pick up the skull. They can also tackle the other Qwik.
- If you're struck with a weapon you are down for 5 stone (5 drumbeats).
- 100 Drumbeats in a round, 3 rounds in a game.
- Enforcers can pin players to prevent them from getting up, once the pin is let go, that player cannot be pinned again until after he gets back up.

I totally want to play this game. And you know what? I might have a chance here soon enough.

The USJL is currently being formed. More information, including the rulebook, can be found here.

But seriously, who around Ohio wants to play some Jugger? Maybe we can get some teams made up for this league, or at the very least we could have a tournament.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pacing: How often should we try to kill our friends?

As a forward to this article it is important to note one assumption. This article assumes that your larp team consists of : One or multiple plot people or storytellers who plan the event, and Two or more staff people who execute the plans of the plans of the plot people and NPCs who play the individual roles associated with your event. There are other ways to organize a larp plot team but this is the one that I am most familiar with.

Pacing is an ill understood concept. To often I have heard comments like, " We should not send any random encounters in, I want people to roleplay". Or my all time favorite, " We are trying to conserve people's skills so they can do more later." I am going to come out and say that the attitude displayed in these statements is less than correct. It is not wrong, wrong would imply that there was some formula which will make everyone have fun. The best that we as plot people can accomplish is to hit the average, to make an educated guess at what most people will enjoy and then give them as close to that as we can. There are three elements that go into the pacing of an event, random encounters, simple hooked modules and major town modules. I will look at all three and give you my opinions on how they fit into the schedule.

Let us start with random encounters, this includes both role play and wandering monsters. An important note about roleplay encounters however, a roleplay encounter will generally entertain a smaller group of individuals than a combat encounter, this does not make it less valuable. The reason that this is true is quite simple, monsters force a reaction from all players in their vicinity, roleplaying only suggests interaction. Roleplay encounters are incredibly important, they help make the world feel more real. The number of resources that you devote to roleplay encounters should always be calculated after NPCs have been set aside to act as random monsters. It is possible to run a good event with no roleplay encounters, in my opinion it is not possible to run a good event with no monster encounters. The general rule for random monsters is that there should never be more than 20 minutes with no random monsters in town. This is a grueling pace to keep up, NPCs should be rotated through the random monster rotation, some being allowed to run modules at the shack and some being put to use as roleplay encounters until their rotation comes up again. Roleplay encounters have a less stringent schedule, any time that there is a free NPC or an NPC who needs to eat, they should be sent in as a roleplay encounter. Random monsters are a key to making an event great, scaling should be set between the APL and the high end of the range of player levels. This scaling allows for random monsters to live for a few minutes before being killed. Random monsters should rarely have takedown effects, these should be limited to modules and planned wave battles. The proper implementation of random monsters involves everyone in whatever plot is occurring for the weekend, the theme of the randoms should fit the plot.

Simple hooked modules play a different role in the hierarchy of event pacing. They appear, at first blush, to be the least important but that is not true. A simple hooked module is the staple of entertaining the out of chapter player who, when push comes to shove, are the goal audience of all larps( The explanation for this is simple, your players are already involved in the story). Simple hooked modules include both preset modules, dungeon crawls and fish bowl mods(Think,"Help! Someone is stealing my cows") These modules, should be worked liberally into the event schedule, a preset team of one staff person and several NPCs should be set aside to deal with hooked modules as they come into the shack. NPCs should be rotated from the random group into the hooked module group to give them breaks. Each plot person, if you have multiple, should be responsible for writing and hooking a specific number of modules which can then be easily handed off to the staff to run. The exception to the hooked module group and the random monster group is when a whole town encounter needs to be run, for these, all personnel are needed. Hooked modules are important, every team must run them, and their success depends upon the level of training that you give your staff. The number of hooked modules is relatively fixed, foan a standard 2 day event there should be between 12 and 20 hooked modules, readily available dungeon crawls count once for each time a party goes through them.

Large scale modules are where most of the story is told at an event. The dissemination of information via larp players is a lot like playing a game of telephone, if you tell one person everyone else will get the wrong message so it is best to give the information to as many people as possible. The most important thing about large scale modules is that they should be scheduled before the event even starts. The plot team should decide when they are going to run their plot modules, who is going to be involved and how many NPC resources they require. The resource requirement should be flexible to deal with the possibility that less NPCs may show up then you actually need. NPCs should never be diverted from the random or hooked module groups unless there are not enough NPCs to split up. It should be noted here that this whole pacing model depends upon at least 10 total personnel in the plotgroup. 2-3 plot people 2-3 staff people and 4-6 NPCs. The large scale, scheduled modules are the framework around which you base the rest of the event. If the module includes the entire town then the random and hooked groups can be folded into the NPCs on the module and then split again after he modules completion. These are the modules on which great costuming, makeup and special effects should be used to maximize the players exposure. The number of large scale modules run depends upon the plot team, and the player base. Generally 3 is a good number if they include the entire town or 5-7 if they include only portions of the town. Maximizing the plot exposure and the special effects exposure will insure that all players have stories to tell.

A quick recap to finish off. Randoms every 20 minutes, roleplay randoms mixed in if NPCs allow. Hooked modules entertain players who are not involved in the main plot, 12 should be written on the low end 20 if your main plot is very targeted(Specific to certain players). Large scaled modules are pre planned, pre scaled encounters which advance the story, there should be 3 if they include the whole town or 5-7 if they are targeted at smaller groups. Large scale encounters can take the form of wave battles or group battles in town, if so they remove the need for randoms at that time.

This is how I pace my events, I work with my fellow plot team members to make sure that all of the above happen. Everyone slips up, but if you try to keep it as close to this as possible and make sure that your whole plot and staff team know the goal, this formula can help you run a great event. Let me know what you think about this, please!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Skills and Protectives: A PSA

The following is a public service announcement, based on my experiences from running NERO Events for about 6 years.

All NERO plot teams work very hard to try an ensure that all of the players have an exciting time at events. While you may not notice it, one of their main jobs is to manage the resources of the town. These are the resources that they use to scale the battles for the entire weekend.

While it's accepted that players will forget which protectives or skills they have used from time to time, overcasting/over-using skills and calling protectives that are not currently up make this job very difficult for the plot teams, who are donating their time for you.

If plot teams don't account for players calling extra protectives, modules will not pose much of a challenge and might be considered boring or dull. On the other hand, plot teams that scale for this margin of error might end up being overscaled for players who are dilligent about tracking their skills and protectives.

This is not directed at any specific players. Even veterans who have been playing for over 10 years can have a hard time keeping up with all the skills and protectives they have. We should all strive to become better and keeping track of our abilites.

By putting in a little extra effort in this area, we can all help our plot teams, who graciously volunteer their time and/or money, provide us with challenging encounters and well written storylines for years to come.

Monday, July 26, 2010

This Week In LARP - July 26th

Here are the best ways to round out your July with a little LARP action.


Once again, we have a weekend with no NERO events. You could try traveling a little bit further for some excitement, but that's outside of my zone of information. If there's a NERO event this weekend a bit further out, feel free to drop the info in the comments.

But there is an alternative!


Exiles, a Western/Steampunk/Horror game, will be having a 2 day event this weekend, starting Friday July 30th and going until Sunday, August 1st. The event will be held at Sycamore State Park at the IG location "Silver Springs". It costs $40 to PC ($35 for new players), and this includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday, with snacks throughout the weekend. I am not sure of the cost 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, July 23, 2010

On The Road

Well, the team is on the way to NCN this weekend. We'll be NPCing tonight and PCing tomorrow.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

YouTube Thursday: Pierce

Alright, I'm traveling today, so I am sorry if this is a weak YouTube Thursday video (especially because it's unfinished).

This is a music video from Belegarth that I watch to get pumped up for foam fighting (and is the reason Phenomenon is on my Pump Up List). If this video was finished, I would give it the honor of number 1 display of foam fighting without us looking like a bunch of flurbs. Even unfinished, it might still be the best foam fighting video.

Check out the totally dominant shield bash at 0:46. But don't get over-excited, because you can't do stuff like that at NERO or Amtgard. Still, it's pretty awesome, and makes me want to try Bel (even though my small stature would put me on the receiving end of that).

Ok so this is awesome

Generally I am not real into short link posts on blogs, but this is totally awesome and everyone should check it out.

Web Comic Description of Larp

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Making Inexpensive Costumes

As some people have seen on the National NERO forums, Tim has been utilizing some nice costumes at the last few events he's been running. This is an example of a golem costume.

We have learned a little bit about building these costumes, as we're on the second version of a golem costume (this time a stone golem), and hopefully we'll get some pictures.

1. Open Cell Foam Is Your Friend
It's easy to mold, it's easy to cut, and it's easy to paint. It's also safe in combat if players run into you or if you fall on someone. And, in a pinch, you can compress it a fair bit for transportation.

The downsides are that it's somewhat expensive (unless you find couches being thrown out) and it's fairly hot to wear. All things considered, it ends up being a pretty decent tool for costuming.

2. Dremel Action
A Dremel is an excellent tool for shaping open cell foam. If you want to make nice clean cuts and sharp edges, you'll be hard pressed to find a better tool.

3. Keep the Arms Free
Even though you're playing a golem who normally doesn't care about weapon strikes, the arms kept getting chopped to the point of annoyance. I would suggest building up the legs and torso, but leave the arms free to swing.

The chest is the easiest place to add costume. The legs are fair game as well, as long as you can move as fast as NPC should. With the golems, we could build up the legs because they can't run.

4. If Movement is Limited, Adjust Stats
This is one of those difficult efforts in scaling. If your costume limits your ability to fight, adjustment the card accordingly.

Without giving too much away, we added body to counter the limitations of the suit. What we didn't give to the golem was a ridiculous amount of defenses, so there are ways to work through it. Let's face it. A monster taking your spells with more body is more fun than one with less body that returns everything.

That's the basics on how we got the costume started. I would suggest anyone interested in building a costume like this start out by scouting out some couch foam, and then just go to town on it.

A shout out goes to Dave, Beth, and Josh for making this costume.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Get Pumped Up

Everyone has their own pump up music that they listen to before events. Tim and I tend to listen to Dio and/or Dragonforce, but that's more of a happy medium based on the music we both like and what's available to us.

These are my top 5 pump-up songs, in no particular order:
1. This is War - 30 Seconds to Mars
2. Phenomenon - Thousand Foot Krutch
3. Indestructible - Disturbed
4. Master of Puppets - Metallica
5. Song 2 - Blur

So what are your top 5 pump-up songs for LARP?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Power Creep: The Reckoning

In a persistent game setting players need a way to advance. Through magic or levels or story, a character must develop continuously throughout its life to keep the player interested. This advancement should terminate at the end of the characters intended life span and then transition gracefully into the start of a new character. Players should still be rewarded after the advancement of their first character has ended, this creates loyalty. There is a feeling amongst the players and owners or NERO that the so called "Arms race" of damage is a bad thing. To a degree it is a bad thing, it an be corrected in one of two ways; introduce a higher turnover rate into game, or create a situation in which higher level characters are sufficiently challenged without ruining the fun of new players.

Let us begin with an old example, there is game called IFGS. The International Fantasy Gaming Society, is a game that is based on modules. Repeatable modules run for specific levels of players with strict limits on the amount and type of treasure that can be put into game on any particular module. Items do not expire and the level cap is fairly low, which means that at some point beyond the level cap, all advancement occurs through item accumulation. Power creep is inevitable but because the modules are level specific, it becomes harder and harder to find modules that you can run your higher level characters through. Thus it becomes worthwhile to start a secondary so that you can play in more modules. This solution is very elegant, there is no unexplainable evaporation of your magic sword after two years, your magic list can continue to grow longer and longer until the character can no longer find games to play in. unfortunately a solution like this does not work for a game like NERO. To much of the NERO game is based around the concept of the persistent town, and it is difficult to restrict players from playing their high level characters on modules intended for lower level characters. There is no built in incentive to play a secondary. The NERO solution to the power creep issue is non existent, players play their primary until they get bored and then they either quit or switch to secondary. This is not an elegant solution.

First let us look at introducing a higher turnover rate, this can be done in one of two ways, through character death or through incentives to retire. Character death can be increased by making the game more challenging, the danger here is that a more challenging game for higher level characters becomes lethal to lower level characters. This challenge can be managed with well trained NPCs and Staff people. A well trained NPC will not engage a newer player with a higher level card, they will scare them off. This idea is included in the NERO 8th edition rulebook as an example of good sportsmanship( See page 122) It is important plot people to train your NPCs. The second option to increase turnover is to create incentives for playing secondaries. This can be as simple as creating new classes or races that can only be played by someone who has retired a character of a particular level. The classes or races must be special enough to tempt players of high level characters to switch to them but still weak enough to lower the power level of the game. This idea can be expanded still further by creating multiple tiers of such classes(credit goes to the Exiles game for this idea) With a system like this in place a player may retire his character in order to start a new character because they want something really new and special.

The second option is to create an environment in which both new and experienced players can be appropriately challenged. This is a tight rope walk, it requires precision and balance and the odds are you are eventually going to fall off one side or the other. Plot people, scaling to the APL does not work. Your high level characters will mow through things and your low level people will get mowed. Instead it is important to include high and low level challenges in every encounter and coach your NPCs on who their target is. High level mods should be hooked for small groups of high level players, this allows the scaling to be more precise. Mixed mods and field battles should be split or targeted as I mentioned above. Plots should be run down multiple points of presentation to both high and low level players. When you fall off this tight rope to the high end, the Resurrection count is high and only new players resurrect. When you fall off to the low end, high level players complain about how dull all the mods were. This is how most NERO events have to be run currently because there is no system in place to level the playing field.

As you can see from the examples above NERO has an issue with power differential. The slow response time for rules changes means that it is likely that we will not see a fix for this any time soon. Plot people, prepare carefully to walk the tight rope. Write multiple versions of mods that can be changed on the fly for different party's. Prepare high level, uber plot for your kick ass teams and remember the tight rope has two sides that you can fall off stay in the middle and hold on.

This Week In LARP - July 19th

Here's all the LARP your face can handle... at least for this week.


Northcoast NERO will be hosting a 2 day event from Friday, July 23rd until Sunday, July 25th. The game will be held at Camp Tuscazoar at the IG location of Syrinx. The game is $45 to PC (various discounts available) and is FREE to NPC (with some additional bonuses, like food, formal, and a chance at a latex weapon).

Also, in the middle of the week, NERO Elkins will be hosting a Tavern Night. It's free to attend, but a donation of $10 will get you half a blanket. Hopefully Matt will be able to give us the address in the comments, because I couldn't find it on their site.


Alliance Ohio will be having a 2 day event this weekend, starting Friday July 23rd and going until Sunday, July 25th. The event will be held at Lewis Arboretum. It costs $40 to PC ($50 at the event) and is free to NPC, but all players will need to bring $10 for food.

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, July 16, 2010

Know Who Likes Free Stuff?

This Guy.

But seriously, since it was mentioned in Tim's Event Review, I thought I'd post a little suggestion that I recently had for NPC benefits.

We've tried letting NPCs play for free. We've tried giving them formal levels. We've tried giving them magic items. Hell, we've tried giving them food. And yet, we still find ourselves coming up short. Why?

Because players get IG rewards when they PC. So give them something they don't get when the PC. Give them kit.

When you run a camp that has 3-5 events a year, it's pretty important to have reliable NPCs. It doesn't help me if I have 20 NPCs one event and 5 the next. I'd much rather have 10 NPCs the whole year around. Not to mention the fact that as the game you run gets better, more people are interested in PCing than NPCing.

For that reason, players that NPC for a camp for the entire season (and actually show up at all the games) get the following reward in addition to whatever rewards they're already getting.

Season 1: A nice pair of claws and a decent, double-sided tabard (black and white).
Season 2: A sword/shield or two handed weapon, and a double-sided tabard (choose colors).
Season 3: A tunic and a small make-up kit.
Season 4: A pair of drawstring pants (color of choice) and another tabard.

- Players who NPC will be sporting better weapons and garb, making the game even better when they PC.
- Less demand for the game staff to bring as much loaner gear, both for NPCs to use and for new players to borrow, since more people have weapons of their own.
- Hopefully you will have more reliable NPCs.

- The materials cost money (unless donated).
- Requires people to donate time to create the rewards.

Ultimately, assuming time is donated, each of these costs anywhere between $15-$30 and it might even run less made in quantity. That ends up costing the chapter roughly $4-$8 an event per NPC, and yet to a lot of players it seems like so much more.

Point System:
An alternative way of doing this is to give NPCs points towards purchasing any of the above rewards, so that they can pick what they want. If you were to do something like this, it might be a good idea to give bonuses to NPCs who make the entire season. You don't want to lose the incentive for them to show up to every event. The upside is that everyone gets benefits, even if they have to miss an event here or there, and now these bonuses transfer between camps.

Let's assume that you get 1 ticket for every game you NPC, and if you NPC each event for any given camp, you get an additional 2 tickets. The cost structure could look something like this:

Basic Claw: 2 Tickets
Sword: 3 Tickets
Shield: 4 Tickets
Two-Handed Weapon: 5 Tickets
Tabard: 3 Tickets
Tunic: 5 Tickets
Small Make-up Kit: 3 Tickets
Duffle Bag: 4 Tickets

Tim's going to be trying a basic version of this by giving out claws at the next few Lumberton events. We'll see how that works out for him.

Would you NPC for these rewards? Would you ever consider giving these rewards out if it meant you had reliable NPC numbers?

Posted in conjunction with

Thursday, July 15, 2010

YouTube Thursday: How to Make a Sword

This one goes out to all the people who may have been playing NERO, Exiles, or Amtgard for a while, and simply haven't made a weapon yet. It can be intimidating, but I have seen few videos that put the weapon construction process so succinctly. It really can be this easy.

If you are making this weapon for NERO, you will want to add an open cell foam crush tip to the end of the weapon and on the pommel, if you want to use waylay. The crush tips should be covered in a tape that can breath but has some resistance to water(gaffers tape, duct tape with holes). If water gets into your crush tip, you will most likely have to rebuild it. Also note that weapon lengths are measured after the crush tips. Finally, check this method of construction with your weapons marshal, since this uses non-standard materials. There is a good chance these will pass, simply because they're extremely safe, but it's always a good idea to ask.

If you are making this weapon for Exiles, try shaving down two sides of the weapon and then covering the entire thing with duct tape or gaffers tape. This will give it more of an appearance of having a blade, and also forces people to grab the flats if they're trying to disarm you.

If you are making this weapon for Amtgard, well, go hit someone with it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lessons learned: WAR Event July 9-11

I ran my first complete event as plot at this last Lumberton event, I am going to go ahead and put my lessons learned up here. So without further ado we begin with, the good and move into the areas of improvement.

The Good:
The event pacing pretty much rocked. Randoms went in every 45 minutes like clockwork and we ran 3 major mods and 6 or 7 smaller mods. In addition we had 2 major wave battles in town. It felt pretty much perfect to me. I had a few skilled NPCs and a few less skilled ones but they all worked themselves to death.

I decided about 3 weeks before the event that I wanted to see what the effect would be if I ran a big module right off the bat. I hooked it before the event, put a timer on when it had to be completed by and prepared all of the costumes and cards ahead of time, this worked fabulously. It pulled everyone into the game much more rapidly than if you have downtime at the beginning of the event, and because it was a larger fight type module, it excited the NPCs as well. I was really pleased with the way this seemed to engage everyone at the event. I do not think that something like this can be repeated every event but I do hope to keep in mind that it seems to be best to get the blood flowing sin some way right out of the gate.

My scaling for the APL seemed to be right on, I had very few complaints about things being to hard or unbeatable. I did have one issue that I will be discussing in the improvements section.

Plot coverage, the ability for plot to touch everyone, seemed to be fairly decent, again there was one glaring exception but I will be addressing that.

The Bad:

I had only a few negative comments from my post event emails and conversations, these are the things that I will be working the hardest to improve at the next event. I will include my plans for improvement as well.

No new player plot: This is my glaring omission, I do not write plot that is directed at newer players. I try to include monsters in every fight that are new player friendly but there is no plot that makes them into the heroes. I am going to fix this. I already have written a brand new plot that will be rolled out at the next Lumberton and is specifically targeted at new players. My strong suit is the epic but all people should be able to enjoy NERO, new and old, high and low level.

I had one complaint that a few of the mod concepts that were used were a little bit tired. The one that was mentioned most was the fight in which one team was trying to destroy a protective circle while the other attempted to keep the undead from killing them. I know the idea is pretty used but it seemed like everyone had fun. Never the less I will steer clear of this concept for the immediate future.

And last but not least, number of NPCs. I do need to do something about this, we had no where near enough NPCs for some of the larger battles and we struggled mightily when we were running more than one mod at the same time. I have come up with an incentive program for the last two events of the season, we will see if I get any takers. I am going to give a set of ultralight claws to the first ten people that email me about NPCing the next TWO events. The way it will work is this, I will have the claws done at the next event and the NPCs will get to use them, then I will take them home again, at the end of the second event, if you NPCed both, you get to keep them. There you go my email is I will leave this only here for a day or so.

Overall: I thought we ran a pretty great event. If you do not think so, feel free to say so. Once I improve these things I listed above, hopefully we will get even better. Let me know if you have any questions!

Both of your Dresses are Pretty

Alright, here's the deal. We've got a pretty serious debate of facts from two sides, and I'm not really sure which facts are real. Doesn't matter anymore.

What I can tell you is that both Noah and Mike are both very passionate people who honestly want the game to be better. Their means for doing it may be different, but I feel like both have done quite a good job.

Mike has been amping up the quality of presentation for the game with extreme costumes and special effects.

Noah has been contributing to the game for over a decade, working with the rule set as well as helping with national events.

Just remember before you go at each other again, that you're fighting for the same thing, and you're ultimately on the same team.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Truth about Truth in NERO

I'm pretty sure that every NERO player in Ohio is aware that some drama went on recently, regarding the use of Enslavements to make characters tell the truth. But many of you might not know the full situation, and what level of rules clarification failure occurred.

Let me start by saying, I was happy with the Truth clarification at first - because I thought it was intended to prevent irresponsible plot from ruining characters by revealing extremely dark skeletons in their closets. Now, I believe that the clarification is incorrect, although I still appreciate the time and effort that the national rules committee puts in. There could be things I don't know about from previous rule sets, but if there is, please make this ruling more transparent, so I can take my foot out of my mouth.

Monday, July 12, 2010

This Week In LARP - July 12th

Beat the heat by beating your friends at these wonderful LARP events!.


For you NERO players out there, there do not appear to be any games at the local chapters (links on the left side of the page). That means you can use this weekend to try some cross gaming at a local foam combat game (Amtgard, Dagorhir, or Belegarth). Or do something that's more socially acceptable like *GASP* visiting your family. It's up to you.


Alliance South Michigan will be having a game this weekend, starting friday July 16th and going until Sunday, July 18th. I don't have a lot of details, so if you're interested I would visit the website and find out what's going on.

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, July 9, 2010

From where does inspiration spring?

As with all works of literature and play, there are only seven stories in larp. Seven stories which authors bend to their desire, I am going to do a short series about how to integrate these stories into a boffer larp.

Fantasy literature began it's life as a genre deeply embedded in the quest story. The Grey Mouser, the Lord of the Rings, Conan the Barbarian all are sentinel works in the early genre, all of them are also centered around a quest. Quests as a story arc are fairly simple. Beginning with a journey, you add interesting encounters at regular intervals and culminate with some world altering event. Breaking this down into a boffer larp can be simple as well, here are my personal thoughts on how to make it as effective as possible.

The journey is the central point of the quest, not the traveling. Some quests take place in one location, some in the mind, some spread out over continents or planets. Where-ever you decide to begin your player's journey, make sure that the setting is mutable. Changing ambiance as players move through different locations can create the illusion of moving great distances, the suspension of disbelief makes this fairly simple, change the lighting or color of lighting as the players move through their journey. If the color changes in your encounters, the locations will feel different even if they are the same mod shack as always.

A complication arises for quest stories because often a plot team or story teller needs to entertain 30 or 40 people, a quest may only be viable for 7-10. One way to handle this is to assign a separate plot person to run the quest, with his/her own NPCs. This solution has the positive effect of specializing that one plot person and allowing them to be more detailed in their planning. It has a negative effect as well, you have dedicated some percentage of your resources to entertaining only a small percentage of your players. IN my opinion there is a better solution, the questers can travel alone, but the encounters require more manpower. The traveling portion of a quest, the random roleplay upon the road and the small combats that represent the annoyances of travel can all be handled by a single plot person. With this solution only one dedicated resource can entertain a group of players AND at intervals the story he is telling can involve everyone.

The encounters along the road or journey form the bulk of the narrative if any quest story. In Lord of The Rings this would be the meeting with Galadriel, the Balgrog in Moria and the Riders of Rohan. The most important thing in a boffer larp is to keep the balance between telling your story and keeping the adrenaline pumping. If every encounter is a roleplay encounter someone in the back will be dozing, if every encounter is a fight well you get the idea. My personal goal has always been to have four types of encounters fights, roleplay, puzzles and complicated fights. Most of those are self explanatory, complicated fights bears some explanation. The best example of this in modern media are the boss fights in multi player games. In order to draw and encounter out for longer and make it challenging for a larger number of people, the plot person adds a slowing mechanic which complicates the fight. For instance, one person must solve a puzzle while the others fight the monster(s) or several people must answer riddles while one person blocks a passage way. Quest encounters in my opinion should be a mixture of these three things, always maintaining enough combat to keep the stick jocks from party killing.

This leaves only the final encounter, Frodo throwing the ring in to Mount Doom, Darth Vader chucking the emperor into the power shaft etc. There are two important things about this encounter, one it must be differentiated from other encounters by scale and two it should answer most if not all of the questions brought up on the quest. It is important to note here that scaling is still incredibly important, the goal is to make this the hardest encounter of the quest without making it impossible. This is accomplished by gauging success at previous encounters and then ramping up the volume just a little. If you are the plot person running the quest, it is best to slowly increase the difficulty over the course of the journey. This gives you the best gauge of where to place the scaling of the final encounter. Answering questions is also important, leaving things hanging intentionally is only really good if the goal is to hook the next quest.

So this is my take on converting a quest into a boffer larp, what does everyone think? There is of course a lot more detail that could be added, but I will leave it here for now. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

YouTube Thursday: The Flat Wrap

Today's video is another gem out of Brennon and Spyn's training series, this time about a particular shot - The Outside Wrap.

Wrap shots are the core of foam fighting. The concept behind throwing a wrap shot is to have your weapon pivot at a point in space. When thrown correctly, they give you the ability to get around blocks while putting virtually no stress on the wrist (it's all in the elbow).

Wrap shots are tough in NERO for two reasons - partial blocks and charging. Wraps are incredibly powerful in games where a touch on an attack doesn't count as a block, as well as games where you can get close and hit them in the back. Still, this can be a useful shot on sword and boarders, especially those who keep their shield out from their body.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Burnout: How to Properly Diagnose and Treat It

LARPs are different in many different ways, but there is one thing that appears to be consistant amongst LARPs, as well as pretty much any game that you might play.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Being Blunt

You'd be surprised to know what you can do, simply by being blunt.

Ask your players if they want plot - they will answer you.
Tell your plot team what you liked and didn't like - they will adjust.
Tell the players what they need to do - they will do it.

On the other hand, dancing around a topic is a lot like Miss USA dancing around a pole - you will not get the desired effect.

Monday, July 5, 2010

This Week In LARP - July 5th

Here are some people who will help you celebrate American Independence by hitting people with foam sticks.


NERO WAR will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend, July 9th through July 11th. It will be taking place at the IG town of Lumberton. The game will cost $50 to PC ($30 with a good ratio) and is free to NPC. The game will be at Camp Giscowheco in Triadelphia, WV.

Metro Detroit will be hosting a 1-day event this weekend on July 10th, starting at Noon and running till around 8:00 PM. The game will cost $20 to PC and is free to NPC. The game will be at the Stony Creek Metropark, off of 26 mile road in Utica, MI.

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!

Game or Sport...maybe both?

Larp is an odd confluence of concepts. We combine the nerdy wonder of a roleplaying game, with the smash mouth speed western martial arts. This gives rise to some strange dichotomy's of player types, the most famous is perhaps the Stick Jock versus the Roleplayer or flurb as they are known in some circles. Whose philosophy is correct? What is the intention of this game? How can people who run games cater to these two totally different mindsets? Maybe the goal should be to combine the mindsets and run the game to appease the new normal.

I am an unapologetic stick-jock, I do role play but a a large portion of my enjoyment on any given weekend is derived from the skill required to win whatever fights take place. I like the team dynamic of games and the pressure that is put on the foam swinging players to protect those without the foam. So from my personal perspective, a game can get by with a skeletal plot line interspersed with intense fights and the occasional break for Gatorade. This would not please my flurby friends.

On the flip side, there are some plot teams that have no skill with stick at all. They tell fabulous stories but all fights boil down to take down spells because that's the only way they can compete with the high end teams. I have been to events where the whole weekend is based around the translation of some ancient scroll, deep thought and careful planning for a final battle that is over in fifteen minutes. This does not please the stick-jocks amongst us.

The best solution I have found in my tenure as a plot/staff person is to make every team NEED certain skills that only the roleplaying crowd has. Let us set up a theoretical encounter to show this. Team A consists of a fighter( Stick jock) a healer(Stick Jock) and a damage dealing class(Stick jock) they find that they must delve into an ancient tomb filled with horrible(but well scaled) monsters that fight them at every turn. At the bottom of the ancient tomb lies a text which requires knowledge skills to read....Team A cannot read the text, their characters may not even be able to read. This gives rise to Team B consisting of a fighter(Stick Jock) a healer(Stick jock/flurb) and a damage dealer(Stick Jock/different type of flurb). Team B can still fight their way down to the bottom of the dungeon, they have trained their flurbs to be at least decent at the foam arts. When they reach the bottom they can read the ancient tome and complete the module. It is important for plot teams and players to remember, anyone can be taught to swing foam or cast spells, teaching flurbiness is much harder.

What then can plot teams take from this? Stick jockery can be taught. I can take 4 weeks and train someone to be an acceptable team player, someone who will not get me killed. The willingness to roleplay and focus skills on something other than combat cannot be taught. Sure I can take some knowledge skills but I probably will forget I have them or not use the right ones. I can probably make some neat crafts but I have no real desire to do so, so I won't. It is up to the stick jocks to train the roleplayers, and the roleplayers to learn. These games that we love demand the combination of roleplay and martial arts, without this combination they do not have the same draw. It is an amazing thing that such different people can be drawn together by one activity, lets keep it amazing. Stick jocks nurture your flurbs and flurbs be patient with your stick jocks. Plot teams, require both on every team, thus can balance be achieved.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Today is the 4th of July, and in the United States we celebrate the declaration of independence of our great country from Great Britain. And we do this by watching Chinese explosions and drinking crappy Mexican beer, more or less.

So this is me wishing everyone a happy and safe 4th of July.

By the way - if you plan on going to fireworks this evening in a local park, you should think about bringing some weapons out and doing some plain clothes fighting. I know a lot of us are shy about what we do privately, but the 4th of July is a good time to get some sparring in, and maybe you'll even have a few people ask about what you're doing.

Friday, July 2, 2010

So I Herd U Liek LARPz

LARPz, u liek them. But why do you like them?

This is an interesting question that often comes, in one form or another, on many many forums. And yet, despite asking this question, there are still tons of people who are less tolerant of the fact that people play LARPs for different reasons.

Truth is, much like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, there is no wrong way to play a LARP*.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

NERO: A business or a club

LARP is a hobby, it is a hobby that is pursued by normal(sort of) people. We give up our weekends and pay to come to a game that is run by our friends, our friends are not paid, they volunteer to run this game for us, we pay to help rent the camp. Does this sound like a business model or a club? To me it sounds like a club. There may be a business model hidden within the larp concept but I do not believe we have seen it yet.

FACT: A game is only as good as the plot people who run it. Plot people pour out their creative ideas into the game, they wrangle NPCs and point them in the direction they wish them to go in. They schedule the event(Not rent the camp I am talking about the schedule DURING the event) and play important NPC roles. They are a director, a traffic cop, a final rules authority and the writer at every event they attend, and they are not paid. How then do we differentiate good plot people from bad? Truthfully, we don't, ouch. I have seen so many bad plot people it makes my head spin and not in obscure out of chapter play, I have seen bad plot people in my primary chapter. How long can these bad plot people stick around, until they don't want to do it anymore, because no one else is beating down the door. NERO cannot be a valid business concept with no valid way to select above average plot people and no way to dismiss those who are poor. NERO cannot be a valid business model without a way to compensate those who DO run above average plot to keep them running above average plot.

FACT: Plot is limited by the props and costumes that are available to them, if NERO is a business the chapter must provide props and costumes. I have heard from many people that they are satisfied fighting on modules with tabard monsters and face paint, I too am satisfied with that for most of an event. Once in a while though I want to go on a module where all the stops are pulled out, where I have to fight a giant 20 foot dragon in a cave filled with sounds and flashing lights, with fog billowing and people shouting. Production value on ONE MODULE can make an event 100 times more memorable, if this were a business, owners would realize this and strive for that one impact module. The one scene that you see in the trailers for movies, the one that gives you tinglies down your spine, do that once per event. And it should not be the plot people paying for this for some imaginary currency, it should be the owners paying for it. In the last two years the one chapter in Ohio that does value production value has seen its average event size go up by a large margin and the ones that don't have dropped off. How can you be a valid business model if you do not follow market trends? How can you expect to draw people away from computer graphics when all you offer is tabards and face paint? NERO will be a business when production value across events is standardized.

FACT: NERO events have no guarantee of satisfaction, it is possible to show up to an event and have 5 hour down times with nothing happening. You could come to an event and not go on a single module, there could be no NPCs to interact with. If an owner sees these things happening, they should be outraged that the people that they have selected are not entertaining the people who are paying...but I have seen owners not get outraged. NERO cannot be a valid business model if the owners do not take responsibility for the quality of events, customers will go to the chapters that do run quality events or they will return to their computers. Club managers may be able to allow a meeting to slide or degrade but owners of a business must first think about the satisfaction of their customers and with a live action game, the only time the impression can be fixed is while it is happening.

What then can be done? The first question that must be asked is what do we want to do? Owners are you trying to run a business? If so then you must take responsibility for the satisfaction of your customers. If you cannot determine who is and is not acceptable to run plot you must find someone who can. Invest some money from your proceeds to design an impact module for every event, make sure that it is widely experienced Guarantee peoples satisfaction, money back guarantees are a staple of marketing because satisfied people do not ask for their money back, even moderately satisfied people do not. Most of all, listen to people after the events, really listen and attempt to fix what they are suggesting. Constant improvement and sustainable results make a great business model, can you make NERO do that? If you cannot then run it as a club, reduce the costs down to what it costs you to operate and ask for people to help out. Other organizations do this and it works out fine for them.

NERO is a business? I admit that some chapters are closer than others but in general no...NERO is a club. Volunteers running events and donating all the props and special effects gear, below par plot people running below average plot and no guarantee of satisfaction are symptoms of the disinterested management of a club. If we are playing in a club then it is our responsibility to make sure that we have fun, and it is the so called owners responsibility to book the camps. So owners, what have you done for me lately? Why am I giving you the extra money on top of the camp costs?

YouTube Thursday: Chase Dat Gold

I'm not really sure why I dig this video so much. I just think it's really entertaining, and while it's incredibly nerdy, it's actually very well done. I would love to see more from these guys

"You like like a musketeer"
"You look like a gay musketeer"
"You look like my gay uncle dressed as a musketeer"
"You look like how I would imagine his uncle would look in a gay musketeer's costume"

// Chorus
// Oh, no! Here we go, with the flow (here we go).
// Chasin' gold 'cause that's the goal, or so we've been told (with the flow).
// I think we've all played that role, so I don't care what you say (chasing gold).
// 'Cause everyday we role play. Everyday we role play (ooohhhwowowohh).

// I'm not a 9 to 5'er, a daily grinder.
// I smack a wench in the mouth, just to remind her (smack her in the mouth).
// I'm not a stranger to danger. I, myself, am a Ranger.
// I got a Dark Elf and a Wizard in my crew. So, don't think we're afraid of you.

// I'm a Dark Elf, I'm my bad ass self (that ass is so bad).
// Slitting throats, killing folks, trying to be myself.
// I'm like, "Don't be mad because I'm bad." You know,
// I was born that way. It's like being gay (Uncle Larry!).

// Chorus

// Rule # 1: No hitting in the face.
// Rule # 2: If you get hit in the leg, drop to your knees and let out a shout.
// If you get hit again, then you're out.
// Rule # 3: Memorize these...(Follow these rules)

// Look at their face, see their fear.
// A puff of smoke and the wizard appears (wizard appears).
// I don't care if you stare at my wicked warez,
// my Wiccan flair, my white flowing wizard hair.

// Chorus

// Wait, is this like playing WOW?

// No, Ogre licker. I'm a real wizard kicker.
// If you snicker, it will trigger my sword to grow bigger.
// To all you WOW kids: you know what joblessness is,
// or who's job it is to gargle goblin j--- (gargle goblin j---)?
// And it's not PC in this PVE
// to diss another brothers MMORPG.
// But it aint PVP, this is you versus me,
// and I make all my weapons out of PVC.

// I'm true to this game. I got a unicorn tattoo.
// So, all you role playa haters. Is this real enough for you?
// I'm a wizard. I'm an elf. I like sparring. By yourself.
// You both suck. Rangers rule. I challenge you to a duel.

// (We're jousting on Sprees)

// Watch me hack. Watch me slash. Watch me steady, spend that cash.
// Maidens sing their siren song. Let me see that iron thong.
// Chastity belts really turn me on. Wizard staff grows hard and long.
// L to the A to the R to the P-ing. Hand to the hilt, grab the sword and swing.

// Chorus