Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's LARP Resolution

Winter gives us time to catch up, rest, and prepare for spring. It also gives us time to take a deep breath and reflect both on the previous year and what we want to do in the coming one. Thus New Year's resolutions!

While most of us will have various real life goals, now's also a good time to think about what you want to do with your LARP career. I believe Bill had a post on this last year, but I think it's a great idea.

What do you want to do in LARP in 2012?

Maybe you want to make a new costume or reps, or maybe you want to hone your skills at fighting or throwing. Perhaps you've always wanted to come into game with a book of period songs, but never got around to looking them up. Now's the time to do all that crafting, research, and practicing! And in Ohio, we have a lot of different games, so if you want to try something new, keep an eye on their websites for the year's schedule and block it into your calendar.

Are you bored with your character? Think about creating goals that will keep you invested. Start sending feelers out to your plot people about what you want to do. Whether you want to get involved in plot, start up a personal quest, get involved with a faction, or anything else you can come up with; start working with someone to make it happen. They may not have anything for you until closer to the season, but plant those seeds now!

Sometimes, though, it's just time to retire an old character whose story is done. Don't hold on to a character that's not fun, this can just create a feeling of obligation and burn you out faster. You've got time to create a new persona that taps into an aspect of the game you haven't explored before. You could even bring some friends along! :)

Speaking of obligation, maybe you've been thinking about giving back to the game in some way. Get involved! They need you :) Even if it's on a small scale, the game probably has some way you can help.

Or, on the opposite end, maybe you're burnt out already - in that case, re-evaluate what you want to do with your play time. If you're just not interested in playing as often, that's okay. The community and constant momentum of a LARP tends to create the attitude that you'll let people down or get left out if you don't come to every event. Don't get me wrong, this is a good business model :) And it's also a little true - the world will move on if you're not there, sad to say. But if you just don't get the same kick out of using all your weekends to LARP; cut back. Maybe it's the heat or cold that gets you, or your characters don't mesh in one of the towns; you can start by holding back on those events. You can still stay involved by keeping in contact with other players and staff, and continuing goals for your character. But don't ruin your weekends by forcing yourself to go to games where you won't have fun. Play at your own pace.

On the staffing side, LARPs will always need volunteers, but if you are coming to think of each event with dread, maybe it's time to find a replacement or scale back your involvement. Be honest about it. It's better to be upfront than to gradually just stop contributing without telling anyone, or to quit suddenly when the game's in full swing.

There are lots of things you can do to improve your game. After all, it is still a hobby, and the point is to have fun!

So what's your 2012 LARP resolution?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Traveling LARP Group

I had a suggestion from a reader about an interesting topic. Sean writes:

I have an idea for a discussion topic for the blog. It's a theoretical idea of a new kind of NERO (or general larp, but mostly pertains to NERO)

I was thinking about ways that a chapter could set itself apart from all the others, but without taking attendance from the other local chapters. That's how I came upon the idea of a mobile NERO chapter. It will be an actual chapter in all the classical means: XP gained, tags and production, plot, roleplay, etc. However the catch is that instead of hosting weekend events averaging once a month, they will provide a traveling mod day service.

In the perfect plan of the chapter, groups of players will "hire" the chapter to drive to them and provide X amount of hours of official NERO mods. This system would not be to detract from weekend events, but to supplement current players who might want to play more NERO when there otherwise would be none.

The cost of this service would be determined by the amount of gas money required to transport plot and props to the location, and the fees for the players to partake in the mods. It would only be in the tri-state area, and could have the minumum of 6 players registered for example. The plot team would drive to the "event host's" preferred location. This would also not be a private event, but it would allow a group of people to go on a mod day on their own terms.

*Obviously this is a long shot of a service, but with the right business plan and general planning it might be something players would like.*

This is just a theoretical discussion, all opinions are welcome.

This is a great topic. Sean hits most of the big points on the discussion, including whether or not something like this would be totally viable on it's own, due to costs.

I'm not going to go into details on how one would run something like this - I think Sean covered it. But what I will talk about is the way a group like this could possibly mitigate some of the costs of doing something like this.

You see, a group like this has to be focused on private roleplaying events, of which NERO is one of them.

A company like this should be as open to running any kind of game as possible. This might be a tough pill to swallow for large, competing, national organizations (Alliance/NERO), but as long as they're getting the royalties and the visibility, they shouldn't be too concerned.

Additionally, a group like this could run private events for non-boffer and even non-LARPer activities. I'm basing this model around a group called 5th Wall Gaming, who I met with at Origins a few years back.

You see, they get the bulk of their work doing murder mystery dinners and team building activities for businesses - not for LARPers. Truth is, businesses are much more willing to shill out some serious dough than poor college students.

For anyone contemplating running private NERO mods, I would suggest checking through the 5WG and seeing some of the offerings that they have. That would be the best way to make an endeavor like this more sustainable.

Thanks Sean!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Kind of Magic

Happy Holidays everyone!

It's that wonderful time of year where everything seems a little more magical. Remember being a kid and feeling all that excitement? Remember (most of you, anyway?) believing in Santa? And I’m sure we all remember when (spoiler alert!) we found out the truth about Mr. Claus. A lot of kids realize what’s going on before being officially told. And one big reason? Parents can't explain how it all works, and "it's magic" stops being a believable answer. In short, it breaks their immersion. :)

LARPing is similar (look at that tie-in! Okay, maybe a stretch... :) ). People never stop asking questions, and they never stop wondering how things work. We do our best to suspend our disbelief and go along with the “it works because it’s magic” idea, but it’s a lot easier to do that when there are some answers to our questions of how and why.

My sister sent me this link to a fantastic chart that lists some of the most popular magical worlds and their guidelines. Where does magic come from? Who gets it? How do you use it? These worlds usually have a system in place to answer those questions, either obvious to the reader or behind the scenes. Having that system helps to create atmosphere and build story – and you should consider doing the same for your LARP.

I’m not saying you should write an in-depth history of magic, or list out every rule precisely. But give the world a basic magical structure. Is magic given by the gods? The elements? Does it come from the land itself? How do people get it? Is it hereditary, or completely random? Is it caused by some kind of infusion of energy? Are people chosen to wield it? Is it different for different races or different types of magic? If you’re a player, you can work this into your character’s background – having this foundation can add a lot of role-play.

Now, you might be saying, wait, doesn’t having rules put limits on what I can do? Well, yes and no. If you’re anything like me, having a bit of information can actually spur creativity. Magic comes from a giant well? What happens if that well is blocked, or tainted, or siphoned off? You can still go pretty wild, but putting your plotlines in the context of the world setting can make it appeal more personally to your characters, and can add to the immersion of your game. It adds consistency as well, amongst both players and staff.

You might not be in a position to make the big calls. In that case, consider putting some local setting information down. Bug your plot people for details that you can use as your character – this might prompt them to work out anything they don’t have and make the game a little better for everyone :) Are there mage schools? How do they work? Do different groups/races in your area have different ways of learning? Are there multiple factions? Can players become involved in them, or earn ranks? Now just think of all the stories you can make out of that!

Having background of any kind makes the world come together. Even if you don’t use everything all at once, you can start dropping it in. Then later on when you do make a plot out of it there are those “ah ha” moments that every player loves and every plot person (I think) strives for. You can do that in part by having an established and consistent setting – and that means putting some guidelines down for that most non-logical of concepts: magic.

A little magical thinking for your holidays! How would you/have you built magical structure into your world or your background?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Theory of "Play More" Mechanics

Today's post was prompted by a discussion over at the Wasteland's forum about the magic rules in the game.

You see, there is some concern about the power level of the mage. But a lot of this is really a faux issue. You see, the mechanic for regaining your magic skills is intended to let mages "play more" instead of playing harder.

In short, mages can meditate to regain their "focus" (magic points). This process takes 5 minutes, which makes it difficult to pull off on the battlefield. If you use a consumable item, you just get back the maximum focus. If you do not use that item, you get back your focus, but your max focus drops by 5 points until the end of the game day.

Truth be told, this is a really solid design for a "play more" skill. It has most of the features you want. It's hard to restore it on a module, so building encounters around conserving resources would be easy. It answers the problem of frivolous use.

Really, the only problem I see with the system is that it doesn't scale perfectly from low level to high level.

Players who start a mage will probably have a maximum of about 20 focus, and that's if they void themselves of anything non-magical. Players who decide to pick up a gun skill (important, as this is an airsoft game) will have less. When I played, I think I had 9 focus.

Obviously, the hit to max focus at that level is pretty significant. Even the best starting mages lose 25% of their effectiveness if they meditate without an item. And to top it off, Wastelands is a game where resources are quite sparse, so getting your hands on those items isn't the easiest thing.

On the other side of the coin, high level mages have a lot of focus, so depending on the number of modules they play, they might not care much about the hit to max focus. Additionally, the magic crafting skill doesn't have a lot of stuff going on there, so higher level mages who have that skill have pretty regular access to those items. Magical healing is still more expensive than regular healing (unless you have a godly mage, but I don't think anyone has that level of magic yet).

I think a percentage of focus would work better and help bridge the gap between low and high level mages, but I'm a math person and that math might be confusing for non-math people. But all in all, I don't think the system is really as bad as some people make it out to be.

But the point is, stop treating a "Play More" mechanic like it's giving someone more power. It's meant to let the mage play the entire day, rather than using their spells and then sitting out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Nerdiest of Presents

With Christmas quickly approaching, I think it's important to get someone the right gift. But what do you give your nerdy friends?

Chocolate D&D Dice

Game. Set. Match.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Week In LARP - December 19th

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

Let's be honest. I doubt there will be any LARPs this weekend, unless they involve a fat guy in a beard. And no, I'm not referring to Kevin Smith.

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!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

5 Easy Crafts That Will Improve Your Look

As you’ve noticed, Ohio LARPers, it’s cold outside. That means we stay indoors more than usual, and wait until the season really goes into gear. But there are things you can do to keep up your LARP cred in the off season, as you might have read in previous posts. Some things require more crafting ability than others, but here are a few things that are cheap and can be done by anyone – and will make you look totally 1337! :)

1.) Be-Dazzle Your Documents – Chances are your character could be carrying some sort of paper. It could be your formal rituals, a noble writ, a mercenary company charter, or even a book of in-game notes. It’s easy to just print things out, or not have a copy of them at all, but try taking some time to create some cool-looking phys reps. Put things on a paper stock that is thematic to your character – sparkles for fae, natural fibers for nature types, even use transparencies for futuristic settings (paper making is fairly easy, if you want to get into a new craft). And don’t stop there – try using different colored inks and including sketches or other additions. With the scrapbooking boom, you can go to any craft store and get stuff to stick on paper; or to attach to your books and scroll cases. And wax seals are easy to find online.

2.) Customize Your Weapons – A few modifications can go a long way (as long as they’re safe). Add a colored grip to your boffer made of yarn or scraps of leather or fabric. Glue jewels or other additions to your hilt. If you’ve got patience, you can cut out designs in duct tape and just tape them right on to your weapon. Try painting, too. You can add a design to your hilt or even flames and other effects to the blade. And of course, with a shield you’ve got a blank canvas ready to go! If you use fabric covered boffers, fabric paint is easy to buy, or just get a unique fabric. LARPs that use guns allow for a lot of modification – paint your wood so that you have a pearl grip, add a few copper coils for the steampunk look, or maybe even some lights for sci-fi. And any weapon can look cooler by adding runes or symbols to it.

3.) Tech Your Gear – Add convenience to your costume by making some easy-access pouches or holders for scrolls, components, tags, potions, and other commonly used items. Strips of elastic or cord can be threaded through a cuff or other material and tied off to make an easy vial holder. You can tie it onto your wrist, or just hang it off your belt. Some people put plastic envelopes on the back of their shields to hold scrolls, etc – consider if you could benefit from that. Now’s the time to make some separate containers so you can stop digging through your main pouch for things! A fabric pouch is easy to make out of scraps, and you can sew it yourself. It doesn’t need to look super fabulous, as long as it makes your life easier.

4.) Jazz Up Your Jewelry – Still wearing plastic Mardi Gras beads to rep your magic items? Make a few more period items to use as your reps. Craft stores offer hemp, leather, and even chains in their jewelry making section. You can find beads and pendants of every kind, and they go on sale regularly. You can go to thrift and antique stores and get some costume jewelry. If the whole thing is a bit much, you can always take them apart and just use the parts you like. You can even paint things like buttons, or check out your hardware store. Try Ebay for lot sales of buttons and beads, and for things like watch gears. As a tip, LARP jewelry often works best when it’s a little bigger or brighter than what you’d normally wear – otherwise it just looks like your rl stuff. :)

5.) Add More Reps – Accessories are everything! If you have a character with a craft, gather up some things to put out at game to show what you do. I mentioned papers and inks, etc., for paper-related crafts. If you’re a potion maker, get some cheap glass bottles and jars and fill them with various substances. You can use spices from the grocery, bath products, or just colored water. You can even use these kinds of reps for in-game alchemy (it will also help you tell them apart at a glance!). Maybe your character tells fortunes – make your own cards, rune stones, or even bones out of things you can find at craft stores and a little paint. If you’re more modern, consider getting some old tools (or new ones) and modifying them or just painting them to carry around. Your character just hits things? What about repping combat trophies? It doesn't have to be icky (or it could be) - you could rep a tablet or other item where you mark how many kills you've made. You don’t need a whole box full of gear, unless you want it, but a few additions to carry with you can really round out your character.

Got more ideas for easy LARP crafts?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NERO National Rules Committee Update

One of the benefits of having a blog like this is that you can use it as a springboard for other things.

As I mentioned previously, I am now a part of the NERO National Rules committee. Now, you might ask, what does someone on the National Rules committee do?

Good Question.

I mean, we all know that they handle rules adjudications when they crop up, but what about the other 99% of the time?

Well, I thought I'd let you all know what's currently in the pipeline.

Obviously I like my blog, but we were thinking that having a blog specifically for NERO National would be a good thing to do. Since it seems to be slow going with adoption of social media, and three of the members of the rules committee (including myself) already have experience with Blogging, I figured we'd take it upon ourselves to put it up and keep you all abreast of goings on.

Playtest Submissions
One of the big things that people have been clamoring for is a system for playtest submission. Don't worry, we're working on it. We're going to try and make it more formal than in the past, and we're going to try and keep communication open. We're also going to put a lot more pressure on the players to test the playtests and to provide feedback, because they won't run forever (like they did in 8th).

Transform Restrictions
We decided that standardizing transforms/golems is quite an endeavor. In the meantime, we thought it would be appropriate to put out an errata listing the things that players are not to be given for transforms/golems. It's mostly obvious things, but some things are logistical nightmares, which are why they'll be banned. But other than what you can't do, local chapters will be able to do whatever they want for now.

Rules Errata
We know that there are a few things wrong in the rulebook. We're going to go through and straighten out and make rulings on things that are contradictory. For example, weakness in all of its forms will be indefinite. We're going to try and keep this up to date.

We've also got some bigger projects that we might go to the players for input, but I don't want to spoil everything for you guys.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Male Privilege in LARP

I was turned on to this article by a facebook friend of mine, and I think this is something of huge import when it comes to LARPing.

Male Privilage is alive and well in LARPs. For those of you who don't want to sift through the article or wikipedia, it basically means that there are things that male players take for granted that female players tend to have to remain congnisent of or, at the very worst, actively work do dispel or defend themselves against.

It's not that we (men) are bad people. It's just that we really have no concept for how the other half lives and how much we might take for granted.

Now, the article I linked is more specific to comics, but the same rules apply at LARPs. In fact, it might be more important, based on the fact that most LARP groups are rather tightly knit social clubs, which means that one or two bad apples can ruin a LARP.

Now, I'm not an expert on this subject, so I'm not going to go in depth in fear of saying the wrong thing. But here are some things that I believe you might want to consider on the subject of male privilege and how it affects female LARPers.

No Gender Stereotyping
I know that some games like to fall back on realism to defend some forms of stereotyping, but the fact is that realism tends to be a weak argument for LARPs, as they almost always involve some form of fantasy and/or magic. Don't automatically assume that women need to be healers and men need to be fighters. And stop making sexest jokes while you're at it, even if it's "in good fun".

Don't Be an Asshole
This should go without saying but it bears repeating. Even if your "character" is an asshole, you want to gauge how well others react to your roleplaying before embracing said character. LARP is not intended to be a place where you can be a chauvenist dick without any real life consequences.

IG Love Interest
Don't fawn over someone IG unless you've discussed it with them OOG. You might think it makes for good roleplaying, but it's probably more creepy than anything else. And for the love of God, if you get turned down IG, don't keep pursuing it. If you do, you're going to make the other person think you're going to go all Wild Hunt on them.

Don't Be a Creeper
I think Doctor Nerdlove puts it best with his article of the same name.

Avoid Taboo Subjects
I really don't think any roleplay situation is improved by topics such as domestic violence or sexual assault. It's not clever or cutting-edge. It's just uncomfortable for everyone.

What do you think? Have any more tips on how to make LARPing a better environment for female players?

PS: It's my birthday, so go easy on me if I said something wrong.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Week In LARP - December 19th

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

Let's be honest. I really doubt there will be any LARPing this weekend. Unless it involves a fat man with a beard.

Friday, December 9, 2011

YouTube Friday: The Corporate Wizard...

And the Adventures in the Land of LARP!

I received this video from Brad, one of our readers. Brad writes:

I know you are always on the lookout for LARP videos so I wanted to send you one. There is a place in minneapolis, MN called the Soap Factory. It is an artistic organization. They sponsored a LARP earlier this year - they ran it as an art project. They converted their space into a tavern, outdoor space, and caverns and ran a LARP there. It was run using the Alliance rules set and the southern minnesota Alliance chapter marshalled the event. It was called the Corporate Wizard in the Land of LARP. It was a little anachronistic but not as bad as you might think. Here is a post-event video they put together. They put a lot of effort into scenery and costuming. They also have a Facebook group which has a lot of pictures from the event. It was open to the public - people could walk in and watch the event and they ran some modules in a nearby park. The head of the Soap Factory calls it a "performance piece" utilizing LARP but really it's just a LARP with good costuming and props.

I thought it was especially interesting that most of the players in this "LARP" didn't really know the rules for what they were doing, but they had fun with it anyways. To me, that's so far from the norm that I can barely wrap my mind around it.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Too Old to LARP?

Hitting a life milestone reminds most people that they're leaving one phase of life and entering another. Obviously there's more to age than a number or a single life event. But it still makes you think. There are things that are targeted towards certain age groups that you aren't a member of anymore and often you start to notice the generation gap.

LARP, in many games, is one of those things. I've observed that a LARP is generally made up of younger people. I’m not talking about just the physical aspect. LARPing has largely been built on people with extra time and disposable income. Those folks are often in their 20’s, have their own means of income, and don’t yet have kids & houses. But what happens when you get older, or when you do have a career, house and/or kids?

How old is too old to LARP?

The best answer is probably that you're too old when you stop being interested and when it stops being fun. Time shifts things around, and things that come with getting older can also lead to a loss of interest.

First, there's the demands on your time. When you have more free time, it's easier to keep up to date on things like rules and in-game happenings. And once you lose track of what's going on, it's hard to go back knowing you're out of touch :) Also, having more free time means that you don't mind as much using those weekends to LARP instead of to keep touch with friends & family, go to your kids' events, and do upkeep on your house. When you've got less time to do all those other things weekends can be more precious.

Returning player policies and rules change digests can help by making the return more attractive. Plot people can also nudge information the way of the returning player, so they're not completely behind on things their characters should know about. And those players should be honest with what they take on, too. If they don't have a lot of free time, it's probably best not to volunteer for too much.

People form friendships at a LARP, and a lot of folks who start playing do so with a group. If those friends lose interest, move away, or just don't have time, it's not as fun for a remaining player to keep going. It can be awkward to try to buddy up with folks a few decades your junior. Active player communities and a welcoming atmosphere can help, but this is hard to control. Game coordinators can consider holding get-togethers outside of events to help people get to know each other better.

And then there's just the general idea that as you get older, your tastes change. Things that interest us as a kid, teen, and young adult are often left behind as our lives go forward. Or you just plain get bored. A lot of LARPers have something that drives them to play, though, and by keeping that spark alive they can retain interest. In a lot of people, this is the desire to live out a great story, or defeat a challenge. So by keeping your plot and encounters fresh, creating an immersive atmosphere and trying new things, game staff can help things from getting stale.

Despite all this, though, I wonder if there's a point where you just grow out of it? Or when it IS just a little weird for the younger folks to see you there? I remember being new and giving some older players a questioning look. Now, there are some people who are awkward at any point, and some people whose ages you don't even notice. But I wonder if younger people think it's a little weird to play with people their grandparents' age? Or if older people feel awkward trying to keep up with the young'uns? :) Or is LARPing truly fun for all ages, as long as you're interested?

What do you think? Do you plan to keep playing forever? If so, how will you keep things interesting?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

They Come In Threes

I recently posted about Bloodlines closing it's doors and Michael Conley stepping back from his involvement in NCN. Well, as always, those things come in threes.

OGRE is closing up shop, and will no longer be running games. I'm not sure if this is due to low player turnout, staff burnout, or what. But the point still remains - one more game in Ohio is unavailable.

So to any an all chapter/LARP owners out there - if you feel you're on the verge of shutting down, think about why you're shutting down. If you have to take a step back and give someone else the reigns (like Mike did), than so be it.

Until I hear otherwise, we are the premier state for LARPing. I'd like to keep it that way.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gratuitious He-Man

I can't think of anything better to post, so you're getting this.


Monday, December 5, 2011

The Week In LARP - December 5th

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

I believe we've officially hit the end of the year. Time to go into upkeep mode.

I did not see any LARP events in the local area this weekend.

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!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Giant Costumes of Epic Proportions

Hey there guys and gals! So, today I'd like to talk about everyone's favorite type of monster: the ginormous kind. More specifically, I'd like to talk about the costume that makes that balding old guy look like a giant monster. However, contrary to popular belief:

Bigger isn't always better.

I say this because a lot of times, when using a giant costume, malfunctions can occur. This usually calls for a hold which completely breaks immersion. As we all know from a plot perspective, calling a hold should be reserved only for when they are absolutely necessary. Therefore, if you are going to attempt to build an awesome costume, make sure that it is manageable enough to where it won't break in the middle of combat due to excessive size.

Don't get me wrong here, people.

I am all for awesome costumes. Just as well, I am for GIANT awesome costumes. As a matter of fact, I recently attended a Northcoast Nero event this last weekend where they had constructed a giant void blob creature thing that required 19 NPC's to play it. I must admit, the costume was mostly just cheap black plastic table cloth and tape. However, I think because of it's simplicity, the costume was more effective.

There are a couple things that I have learned when making larger scale costumes over the years. I'll write a few right now and a few in a later post that also talks about the utilization of static props.

1.) Size Matters. This seems pretty obvious. You want your costume to represent a large creature, but if you are planning to use it in a building or around a place with trees that have low hanging branches, the size should be scaled down to fit your game play environment.

2.) Foam. Yeah, the stuff that you use to make boffers. Both closed cell foam and open cell foam are great tools in giant costume making. Maybe your giant monster is a flying spaghetti monster that uses it's vine like spaghetti to smite down anyone who oppose it. The spaghetti vines could be repped with the pipe foam and you could use a tarp that has been painted on rep the body. Pretty farcical example, but a decent costume design. Which brings me to my next tip.

3.) Paint. Nothing kills a cool costume more than if you have on all your reps, but still have the head of a balding old guy. If your big costume is supposed to be a giant fireball elemental that uses multiple NPC's, try and paint some flame stuff on their face. It really adds a lot to the costume and atmosphere. Paint is also very useful on the costume material itself. Perhaps you could use black paint to draw flames on that red tarp you have instead of just leaving it blank. Paint is awesome for costume construction in general.

Cool looking costumes can add a lot to the game. What cool giant costumes have been your favorite through out the years? Leave it in the comments!

Happy building!

Friday, December 2, 2011

YouTube Friday: The Deals are Amazing!

Alright. So this has nothing to do with LARP. Honestly, I just posted this video because my Pandora station has started playing the Epic Rap Battles of History and I love the Slap Chop Guy.

And it just so happens that there's a pretty decent sale for LARPers in Ohio that is available for a limited time only from NERO Cincinnati. Here's the email I received from Eric.

Everyone loves a sale right?

Starting tonight (whenever I get it loaded (probably around 9ish)) you'll be able to prepay for ANY game in 2012 for $5 off per day! This deal will only last until Sunday (12/4) Saturday (12/10) and then will be back to the normal price. These are also only available via the paypal option on our page. Oh, it stacks with our normal $5 discount for prepaying. So you are only paying $35 to go play for a weekend. Oh, and does apply to next year's 10 day.

Starting today through the 10th of December we will be running a 25% off on all weapons, armor, and everything else we sell from epic armoury. See this for the products (you'll have to price conversion) and then take 25%. Contact for what we have instock, how to order, or any other questions.
Normal shipping rates will apply.
*All orders placed before December 10th will be shipped out by the 16th and therefore we can not guarantee (we will try) that they will be in by Christmas.*
Please remember all sales are final.

Third! In honor of Glen's Birthday and how much we love our vendors!
If you buy anything from our vendors Glen, Brian, Dragon's Hoard, Sword and Rose, or Tunky's Costuming between now and the 15th of December we'll give you an additional $5 off your next game. Make sure to get a copy of the receipt and have them sign AND date it. Then bring that to the next game and BOOM $5 back.
*Purchase must be over $10. You can use one coupon per event, but only one coupon per person per merchant will be accepted (they will be marked on all your character sheets). But if you buy something from all 5 of the merchants that gives you five "5 dollar off coupons" to use through out 2012*

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all the Nero Cincinnati staff and thank you for your continued support.


Edit: Extended the deadline for prepay discount, as per Eric's comment.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Importance of Transparency

LARP is not a very good business. Very few can turn a profit, and even fewer can support themselves off of a LARP. However, it's a totally bitchin' club that lots of people enjoy.

With that in mind, I want to go back to one of the things that I try to tell people all the time.

The processes behind the LARP need to be transparent.

There are a few different reasons that support transparency.

1. Proof That The Game is Active
If you've got a way to keep updating your players on the goings-on in the game, the players (as well as any outsiders) will know that something is going on. One of the most frustrating moments for a player is when they know something is wrong or something needs to be done, but there is no evidence to show that anyone is doing anything about it.

2. You're Not Hiding Anything
But even still, stories will come up. When players don't know what's going on, they're going to assume the worst and start making stories. By having a high level of transparency, you'll be able to reduce the number of stories by having a lot of visible information. Additionally, when the big, juicy gossip stories come out, you'll be able to nip them in the bud.

3. Player Input
By having transparency, you'll be better able to gauge the players' reactions to various changes in your game. In some cases, the push-back from the players may be a sanity test that you need to determine if something is a good idea or not. And in the cases where you don't actually need input, you can at least make the players feel like they're "in on it."

So what's that all translate to?

Make a blog for your game with regular updates on what's going on!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Case for Winter LARPing

If you don't LARP in winter, that means you may not play from November through March in Ohio. Or later! But besides getting your fix, there are a few things to be said about LARPing in the winter – you should just be prepared.

A lot of games don’t run in the cold months for various reasons. If you can find one that does, this might be a good chance to try out a game you haven’t encountered yet. Check around with those games you’ve been eyeballing to see if they run in the months when your main game doesn’t. Since you might be looking at a long stretch of empty weekends, you may be able to get your fix AND try something new.

Because of the above, the games running in winter can get some bigger than usual turnouts. This can give a really unique and immersive atmosphere. LARPing with a big group gives the feeling of being part of a town, when everywhere you look you see other characters. And with new people in the mix, you don’t always know what’s going on with everyone, so there’s more to discover. Players might have to work a little harder to investigate and balance all the factions, which can make the game a little more intense. Plus, you can meet new people and learn new things! :)

In some ways, winter even helps with atmosphere. Anachronistic elements are hidden by snow, campfires roar, and the nights are long. People often look most impressive at colder games where they haven’t forsaken all their costuming and good make-up for not overheating :) Plus, everyone is huddled inside more, making it easier for staff teams to launch attacks without being seen; so you don’t always know who’s knocking at the door!

Staff people, take advantage of the above! Consider running an indoor event at a unique location. “Trap” the characters somewhere and lay on the suspense – like a murder mystery or race against time. You can even have smaller events during this time, such as role-play encounters specific to a plotline that can be done indoors, but that might not interest everyone. Make it a fundraiser and have a fantastic period feast at someone’s house.

Even if you don’t change the location, plan ahead so that your mods can be done inside where possible. Staying warm will make your PCs happy.

That said, downsides are obvious. It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s cold. We Ohioans know this, but still at cold events I always saw someone without a warm place to sleep, a hat, or gloves. Like your mom always said, make sure you pack for the weather. Bring layers, and lots of extra socks. Change out elements of your costume to ward off the winter – don’t just wear the same light or short clothes! This might be a good time to add some Under Armour, a cloak, a hood, or gloves. Bring an extra pair of gloves and shoes if you can. Check your sleeping gear to make sure it’s rated for the anticipated temperature, and maybe bring an extra blanket.

If you still look at the event with dread, consider getting a hotel. Yes, I know, I used to think it was a little silly. But the older I get, the better that warm bed, shower, and good night’s sleep looks. Coming into game clean, warm, and dry can make it much more enjoyable! Plus then you are guaranteed a place to dry off and warm up.

If you’re running the event, check with the camp to make sure there are appropriate places for everyone to sleep. Ask to make sure the heat is working, if you have it, and that there’s firewood on site. Ask how many space heaters you can have before blowing the system. Alert players in advance of the weather, any needs you have (like firewood and space heaters) and any additional concerns. Try to coordinate with the food people to have warm food and drinks available. It may not seem like it, but you can still get dehydrated in the cold, so watch to make sure everyone is drinking plenty of water in some form!

Still, even all the prep and benefits in the world can't change the bare facts that it'll be cold and wet, so it's okay if winter LARPing isn't for you. Stay inside and dream of next season. :)

What do you think about playing in the winter?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Know Your Roots

Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers decided to run a LARP that got way to real...

No, this is not actually a post about the history of LARP. Instead, it's a post about integrating your character into the setting for the game you're playing. You see, we have to use a lot of imagination to build a world that we all live in. And in order for us to operate on that:

There needs to be canon.

You see, when some other dwarf talk's about the hero Ulric who fought in the Orc War, it's important that I, as a dwarf, also know the story of Ulric. If I do, then we can use that as a jumping point for meaningful roleplay about what it means to be a dwarf.

On the other hand, if this guy stars talking about Jeremy the Dwarf, the greatest of all the heroes, and I've never heard of him at all, I can't really participate from an immersive standpoint. Sure, I could just do "Yes, And...", but that changes quickly from immersion to putting on a performance.

This is why we have canon.

Most story-driven games have a wide selection of cultural, historical, and setting packets for you to pull from. Use them. I can't begin to explain how many doors you'll open by knowing the canon. When someone talks about the dwarf war, you can participate as an educated individual. When you ask someone where they are from, you can actually identify the lands that they speak of. When someone mentions a word or phrase that means something to a specific culture, you will be able to react accordingly.

Don't worry about knowing everyone's culture at first. Just know your culture/background. You can find out a lot of information about other cultures in-game by asking questions, as your character might not know much about other cultures either.

Finally, don't come up with some crazy fantastical story that lies outside of canon. If you're not going with canon, then your history is either not noteworthy (which is fine), or your history is amazing and you're God Moding (making up story that is unrefutable). And in the case of the latter, no one will take you seriously, or let you play in any of their reindeer games.

So if the game you're playing has racial packets or background information, learn it and use it. You'll find it's easier to achieve a rich, immersive experience when you're following canon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Week In LARP - November 28th

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

Work off some of that turkey with a boffer LARP!


NCN will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, December 2nd and ending Sunday, December 4th. The game will be held at Camp Muskingum at the IG location of the Hudor. It's $45 to PC and is $2 to NPC (for insurance). This game wll be using 9th edition rules.

NERO Indiana will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, December 2nd and ending Sunday, December 4th. The game will be held at Columbus Youth Camp (IN) at the IG location of the Southlands. It's $50 to PC ($40 with prepay) and is free to NPC. This game wll be using 9th edition rules.

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!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give the Gift of LARP

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what to get your favorite LARPers! Last year LARP Ohio threw out some ideas for gifts, but here are some more specific to start you out – links included so you can get some examples!

Do It Yourself - If your LARPer is the crafty kind, a gift card to Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michael’s, or Home Depot might be just what they need to start a new project. Better yet, if you know what they want, get them the supplies and help them make it. Maybe they’ve always wanted to work with velvet, make their own rubberband gun, or create a book of spells. And if you’re the crafty one, you can do it for them! Or pay a crafty friend :)

This is also a great time to get someone a starter kit for something they’ve wanted to try. For example, Tandy Leather offers leatherworking start-up kits for a reasonable price.

Costuming - Chances are that some aspect of your recipient’s costume has never gotten upgraded. In the past decade, sites and stores directed to LARPers have sprung up, so it’s easier than ever to find the things you need. You probably already shop here, but you can get latex and more at stores like By the Sword, LRP Store, The Badger’s Den and others that cater specifically to the genre. These places carry everything from costume to contacts.

That doesn’t mean they have the best deals or the best quality. You can get good quality basic costuming and other items at places that specialize in these things. Stores like have great quality costuming (or at least they used to - I still have a skirt from 1997 and bought more in 2006), and Garb the World has all the basics covered for pretty cheap.

Leather goods like pouches, belts, baldrics, and holsters can not only look great, but add convenience to a costume. Check out the Inner Bailey for quality at wonderful prices – and their customer service is fantastic. Along those lines, I think everyone should have a boffer frog - they give every LARPer a place to put their favorite melee weapon.

And for leather created specifically for LARP, check out the British site Darkblade. Because it’s in the UK, it’s a bit more expensive, but you can get things here specific to LARP that I haven't seen other places. Pop bottle pouch, anyone?

A little more expensive, but greatly appreciated, would be a pair of semi-period boots or shoes, or really nice boots from Catskill Mountain (make sure to get their measurements). And don’t underestimate the style and utility of a new cloak or hood, like these from Half Moon; available in custom colors. Wool of the right quality is warm, water resistant, and can double for a blanket. Leather is super stylish, but expensive - click on the products at Ravenswood Leather to get your envy on (the creepy mannequins on the main page don't do them justice).

Gear - Since you’re probably spending your time at a camp site several times a year, why not make it more comfortable? You can go almost anywhere from Wal-Mart to Cabela's and get them a camping chair, nice sleeping bag, camping pillow, camp towel, lantern, and other accessories. LL Bean offers my favorite shower caddy, which makes packing and trekking to the bathhouse much more convenient.

For their body, waterproof socks can change your LARPing life. Also, Under Armour. Not only is it protection against all weather, it’s slimming, too! And if you’re playing a race that has a different body color, it can add to your look. And for gloves, I’ve known fighters from various genres who swear by weightlifting gloves. You can also go for basic gauntlets, or fingerless for ease of movement.

Accessories - The world is your oyster here. Steampunk? Check out these brassy bits. Western? Add a bandana, historical playing cards, or gloves (even bloomers or a parasol!). Jewelry that fits your character is always nice – I don’t have a specific example of all the options, but you can find inexpensive charms and beads and make your own. Get blank books and write inside and/or decorate for your preferred spellcaster or note-keeper. You can even make a pocket-size rulebook or cheatsheet for them – not expensive, but greatly appreciated.

Hopefully that helps your gift gears start turning! Got any more ideas?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Selling IG Items for OOG Money Revisited

Turns out the selling of magic items is allowed, according to Joe V. I imagine this is going to get very hairy, very fast. Especially since they probably won't be able to show where the money goes.

As for what this means for the current game policy which disallows said action, none can say.


*Just kidding

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Selling IG Items for OOG Money

Anyone who follows the NERO National boards probably already heard about all the hub-bub regarding the selling of magic items.

Unbeknownst to the rules team, someone decided to sell items in the National Newsletter and on the national online store. While they were technically selling the phys-rep with the tag as an added bonus, this is clearly against NERO policy.

Here's the excerpt from the NERO General Policy that forbids it:

Selling NERO ® Items for Out of Game Money: Tagged NERO ® Items cannot be sold for out of game currency. This applies to both chapters and players. Any items sold in violation of this policy will be destroyed and the involved players will be suspended from all NERO ® International events for a minimum of 3 months. Physical Representations can still be sold, however the NERO ® tags that represent the In-Game item cannot be sold, nor can they be "included" with the physical representation sale.

I will note that the rules team flagged this incident as breaking policy, but unfortunately policy enforcement is outside of our jurisdiction. But I highly suggest none of the local players purchasing these items, since if this is ruled against policy, the new owners of the items may be suspended as well.

With that out of the way, let's talk about the effect of a game selling IG benefits for OOG cash.

I know, everyone immediately leans towards saying something like this is terrible. To put it simply, people want to compete on a fair playing field. Having some guy pay his way into being a superpower without putting in the time can be devastating for game morale.

But the truth is, "micro-transactions" could be one of the few ways for a struggling LARP to maintain stability and keep running. I know of several instances where players have kept a game up financially through a tough time. Should they be crucified if given thanks in the form of IG benefits?

I might get strung up for suggesting something like this, but I would like to see more LARP games utilize the idea of micro-transactions in order to help support the game. But here are some important rules when implementing those micro-transactions.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Week In LARP - November 21st

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

As far as I know, there are NO LARP events, most likely due to Thanksgiving. So focus your abilities on trying to eat 10 pounds worth of turkey in a 3 day period.

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 18, 2011

YouTube Friday: MP3 Experiment

Alright, maybe this one isn't so LARP-centric. But it's pretty boss, and really made me think.

We've always talked about ways to disseminate information to the players and to deal with the narration that breaks immersion. Well, MP3 players are pretty ubiquitous now, so it's not much of a stretch to assume that 95% of the players have an MP3 player, and you could probably provide one for the other 5% if needed.

Now, as long as you can keep the headphones from breaking immersion, you could use this to represent some loud noise that players should be able to hear everywhere, or as some omnipotent bad guy who can talk into people's thoughts (Cthulhu anyone?) It could really cause some dramatic moments.

The big problem is making sure players don't listen to the MP3 ahead of time, but in games with a lot of trust between the players and the staff, you should be able to pull this off.

And even if you can't pull it off at LARP, I think it would be tons of fun to take part in one of these MP3 Experiments.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

LARPing with the Ones You Love

If you’re a lucky person who gets to share your love of LARP with the love of your life, here are a few considerations. Many of these apply to close friends too.

PC’ing Together - Whether you’re going together to your first event or your five hundredth, it’s a good idea to talk about what you both want out of the game. You'll probably be hanging together, so this can help you set things up so you both support each other doing what you like!

Think about starting characters as a unit of some kind, maybe even bringing in some other friends. Whether you’re just the same race, after the same thing, or an entire adventuring company; you can add flair to your character and atmosphere to the game. You can do the fighter-healer combo, or perhaps you’re both rogues or templars with complimenting skills. And for role-play, there’s immersion in numbers – you can both learn the background information and bring it into game through your interactions. You can even decorate or set up your own camp area to fit your theme.

It’s a bit harder to reconcile characters who have been around a while. At first, you probably aren’t sure if you want to give up years of character development for a person you might soon be referring to as “my crazy ex”. :) After that period, consider touching base with how you want to LARP together. This goes for goals and role-play. Everyone will know why you’re hanging out, of course, but it adds to game immersion if your can role-play hiring your s/o as a bodyguard, joining the same group, or otherwise having a reason to hang out in game.

There’s something to be said for staying separate too. Sometimes you just want to escape the real world, and not look at someone who reminds you that you need new tires :) Plus, it’s nice just to be able to do your own thing! If you’re both okay with it, that is.

NPCing - Couples who NPC together can be an unstoppable force for plot goodness. But they can also bicker and fight more than people who aren’t as close. Know your limits before you both take on a position in the same place. It’s good for your relationship and everyone around you :)

If you’re NPCing and your s/o is PCing, the basic rule is to avoid favoritism. Don't go too easy, or too hard, on them. If you notice you can't help yourself, try getting another NPC to interact with the person instead.

Now, probably no one knows your s/o better than you, so if you see they’re not having a good time and want to do something extra, talk to Staff. They might be able to throw a little something their way, without it looking like you’re just making stuff up for them.

If you’re writing plotlines for the other person, this is very touchy. It’s always a good idea to try to funnel it through someone else on your team, if possible. Run ideas by them, at least, and have someone else run it if you can. This will help weed out any favoritism – sometimes it’s hard to notice when you’re excited about making someone happy! And it helps other players from assuming you're loading up your s/o with awesome.

When you’re writing things up, ask yourself if you’d do the same thing for another player. Think of an example of someone you may not get along with. If they were in the same position as your s/o, did the same work, and asked for the same thing – would you give it to them? If not, it may be too much. Your s/o could be way cooler, and a better player, – but you want to avoid having people think that you’re just giving them things. Even if you’re being fair, perception is reality to your players.

Try to stick to one storyline at a time per player. If someone is pursuing being the captain of the space pirates, don’t also give them plot for finding an alien artifact of ultimate power. At least not at the same time. That can look like favoritism, and take a lot of your resources. Instead, try hooking another player into a storyline who isn’t expecting it, they’ll probably be thrilled!

So there you go. Remember, the couple that has dressed up together as cat-people can probably support each other through anything :)

Got any tips or suggestions for LARPing with someone close to you?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I've Been Hiding Something From You

I have to say, I've been keeping secrets from you, blog. I didn't want to. I really long to be true to you. But the truth is, I didn't know how legit the information was. I didn't know if I was supposed to keep it under wraps, and I didn't know if there was some shadowy figure that could swoop down at any time to take me out of the picture.

But at this point, I think I can finally come clean. You see, I'm one of the new members of NERO International staff, holding a position on the National Rules committee.

It took a lot of thought on whether I would become part of the rules committee. My main worry was that my buddy Mickey was done wrong by the position. Since I podcast with him, I felt like I was betraying him by taking the position. But I've decided to learn from his experiences.

You see, I now know how bad it can get. And if I brace for impact, I can lessen the damage. I mean, worst case, I drop out of the rules committee. But the fact is, NERO has been a major part of my LARPing career, and this is my opportunity to make things better, to make things fresh. And I had to take it.

I'm looking forward to working with the team to improve the game. My personal goal for national rules is to streamline (read: create) a system for playtest submittals and to fix formal magic. If I can help implement those two things, I'll consider it a success.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I'm expecting an influx of email. You know what? Bring it on. One of the problems I've felt have existed in the national level of NERO is that the staff members aren't really in touch with what the players think. I think I can bring that to the table.

So tell me what you think. My email is

PS: I will try to respond to your emails, at least to tell you that I've received it. But that's going to depend on my workload and the number of emails received. But don't automatically assume I've ignored you if you don't get a quick turn-around, and after a while feel free to send another email asking if I got it. I won't mind.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Maintaining Event Momentum With IBGAs

Everyone gets that addiction after a good event. They send a lot of IG emails. They post on IG forums. They go through tags. They figure out what skills they'll get next.

They're totally hooked from the event momentum.

But the problem is that they can only do so much in between events before they lose interest. That's when we see the lulls in forum activity or lacking responses to IG emails.

But what if you could cultivate that momentum year round?

You see, we've always had a strange relationship with IBGAs. The problem is that there's only so much that can be done between events. Maybe this is due to lack of time for the plot team to get back with people. Maybe it's just that the players run out of activities that can realistically be done off-board.

But what if your IBGAs were semi-automated? What if you gave the players a field in which they could trade, politic, and interact with others without involving plot. And what if you could link that activity back into events?

Well, I bet you'd have a perfect storm of enthusiasm for your game.

Let's take a look at games like Darkon*. In that game, there is a whole world involving grids that people fight over. And they can do interactions with those grids outside of the game. I love the idea.

The real difficulty is balance. You need to make sure that the system has some effect on the event, but you don't want it to have more impact than actions performed at the event.

So what's the solution? Universal benefits.

Create a goal that the players need to work together to obtain. In my mind, it would look something like this web-browser game Pardus** that I played back in the day. As long as the players can pool together enough resources, an effect happens that is beneficial to everyone at the event. Maybe all craftsman can make twice as many items as normal. Maybe everyone trains for free. Maybe a certain module area is unlocked, where players can get the phat lootz. Any of those would work.

And to keep them involved, make it so that interactions can happen monthly, and benefits can stock up if, say, you don't have another event for 3 months.

The big downside is that you need to find a way to involve everyone, and to do that probably requires some considerable work - not just in design, but also in programming.

But it would be awesome, wouldn't it?

Edit: I realize I probably should have used links for Darkon and Pardus.

*Darkon - or YouTube Thursday: Darkon
**Pardus -

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Week In LARP - November 14th

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

Worried about spending time with the family for Thanksgiving? Use this weekend to relieve stress by wailing on things.


NERO Cincinnati will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, November 18th and ending Sunday, November 20th. The game will be held at Camp Friedlander at the IG location of Beronis. It's $50 to PC ($45 with prepay) and is free to NPC. This game wll be using 9th edition rules.


Einherjar will be hosting their September battle this weekend on Sunday, November 20th at Plum Creek, South Side in Medina. Weapon Check starts at Noon and fighting starts at 1:00 PM. It's $3 and minimum garb rules apply. This will be the last Einherjar battle of the year.

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 11, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day

One of the nice things about having a blog with a fair number of readers, is that I can just use it as a platform for talking. I know a number of LARPers who are also veterans (and some still serving!)

And with today being Veteran's day, I want to thank all the veterans for everything they've done throughout the years for the US.

So, on behalf of LARP Ohio, Thank you.

YouTube Friday: Senior Prank

Despite the fact that it's still a rather small hobby, it's interesting to see how many people actually know what LARPing is. While we have to deal with the fact that we're often misrepresented, this is definitely the first step to breaking the stigma of LARPing.

Today's video comes from a Senior prank at Southern Regional High School. They decided to have an impromptu LARP Fest on school grounds. Now, before you watch the video, it's important to note that people who take their LARP seriously might be shocked at the rag-tag kit used by these students, but don't let that fool you. At the end of the video, they ask a few students how it went, and they all enjoyed themselves. See, even when people are making a parody of LARP, they can have a ton of fun.

Anyways, Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dealing With Drama

Last week I talked a bit about women in LARPing. There’s a stigma that women cause drama – and that’s true. But just as much as men. Drama can be minor, but here I’m thinking of things like injuries, cheating, stealing, fighting, and the accusations of all that and more. How to deal with drama? Here are a few tips.

Rule 1: Don’t get involved. Especially as someone running a game, try to stay away from gossip, rumors, and taking sides. If you can avoid it, it’s best to stay as neutral and as calm as possible. Except, of course, you can't avoid it! So...

Rule 2: Be prepared. Some drama comes in the form of injuries or illness, so know who your on-site first responders are, have a first aid kit on hand, and have the information and route to the nearest hospital. Players and Staff alike! Know how to get a hold of the ranger or camp owner. And in the worst case, something might happen where you’ve got to call in The Law, so have the number or location for the nearest enforcement on hand. Also, if you haven’t already, you may want to check in with a lawyer from time to time – if something comes down to a legal issue you’ll be able to get advice asap.

Rule 3: Don’t wait. If you experience or witness something directly, take it to someone in charge as soon as you can. Even if the information is just a rumor (but a serious one, not that Bobby called Sam fat). If it’s true, it should be nipped in the bud right away – or at least investigated. If it’s not true, the object of that rumor would probably appreciate it if everyone didn’t think they’re a dirty cheater :) Once you hand it off, step back, and see Rule 1.

Unfortunately you have to use best judgment on what is serious. It should be something that will impact the game and/or players’ safety. Staff might like to know about personal issues as well, if they might impact the game, but it can be done more informally.

Rule 4: Hear them out. Whenever someone brings you an issue, and it could be whether you run the game or are just someone they trust, try to listen to whoever is reporting and promise to investigate their issue and get back to them. Then do that – even if it’s just to give them a generic response or to confirm that you passed on their concern.

Rule 5: Investigate. Get all sides of the story first and get as much truth as you can before you respond. Try not to spread rumors, and keep the information to who needs to know. If it’s a major thing, make sure and tell your Staff and anyone else so they are warned and so they know the real deal.

Rule 6: Safety in Numbers. When going to talk to someone, don’t go alone. I’m not just talking about safety, since physical altercations are pretty rare at LARP, but so that there’s another witness to the discussion. If you are sending someone an email, make sure to keep a record of these messages, and/or copy other appropriate people. In fact, it’s good to keep all the messages you send saved if you can. Aside from the c.y.a. aspect, it's great to have easy-to-access reminders!

Rule 7: Stick to the point. When it comes to having "a Talk" in some format, sugar-coating, or dancing around the point, or sugar dancing, may cause your message to be misinterpreted. Smiley faces and the like are ok if you want to soften the blow, as being over-professional can come off as rude. :( See how that works? :)

Finally, try to let it go once you've dealt with it. Easy, right? :)

Got any other tips?

Off-Season Kit Work

We're at the point in the season where people begin to start putting their gear away for the season. Due to all the holidays and winter weather (at least here in Ohio), numbers start to dwindle at events. So, if you're planning on putting your LARP stuff away for a few months, now is a great time to do some maintenance on your kit.


Can you feel pipe? This may seem obvious, but it's something you need to check. Sometimes people have weapons that are borderline, but end up using them at events because they don't have a spare. Now is the time to be extra critical of your weapons. If there's any doubt that it's safe, it might be time for a rebuild.

Even if the rest of the weapon is fine, you should check and see if it would be worth replacing the tip of the weapon. Even in games without thrusting tips, most hits are along the top 6" to 8" of the weapon. Sometimes replacing that part is worthwhile, even if it hasn't yet become unsafe.

Sometimes the cloth covers on boffer weapons get pretty ragged after a season of play. It's fairly easy to make a new one for your weapon, and now is as good a time as any.

Unfortunately, if you use Duct Tape, if the tape goes south, there's not a lot you can do apart from a full rebuild. If it's starting to get too rigid or too dry, you might have some work to do.


In regards to Kit, is anything ripped or torn? Maybe it's something that's not critical now, but if left alone might cause a catastrophic failure in the costume. Now's the time to bust it out and do some stitch/patch work on your duds.

Are there any accessories that you've been meaning to make/buy? Now might be the time to give it a shot. Set a goal for the one or two things that you really want to try, and give it an honest go. You can't get better at prop/kit work without actual practice. Now's the time.

My goal is working on a new costume for Exiles. It might be biting off more than I can chew, but I'm going to give it a shot.

What's your off-season kit goal?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


No, this isn't a post about gang affiliations. Instead, it's a post about immersion.

I have had this conversation a few times with Mickey (from Larpcast), and over time my opinion has been molded a fair amount. And it's something that isn't shared a lot in this region of the country.

You see, we tend to prefer high fantasy and rely on a lot of imagination in Ohio.

But while imagination is good, it's actually counter to game immersion.

You see, immersion is the act of a person losing their self awareness based on perceived surroundings. You know, things that you see/hear/feel, not things that you imagine. So when someone says "you see a 9 foot troll," while it might help players with a good imagination to understand the situation a give an appropriate reaction, it doesn't help create the emotions (fear/joy/pride) that's normally associated with players who are immersed in the game.

I thought about this on a recent post where people were talking about roleplaying with animals. While I'm a staunch supporter of players resorting to RP in many situations, I simply don't care for extended use of NPCs as animals. Because they don't look, move, or act like animals (unless there's a particularly good costume). So while you are improving the imagination of the world, your actually harming immersion. Bringing things like this to the forefront just means it impacts the immersion of more players.

Just something to think about next time you send in an NPC to play something without actually looking like that creature.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Throwing In The Towel

So, for those of you following the local LARP news, two games have had major upheavals in the past few weeks.

For one, Mike, the owner of NCN, is stepping down from duties related to the operation of NCN. He's still the owner, but he's taking a break from the logistical duties regarding the game.

Additionally, Raging Gargoyle Games (Bloodlines) is now on Hiatus, due to low player turnout.

Running a game sucks ass. It's a ton of work, and unless you have made some sort of breakthrough that no one else in the US has pulled off, you probably don't make too much (if you even break a profit at all).

And yet, people tend to overextend themselves for the games they love, the games they run. And I think that helped cause some of the burnout that causes games to change administration.

For this reason, game owners need to reach out more to rely on others. Sure, you won't get the EXACT result that you're looking for, but in general you will be able to find people who will meet your goals the best way they know how.

So, let this be a word of advice to game administrators everywhere. Learn to delegate. Having your vision slightly changed when run by others is a lot better than pulling the plug on your dream altogether.

Additionally, I applaud both the owners of NCN and Bloodlines. You guys lived the dream, and I hope you get a chance to live the dream again.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Week In LARP - November 7th

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 too cold to come up with a colorful tag line.


NERO Northlands will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, November 11th and ending Sunday, November 13th. The game will be held at the Rolling Hills Lodges at the IG location of Redstone Village. It's $40 to PC and is free to NPC. This game wll be using 9th edition rules.

OGRE will be hosting a 1-day event this weekend on Friday, November 11th and a mod day on Saturday, November 12th (those may be reversed). The game will be held at the Camp Lazarus at the IG location of Andorn. To PC, it's $20 for the 1-day and is $10 for the mod day. It's $5 to NPC either. This game wll be using 9th edition rules.

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 4, 2011

YouTube Friday: Winter War IX

It's been a while since I've talked about anything Amtgard, and that's largely because there's very little presence in the area for that game. But, if you're interested in doing some Amtgard, the nearest big thing is probably the Kingdom of the Rising Wind's Winter War IX.

Anyone interested in repping from Cleveland?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ladies Who LARP

Introduction: Hi! I’m Karin, and I’ve been LARPing since 2000 (unless you count SCA, which I don’t :) ). I joined a Plot team in 2002, and have been Plot, Campaign Plot, and Coordinator at NERO WAR, and have co-run Exiles since 2008. And, as this post will discuss, I am often the voice of the minority on the teams I’ve been on – women! This is a longer post, but I hope you'll bear with me and I'll shorten them up for the future :)

If you LARP or game, you know that women are already there, playing, whether or not we admitted early on that we’re into the nerd scene. And, in case you didn’t get the memo in kindergarten, girls are different from boys. :) While in general all we want is some r-e-s-p-e-c-t, there are some general concepts for players and plot alike to keep in mind when thinking about satisfying female gamers, so to speak.

Just to put in the disclaimer, these are very general concepts that may or may not apply to all us lady LARPers to some degree. There are plenty of examples of tough dames who LARP - and could kick the butts of many of the guys around them.

First, I’ve noticed that there tend to be two basic groups of women who come to games (we could break it down past that, but I don’t want to go far into psychology here). There are those who come because they’re honestly interested intrying it out, and those who come because their significant other is (I call them Girlfriends).

In the first situation, you have an interested player right away. The second group is often not interested in the game, can be a challenge to get involved, and they often don’t turn into long-term players. But don't mistake one for the other; being shy isn't the same as being disinterested. Try throwing them something they can get involved with, and see if you can hook them into your game (your male players will thank you). Try making your NPC take a shine to them, or make it so that they have that one specific trait or skill that is needed for the ritual. See who bites.

Okay, so, you’ve got an interested player. Now what do ladies want out of a game?

Sparkling vampires, fairy princesses, and babies.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guest Post: 6 Big Mistakes... (Part 2)

Hi, I'm Scott Eerie, and I've been playing, running, and staffing larp events for over 20 years in the New England area. I'm going to be talking about behind-the-scenes larp stuff, mainly advice on running larp games.

And now for part 2 of "6 Big Mistakes When Running An Event."

4. Key Staff Members Showing Up Late

I have a habit of showing up early to events, sometimes even around 2 or 3PM on Friday. At an appallingly high number of events I've attended, I showed up before (sometimes hours before) the guys RUNNING the event.

If you're running an event and you are one of the key, top-tier staff members (I'm looking at you, Mr. Game Director), show up early. Like, show up the day before if you can. If you can't be on the site until Friday, show up at 7am. If you can't be there early enough to make sure things get done and the game can start at a reasonable time, then maybe you shouldn't be running a LARP.

Also, make sure you get the stuff you need to run the event there as early as possible. These are things like costumes, tags, props, floating skulls, etc. Trucks full of such necessities tend to break down, get stuck in the mud, get lost, run out of gas, or get stolen. All of these things have happened at least once at various games I've attended.

5. Mistreating or Misusing NPCs

Ah, the grunt. The lowly NPC. The guy/gal who's there to play the crunchies, wandering monsters, the minions. A role I've played many times.

These people can also be your most valuable asset. You can't run a good game without them, but they are often treated as second class citizens or relegated to the role of an extra.

They need leadership, guidance, and training. NPCs are there to help, but you can't just throw them out there with a stat card and some weapons. Hordes of untrained NPCs can ruin the players' fun and possibly the game. It's up to the game staff to prepare them.

NPCs are not "Non Paying Customers." They are unpaid workers who volunteer their time and effort to help entertain your players. Learn to love them for it.

6. Forgetting That Players Paid To Be There

In New England, LARP events commonly cost between $80 and $100, which may or may not include the cost of food. Throw in a yearly membership fee on top of that and it's quite a hefty sum for many to play a game.

Most games just expect their players to understand (and talk amongst themselves) when things are running late, when there aren't enough NPCs, or when nothing has been going on for hours at a time. At most businesses, this would be unnaceptable, and refunds and apology gifts would be given to the customers. At a LARP, this is just considered "part of playing a LARP".

I guess this is why expectations are so low across the board. This is where many would say the "club" aspect of LARP shows its head. I'm hoping we'll grow out of this particular attitude.

There you have it. These topics will be explored (and exploited) in loving detail in future posts. Until then, happy LARPing!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

National Day After Halloween Day

Hooray Everyone! I hope you had a fun and eventful Halloween. But don't worry. You didn't miss the important holiday.

The Day after Halloween.

Halloween is the one night where regular men and women can dress up as whatever fantasy creation they want to be, and they pay big bucks. Supposedly "normal" people litter their lawn with spooky (although sometimes cheesy) decorations. And now, the normal people want nothing to do with Halloween.

It's a LARPers dream.

So go forth and plunder all the Halloween stores for the upcoming LARP year! Make up, costuming, and accessories like rope lights could be on heavy discount, and you should take advantage of that.

I, however, am stuck in Phoenix. Someone get me some rope lights!

What are you hoping to plunder after Halloween?

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Week In LARP - October 31st

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

I hope your Halloween was super Halloweenie!


WAR will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, November 4th and ending Sunday, November 6th. 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. This game wll be using 9th edition rules.


Wastelands will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, November 4th and ending Sunday, November 6th. The game will be held at the John Beltz Retreat at the IG location of Misthaven. It's $40 to PC and free to NPC. Remember to bring proper eye protection for use with Airsoft guns.

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 28, 2011

Dungeon 101

Hey there! As a new contributor to this blog, I thought I would start of with something straight forward and that I find great satisfaction in doing. First, however, I would like to tell you a little bit about myself.

My name is Ben Mathis. I have been LARPing for approximately 5 years now, and I have done mostly just NERO. I grew up in West Virginia with my mom and always found interest in the medieval aspect of history as well as fantasy games, even from a young age.

Anyways, enough about me. Let's build a Dungeon!

In the games that I have attended, almost every single one had some sort of big dungeon crawl module. In these modules, I would either have to run through and just kill everything, eventually reaching a goal, protect someone while going through, or find an object. I love these types of modules because they are very immersive when done correctly.

Unless the "dungeon" has no cool effects.

How do we fix this? Well, here is your crash course in Dungeon Creation 101.

1.) Lights are you friend. When turning a building into a dungeon, it's good to use different colored lights. These lights really set the mood and can create different effects while in a dungeon as well. For example, when a green light is on, a certain monster can't be affected by spells, but when a red light is turned on, that ability goes away. Lighting can make dungeon modules more dynamic if used this way. If used for just atmosphere, it is equally cool because what dungeon has white lighting? exactly.

2.) Fog, Fog, and more Fog. I have always enjoyed the use of fog machines. They can be used in a bunch on different types of encounters. I like to set up a fog machine behind some sort of wall or a place where it can't be seen by the PC's directly. Also, it is a good idea to use a fog chiller (there are a million tutorials on the internet for how to make these) otherwise, it's just smokey. The purpose of the fog is to have it settle on the floor for an eerie sort of effect.

3.) Walls. This is probably the most important thing for a dungeon. You can flop on everything else, but if you don't have walls, you don't have a dungeon. Walls can be made out of various materials. The two main materials that I have seen to work have been the thin pink siding insulation and tarps. I have found that you can do a lot more cool stuff with the siding insulation. It is easier to paint on than tarps, looks more like a wall, and creates an overall better scene. However, it sucks to move because you can't fold it and it is hard to hang if you aren't allowed to nail it in. Tarps on the other hand still look decent when painted on and they are A LOT easier to hang. Walls can add a different element to your dungeon such as the hall fight where the PC's have to push through monsters to continue.

4.) Traps. Every dungeon needs traps. They are a lot of fun to set up and a lot of fun for PC's to go through. A fairly easy trap that you can make can be found in this video (ignore the odd costume?) Just put all that stuff in the video in a small box and you are good to go!

There are a lot of cool things you can do when setting up a dungeon. The most important thing is that you think it is a cool set up and the PC's have fun while running through it. You could always add some static props (which I will be discussing in my next post later next week) to just lay around and look cool. So I'll ask you this:

What is your favorite dungeon prop to use? What is your favorite prop to experience?