Monday, January 31, 2011

NERO 9th Edition

Like fabled beasts of yore, this mythic creature has been haunting the edges of the NERO world since before the year 2000. Originally called NERO Revised and then NERO millennium, it now enters the realm of the real with the working title of NERO 9th edition. The reviews thus far have been mixed but I am going to pick out a couple of the changes and tell you why I like or do not like them, and then open the floor up for some discussion.

A lot of things have changed most of them are not to major but some of them have been hotly debated. The one that is nearest and dearest to my heart is the lowering of weapon proficiency costs overall for the Templar class. The cost was a graduated one in the past topping out at 25, it is now a flat 18 all the way up. This reduces the cost for a templar to swing 10 points of damage by almost 40 build and reduces the cost to swing 20s by almost 90 build. For the mid level player this will not seem like a huge deal, templars will still have to choose between doing damage and having a lot of spell power. For the higher level player it allows for a more balanced approach to the character class, swinging for lots of damage while having an appreciable number of spells. I believe that this better captures the intent of the class as a sort of caster/fighter hybrid. It allows a high level templar to act as a fighter with an appropriate healer buddy and also act as a healer with an appropriate fighter buddy.

A change was added to making production items that allows for up to 4 times the characters level in the skill to be created. This has allowed for the addition of another treasure type, production components that allow you to produce more goods if you collect enough of them. Anything that adds to the in game economy is a plus in my mind. This should allow for some cool role play moments between creation based characters and adventuring based characters, trading goods for production components, which allow the creation of more goods.

The really cool thing about this new addition is how neat and tidy it is. The old book was filled with inconsistencies and errors. Most of the metagame data was organized nonsensically. The new book has corrected almost all of this. The pages are well laid out and the photographs are much better. The playtests that were deemed succesful were included in the book and the errata were as well. All in all I believe that this book, once everyone has converted, will make the game simpler and easier to play, and most importantly easier to teach to new players.

This rule set has been a long time coming. Many were hoping for less, many were hoping for more. All in all though, it gives us a good starting point for adding some new content and it corrects a lot of the issues that were found in the old game. The system should be faster and simpler than the old system. Hopefully the new formal concepts and cantrip changes will allow for easier scaling by plot teams. The lay out of the magic pages alone is worth the adoption of the new system. I urge everyone to at least try it out, playtest it, and give it an honest chance. Learning new rules can be arduous but the payoff is uniformity and better play.

The Week In LARP - January 31st

This Week In LARP

Though the weather outside is rough, it could always be worse. Trust me, as I just got back from the Horn of Africa.


WAR will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, February 4th and ending Sunday, February 6th. The game will be held at Camp Oyo at the IG location of Ashton. It's $50 to PC ($30 with a good PC ratio) and is free to NPC. This event will be using NERO 8th 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, January 27, 2011

Mind Mapping and Larp Plot

Mind mapping is a relatively new phenomenon in the tech world. Basically it involves the collaborative creation of a webbing surrounding a particular event or idea. Generally 4 or 5 people work on a webbing and flesh out all of the details of a project before production work begins. I was messing around with the idea the other day and thought, "How great would this be for my NERO plot team". So I set up a mapping for the Lumberton plot season and started working on it.

The site that I am using is , there are many sites that have mind mapping whiteboards but this one comes with a bunch of neat tools like pointers, highlighters and grids. Plus it is free to use, though each member can only have three webbings at a time. I started out by laying down the basic framework of a season, plot arcs, villains, recurring modules and concepts. Then I invited the rest of the team to make contributions. The concept works remarkably well.

In addition to allowing collaboration on the whiteboard, Mindmeister has an instant contact feature which can be linked to Skype. This allows for plot teams to have video conferences while working on the webbing for the events in question, it is really a great idea.

I am pretty impressed with this technology and think that it could have some very positive effects on event planning. Everyone should check it out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Craftsman Skills: Mandatory, Beneficial, or Fluff?

This is a guest post by Andrew Mills.

So recently I have began discussing the use of Craftmen Other skills (or COs
as they are commonly referred to) in NERO.  The skills current use in many
chapters is not what the skill was orignally created to do.  To my understanding
the skill was orginally created for profit back when one gold was making a haul
at an event.  These craftmen skills were orginally simple jobs like baker,
mason, brewer, etc.  Over the years the skill has evolved into a knowledge skill
in many chapters.  One that is used to garner further information from plot;
examples include CO: undead lore, ancient runes, etc.  Some arguement has been
risen over the use of these skills as it seems some plot members in the past
have made them almost manditory to further a plotline.  I hope to express my
views here on the topic and hopefully come to a peaceful concensus on the use of
these skills.

The basis of the arguement against them is a sound one; that knowledge of an
in-game (IG) subject should be learned IG and no other way.  I cannot argue
against this completely.  To make the game world more immersive players need to
learn as much about it as they can.  Note that this does not mean to force feed
them information but make the information available to them with varying levels
of difficulty obtaining it according to subject.  I play with COs as a knowledge
skill and have been told before that I could not take a certain CO due to the
availablity of the information, which was the correct move on the side of plot.
Information is a powerful tool most cannot argue against, from the easiest IG
knowledge to obtain, such as major crop harvests and main travel routes, to the
more difficult to obtain, such as the lore of an ancient civilization or the
magical theories surrounding time or void magic.

The problems with this arguement is the inconsistency between chapters.  How
is one chapter suppose to know the time and investment you have put in learning
the information you know from another.  As plot is written sometimes the
interaction or manor a force is used and manipulated is varied from what it may
be somewhere else.  Having something written like a CO allows plot teams to know
your character's knowledge on a subject and can point out these differences out
to you.  Of course this is just one example.

The fear that the use of these skills in such a manner can lead to a more
tabletop oriented game, where skill checks are needed and such is a valid one.
If plot teams start relaying solely on COs for the information they give out and
making certain COs needed to further plot they only feed this fear and hinder
who and how players can interact with plot.  My feel on this point is that COs
should never be manditory to further plot they could be used to garner clues on
the subject if related.  For example, my character has studied ancient runes,
meaning I know a few runes personally (enough to encode my alchemy recipe
book).  Now in this case if plot wanted they could give me a clue in order to
make the translation easier based on my knowledge they know I have due to my
CO.  Say I have CO: ancient runes with one rank in it they could give me one
letter or one clue if I ask for it.  The plot member could have created the
runes or just wish that no clue be given which is perfectly fine and up to them,
just if the runes are based in no system of real world runes how is my study of
them to yield any worth or merit IG.

My biggest concern for not using COs is the mantainence of character
concept.  I go to event perhaps once a month if I am lucky, while my character
lives in this world 24/7 and it only seems logical that he would know more of
it.  Perhaps some would rather time invested out of game be manditory to learn
of subjects, and I'm not saying that some time between game should not be
invested in study.  Just as we invest time creating our boffers, armor, or reps
or making the money to purchase them.  Though I do not like seeing those that do
not have as much time out of game be hindered for this when they already go out
of their way to find the time and money to come to events.  We do not want our
game to become some collection of elitists that make no accomidations to the
casual gamers, just like many MMOs have done.  If we can have skills that make
me swing harder without lifting weights, or more agile without real world
training, then why not have a skill that makes me smarter or more knowledgable
about a subject.  I play NERO to be someone I'm not, to escape for one weekend a
month. I do not play the soldier, or use alot of military tactics, or always
follow the rules of the IG society.  I play someone who is fun for me, who helps
me escape the troubles of the real world and release my woes for a weekend, and
if I want to play someone smarter then who I am in real life why should I not be
able to.  Perhaps one day a skill will be created in the rules for these
knowledge skills, but until then I am please with the evolution COs have gone
under in many chapters into these knowledge skills.  They should not be needed
to further plot, but clues should be able to be given if wanted.  They should be
more then just gold, because making coin is not why I play this game.

As this is still an open debate I am having with some people I look forward to
any thoughts or feedback on this topic and hope we can keep this as civil as we
have up to this point.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

International Fantasy Gaming Society

This game has been in existence for as long as NERO or slightly longer and is based on non conjoined modules run at mod day type events mostly at local parks. They use a hit point based location based damage system and several spell deliveries including verbal and point based. I mentioned them in my article yesterday so I thought I would give everyone a link to their treasure distribution guide so you can see what a truly varied treasure policy looks like. Interestingly nothing ever expires unless it is a single use item in which case it goes away on use, and yet they still manage to scale appropriately for the 20 page magic item lists.


Monday, January 24, 2011

High Level Content: Take 2

The new NERO season approaches and it looks like I will be running about 5 games, one of them being a 4 day. With that in mind I have started designing my plot lines for the season. A thought has been banging around in my head for some time and I am finally putting it into action, repeatable high end content is lacking in most of the nations NERO games.

The life cycle of NERO is an odd one, players mature, they play as the big dogs until they tire of the content and then they quit. Some try to start new characters and maybe they play as those for awhile but the majority are just done once they have played the top end game. This is not a good model for a mature game. A mature game should be trying to keep its best players to act as models for the new players. It should be rewarding its mature players while continuing to attract new players. The new players should aspire to compete with the older player.

NERO lacks any sort of real competition in the current model. Players can compete for components or wealth but no one displays those accomplishments so others are unaware of the benchmarks for competition. In massively multi player games, accomplishments are measured through content completion, this model is somewhat unsatisfactory in a true, story based role playing game. No one wants to be the third group to kill the Liche Lord Dalgothath, why didn't he die the first two times? What happens on the one hundredth time? Why is he still hanging around waiting to be killed? The International Fantasy Gaming Society runs games with specific level modules that are ran multiple times in a single weekend, writing these types of modules can be complicated. Running a named villain in one of these modules makes no sense but running a strictly generic villain is also unsatisfactory. The advantage that IFGS has over NERO is that their magic system for items is HUGE, they can create almost any item imaginable and the magic item lists for high level characters are more like books. NERO is severely limited by its tiny formal effect system.

The solution that I am going to try lies in a combination of several ideas, the massively multi player repeatable content, and IFGS more advanced creation system. Last year as part of a plot line, a giant castle appeared in the middle of my campaign setting, this castle is going to form the basis for the high level content that I am adding. In addition I am going to take advantage of the one, non nationally mandated, open ended part of the game left to plot people, the transform system. The basic concept is this, high level players will be able to go to specific portals within the castle that will take them to places that are important to the cosmology of the plot line, in those places there will be predetermined modules that will have as treasure resources that are only available from that particular module. These resources can be combined to produce items that make going into the more advanced portals within the castle easier, but have no real effect on basic scaling. The items that can be crafted are made by formalists( making them feel special) and they are only active when transforms are active. The idea is that I will provide reps for all of the items as well so that they are recognizable, though we will see about that last part because that could get pricey.

I am excited about this concept, I am hoping to get Mr. Tobin to help me out with the scaling of the various modules and items. In case anyone missed it Bill it pretty good at math. Players will get to experience some new content, get some new types of treasure and then brag about what they have done. Then other players will be able to aspire to do that same thing. Everyone should come and check this season out, it is going to be awesome!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Another Apologetic Post

I'm very sorry for the lack of posting the past week, and am afraid to announce that it will continue until about February. I am currently traveling internationally for work, and I'm finding it difficult to find the time and connectivity necessary to make posts on a daily basis.

I will be back in the country and posting again no later than the week of January 31st. In the mean time, if you or someone you know is interested in doing a guest post for the blog, send an email to

Have fun LARPing!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Adventures in Cross Gaming: Exiles and Wastelands

So you've been wanting to try out that LARP game you've never played, but haven't had the chance to. Maybe you didn't have enough money to do it or it was too far away. Maybe you were afraid that you wouldn't like it.

Well, you'll have your chance, when Exiles and Wastelands will be running a joint game near Columbus, March 4-6th. Half of the weekend will be Exiles and the other half will be Wastelands. Get a taste for both games!

Now what could be even better than that? Oh, I know. The fact that you will get full 2 day Learnin' for Exiles, AND 2 day NPC credit for Wastelands. Amazing!

If you've been on the fence about either game, this is your chance to give it a shot. Even if you only like one of the two enough to continue playing it, you'll get full experience for your money, so the time playing the other one won't be wasted.

I hope to see more Joint games in the future. Exposure to multiple games this way is great for the hobby.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year Resolutions

I'm not a big fan of New Year Resolutions. I, like most people, never make it more than a month or so before breaking pretty much every single one of them. So instead, I set my sites low this year, in hopes that I would actually achieve my goals.

Here are my LARP Resolutions:

- Play a static character, and make poor decisions despite knowing OOG that they are poor decisions.

- Attend at least 2 new games. One of those will be Wastelands, but the second one is open for now.

- Try at least 3 LARP games at the Origins gaming convention this year.

- Add a significant element of horror to one of the games I'll be running. Enough to creep out/scare someone.

What are your New Years Resolutions?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Week In LARP - January 3rd

This Week In LARP

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


NERO Northlands will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting Friday, January 7th and ending Sunday, January 9th. The game will be held at Rolling Hills Lodges location, at the IG location of Redstone Village. It's $40 to PC ($35 if you pre-registered) and is free to NPC.

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