Thursday, March 31, 2011

Small group tactics

I have been considering some of the more common NERO tactics recently. Some of them make sense, some of them could be improved upon and some of them are just plain bad. I am going to try to take a look at one of each and everyone else can tell me why I am wrong.

The one that makes sense to me is the smallest chunk of the NERO battlefield, the fighter/healer backpack relationship. Fighters are the best repetitive damage dealers in the game but they have terrible survivability against packets. Healers have the worst combat survivability but the most versatile skill set. It seems pretty obvious. This building block became even more powerful in the post cantrip age, the cantrip healer at every level has more healing per level than the tree healer. In addition the cantrip healer maintains his tree for removal spells. The break down of this tactic is always the flanks, if something gets around the fighter and hits the healer, everything falls apart.

Which segues nicely into our next tactic, the one that could be improved upon. The shield wall, is generally a group of fighter backpack combinations standing side by side. This tactic is generally employed in field battles and it has one glaring deficiency, the shields are the worst packet magnets in the game, and when lined up edge to edge they are virtually impossible to miss. The fix is something that was discovered in Ancient Greece actually. Greek soldiers fought in phalanx similar to the NERO shield wall, just like the NERO shield wall they found that the added coverage from a neighbors shield allowed for better survivability in the closing portion of a battle. In the later days of Grecian dominance, they discovered that once the battle closed, breaking the phalanx into a spaced line actually protected the individual soldiers better from enemy arrow fire than maintaining the tight lines. The reason for this was simple, the spaces allowed for arrows to hit their own men, tight grouped close fighting still provides the packet target. The moral? Spread out when you are in close.

The tactic that I do not think works the way that it is intended is the protracted door battle tactic. Too often I have seen two groups randomly throwing packets at one another until the attacking group builds up the steam to charge in ( sometimes completely unsafely) This tactic is so easy to improve upon it is almost laughable, concentrated fire beats individual fire every time. Get your packet throwers together and throw the same packets. Not only does this lessen the possibility of missing, it also increases the likelihood the opponent will take the appropriate effect. Volleyed fire was common practice in almost every organized military throughout the ancient and medieval ages, it works, it has been proven, you should use it.

What do you guys think about this? Any other ones that you think we should talk about?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sticking around: The Player In Me

I spent a portion of yesterday evening considering where I derive my fun from at a NERO event. Obviously this was fueled in part by the post and discussion yesterday. After thinking about some of my favorite events ever I came up with a few things that make the game for me, I would encourage everyone else to consider posting what makes the game for them. I want everyone to realize that this is completely personal preference, these are the things that I enjoy.

I am a gamist. I love dissecting rules, finding a way to play that is optimal and then leveraging that into a powerful character. I like to be able to flex my characters build at events, so I prefer that my plot people write heavy combat into events. Some of my favorite events have been the ones that were intentionally, very slightly over scaled. Fighting a losing battle against the odds and pulling through makes me feel like a hero, which is the goal.

I am a strategist. I like working through the way a fight should go before it begins and then executing the plan with a group of competent people. Small fights, dungeon crawls, limited modules, throwing a few of these in my direction at an event will earn a plot team points. I don't really mind if I get outfought in one of these situations, that just means someone was better than me. I do mind if I get out scaled, plot should be able to accurately scale for a small group.

I am a fighter. I want someone in the plot shack to go toe to toe with me. Someone who has taken the time to learn to fight well. I will absolutely seek that person out all weekend, I really don't care if it is metagamey. The quality of the sticking that I get to do in a weekend directly correlates to the fun level of the event.

These are my top 3. I know, I know, why don't I just play Dagorhir? I enjoy the rest of the game as well, but these are the things that make me the most happy. Tabard monsters are fine, I like fog machines and special effects to remove the cheese factor of fighting in a barn, but when it comes right down to it if you run randoms every 20 minutes with a few small modules for me and a couple giant wave battles, I will have fun.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Your Inner Gamer

Dan over at Nerology made a good post about the different types of gamers. I think it's important that people understand this concept. Sure, there is some benefit in knowing this when running a LARP, but there's a lot of benefit in identifying what kind of gamer you are.

If it's not obvious from reading the blog, I would consider myself a Gamist (challenge based) first and foremost, with equal parts narrativist (role playing) and social. I recognize the benefitis of simulationist (immersion) gaming, but I've never been able to play a game that I actually feel immersed in. Invested yes, immersed no.

Maybe it's just my viewpoint, but I really do believe that simulationist gaming is probably the most difficult to run. There are literally millions of things that can happen that will immediately snap players back to reality - Stoppage of play, questions about an effect, OOG chatter, sloughing/cheating, OOG movement, etc. I am of the belief that to run an experience like that, you need a lot more planning up front and usually more bodies/props/effects to get the same points across when going for simulations, and these things can be a difficult for a game staff to pull off.

Anyways, the point is that I know the kind of game that I like to play and the kind of game that I'm good at. But knowing this gives me two options when approached with a simulationist experience.

- Step outside my comfort zone
- Let someone else take my spot

I know that everyone plays a different game, and that's fine. I'm of the thought that there is no wrong way to play the game (aside from cheating). If you come to a game for a merchant experience, that's cool for you. If you want to roleplay and tell stories all day and night, that doesn't bother me at all. If you come to a game just to hit people with foam, rock on stick jock.

But by identifying your strengths/weaknesses and likes/dislikes, you're better able to identify situations where your gaming style might be at odds with those of other players. All gaming styles are fine, until they start to affect other people's ability to enjoy their game. So if you find yourself in a game style you're unfamiliar with, you may have to work harder to keep up with those around you. After all, succeeding outside your comfort zone can be very fulfilling.

So what kind of LARPer are you?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Week In LARP - March 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

It's cold again in Ohio. Big surprise.


The NCN game was cancelled on account of flooding. For more information, visit their forums.

NERO Indiana will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, April 1st and ending Sunday, April 3rd. The game will be held at the Columbus Youth Camp (IN). It's $50 to PC ($40 if you Pre-reg) and it's free to NPC. This event will be using 9th Edition Rules and a character rewrite that applies to this event only.


Bloodlines will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Saturday, April 2nd and ending Sunday, April 3rd. The game will be held at Camp Burnamwood (KY). I am not sure what the cost is to PC or NPC.

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

Friday, March 25, 2011

YouTube Friday: NERO Cincinnati

So, apparently a professional film group out of New York contacted NERO Cincinnati with interest in doing a piece on their chapter. The result is one of the best promotional videos I've ever seen for a LARP. Even better than some of the foam fighting promotions I've seen.

If you're trying to get someone to play NERO, I highly suggest the use of this video.


Permanent Items

I hold in my hand Excalibur, the sword of kings, gifted from the Lady of the Lake unto my family, in two years I will have to get a new one...Seems a bit anti climactic doesn't it? The arguments against Permanency as a ritual are many, but I have to believe that there is a way that we can make it work. Rules should never constrain the story, lets see if we can find a way that this can be made to work.

As I said before there are some very good arguments against permanency, the first of which being that item proliferation will lead to hoarding and then eventual scaling issues. NERO currently has a rule in place that deals with this, the item slot limit. If you can only carry 5 items then the maximum number of effects that you can have on your person is still only 25. You may have more items than that but you will never become a scaling issue because the number of items that you can carry will always be limited. Another powerful argument against permanency is the lack of drive for players to run modules after they have all of their permanent items. This can be addressed several ways; one, permanent items should be very rare, in fact they should never be allowed to go out as treasure and two, new rituals can be made available to keep people interested in attaining new gear. Permanent items should never go out as treasure, instead a one permanent component should go out. The rarity of permanent components should be based on player days just like other items. Unlike other items however this rarity should be measured in 100s of player days. The exact math would take some calculating but suffice it to say that it should be a great accomplishment to attain one of these. New rituals being made available may seem like it will lead to power creep, but I disagree. We have a great number of effects in our system that are never able to go into items, making these effects available to players and rotating which scrolls go out would allow for new and interesting power combinations. This will keep people playing the game even more so than the currently stale formal system.

Continuity of story, the allowance for items that lasts longer than two years, is a powerful driver in a game that relies upon the suspension of disbelief. I have a hard time as a player reconciling all of the work that went into creating my +3 sword with the fact that I may only get to use it 20 times. I would like to be able to create an item that will exist in my characters house into posterity, to make a permanent mark upon the game without damaging it. Think about the spell names from Dungeons and Dragons, Bigby's spells are all named for a character in one of the first campaigns that was run by Gary Gygax. How amazing would it be to return to a game that you had left for some time to find that the County knight had your old blade strapped to his side, perhaps he would return it to you, it's loan at an end. However there are other arguments for permanency that go beyond the story.

Characters beyond a certain level have no innate game based goals in NERO. We don't have an escalating treasure system like MMORPGS, but we should. By allowing players to get newer and cooler things, games like World of Warcraft can continuously keep players interested in their content. NERO should follow suit if they wish to compete in the entertainment world. We are not a video game but drawing from their positives and discarding their negatives can only make our game better.

In the crafting system that NERO has today, very few players actually make items. To make a five effect two year item is ludicrously expensive and most players do not play frequently enough to get value out of it. This is particularly true because plot teams send out so many items. I like giving out treasure and I agree that it should go out on large modules and randomly but putting a ritual in that is only within the scope of PC crafters or even putting in a bunch of rituals that fit this description can only be good for player immersion and the in game economy.

An interesting idea that I would like to float but really had no direct place in this article. Permanent items could be nationally controlled. With the new structure of NERO national being more broad, national could sell modules that allowed permanent items to be put out as treasure. Local chapters could then entice more traveling players by advertising that this event has a "permanency allowed" module on it. Using this concept permanent items would be limited by national availability, they could even be auctioned off.

IN short I believe that there are ways that permanency can be implemented without destroying our game. IN fact I think it could add to the vibrancy and immersion.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fighting Item Inflation

One of the most difficult challenges in a LARP game is dealing with Item durations. If you don't control this well, you may end up having a problem with item inflation. Too strict or stingy with items might turn players off as it's one less avenue of advancement. So what's the best way to do it?

Most games use a system based on time for item expiration. The problem with this is that it favors players that come to every game, rather than players who might only make it out once or twice a year. It also makes it more likely that items will be hoarded by a team or withheld from more casual players.

Some systems have no real expiration on their items. In the worst case, this leads to serious item inflation. Best case, the game staff has to actively go out of their way to try and remove powerful items and money from game, which is tightrope walk between curbing item inflation and griefing their own players.

I really feel the best way to do it is to have items expire based on "use." Wastelands uses a system like this, where most items have a 4 game duration, and the tags are marked after each event. This way, players who are more casual don't have to check and find out if their gun expired between events, as you know at the event if your weapon is going to expire or not.

The obvious issue with this system is that without additional controls, merchants who specialize in selling consumable items are hurt the most. If your character is looking to sell a potion and can't find a buyer before it expires, you lose your investment. For that reason, I would institute a minor activation rule on any item.

Essentially, once a player activates an item for use, it now counts as being used at this event and loses a game day. However, if it remains safe in the merchant's box unpurchased, it would not lose a game day. But if a player took a potion into battle and just happened to not need it, a game day is still consumed. Now, the reason you wouldn't be able to use this on "magic" weapons or armor is that allowing those items to be stored would once again lead to item hoarding.

It's still a work in process, but let us know what you think in the comments!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Shake-Up: Alliance Ohio

Let me start by saying that I'm not an Alliance player and I don't have any additional information than what the public knows. I got all my information from the forums (check it soon, as the boards go down on Friday).

For those of you unaware of what's going on, Alliance Ohio has been found in breach of their contract with Mike Ventrella, owner of Alliance. Now under normal contract rules a chapter is given 30 days to fix the breach of contract before being shut down. After Alliance Ohio was handed the breach, they gave their correction plan to Mike V, who then responded that it would take more than 30 days, so Alliance Ohio would have to cease and desist all game activity. Hence why the game this weekend was cancelled.

The claims Mike V. made said that the game was unprofessional due to some problems with logistics, not using tags, not using monster cards, not requiring spell books, and scaling on the fly. From what I've garnered, the only one of those that's really true is logistics, but again, I've only really read it from the perspective of Alliance Ohio.

I can't help but think that part of this is going down due to the creation of the alternate campaign "Andarian." The rules were adjusted and, more importantly, Alliance's closely held rulebook was posted for a short time (before Mike had them take it down).

Anyways, it looks like the players from Alliance Ohio will have to go elsewhere to get their fix. Their options that are close would be to go to the South Michigan chapter, the Pittsburgh chapter (if they ever start running), or try a new game altogether.

To the ownership of Alliance Ohio: If you're still interested in running a game, might I suggest trying the Accelerant ruleset for a test run? Licenses are relatively inexpensive and the system is built to allow a lot of variety without adding too much complexity in the rules.

If you've got any more information on this situation (and aren't breaking any laws/contracts by sharing it), say something in the comments or drop us a line at

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Game Design 101: The Wave Battle

The wave battle is an integral part of a NERO weekend. For those of you who are not NERO regulars, the wave battle generally consists of groups of NPCs attacking en masse. Generally the NPCs are "crunchy" meaning that they fall within the range of easy- medium for the player level of the weekend. The wave battle allows everyone to be involved and with the proper wrapping it can allow everyone to directly effect the story. I am going to look at a couple of ideas to make the wave battle better, a couple of things that you should not do and a few ideas for future growth of the concept.

Lets start with making it better. The escalating wave battle is a permutation of the wave battle which works well, particularly in a mixed level event. This battle begins as a standard wave battle, after the first few waves, some distinctive costume change or call sign change should alert the players that this next wave is different. The waves can the get progressively harder culminating in a boss fight or triggering a module. The best example I ever saw of this was many years ago, we were fighting rats and the rats continues to get bigger and bigger until eventually the ground collapsed ( I assumed from the giant rat tunnels) and we all fell into a dungeon crawl rat infested adventure. This type of iterative battle with a goal appearing at the end is wonderful for immersion since the action leads to the story and the story solidifies the action.

Another popular wave battle concept is the split wave battle. This concept allows for higher and lower level players to interact with the NPCs on their own level. Generally, the plot director will geographically split the players into two distinct groups via an NPC or plot controlled pc, the groups will then face a wave battle that is challenging for them without being over scaled. This idea is necessary at events that have a large level divide, when the range gets too far away from the average player level, something needs to be done to keep everyone entertained.

Cautions for plot people regarding wave battles. It is an excellent idea to have different types of monsters in each wave. This can make the battle more strategic and fun if the players take the time to figure out the patterns. The different types of monsters must be distinguishable from one another to make this concept work. If the death knight looks just like the skeleton archer, some poor new player is going to get smoked.

Wave battles can be fun, but they need to be scaled meticulously if you want them to continue for long periods of time. Too easy and the players will get bored, too hard and the players will get dead. There exists a sweet spot in every event where everyone is entertained but no one is getting hammered, finding it requires experience and a good reign on your NPCs. The most important party of appropriate wave battle scaling is a strong staff team, staff controls the NPCs, they can tell them when to go harder or easier, they set the tone for use of skills. It is imperative that your staff is skilled without being bloodthirsty, competent without showing off. A good staff can make or break the whole weekend.

Evolving the concept of the wave battle beyond just a grinder fight that goes until some predetermined time is really the next step in weekend design. Wave battles should have a reason for happening, they should have a trigger and an endpoint both of which are under PC control and they should have an impact on whatever story you are telling about the local area. For instance, a local noble moved his troop of horsemen into a valley driving out the band of gnolls who live there, PCs should be involved in scouting for the lord and they should know that the gnolls have been driven out. The gnolls attack the town because they are hungry, the lead gnolls are scouts and smaller and faster ( dodges) the larger better fed gnolls follow behind them, waiting for word of food. The gnolls may continue to attack until their cheif appears opening the possibility for roleplay, or the PCs may need to find some mystic, gnoll repelling, drum either way the PCs should be the reason that teh gnolls stop not just some timer.

These are my thoughts on wave battles, some of them are well formed, some are more free form, what do you guys think?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Week In LARP - March 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

Try and use all those St. Patrick's Day decorations and start a Leprechaun.


NERO Cincinnati will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, March 25th and ending Sunday, March 27th. The game will be held at Camp Friedlander at the IG location of Beronis. It is $50 to PC and is free to NPC. This event will be using 8th Edition Rules


Alliance Ohio has recently been found in breach of contract by Mike V, and as such are not currently permitted to run events. I do not believe the event that they planned will be run this weekend. If anyone has any additional information on this, please drop it in the comments.

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, March 18, 2011

YouTube Friday: SKBC Advanced Sword and Board

This video is a bit of a blast from the past, but I think it's a good one for people to look at. This is a class from Sword Knight Boot Camp (SKBC) 2006, brought to us by Sir Dalos.

For those of you unfamiliar with SKBC, it's a 3-4 day event held in a different place every year. At that event, they have a bunch of classes on basically anything you can think of for battle gaming, combined with a metric shit-ton of ditching. Anyone who really wants to be a better fighter can benefit from attending SKBC.

This year's SKBC is in MA, so if you're in that area and are interested, you should check it out here.

While a lot of this video is specific for battle games that let you close on your opponent, you can definitely use a lot of the shield placement and body positioning in any game. I know that I went and grabbed a round shield after watching this video, and it's brutal. While I get a lot of benefit from it on the fact that I'm short, the placement of the grip helps a lot. This is also where I learned the power of the lean.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Accessibility: Are We Dumbing Down Gaming?

This is going to be a spin-off of some of the discussion from the post on statting. I've wanted to post this for a while, so I'm glad this opportunity came up.

The question came up about whether D&D 4th edition was better than previous editions or not. In my opinion, I believe the game is much better than it's 3rd edition counter-part. Why?

Because of accessibility.

Unfortunately (for some people), you can't really talk about accessibility without talking about the hit PC game "World of Warcraft" (WoW). For those of you who are unfamiliar with the game, it is the most popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), but it is by no means the first.

There are really two major reasons for their success.

1. Constant Content Updates and Support
2. Accessibility

Number 1 is a no brainer - you keep the content fresh and you fix problems as they arise, and you won't lose players due to boredom/frustration. But number 2 is something that previously was very taboo in the MMO world, and is generally frowned upon in gaming in general.

World of Warcraft made the game incredibly friendly to causals with essentially no skill or experience in gaming. They also made it so that you could essentially play the game as much or as little as you want and still move forward. Most games prior to this would require a large buy-in by the players, either in hours of grinding or hours of research as to not be gimped completely.

Due to this, WoW picked up a ton of casual gamers and also a number of people who aren't really gamers themselves. An untapped market ripe for the picking.

Back to D&D 4th Edition.

4th Edition added some concepts like the holy trinity of MMORPGs (Tank, Damage, and Healing), added some general survivability which reduced the need for players to pick the same 4 classes before branching out, and completely overhauled the system to streamline combat.

The End Result: You can now play D&D with more people and you can now play D&D without having to learn a veritable Tome of rules first.

So why am I talking about D&D on this blog?

Cause I like D&D. But seriously, it's because, as LARPers, we can learn a lesson from this. A lot of 9th Edition is focused on reminding staff that they can do whatever they want, as long as it doesn't require the players to know more rules. You can add all the effects and modifications to monsters as long as the same damage calls are going out on monsters.

This is the reason that Accelerant is successful and has so much cross gaming. You learn about 30 pages worth of rules and you now know every effect that could possibly hit you in the game and don't have to learn anything else, except what your character can do.

D&D at it's core was intended to be a way to tell a story with some rules. The complexity of the rules was not really important to the end game. It's the same way with story LARPs. We're story tellers. There's no reason to get complex with the rules.

We need to embrace Accessibility. It's the only way to grow the game. Arguing against accessibility is essentially the same as arguing that the game should be more hardcore.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Something was mentioned in the comments of yesterdays post, something that I believe warrants a deeper look. There exists between plot and players a layer of trust which is essential for any larp game to be fulfilling for those who participate. Trust is a strange thing, once it has been built, painfully over time, it takes only one bad decision to destroy it. Plot teams need to think of this when they are interacting with all players.

One of the most important aspects of building the trust relationship is understanding on a broad level what everyone wants to get out of the game. Some people are looking for poignant roleplay, some for violent altercation, giving them what they want shows that you appreciate their style of play, and builds trust. One of the most powerful tools that plot has is the morning after the event when everyone is preparing to check out. Ask people " Did you have fun? What did you enjoy?". The act of caring about their enjoyment will show that you are actively engaged in making their time better.

The fastest way to destroy trust is the exact opposite. Roleplay moments that degrade irreparably and consistently into combat. Combat moments that are always under or over scaled. These things degrade players trust in their plot team. The worst thing is not the bad acts themselves, it is the attitude of the plot team after the fact. Controlling your NPCs to never mock players who have failed at an encounter, providing sufficient information to NPCs who are on roleplay modules, these things provide the fuel for good encounters, both wins and losses.

As I have mentioned before it is not necessary that everyone wins for them to have fun. As the trust is built between players and their plot teams, players will understand that whatever happens now is working towards a greater story later. Building this trust may take a season of events, it may take 3 seasons but once you have it you can really begin telling wonderful, collaborative stories with your players.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"It's a Statting Issue"

There's been a lot of discussion over the new rules in 9th Edition NERO, and everyone's throwing in their two cents. One of the terms that I've seen come up a number of times is that something is a "statting issue." I also see a lot of people whining about that answer.

Truth is, pretty much anything that can be handled by plot that doesn't require learning by the general population is a statting issue, and that's a good thing.

In a game that's already filled with a lot of stuff, you want to minimize the amount that the Average Joe needs to know. That's why duplicate effects (like Dominate) are bad, and why system standardization (like many spells using "I call forth") is good. But don't let that fool you. There's still a lot more that can be done with the system, and it's all under the purview of the staff running the game.

Instead of adding things that all players need to know, you instead put the onus on the NPCs. Each NPC should know how things affect it that are apart from the norm. Do you take double damage from a specific element? Are you immune to normal or silver swords? Do you have a damage cap? How many times can you renew skills/spells? These are all effects that the PCs don't really need to understand the mechanics for (even if it helps for them to identify these effects).

You can also add some even stranger effects. Maybe a monster is killed by a specific spell or skill. Maybe flame damage acts as a fear effect. Mix it up.

The point is, there's no reason to publish stuff like that in the rules. The variability that staff could add to the game is immense, and for the most part it doesn't require that every player knows every little effect that's internalized on an NPC. The less crap everyone needs to know, the more accessible the game becomes to new players.

So yes, it's a statting issue.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pet Project: LARPcast!

So as a bit of a pet project, Mickey (frequent commenter) and I have decided to start a podcast. I wanted to start one a while back, but never got motivated after I had a guest appearance on the Mid Level Crisis.

Mickey contacted me and asked if I would be interested and I jumped on the chance. We share a lot of the same opinions about what's good and what's bad for LARPs on a game design level, so we figured we'd try and elaborate on some of those concepts.

Anyways, the podcast is called LARPcast. The first topic is about Trust Between Players and Staff at LARP. Enjoy!

The Week In LARP - March 14th

Edit: Updated the NERO SWV Event to show that they're using 9th Edition rules this weekend.

Last Week In LARP

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

This Week In LARP

We probably won't have any more snow. Eh, maybe more like a 60% of no more snow.


NERO SWV will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, March 18th and ending Sunday, March 20th. The game will be held at Camp Chief Logan (WV) at the IG location of Haven. It is $40 to PC and is free to NPC. THIS EVENT WILL BE USING 9TH EDITION RULES.

OGRE will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, March 18th and ending Sunday, March 20th. The game will be held at Chief Logan Reservation at the IG location of Starlen's Crossing. It is $40 to PC and is $10 to NPC. I believe this event will be using 8th Edition rules.

Note: Both of these Events are being held at camps with "Chief Logan" in the name. NERO SWV is being held at Camp Chief Logan in WV, and OGRE is being held at the Chief Logan Reservation in OH. Don't mix them up!


Einherjar will be hosting their opening battle for the year this weekend on Sunday, March 20th at the Green Leaf Park picnic area in Medina. Weapon Check starts at Noon and fighting starts at 1:00 PM. It's $3 and minimum garb rules apply.

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, March 11, 2011

YouTube Friday: Airsoft

Alright, so this isn't exactly a LARP. However, I did just finish a weekend where I got to do an Airsoft LARP, so I'm in the mood for more airsoft.

I'm quite jealous of places like this where they have all that stuff to Airsoft in. It's the only reason I'm sad to live in a city/suburban area.

Anyways, these guys have some videos where they say they LARP, so I declare that it qualifies. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Good Metagaming

This is an interesting topic that I don't talk about much, especially since I am more partial to numbers and rules than roleplay. We always talk about the evils of metagaming, but we never hear about how much it can enhance roleplay.


Anyways, think of Metagaming as if you were a person reading a book, but also playing the character in the book. Literature is often filled with dramatic irony, which means that the reader knows more than the character, particularly regarding what's to come.

Now, as players we can react to metagame information in one of two ways - Good and Bad.

The more common, cheating kind of metagaming would use this information to get the character out of a jam. Information is exchanged between the player and the character, irony is eliminated and we're all cheated out of a story.

However, the good kind of metagaming would allow the player to shape his responses based on how his character would react, but ignore the information until the dramatic/tragic event has happened.

Usually when we're confronted with events and have to act quickly, we let the player take control, and if you are very different than your character, this can hinder the rich roleplaying experience. However, if you can form your character's response beforehand, then it's much easier to play as your character in situations like this.

Here's an example of good metagaming improving my experience at Exiles:

One of the guys was playing a skeleton, but was successfully able to hide it for a long time (long story). I knew OOG that he was a skeleton, which let determine how I was going to react when the truth came out well before it happened.

The best part about that is that the skeleton character had saved me from imminent death a number of times, but I already had my plan for when the truth came out. So we had some what of a showdown (where he annihilated us, as Skeletons are combat monsters) while basically everyone looked on.

Now, if I were confronted with that situation without knowing, I personally probably would have chosen a less PvP intensive path, just to prevent it from not being fun for that player to be outcast. As it turns out, we both really enjoyed the experience despite negative relationship between our characters.

So next time you find something out that you shouldn't know, take some time to ask yourself how your character would react to something like that, but continue playing ignorant until it comes up. It can really improve the experience.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

9th edition awesome

Bill and I were discussing the concept last night of a team of NERO characters designed to use the new yellow packet archery system to its fullest. Four characters, all with archery. Two earth scholars, one celestial templar and one fighter. The fighter and templar carry shields with stands that can act as portable packet cover. The fighter shoots big damage, the scholars are full on cantrip healers. The fighter and templar can both also fight sword and board but their profs are centralized on the bow. Command words are pre arranged for concentrated firing and defensive formations. People often gave a negative opinion of those of us who like the numbers behind the game, but seeing a group fight like this with matching costumes, you have to admit that would be pretty awesome.

I enjoy the idea of coming up with character groups that play together. I like considering the tactics that would be necessary to make them successful. Have any of you ever come up with a cool character group, numbers based or role play based?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

NPC Exchange

In light of the recent Joint event of Exiles and Wastelands, I think it's a good time to talk about NPC exchanges in Cross-Gaming.

This tactic was first brought to my attention when reading about Accelerant, a system with many games with very similar rule sets. A lot of these games run in close proximity to one another, so the player pool is somewhat limited.

While many people are willing to play both games, there is still a significant portion of players that simply don't have the time, money, or interest in playing in two LARPs. Additionally, fighting for these players could end up hurting both games, as one of the largest problems for LARPs is a lack of NPCs.

So they developed the NPC Exchange.

Basically, I can NPC for one of the games and use the experience from that on my character in the other game.

The real benefit of this is that players only have to get costuming and such for one character, but they can enjoy both games. This also gives built in NPCs that don't really PC, so the issues around limiting the NPC information to prevent metagaming are not really a problem. Not to mention you would get more NPCs for your games, because players who only want credit in one game will have to NPC the other in order to get credit.

This really only works for smaller, more independent games, but could be utilized in larger games with enough checks and balances, and could go a long way to fixing some NPC issues that people have.

Would you NPC a second game to get experience for your primary game? Do you think this would break the experience system? Drop your opinions in the comments!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Week In LARP - March 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

We're almost through this mucky, cold weather. Get your final doses before the heat hits!


WAR will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, March 11th and ending Sunday, March 13th. The game will be held at Camp Oyo at the IG location of Ashton. It is $50 to PC ($30 with a good NPC ratio) and is free to NPC. This event will be using 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!

Friday, March 4, 2011

YouTube Friday: Super Meat Boy LARP

I'm not sure why I really enjoy these videos, but here's another one from Gary Bigham - Pro LARPer.

This one mimics the video game "Super Meat Boy," which I have not played yet. However, after watching this video I might have to give it a shot. Enjoy!

Note: I moved YouTube videos to Friday. We don't get as much traffic on Friday's, so I figured this was best.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sources for insight: Fairy Tales

"The definition of fairy story--what it is, or what it should be--does not, then, depend on any definition or historical account of elf or fairy, but upon the nature of Faerie, the Perilous Realm itself, and the air that blows in that country. I will not attempt to define that, nor to describe it directly. It cannot be done. Faerie cannot be caught in a net of words, for it is one of its qualities to be indescribable, though not imperceptible." JRR Tolkien

Tolkien understood that fairy is not just the pixie, the tiny translucent women who dance upon the moonbeams. Fairy is a realm, a place of possibilities and one of the greatest sources of larp adventure available to the plot person. The essay from which this was pulled is entitled "On Fairy Stories" and I recommend it to anyone who loves the fantastic. It is not a fictional tale, instead it is the primer by which Tolkien evaluated fictional tales and it has value in its classifications. Fairy stories then, per Tolkien, are stories that remove us from the realm of the natural and place us in the realm of the fae. A classic example of a story like this is "Alice in Wonderland"

Alice in wonderland removes the main character from the realm of men and moves her into a realm of playing cards and mad hatters. The story line is a relatively common quest archetype but the characterizations and situation that are encountered are very bizarre and strange. Borrowing from a story like this, a plot person can remove his players from the standard fantasy realm that they understand and move them into an infinite number of possible locations. For instance, in a relatively famous book, the author moves his characters into a bar populated by characters from Alice in Wonderland as the result of hallucinogenic drug use by a magic user. This would be an awesome way to introduce a new intoxicant to the game, and make the players aware of the dangers inherent in the substance.

Other presentations of the Fae are seen in stories like a Midsummers nights Dream. The puckish type troublemaker character is pretty much a larp standby. Tricky promises and oaths and the whole nine yards. These types of characters can be fun in moderation. If you run them too frequently then players will begin not speaking to anything that resembles fae. There are other fae in that story, Mab and Oberon? The Lord and Lady of the wood, so often in larp we ignore this other side of fairy. The dark and mysterious queen of the fae whose power is matched only by her capriciousness. The Lord of the Hunt whose dogs chase mortals for sport and change them into dogs for an year and a day. These types of encounters, pure power outside of the elementals and undead norms can be amazingly useful counterpoints, enemies, or even allies in a campaign. Plot people should consider reading some of the fairy stories that present this other side of the fae.

Overall the fairy tale is as broad as any other genre. Plot people should take advantage of this breadth by making their fae realm as varied as the one in other stories. Do not limit yourselves to the trickster, but keep him in mind, levity can be valuable as a tension break.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Plasti Dip = Prop Magic

I know we've had a number of occasions to talk about various methods for creating boffers, but we've never really had an occasion to talk about general prop making. Even in combat-oriented games, we often use props and objects as important tools for storytelling.

This topic started when I was making my character for the Wastelands portion of the Joint Game this weekend. I decided to play an Orc, as I love the rough and tumble culture that surrounds them in the Shadowrun stories. Before I went to buy some tusks online for an absurd amount ($20-30 after shipping), my friend Karin mentioned that she was just making foam tusks.

What a novel idea!

While I consider myself a tape jockey and I even have some white gaff tape available, I didn't think it'd look the way I wanted. So I finally broke the seal and bought some Plasti Dip for my tusks. The goal was to make foam tusks that are Plasti-Dipped and painted white.

The setup was pretty easy, all things considered. I carved a couple of tusks out of a part of a pool noodle, hung them on a wire, and dipped them in. While they looked pretty rough after the first coat, most of the imperfections in the foam were gone by the second coat.

The next day (it takes at least 4 hours to dry per coat), I busted out some white acrylic paint and gave them a once over. As I'm writing this, I'm waiting for them to dry to see if I need another coat. The black primer behind the white paint allowed for a grainy look, which actually looks pretty good on tusks.

I'm definitely going to be adding Plasti Dip into the rotation when I make my non-combat props from now on. If you consider yourself a prop wizard, I definitely suggest giving it a shot. You should be able to pick up at least the 14 oz. black primer at your local Home Depot/Lowes for about $7.

Anyone else have any experiences with Plasti Dip, good or bad? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Monster Mash: Stats for class fights

Someone mentioned to me last week that a lot of plot people do not understand how to target a fight at a particular class. They know the general basics of scaling but cannot create creatures who's purpose is to challenge a particular member of the player party. taking a quick look at this by class may be helpful to those of you who are just starting out in the plot game. As a note, these are my ideas and they seem to have worked out fairly well, feel free to disagree.

Fighters- Fighters are the basic stick class. They have essentially three strengths, repetitive damage, high body, and close range burst damage. Fighters generally have no packet defenses outside of those given to them by others. Players who play pure fighters often are or aspire to be better at the physical side of fighting as well as the statistical side. A fun fight for a fighter therefore fits into two categories high body low damage monsters, and medium body monsters that require burst damage to kill. A perfect example of these two things are the Revenant and the Golem. The Revenant(Giant Skeleton) generally swings for 7 or 8 and has between 50 and 100 body, a tough fight for people in the lower level range, a good crunchy for higher level folks. If you want to target the fight directly at fighters give the mobs some spell defenses, judiciously or you will turn off your caster players. The Golem is the threshold monster, generally they require burst damage to kill due to a high threshold that reduces damage. To increase the difficulty of a fighter fight while still maintaining its integrity, increase body or threshold, or increase damage to the medium range for the scaling.

Rogue fights- Rogues are the only class that requires a non statistical element to some of their encounters in order to best please the type of player who plays the class. I am going to look at the numbers side of these fights, leaving the sneaky stuff to another post. The rogue excels at two things, very high repetitive damage from the back and the best packet defense in the game(Dodge). The rogue class can fill different roles at different levels, at low levels they are the primary damage dealer, at mid levels they act as a secondary fighter or a tactical advantage fighter, at high levels they can act as fighters outright while still maintaining the high damage from the back. One type of Fun fight for rogues can look like a fighter fight, they enjoy taking tactical advantage of mobs that fighters can kill and killing them twice as fast. If you use this type of fight to challenge a party that includes a rogue or rogues remember to increase the number of mobs to still allow the fight to be challenging. The other type of fight that can make a rogue feel awesome has a mob with ridiculous packet attacks that they can dodge. Everyone loves telling the story of dodging the packet delivered obliterate. This fight MUST be used judiciously, too many of these attacks will feel like mis scaling. To increase the difficulty of rogue fights increase body on the monsters, increase damage output into the medium to high range( To take advantage of lower body), or increase ridiculous packet attacks( CAREFULLY).

Earth Scholar fights- Earth scholars are the healers of the NERO game, they have two primary skill sets, healing and utility spells. It is difficult to target a fight directly at earth scholars without the inclusion of undead. Earth scholars have very high damage spells against undead in two spell slots that are generally underutilized. A fight targeted at earth scholars can give them some big bad, slow moving undead to blow up with destroys. There is a subset of players who play earth scholars who want to be battle casters and not healers, this type of fight will appeal most to them. The other type of fight takes advantage of the earth casters superior healing. The grinder fight has high damage, low body mobs that reset a lot and very quickly. The earth scholar is challenged to keep the fighters/rogues/templars alive while they are taking repeated high damage attacks, this fight is particularly slanted towards the cantrip healer. Fights with a lot of packet delivered takedowns can also be used to target earth scholars, as they attempt to fix the front line to keep them fighting. This last strategy must be used carefully, since the number of fixes at each level is limited and you can quickly go from challenging to impossible with mis scaling. To increase the difficulty of the battle caster fight, remove the slow moving criteria from the target of the destroys, to increase the difficulty of the grinder increase damage on the mobs( Don't increase body, that will slow down the pace), To increase the difficulty of the packet fix it fight increase the number of packets very carefully.

The celestial caster fight: affectionately referred to as Sack the Quarterback- Celestial casters have a similar utility skill set to earth casters, they have only one primary strength, the highest ranged burst damage in the game. Celestial casters have a limited number of modules that they can run per weekend because they have a limited number of spells, they have no form of repetitive damage unless they step outside of their skill set. Therefore the fights that target celestial casters must be carefully planned to allow this class to feel as cool as possible and the best way to do that is to give them a quarterback to sack. This means, a high body, low spell defense, high damage mob that keeps players at a distance in some way. Generally this mob should be important to the weekend or campaign story line to insure maximum cool feeling. The rest of the fight can be structured to target any other class type but the quarterback should not be killable by fighter/rogue repetitive damage without great difficulty. Basically the resource cost for killing the boss should be exponentially higher without a celestial caster. One note about this fight, it is sometimes advisable to use an alternate treasure distribution method here, because it can be very difficult for the celestial caster who blew his tree to kill the big bad to get to the body first to get his treasure. To increase the difficulty of this fight, increase the body or damage output of the boss, not the spell defenses. Spell defenses are incredibly frustrating to casters and will generally cause them to get discouraged and let the fighters try to kill something.

Templar fights- Templars get to feel cool more frequently because they fit into other classes fights, they can be a secondary fighter or a secondary caster. There is really no need to directly target them, nor is there any good way to do it.

Overall remember that these fights still need to fit inside the weekend and module scaling. The resource management part of the game must be kept in mind throughout the weekend and each module must still be scaled based on average party level( Unless it is an unscaled module). How do my fellow plot people feel about this? How do you guys who just play feel about it? Let me know.