Friday, April 29, 2011

YouTube Friday: The Wild Hunt

I looked back through my posts, and I'm amazed that I never posted the trailer to the Wild Hunt on this blog. So here it is.

The reason I'm bringing it up now is that it was recently released on iTunes, so LARPers everywhere can download this gem (which I have not seen yet, but plan to).

The basic premise is a mixture of Mazes and Monsters and LARPs. Just think "What would happen if LARPers went evil." I, of course, do not condone the assumption that LARPers are bad people. But this is a movie. It's not real.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

LARP Tool Kit

I have often found myself wanting or needing various tools when I'm at a LARP event, and most of the time I can't find them to save my life. I have decided to take destiny into my own hands and make myself a LARP tool kit. I figure I play enough of these things that it makes sense for me to throw one more small bag in the car if it means I can head off grief at the event.

But what would I put in it? Here's my list.
  • Common assortment of hand tools (knife, screwdrivers, plyers, wrench, and a small hammer)
  • Duct Tape
  • Zip Ties
  • Trash bags
  • Baby wipes
  • Sewing repair kit
  • Very basic First Aid supplies (Bandaids, Neosporin, Ace Bandage, Asprin/Ibuprofin)

What would you include in your LARPing toolkit?

Why We Play?

Yesterday, Bill took a look at a new proposal by the National Staff Team of the NERO Larp. They are in need of operating revenue and are seeking to get it by re instituting a membership fee. I was toying with the idea of commenting but have decided to voice some ideas here instead. Across the forum world I have been largely supportive of the National membership fee, not because I want to pay more money, instead because I would like to see more of what National says that they are going to do actually get done. So what does the National staff team say they are going to do? What has the National Staff team done in the past? And what is the benefit of paying more to play NERO over switching to a less expensive, more modern and frankly better system like Accelerant? I hope to get into a few of these things and elicit some comments from our readers to further delve into the complexities of these questions.

National Staff has been a subject of some sour grapes for some time. Most of the bitterness comes from a couple of points from what I can tell. They have failed to provide new rules for over ten years and their communication with both owners and players has been less than stellar. At times it seems that the only role that National was playing was aggravation. They cracked down on local chapters who desiring new content created their own. This however was a short sighted view. National Staff was doing things even if we could not see it. They were handling National adjudications, they were running National events, they did provide several groups of play tests in those ten years that we were waiting for rules. I am not able to come out in support of the staff teams historical record, but they are a volunteer organization where almost no one gets paid, you can only ask for so much from volunteers.

The Staff of the past however is not the staff that is requesting our money now. These people are new(mostly) and driven. They want to do new things, hopefully incorporating learning from the last ten years, and avoiding the pitfalls that previous iterations of staff team have fell into. We have seen new rules, albeit not with the breadth of changes that some of us hoped for and with more than some wanted but they are new. We have heard that a play test process is being created, to allow players and owners to submit play test ideas that will actually be read and considered. National plot has been discussed by members of the team, actual plot lines that can be run locally with effects that will stretch across the world of Tyrra. These are the types of ideas that have made me supportive of the new staff team. I realize that if I allow myself to be informed by past performance I should expect little or none of this to be accomplished. Perhaps I am being too trusting but the hope of good things far outweighs the risk of fifteen dollars or the possibility of a correctable database failure.

NERO is an interesting beast, the rules when compared to most modern larps are stagnant but many people still love it. A great deal of story telling can be accomplished with the rules that we have but many chapters add to them. I would argue that most chapters play a different NERO from their neighbors. So why NERO? Why not just trash it all and write our own rules or license the more modern rule sets so that we can make changes as we please? Many players do not travel outside of their home chapter, but the possibility is always there. For me, NERO has the edge because of that possibility. It has the edge because if I wanted to play every weekend I could do that easily. It has the edge because everywhere that I travel I know the core of the rules, even if i do not know their local flavor. I am a huge proponent of emulating some of the more modern larps as the new NERO rule set evolves and grows through the play test process but NERO still has an edge. The ability to play almost anywhere in this country, is that edge.

The new staff team, with their desires to add to and grow the game, are hoping to leverage the edge that NERO has over other games. National plot, the evolution of the rules and a character database that gives players better access to the logistical aspect of the game are all steps in the right direction.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On NERO National Membership

I know I have a history of starting some serious shit. I am really not trying to do that with this post. Instead, I'm trying to be constructive.

No, it's true. There's definitely been enough vitriol on this topic already, so I don't really need to start shit. Instead, I thought it would be a lot more insightful to talk about the various arguments and expand on them, including what I believe to be valid and invalid points and what could be done to fix the issues.

Here goes...

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Week In LARP - April 25th

Last Week In LARP

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

This Week In LARP

Hope you had a great easter weekend!


I could not find any local NERO events. If you know of an event that might be a little bit farther away, drop it in the comments!


Exiles will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, April 29th and ending Sunday, May 1st. The game will be held at Lewis Arboretum at the IG location of Redemption Hills. It's $40 to PC and it's free to NPC, with all food included.

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!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Behold the wonder of light

Few things make a mod like lights in the dark. Lighting effects, in a game like NERO where so much has to be imagined, are of great importance. When the final battle begins, with the horrific creature that was spawned from the plane of shadow, the glowing eyes of his minions and the flashing strobes of his terrible magics build the feeling more than any words or costumes could. Below I will take a look at a couple of effects that you can do for fairly cheap and what they can be used for.

The first and simplest is strobe lights. In a dark room with white accents strobes look like all kinds of things. Set on slow they can be lightning flashing. Slightly faster they might represent magic or a powerful place. Faster still they can add a manic air to a combat, like everything is sped up to superhuman speeds. One interesting idea that I have used in the past and probably will use again is to use strobe speed to denote the passage of time. The strobes get faster either throughout the course of a single fight, or throughout the passage through a series of rooms, acting as a sort of clock for the module. Strobes are available at party stores or online and they can generally be had for 10 dollars or less, if you can get one of the giant mega strobes for around 50 dollars they can generally light an entire mod shack.

Black lighting requires slightly more foresight. Costumes need to be accented with UV sensitive paint or dye, faces can be painted with UV sensitive make up, walls and floors can have glyphs and symbols marked in laundry detergent. The best use of black lights, in my opinion is the surprise factor. If the module starts out with normal lighting as a role-play module and then shifts to a black light, dark combat module, the shock value alone will greatly enhance immersion. I have also seen an interesting use of black lights as a detect magic spell, all magic items on the module were painted with laundry detergent and players capable of seeing them were give black light pen lights, this was pretty cool from a game perspective and it made the players feel useful.

My personal favorite lighting tool that I have ever used is the color changing spot light. Just having the option of changing an entire room to a different hue opens up realms of possibility. Fire can be represented by a tight beam spot on the floor, in the next room that same spot could hold water. A dragons breath can be portrayed as an elongated blast from a spot light. Patterns can be programmed into some of the better models allowing module runners to still participate in the active part of the module while having the spotlight do its thing. I personally just purchased a Chauvet RG400 for the upcoming Lumberton season and I am really excited about everything I can do with it.

All in all lights are pretty simple, you can use them to immerse your players and make the game seem more real. In addition, combining them with other environmental props like fog machines and rope lights can really get the juices flowing. What do those of you who run plot do with lights? What do those of you who do not run plot like to see done with lights?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Belated YouTube Friday: Dorkcore

I found this gem last week, but didn't get a chance to post it due to some weekend travel to the in-laws, where internet is a scarce resource.

I was originally sold by the intro to the show, and while this particular episode is a little slow, I find the show to actually be pretty decent. It's like a lower production quality, LARP version of the guild.

Also, who can disagree with excessive use of the music from the Final Fantasy 3?

No one.


Monday, April 18, 2011

The Week In LARP - April 18th

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

Happy Easter!


NERO SWV will be hosting a 1-day event this weekend on Saturday, April 23rd. The game will be held at Camp Cherokee (KY) at the IG location of Stoneforge Highlands. It's $20 to PC and it's free to NPC. This event will 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, April 14, 2011

Pervasive LARP Design

Thanks go out to Dan Comstock for finding This Little Gem. It's a chapter or part of a book that talks about all the strategies involved in Pervasive LARP designs (which can also be known as Alternate Reality Gaming or ARG).

This is an interesting read for anyone who's interested in participating in, or even better, running one of these games.

This is kind of a sidetrack from our normal discussions about combat based LARPs, because Pervasive LARPs are more social than combative. Still Interesting.

Just wondering, would the readers of this blog participate in a pervasive, social LARP if given the chance?

PS: Anyone know what the full book is called or if it's even out?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The World Cup....of Larp

I have thought a lot about how much fun it would be to host a larp competition event. A cross game, simple rules, preplanned event that allowed players from all over to get together and wave their geek cred about wildly. This is a brief explanation of what I have thought about, I hope that it generates a conversation and maybe a real event.

I would like the competition to be friendly to all types of larpers, well all types of boffer larpers. The rules therefore would have to be simple enough that everyone could wrap their head around them for just a single weekend. My thoughts were to use a very simple Accelerant base set. Paring down the rules to include a basic three tiered larp choice for maybe 5 classes. As an example of what I mean perhaps there would be a fighter class, the fighter can choose to be a damage dealer, a damage taker or somewhere in between. I like the idea of a choice because character building is definitely part of a being "good" at larp.

The competition should be team based, since most larps boil down to team games. I thought it would be cool if every player had a base level and then the team had a certain amount of extra build points to spend on the team as a whole. This allows the team to choose what resources they have as a group, again an important larp idea. In addition to build points the team would have access to a certain amount of money to spend on gear. Choices that have to be made once again. Obviously the competition will not rely on a particular gear choice but it could be fun to make having something make a task easier.

Each team would have to run through the same series of modules, scoring could be worked out ahead of time. The modules would consist primarily of fighting and puzzles since it is difficult to score role play. One thing that has troubled me about this idea for awhile is, where do you get the NPCs from? Very recently I had an interesting idea, what if the competitors were the NPCs as well? The concept of double hooking is used pretty frequently in NERO. Players trade NPC time for module time. My concept goes a little bit deeper than that. Upon registration every player would be sent a monster card, which they would study. Multiple people would have the same cards, but the cards would be denoted by some sort of number. When a module is being set up, each monster position would be filled by one of the players who studied that card, which person would be randomly selected based on the number on their card. This idea gives you skilled NPCs, who know their cards. It may give some slight advantage to that player when he runs through that module, but everyone will have that advantage on one monster. In addition the randomness allows for some trolls to fight like greek deities and others to well...not.

The overall score would be tallied at the end of the day. Extra money from registration fees could go towards prizes, nerdy prizes of course. Flip video cameras could be placed in strategic locations to capture the action and make a bitchin highlight reel. What does everyone think, would you bring a team to the first ever larp superbowl?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Hands Free" Puzzles

One of the things I've tried to integrate into my game more often is the use of "Hands Free" Puzzles. When I refer to "Hands Free", what I really mean is a puzzle that doesn't require a marshal to loom over the shoulder of a player and tell them when they're correct and watch over what they're doing.

I've recently become more focused on removing OOG aspects from modules. As mentioned before, I myself am a gamist. In this part of the country, many of the LARPs run heavy gamism or narrativism, and immersion often takes a back seat. We'd much rather have marshals sitting around answering questions than to make players feel like they're actually in the game at all times.

Developing "Hands Free" puzzles can be a very difficult prospect. Part of this is from the fact that it often requires trust in the players. Another part comes from the fact that it requires more preparation than asking a simple riddle. And finally, most plot people love to watch their puzzles get solved.

So here are some basic tips that you can use to help develop puzzles that require less marshaling.

Written Cues
When you can give the rules for a puzzle in written form, do so. Even better, if you can give the rules for a puzzle in an IG written form, it's even better. Put some time into making these instructions look good.

Avoid Basic Riddles
We all love riddles. But if you're going to do a riddle puzzle, try and be a bit more creative about it. Instead of having a marshal tell a person if they're correct or not, have some sort of mechanical device that responds to the answer. Combination locks are spectacular for this.

Line up three riddles, and indicate to the players (through visuals, not through talking) that they must convert the third letter of each answer to a number in order to get the combination. You've just put riddles on a module that no longer require marshaling.

Put the Prize in the Process
Many times we'll use puzzles where a person has to perform some action in order to get the reward. If you're worried about players fudging the process, build the prize into the process. For example, if the players are trying get an item, you can hide it in something like a box of packing peanuts. They literally have to dig through the box to get the prize, so there's no chance for a player cheating to get the item.

Avoid Mystery Effects
If you're aiming for a "Hands Free" puzzle, try and avoid mystery failure effects. These are almost always going to require a marshal, drawing for a deck, or rolling dice. None of these are IG, and depending on how complicated it might be, might take a while to resolve.

If you need to have negatives, build them into the IG instructions, and make them simple enough. And if you have to specify that damage OOG, do so before the module and not during.

When All Else Fails, make your Marshal an NPC
Occasionally, you are going to need to have a marshal that explains the mechanics of puzzles. But when those occasions come up, make up a non-combative NPC that is traveling with the group - be it an archeologist, doctor, or sage. They could explain to the PCs in IG terms what they need to do, either by reading from a book or by memory. It's definitely more immersive.

So next time you write a module with puzzles in it, ask how much your puzzle is going to break immersion. If you think it is, see if you can implement any of these strategies to make your puzzle more immersive.

Got any tips for writing immersive puzzles? Drop them in the comments!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Week In LARP - April 11th

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

Looks like we might be past Winter. Except that I just jinxed us.


NERO Cincinnati will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, April 15th and ending Sunday, April 17th. The game will be held at Cub World at the IG location of Framingarlahan. It's $50 to PC (save $5 when you prepay by Wednesday) and it's free to NPC. This event will be using 8th Edition Rules.


Einherjar will be hosting their April battle this weekend on Sunday, April 17th 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.

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, April 8, 2011

YouTube Friday: World of LARP

So what could be better than a video about LARP?

Why, a mini-series about LARP, of course!

Seven Kingdoms IGE is either putting together or working with a film crew to put together a mini-series called World of LARP, which I assume will be following some of their players around documentary style. As always, this can be either good or bad for the game, depending on who they follow and how they portray it.

Also, I think that guy was being a drama queen about that nut shot.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Keyword Fun 3

With all the traffic, it's becoming harder and harder for me to pinpoint interesting searches. Google only shows me the top 10 searches for any given day, and higher traffic means more bland searches like "larp ohio" or "ohio larp blog".

But there are still a few gems to be found.

"bruce campbell" larp
I would play that LARP. I don't care if it's Army of Darkness or Burn Notice.

highest larp level
No one knows for sure, but I bet it's over 9000.

larping app
I found a soundboard on my phone, but my guess is that it wasn't made by a LARPer at all. It claims that you will enjoy this if words like "crit attack, roll, dodge, or oop" are in your every day vocabulary, you'll enjoy this app. Sounds like a miss.

how to build larping golem fists 4
Take the first three steps... and repeat!

is there larping on shake it up
I think "Shake it Up" is some kind of Disney kids show. So my guess is no.

inflation games youtube
Inflation games? I did a search for it on google and got some weird results, so my guess is no.

And there you have it! A whole lot of weird.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Your Very Own Press Kit

In the latest LARPcast, Dan Comstock talked about the importance of a press kit, and how you can use it to get local media engaged in advertising your game. I thought it would be worthwhile to go a little more in-depth on the subject, including everything that should be included.

1. Cover Letter
First and foremost, you need to have a cover letter. This document should do a good job of explaining who you are and what you do. Try to sound as professional as possible and explain all the basics behind LARP. Remember, this person may not know about gaming, let alone LARPing. Try to put it in terms of entertainment value, not necessarily in terms of game mechanics.

Conclude the cover letter by thanking the person for taking the time to read your press kit, and give them your personal contact info or the contact info of a PR person that they can talk to if they have more questions.

2. Game History
Attach a small essay on the history of your game. If your game is part of a franchise, touch on the history of the franchise. Altogether, this probably shouldn't be more than 250 words. You're trying give this person an easy article. If you give them a life story and make them edit it, it's going to make their job harder.

3. Media
Find some high resolution digital pictures that wouldn't be out of place in an article. Make sure you get the rights to use it from the players in the picture as well as the person who took the picture. Pick no more than 5 or so that you think would fit the article. Again, giving too many pictures gives more work to the person writing the article - something you want to avoid.

I would try and avoid video, since most videos associated with the game are low quality. If the news outlet really thinks this is a great opportunity for a video article, let them bring their equipment out and take their own interviews.

4. Contact/Game Information
Include a small paragraph about how an average person could get in touch with your group. Email, phone, and website (the shortest website name possible). Include location, cost, dates of games. Also make those things readily available on your website, but that's another story.

When done professionally, those four things could get you free advertising in the newspaper or, even better, the local news station.

Anyone have any experience with making a Press Kit for your game?

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Week In LARP - April 4th

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

April Fools! We'll still be sticking around


WAR will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, April 8th and ending Sunday, April 10th. The game will be held at the Lewis Arboretum at the IG location of Rockcrusher Forge. It's $50 to PC ($30 with a good NPC ratio) and it's free to NPC. This event will be using 9th Edition Rules and chapter specific playtests.

OGRE will be hosting a 1-day event this weekend on Saturday, April 9th with a mod day on Sunday, April 10th. The game will be held at the Camp Lazarus (Beucher, Oak & Kit Carson) at the IG location of Andorn. It's $20 to PC on Saturday, $10 to PC Sunday and it's $5 to NPC each day. I believe 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, April 1, 2011

All Good Things Must Come To An End...

It's been a wonderful 9 months, but as the post mentions, all good things must come to an end. I feel at this time Tim and I are ready to move on to our next endeavor.

You see, a wealthy investor who wishes to remain nameless has sent us a couple of emails asking us to run our own LARP for him. We've got full creative license, will receive a percent of the proceeds, and have all expenses covered (including relocation). We'll be renting our houses until they can be sold, and we'll be moving up in the world.

You see, Oregon is in dire need of LARPs. They've got plenty of forests and parks for us to use, and they want us to use it as a way to bring tourism to Oregon. Through a heavy bout of viral marketing, we're hoping it will be bigger and better than any LARP before. And you know what, if it doesn't work out after a year, we have an option to cut at any time and they'll help us relocate back.

We will not be leaving everything in the dust though. We know a lot of people follow this blog for the topical information rather than regional news. For those of you interested, feel free to follow our new blog at LARP Oregon!