Wednesday, April 27, 2011

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.

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