Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Week In LARP - May 30th

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 Memorial Day!


NCN will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, June 3rd and ending Sunday, June 5th. The game will be held at Camp Tuscazoar at the IG location of Syrinx. It's $45 to PC and is $2 to NPC (covering insurance). This event will be using 9th edition rules.

OGRE will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, June 3rd and ending Sunday, June 5th. The game will be held at Camp Myeerah at the IG location of Oasis. It's $40 to PC and is $10 to NPC. This event will be using 8th edition rules.


The Exiles will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, June 3rd and ending Sunday, June 5th. The game will be held at the Sycamore State Park Group Camping area at the IG location of Silver Springs. It's $40 to PC and is free to NPC, and all food is 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 larp.plot.tips@gmail.com, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, May 27, 2011

YouTube Friday: High School LARPing Video

I couldn't really find any superior LARP videos online this week. However, I did find one with a totally sweet high five at the end. So that's all you're going to get.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Item Advancement

There's a lot of talk on the NERO boards currently about adding additional levels of weapon/armor advancement to the game. People are kind of up in arms about the fact that you either have a normal weapon that can break, or a magical weapon that lets you ride unicorns and smite your enemies forever... or something like that.

Item advancement is a tough topic for every game. You have to find a way to put the gear treadmill at a reasonable enough pace for people to stay interested. Make it too hard or too slow, people will get frustrated. Make it too fast or too easy, and people will get bored.

So what can be done? Let's look at the ways that some other games handle it.

D&D (3rd)
Magic items are super easy to come by, but somewhat difficult to make. They are pretty much required for handling some encounters. The major limitations are item slots and the fact that they become exponentially more expensive as the quality increases. This could be considered the baseline for item availability, as this was honed after years and years of dorks playing the game.

Magic items are harder to come by, and even harder to make. When you're at a good game, they shouldn't be mandatory, but they definitely give a significant boost to players when they have them. Sometimes, magic weapons are mandatory (but this should be uncommon). Plot is permitted to put items out, but not enough that everyone gets magic items at events. In addition, the way that items are put out often make them disappear, but that's a plot issue more than anything else.

In Exiles, I would classify guns/technology as magic items. These are extremely easy to come by and they never expire, but are essentially required. Players can upgrade their guns/technology to let them carry more bullets or fire faster, but it becomes incredibly expensive towards the highest tiers of guns. Technology and magic items (they do exist) both require players purchase skills to use them, and those skills may not be available to all classes. Magic items are often 1/ever effects and technology items often cost a lot of money to power.

Items last a number of events that the players play. Guns are easy to come by and pretty much required. Like Exiles, better weapons are often defined by how many rounds they can fire and how easy it is to fire those rounds. I don't have a lot of experience in that system, so I can't really say how some of the more magical items work, but there are some minor trinkets and such that make lives easier (1/ever spells, full meditation, etc).

Mirror, Mirror
I'm not sure how easy it is to get magic items, but if you want one, you can get one by buying a skill (Signature Item). Your signature item will last forever and even if you lose it, it will come back to you (barring extreme circumstances). I don't believe having a magic item is required at all. Magic items give two tiers of benefits (minor and major), with minor ones acting like 1/event skills and major offering some constant effects.

I'm not going to pick one system that I think is the best. But I do believe, just by looking at these systems, that NERO is significantly behind the pack when it comes to item balance. NERO needs to do something to make items easier to make/find, and possibly reduce the power of those items. Reducing the power wouldn't happen without some significant overhaul, but making the creation process easier shouldn't be too hard. Drop the ridiculous component costs, un-tie extensions from a batch, and allow re-extensions, and you should see the magic item system become significantly more balanced.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tim

This is a guest post by my wife, Jennifer.

In honor of Tim Holt's birthday, despite the fact that this is a little belated (there were already two posts yesterday, it seemed an overwhelming feat to try to compete with them). So I simply waited till today.

Tim, I'm sorry we weren't there to celebrate with you yesterday. You are one of my best friends, and along with your lovely wife two of the people I consider most important in my life.

I have noticed in recent months a trend of "what do you remember most about NERO/favorite LARP moment." Why not turn the trend to people? On my way to Morgantown yesterday Bill and I were talking about those moments when we met our current friends at NERO/Exiles and how we either really, really liked them, or thought the were, well, total freaks.

I considered Tim Holt a total and complete freak. A significant reason for that was probably because his character's last name was my actual, real-life last name. Dave B., Mike E. and I spent more than a few minutes trying to figure out if he'd gotten it from the website and was that guy or if it was an unknowing mistake. We chose not to investigate it further in case he was that guy and for the next year or so, we simply gave him a bit of a wide path. I believe that he finally integrated in to our group when we realized that he was a bit of an exercise nut and we could turn that to a spectacular advantage (anyone that runs five miles a day has to LOVE those multiple trips to the shack...am I right?)

Then we got to know him a bit better, and realized that he wasn't that guy. Since then, a lot of my fondest and most awesome NERO memories have Tim either killing me as an NPC, running plot with him, or pc'ing with him. For the past 5 years, I've had to bring a blanket for him, because he is constantly disorganized with the personal stuff he brings to events. Character stuff? Let's just say I don't think he's ever forgotten his tabard. I've seen him grow in to a talented, articulate plot person, who puts all of their energy and a significant amount of money, heart and passion in to his plot lines. Every complaint, every grumble he takes to heart. As a PC, he mostly plays himself -- honorable, loyal, and protective of those he deems worthy. Everyone else can get ate by the "Giant F* Monster" (that's another story for another day).

It's been years, but best of all, this past event was the first time he remembered his own blanket.

In the words of Alex S.-- "Yo, wat up? I got a bow."

And so, happy birthday my friend. To many years of LARP and friendship, and many more to come.

In closing, I would like to now hand it over to everyone else. We've talked about favorite moments, etc...but what about people? Think of all the friends you've met through various L.A.R.P.'s, all those that you now consider important in your daily lives. I have too many to count--my husband, Dave/Stacey, Dave/Beth, Sara/Sean, Karin/Ryan, Tera, Scott...there are literally dozens. And I have very clear memories of our first interactions or different moments with them. What about you? What are some of your first encounters at L.A.R.P/best moments with people you now consider your closest friends?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lessons Learned: May Lumberton

I try to sit down after every event and go through the things that I thought went well, the things that I thought needed work and the things that seemed to be pretty middle of the road. This last Lumberton event definitely felt like it had a lot of good stuff, some bad stuff but very little middle of the road type stuff. I think I will start with the stuff I would like to improve and then move to the stuff that went well.

There are always things that can go better, I am more focused on things that I personally can do better. So for starters, I have to learn to trust my staff more. I love fightings so I want to be involved in all of my modules but as plot sometimes just have to let your staff run the module so that you can focus on the roleplay. Sometimes you need to marshal the effects on a module so that they run smoothly. I have a hard time delegating but I really need to remember that I have some great people working with me and I need to let them do their jobs.

The second thing that I noticed really needed work was my presentation. Last year my plot presentation was accomplished largely through before game roleplay, which worked well. This year due to a variety of circumstances I did not have as much time to do that and my plot was not as well presented. I felt like due to my lack of foresight the PCs that were trying to get involved were floundering a bit and I think that I can make this better before the June game by reinforcing some of the concepts that I laid down in May with between game actions.

Fortunately for all of you players, the good far outweighed the needs work at this event. First off, my fellow plot people set up the bomb for the weekend. They had finely crafted a feeling of tense security throughout the weekdays and prepped the PCs for maximum drive on the weekend. I was amazed when I arrived on Friday, usually long events have a lazier pace than short events but this event felt like it was primed to explode. Because of that feeling, the plot team was able to crescendo the weekend action to a higher peak than is generally achievable in a 2 day event which was pretty awesome.

In addition to that, everyone on the plot and staff team was able to come up with several distinctive modules with interesting effects and ideas. The amount of thought that went into crafting a number of the modules that I experienced and heard about was very high. I know that plot teams tend to gel together after a few events but I must say that Dave, Jenn and I have gelled much more quickly than I would have thought, probably due to the fact that we are all close friends. I cannot wait to see what the remainder of this season brings, I think it is going to be awesome and I think it would be a shame to miss it.

Let me know what you thought we did well, or what we need to improve on. I promise no retaliation.

Switching It Up: Trying Something New

Let me preface this article with an apology about last week. Between me traveling for work and Tim preparing for the 4-day Lumberton event (and then us attending the 4-day Lumberton event), we didn't post any articles. 30 Lashes. Also, Happy Birthday to Tim.

I've been playing NERO for about 12 years now, and in that time I've had a single main character. That character had grown from a starry-eyed adventurer throwing daggers at spiders to a military commander who leads armies into the depths of the unknown.

Yes, I toot my own horn occasionally.

In that time, I've also had a couple of secondary characters, but I was never able to get into them. Why? Because I would still think in the mindset of my primary character.

It's tough to tell your friends that you're going to play a different character than normal. There's probably some plotlines that need you. Maybe you're a keystone member of a group. Maybe your secondaries wouldn't be the types that would hang out with your normal group.

So for 12 years, the only times I played my secondaries was to chill. I would have some minor goals and such, but I never really wanted to start plot with them. I couldn't. I had too much to do with my main.

Anyways, a few weeks ago (at a party), I finally pulled the trigger. I retired my main character of 12 years so that I could focus and start something new. And you know what? For the first time when playing a character other than my main, I actually felt like I was making plans that I intended to keep.

What the hell is this sappy story all about?

The point is, I was growing tired of NERO. I didn't think anything would save it. I had played secondaries to try and get out of the funk, but it just didn't work.

Maybe others can keep focus on multiple characters at once. I know I couldn't. But I'm pretty sure that retiring my main was the only way for me to move forward with something else. Insert metaphor about diving boards or toilets. Had I instead kept my main, I may have ended up quitting or taking a sabbatical.

So if you're in a funk, and you're not sure what to do, try to force yourself into something new. For me, that meant character retirement, but it might mean something else for you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Week In LARP - May 23rd

Note: I had every intention of getting this out sooner, but an unexpected delay in airport security prevented me from putting this together at the airport. I apologize.

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

Between the WAR 4-Day last week and the Cinci 3-Day this week, there is a whole lot of rock. Possibly too much rock for one damn hand.


NERO Cincinnati will be hosting a 3-day! event this weekend starting on Friday, May 27th and ending Monday, May 30nd. The game will be held at Camp Graham at the IG location of Ironpost. It's $60 to PC ($20 a day for partials) and is free to NPC. This event is 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 larp.plot.tips@gmail.com, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Week In LARP - May 16th

Note: I had every intention of getting this out sooner, but an unexpected delay in airport security prevented me from putting this together at the airport. I apologize.

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

Whole lot of NERO to be had this week(end).


NERO WAR will be hosting a 4-day! event this weekend starting on Wednesday, May 18th and ending Sunday, May 22nd. The game will be held at Camp Giscowheco at the IG location of Lumberton. It's $70 to PC the whole thing ($45 with a good NPC ratio) and is free to NPC. For more information about per-day pricing, visit the forums here. This event will be using 9th Edition rules with some chapter specific variants.

OGRE will be hosting a mod day this weekend on Saturday, May 21st. The game will be held at Camp Lazarus (Kelly Lodge and Phillips Shelter). It's $10 to PC and $5 to NPCs I am not sure whether this is 8th or 9th edition rules. Please post in the comments if you know which one it is.


Wastelands will be hosting a 1-day event this weekend on Saturday, May 21st. The game will be held at a Warehouse in Dayton. It's $20 to PC 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 larp.plot.tips@gmail.com, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, May 13, 2011

YouTube Friday: Roll a D6

Sorry for the late addition of this post, but apparently Blogger space-jacked itself on some update. That's also why the previous post is not back up yet. They claim it should be coming back. I certainly hope so.

This video is not particularly about LARP, but Gaming in general. I saw this floating around on the facebooks, and found it to be very appropriate. I hate the original song, but I absolutely love this parody.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Business is Business

I know that there's been a lot of drama recently in the NERO world, around what is and what isn't legitimate requests for transparency. And I'm here to tell you this:

NERO is a business, running a NERO chapter is a business, and they do not need to, nor should they show you their business records or licenses.*

I understand that there is a real concern about where the money for national goes. But it's not a non-profit group (even though it should be if it's losing 20k a year). You are not a share owner of the company. You have no say in the day-to-day use of said finances.

And as a whole, the business never improves when customers see their finances. If the company is perceived as making too much (aka any profit), customers will whine about how much they pay for events and will want to pay less. On the other hand, if the business is losing money, few will actually opt to pay more at an event. The business has little to nothing to gain in this strategy.

People in general are not trained to interpret finances correctly. There's a lot of work and knowledge that goes into coming up with that magical profit number, and it takes years of higher education to understand a lot of those concepts. And no, being a scientist or engineer doesn't mean you can interpret those numbers. There are still concepts that you are not aware of unless you're trained in business/finance.

As for the contracts, stop asking for them too. It's more private business information. You don't know for a fact that there aren't terms in that contract that might affect future business if they became public. You don't know if part of the contract means that they cannot reveal the contract to the public. If they are in breach of their contract, it's not your place to get in the middle of that mess of crap.

NERO is not a club. Running a NERO chapter is not a club. They are businesses. They don't have to prove anything to you. Simply ask yourself if what you're getting is worth what you're paying. If yes, have fun.

But seriously, stop asking for private information.

*The exception would be a chapter that runs as a non-profit, but I'm not sure if that's allowed when the licenser is a for-profit business.

Note: IANAL - I am not a lawyer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Where All ‘Da Ladies (er, Babies?) At?

This is another guest post from my wife, Jennifer. If she does another, I'm just going to make her a contributor.

My husband will be doing a podcast on LARP’ing and the ladies, but I thought that since I am one I would do a blog post in addition. Or as an introduction. Depends on when he gets the cast done and up (hopefully, after he takes the trash out and plays with our rambunctious puppy…not likely, but hopefully.) My guess is that he isn’t going to talk about this particular topic, which is BABIES! Or at least little people that are not age appropriate to play NERO/LARP…

A lot of my lady LARP friends and male buddies have been dropping the kids off at the pool recently. And I mean that literally. I guess we have reached an age when that has become somewhat popular….or accidental. Either way, there is now a little bundle ofjoy, a product of conception. Yay you! But now that you have that little bundle of love and poop, what does that mean for your LARP-time?

Going to an event can be extremely difficult if you have a child, let alone multiples. Obviously, the baby/child is going to need to be cared for in a significant manner for the next decade or two. Maybe three if you are unlucky. You can’t exactly leave them with a bowl of water and some cat food and hope for the best. So now you have to find someone to watch the child while you play. Maybe it is your family, but many times they live too far away to make it a real, viable option. Or you aren’t exactly close to your family, and you recognize that leaving your kids with them would be the equivalent of dropping them on to the Event Horizon for a fun-filled weekend in creature-infested deep space. Another idea is having one spouse stay home with the child while the other plays, and you can trade events back and forth. The big drawback to that is not being able to have a few, stress-free days together to lay back and chill. A final idea, which works well if the child is a bit older, is a sleepover at a friend’s house. Those are basically your options at this point. I don’t know of any others off the top of my head.

Many who play LARP consider their LARP family to be, well, almost more understanding and supportive at times than their real family. So why don’t we rely more on them? There are a number of scenarios that could incorporate child-care and a LARP setting in a safe and fun-filled way for everyone.

I, personally, have no inclination to have children or babies in the middle of a town setting or anywhere nearcombat/in-game. I also do not want to see my LARP time go up in smoke when Bill and I decide it’s time to replicate. There are too many factors at LARP that could be considered dangerous: campfires, snakes, combat, cliffs, whatever. There are reasons you can’t just bring your kid and have them run around with you throughout the weekend. Besides the danger, it would be fairly friggin’ annoying to those that don’t have kids, those that have kids and want to be away from them…i.e. basically everyone. However, I do believe there are ways that it could be done safely and allow everyone to have a break, while at the same time keeping them out of sight and safe. Here are some ideas I’ve heard:

1. LARP for Kiddies: This could take on a number of different forms and would be camp-dependent (i.e. have to have an appropriate camp). You choose a nice cabin, out a bit from the actual field of play. You contact the ownership and arrange this with other parents ahead of time. You would be able to leave your child at the cabin and take shifts with the other parents. You could take them on nature hikes, play games, etc…even pack some food and stuff to bring ahead of time. At least one parent would sleep there at night with each child, so there would be plenty of people around. This would allow parents to play, but at the same time have a much more affordable childcare option than driving great distances to leave them with family or not coming at all. If there are more children, the more parents take shifts to help. If we are talking the 8-13 range, you could do a LOT with that. There would need to be some discussion about insurance and some very carefully worded legal releases and waivers.

2. The Off-Site Option: There are lots of local hotels. Again, same idea, just do it at a hotel. Keep in mind I’m not thinking 30-40 kids, but maybe 3-4. It’s doable. They could even come to the camp (maybe) to do some stuff during the day, or there are a lot of local options for things to keep them busy. The downside to this is the expense. It might be upwards of 150.00 for two nights at a hotel. However, if everyone chipped in 20.00-30.00 this would be a very doable option. Maybe the owners would take pity and give a bit of a discount…after all a lot of players aren’t able to come because of the “kid issue,” so in the long run they would actually be making MORE money, not less.

Keep in mind that this would be arranged ahead of time by parents, so there isn’t an issue of leaving them with someone you feel is untrustworthy or creep-tastic.

So there are two options. What do you do with your kids when you LARP? If you don’t LARP what do you think of the possibility of this at LARP?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Collaborative plot

The pooling of friend groups is an interesting phenomenon. Generally speaking the people that you associate with on a daily basis will be similar to you in a number of ways, and one of those ways is level of creativity. There was an article on this recently in Scientific Mind which made me consider writing this brief thought. Plot people are generally friends with some or most of the people that are at an event, based on the previous statement, the level of creativity of those friends should be similar to that of the plot person. Does it not make sense then that the best plot would be a joined effort of the players and the plotters? I am going to take a look at a few ways that you can do this and then you guys can tell me what you have experienced, maybe we can collaborate about how to collaborate.

The simplest way to write collaborative plot is to just sit down and write the plot together. Find someone that you want to write a plot for, talk to them about what they like and do not like and then write something that targets those likes and dislikes. Find a story that they enjoy and mirror the plot in a new and interesting fashion. Find a theme that motivates them and do the same. There are no truly new ideas, the sooner you embrace ripping off plot the sooner your plot will become better. Cautions, you should try to mask your intentions from the people that you are directly targeting, you should make sure that the target is not the sole recipient of the fun, and you should change your ripping off enough that no one recognizes it outright. Masking your intentions is simple, we all love to talk about larp at larp and not at larp just talk to them, the odds are they won't even remember the conversation when the plot is presented. Fun is easily divided amongst many even when targeting one, just make sure that you are using your plot time to entertain as many as possible. Changing ripped off plot is simple as well, you can leave the storyline in place and change names and locations or take it a step further and alter the sequence of events, either way a simple rule is change all the names, at least 3 things in every location and one story event and no one will notice.

Collaborative plot can take another form, this one may be slightly more controversial, don't write anything. Begin with a costume or a prop, present it to the players and then react to their reactions. Most of our groups have sufficient game running materials to allow us a great deal of latitude. Just roll with the flow. Pull ideas from stories or experiences, improv your lines, stay true to your setting, unless of course you don't feel like it. Inconsistencies can always be explained away later. Cautions, you need to have an honest opinion of your talent at improv in order to pull this off. If you are a slow thinker, even if the eventual ideas are brilliant, do not try this. You will feel like you are being run over by a train of the players thoughts and actions. I remember one particular example in a college roleplaying game. In which I was running a trap room that I had not fully fleshed out, the players were interacting with it, I was preparing the next step in my head and I got flustered figuring out a concept. Suffice it to say it ended with "Screw it the stone golems attack you". Which brings me to my next caution, do not ever get to a screw it the stone golems attack moment, just let the plot go. No one wants to be annihilated by bad improv.

Those are the two that I can think of off the top of my head but I know there are more, lets talk about it!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Week In LARP - May 9th

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 Mother's Day Mom, Tucker wants me humping his shoulder!


NERO Elkins will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, May 13th and ending Sunday, May 15th. The game will be held at Camp Mahonegon (WV) at the IG location of New Antracitusia. It's $50 to PC ($41 if you pre-reg), and is $10 to PC ($1 if you pre-reg). This event will be using both 8th and 9th Edition rules, so bring both copies of your sheet.

NERO SWV will be hosting a 1-day event this weekend on Saturday, May 14th. The game will be held at Daniel's Place (KY) at the IG location of The Borderlands. It's free for both PCs and NPCs. I am not sure whether this is 8th or 9th edition rules. Please post in the comments if you know which one it is.


Alliance South Michigan will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, May 13th and ending Sunday, May 15th. The game will be held at Camp Kiwanis (MI). I am not sure what the cost of this event will be.


Einherjar will be hosting their May battle this weekend on Sunday, May 15th 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. They are also hosting a Swap Meet where you can buy/sell/trade old equipment, which is free to attend.

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 larp.plot.tips@gmail.com, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Taking a Bite from the Bitter Fruit

This is a guest post from my wife, Jennifer.

I’ve been playing NERO a long time, well over a decade at this point. Most of that time has been spent in NERO W.A.R, though I’ve traveled extensively throughout the realm of chapters, including Kalamazoo, Atlanta, and the P.A. chapters (among others). In those years of playing, I’ve filled a number of roles: player, owner, event coordinator/regional director, I’ve even served on National’s plot and rules committees. I met my husband, Bill Tobin, at an event. I met all of my closest friends – Tim and Jenni Holt, Dave and Beth Jurns, Dave and Stacey Binder, Ryan and Karin Strippel, Sean and Sara Wedig – and a whole SLEW, literally, of others (just cause you aren’t mentioned here, don’t get grumpy-pants….seriously.) Besides that I have been to a multitude of awesome events, involved in spectacular role-play and totally rad bitch-fests. Let’s be honest, everyone likes a healthy dose of drama in the mornings when they go to check facebook or the message boards. W.A.R’s message boards haven’t gotten this much action (and they do well), since the infamous “slur of ‘98” that overtook the board for days. It's like a bunch of high-schools girls in a swivel about someone who just dared to eat CHOCOLATE cake when today was a calorie-free day. (No high-school girls were harmed in the making of this post, nor do I support calorie-free days.)

What else do I not support? The bitter fruit. I have managed, somehow, not to take a bite out of said bitter fruit. Have I ranted, raved, bitched and been pissy about things? Hells yes! However, I try to move past it, which can beSUPER difficult at times. Sadly, many of my friends and others who play NERO have succumbed to temptation and fallen in to a bit of a pattern, especially in the last few months.

What do I mean by that? Well, here’s what happens. A player plays for a really long time. Typically they know the rules fairly well and are popular with a lot of the players. As time goes on they turn from the typical “rantings” about an event or current LARP issue and turn in to a bitter, angry person that can’t stop finding problems with the game long enough to actually play the game anymore. There is always something with everything—the rules set, the variants, this ruling or that ruling, this item or that phys. Rep. Someone isn’t role-playing well enough, or isn’t cool enough or whatever. It can lead to some serious unpleasantness and often these players will get really ANGRY.

There are always just enough of these players to keep the issues going or to add new issues – it’s a chain reaction. I watched a Numbers last night and they had an episode with a person doing a bad thing (imagine that on a crime show). One person thought it was cool and did it, then two more people, and so on and so on. When things started to quiet down, the original person stoked the fire and set the whole thing offagain. This is what I see over and over.

Sarah, a friend of mine, posted on facebook yesterday some photographs from WAY back in the day and I got a little misty-eyed and nostalgic. Why? Was it because the people that played back then were better? No, we’ve a great group now, albeit they usually wear more shirts (both guys and girls, which is probably a good thing from a hygiene perspective). Was it because there was better plot? Events? Staff? Items? No. It’s because there wasn’t as much stoking of the complaint fire.

Don’t get me wrong, there are valid issues and complaints about the game. Whenever you add in such a large human element there are going to be problems that arise. However, it is how you deal with those problems, the path that you follow, that dictates whether or not you’ve taken a bite of the bitter fruit. Debate is fine, but continually stoking the flames on any possible issue simply because you can or refusing to participate in attempts to correct issues that you automatically claim or deem unworthy of you does NOT make you a better player or a person. Also, using the pro/con of an issue to simply further the con side is a bit of cheap move.

It is really easy to fall in to the trap. Getting back out of it can be more challenging. You can either be part of the problem, or part of the solution. Stoke the fire, or put it out. I, personally, would rather be part of the solution. When I thought I was falling in to this pattern, I took a step back. No posting for several months and a bit of a break from plot and events. Seriously, instead of everyone posting 3-4 things that they hate about NERO or are what they deem "major problems", why not post something GREAT about NERO that can be made even better? Things that YOU are going to help make better. There are very few things, if ever, that don't have a solution.

And really, are the problems THAT major? Or do you make them that major because you can? You can either play a game with rules or play the rules. Think of what you could do if you dedicate all those posts and angry words in to something actually helpful. Think about what it could do for your blood pressure.

Why did I write this? My husband pointed out to me last night that he often avoids bringing up NERO to me because I get so upset. And I realized that I was thhiiiiiiiiis close to taking a bit of the bitter fruit—but I managed to catch myself just in time to have a fantastic chat with Ritchie about plot for the upcoming Lumberton four-day extravaganza. So, in closing, ask yourself --- how close are you to taking a bite of the bitter fruit?

YouTube Friday: The World According To LARP

Found this little documentary, following an Amtgard chapter. I dig this video because it doesn't just focus on the fighting or the roleplaying, and it doesn't try to be anything it's not. There's some humor about LARPing at the beginning, but it definitely appears as if the people making the documentary aren't making fun of the game - which is important.


Note: If you have a YouTube account and enjoy any of the videos posted on this blog, post some comments on the videos back at Youtube. It helps people who produce the videos by letting them know that people are watching and enjoy the content.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How I Built My Stealth Module

There was mention of this in the comments earlier this week, so I thought it would be worthwhile to go through the thought process of how the stealth module I wrote for Exiles came to be.

At the very beginning, the plan for the module was the same. It was intended to be a stealth module that would test the PCs with puzzles. IG, this group of notorious bandits were building something big. The PCs were supposed to sneak into the area and identify the five major parts so that they could be taken to an expert to interpret.

The original plan was to have each part represented by a puzzle. When complete, a technical drawing of the object would appear and the PCs would have to copy it. I had planned on having these puzzles require various skills, so that I would be sure that more than one person would be doing the puzzles.

Originally, I had planned the following:

- Plan wrapped in saranwrap, needs a skill to attempt puzzle (Finesse)
- Operation type puzzle, needs a skill to attempt puzzle (Surgeon)
- Box filled with stuff and the drawing is on the bottom, needs a skill to attempt (Strength)
- Riddle, no skill necessary.
- Rock jump area, no skill necessary.

I had thought to implement rules for messing things up. Operation you'd take damage on a buzz. You'd have to start over on the plan wrapped in Saranwrap (as it was supposed to be someone scaling a pole). And so on.

But then, I had a moment of clarity. I needed to scale back the puzzles so that they were still time consuming, but I had to remove myself from the picture. That meant reducing the effects that PCs would have to call, making the puzzles simple enough to be explained with a short descriptive sheet, and to make cheesing it difficult enough that no one would care to do it. I also wanted to make it so that anyone could do anything.

So, I went about modifying the plans.

- The Plan wrapped in saranwrap remained the same (except I forgot saranwrap, so it changed to twine).
- Operation changed to a wire puzzle, where the players had to get a keyring from one side to the other.
- Box filled with stuff now was filled with paper, and one of the papers was the schematic.
- Riddle was gone. Changed it to mazes. When I forgot to bring mazes, we changed it to a puzzle where you follow a line from the top to the bottom, and the bottom had a number that was part of a combination (which actually ended up being pretty bitchin').
- Rock jump area remained the same.

All of these puzzles can be done by the PCs on their own without marshaling. This allowed me to NPC the module, kept everyone IG constantly, and more than anything, allowed the PCs to split up. Had these been marshaled effects, I would have had to stay with the group.

As an aside, I totally understand how guards get surprised in Metal Gear Solid now. One PC was able to contort himself into a corner of one of the small cabins at Lewis Arboretum (for those who know it). He did a good enough job that we opened the doors and had no idea he was there. And he's not a particularly small guy.

Granted, when I first came up with it, I expeceted them to work as a group. Then, as it evolved, I started embracing the full stealth level of it, where even I would have no idea where the PCs were at any given time.

During the module, the 4 NPCs roleplayed guards. We stayed 90% IG (with the other 10% checking on progress of puzzles). We acted like guards, each incredibly bored to be there, taking breaks, and RPing with the PCs that we found. One guy acted drunk and would have gotten away with it (if he didn't set off a schrapnel bomb), one PC was disguised as one of us having a late night trist with one of the other characters, and yet another one acted as if he were the pimp for the previous situation (it's fine, it's a racy game).

The PCs dominated the module, with the exception of getting the bonus for one of the PCs, and that one guy got captured. I'm fairly sure that had I done it the way I originally planned it, it would have been boring for the PCs not doing the puzzle while they waited on someone so they could move to the next puzzle.

What could have been better?
- I could have set up an escape point for the PCs to go to. Some people left the mod and didn't know where to go.
- I could have specified a holding area (but I didn't and it was close to an OOG area, causing some confusion).
- I could have had a better way to handle things when the alarms did go off, but since all 4 NPCs were IG, we couldn't exactly bring more NPCs.

So, my suggestion to the plot people out there - Write your modules to remove the need for marshaling, and you'll get a real effect of not knowing what was going on, and you'll also keep people in-character for a much longer time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Game Variants

I would like to have a civil discussion about local variants. I am not interested in moderating the discussion but I would like to ask that it stay civil up front, feel free to get heated but stay away from personal attacks if possible.

My thoughts: This may be a bit less structured than normal because I am doing this from the top of my head.

I enjoy playing NERO. I like hitting stuff with foam swords. I have been playing for quite awhile, and for a few years I played a lot. I have played in chapters where only the base rules were used, I have played in chapters where they use a couple of variants and I have played in chapters where they use a lot of variants. I have actually had fun at all three. The primary issue that I have with variants is that they make the game less friendly to traveling players. I am an internet guy, I am online every day all day as part of my job and i have time while things are happening to keep track of other things on the internet. I pretty much always know what chapters are running what at any given time. Other people do not have that luxury, they may show up at an event and expect to play NERO but instead end up playing local variant NERO which may result in them either A. Having less fun or B. Dying horribly.

Now for the other side. NERO International has been entirely irresponsible about updating the rules. Everyone likes new rules, new things to do, new stuff to try out. Look at every table top roleplaying game that has had major success over the past 40 years, they all release supplements that update, tweak and add to the ruleset. There has been a lot of conversation recently about the on and off nature of NERO Internationals involvement and up until recently we have definitely been in a season of "off".

With all of that being laid out, my personal opinion right now is that we need to go back to core NERO. Core NERO is a starting point, national needs to get its playtest system up and running and RESPONSIVE in very short order. They need to actively consider all playtests from everyone who is allowed to submit them and they need to give reasons for changes or denial. This system then needs to be left open so that the rules can continue to evolve naturally until the next major rules release which should be targeted for no more than 3 years out.

How does everyone feel about this?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

PSA: Medical Conditions

This is not in response to any specific incident, as nothing has come up recently. However, I thought that this is important and should be mentioned at some point in time.

LARPing can be serious business. When you LARP, you're out in the woods, running around in the Sun or in the Cold, and for many younger LARPers, may find yourself with a bit more independence than you're used to. It can be a lot to take in, especially if you're a newer player. Due to these facts, the following cannot be said enough.

Know your limits and let the staff know if you have any serious medical conditions.

I have been present at a few serious diabetic issues as well as countless dehydration incidents in the past. They're never pretty. And a lot of times, friends or staff members could have stopped it if they known. On top of that, there if your friends or staff members say you don't look to good and you should probably take your medication or drink some water, do it.

And most of all, if a Medic tells you to do something (like sit out for a bit), you do it. Don't argue with them.

I know it sucks to miss out on moments that only come once in a while. But when you put yourself at risk, you put the game at risk as well. Some of the insurances that they use are limited, and a serious accident like this could cause some games to go under.

So do yourself and everyone else a service and know your limits.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Week In LARP - May 2nd

Last Week In LARP

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

This Week In LARP

I'm pretty sure there's something that starts on the first of May, but it appears to elude me at present.


NCN will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, May 6th and ending Sunday, May 8th. The game will be held at Camp Tuscazoar at the IG location of Syrinx. I am not sure what the cost is to PC, but I know that NPCing costs $2 (to cover insurance). This event will be using both 8th and 9th Edition rules. For more information on how that works, visit the NCN forums.


Bloodlines will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Saturday, May 7th and ending Sunday, May 8th. The game will be held at Camp Burnamwood (KY). Can anyone confirm the costs to play?

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 larp.plot.tips@gmail.com, and we'll add you as soon as possible!