Monday, October 31, 2011

The Week In LARP - October 31st

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 hope your Halloween was super Halloweenie!


WAR will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, November 4th and ending Sunday, November 6th. The game will be held at Camp Oyo at the IG location of Ashton. It's $50 to PC ($30 with a good NPC ratio) and is free to NPC. This game wll be using 9th edition rules.


Wastelands will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, November 4th and ending Sunday, November 6th. The game will be held at the John Beltz Retreat at the IG location of Misthaven. It's $40 to PC and free to NPC. Remember to bring proper eye protection for use with Airsoft guns.

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, October 28, 2011

Dungeon 101

Hey there! As a new contributor to this blog, I thought I would start of with something straight forward and that I find great satisfaction in doing. First, however, I would like to tell you a little bit about myself.

My name is Ben Mathis. I have been LARPing for approximately 5 years now, and I have done mostly just NERO. I grew up in West Virginia with my mom and always found interest in the medieval aspect of history as well as fantasy games, even from a young age.

Anyways, enough about me. Let's build a Dungeon!

In the games that I have attended, almost every single one had some sort of big dungeon crawl module. In these modules, I would either have to run through and just kill everything, eventually reaching a goal, protect someone while going through, or find an object. I love these types of modules because they are very immersive when done correctly.

Unless the "dungeon" has no cool effects.

How do we fix this? Well, here is your crash course in Dungeon Creation 101.

1.) Lights are you friend. When turning a building into a dungeon, it's good to use different colored lights. These lights really set the mood and can create different effects while in a dungeon as well. For example, when a green light is on, a certain monster can't be affected by spells, but when a red light is turned on, that ability goes away. Lighting can make dungeon modules more dynamic if used this way. If used for just atmosphere, it is equally cool because what dungeon has white lighting? exactly.

2.) Fog, Fog, and more Fog. I have always enjoyed the use of fog machines. They can be used in a bunch on different types of encounters. I like to set up a fog machine behind some sort of wall or a place where it can't be seen by the PC's directly. Also, it is a good idea to use a fog chiller (there are a million tutorials on the internet for how to make these) otherwise, it's just smokey. The purpose of the fog is to have it settle on the floor for an eerie sort of effect.

3.) Walls. This is probably the most important thing for a dungeon. You can flop on everything else, but if you don't have walls, you don't have a dungeon. Walls can be made out of various materials. The two main materials that I have seen to work have been the thin pink siding insulation and tarps. I have found that you can do a lot more cool stuff with the siding insulation. It is easier to paint on than tarps, looks more like a wall, and creates an overall better scene. However, it sucks to move because you can't fold it and it is hard to hang if you aren't allowed to nail it in. Tarps on the other hand still look decent when painted on and they are A LOT easier to hang. Walls can add a different element to your dungeon such as the hall fight where the PC's have to push through monsters to continue.

4.) Traps. Every dungeon needs traps. They are a lot of fun to set up and a lot of fun for PC's to go through. A fairly easy trap that you can make can be found in this video (ignore the odd costume?) Just put all that stuff in the video in a small box and you are good to go!

There are a lot of cool things you can do when setting up a dungeon. The most important thing is that you think it is a cool set up and the PC's have fun while running through it. You could always add some static props (which I will be discussing in my next post later next week) to just lay around and look cool. So I'll ask you this:

What is your favorite dungeon prop to use? What is your favorite prop to experience?

YouTube Friday: Tough Gig

I found this little gem last week. It's a rather old TV program where Dara O'Briain immerses himself into a group, and then tries to do stand up comedy focused on their group. In this episode, he chose LARPers.

He does an amazing job of being honest about his feelings, including when he feels uncomfortable. And he enjoys it and seems to finally embrace it at the end. As I've mentioned many times before, I love stuff like this.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

LARP on the History Channel

LARP has a long running tradition of looking bad in larger scale forms of media. On the other hand, there's been plenty of local editorial pieces that have been very kind, providing informational content on games without making the players look like weirdos.

There's an opportunity going around the internet, regarding a show that the History Channel will be making. It's a show about LARPs, probably covering different groups around the country.

People are afraid, and rightly so.

You see, the casting director is the same person who did casting for Wife Swap. And anyone who has watched Wife Swap should know that they don't have a habit of painting the participants in a good light.

However, the same group has also done casting for shows like Pawn Stars or Missouri Truck Stop, which aren't too bad. And the show is going to be done by the History Channel.

I personally think that we should do our best to put a good foot forward and try and participate, while asking them what they intend for the program (without being too pushy).

If anyone is interested in contacting the casting director, send an email to and I'll give the contact info.

New TV Project Will Feature Role Playing Groups From Across The Country!

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Danielle Gervais. I'm a Casting Producer based in New York City and I'm currently casting an exciting new tv project that will be dedicated to Live Action Role Play and the groups and individuals who participate in it! We're searching the country for the most dynamic, interesting and dedicated groups of players and we're open to all types of live action role play, both fantasy and historic. If you'd like to learn more, please don't hesitate to contact me!

I look forward to speaking with you!

All My Best,



From the Producer’s of History Channel’s Pawn Stars comes a brand new show dedicated to Historic and/or Fantasy Role Play and the people who love it (and live it!)

We’re searching the country for a passionate and talented group of Historic and/or Fantasy Live Action Role Play participants to feature on this new series, which will follow them as they battle their way from city to city. If you or someone you know would be interested in participating in a TV Project dedicated 100% to Historic and/or Fantasy Live Action Role Play, we want to hear from you!

Please email us with some photos, a brief description of yourself and your group and why you’d be perfect for this show! Don’t forget to include your contact information.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest Post: 6 Big Mistakes When Running an Event (Part 1)

Hi, I'm Scott Eerie, and I've been playing, running, and staffing larp events for over 20 years in the New England area. I'm going to be talking about behind-the-scenes larp stuff, mainly advice on running larp games.

or, What the Hell Am I Doing Running a LARP Event?!

Well, here I am. Rather than hitting you, genteel reader of this blog, with an in-depth essay on one of the innumerable LARP topics I consistently rant about to my friends, I'll just ease you in with a post that hopefully isn't too heavy. And we all love numbered lists, right?

Running a LARP isn't easy. I get it. I've run them before.

There are also WAY more than 6 mistakes. I could write a book full of them, but for the sake of simplicity (and sanity) we'll just stick with a nice, even 6.

And you might think some of these mistakes are so basic that no one could possibly mess it up. Well, you'd be wrong. These are common mistakes, as I've seen them again and again, and many larps never seem to get it right.

So here they are, in no particular order of importance:

1. Improper Planning and Preparation (Or Rather, "pre-event, last-minute chaos")

This is a big one which almost every LARP I've been to is guilty of, even games that have been running for years. This is a broad topic that, quite frankly, needs its own book, let alone a couple of paragraphs in a numbered list. I'm sure many of my future posts will concentrate on this one.

All I can say here is, you can never prepare enough or plan too early. And, if possible, get a project manager or two on your team.

2. Lack of Scheduling

Some games run without a schedule. Some games have a schedule, but only use it before the event for planning the "big stuff". Some games think they have a schedule, but instead have a random list of encounters. And at some games, only the few people on top of the staff hierarchy ever get to even see the schedule.

Schedules are critical to running a smooth game, and must be implemented properly. It should be prepared well in advance of the event. Every major encounter, module, and field battle must be listed with the time, number of NPCs needed, and the staff members running them.

Everyone on staff, "low ranking" NPCs included, needs to be able to see the schedule prior to the event. It must be prominently displayed in NPC Camp so everyone knows what's going on at the event. I know things will be way off time-wise, but the benefits far outweigh the extra planning involved.

3. Bad Staff Communication at the Event

Writeups are good. All the major encounters and modules, minus the top secret plot goodies, should be written up and made freely available to the NPCs and staff. Include simple, one sheet guides for playing common monsters and common things every NPC should know both in and out of game.

Walkie-talkies are good but can break immersion, so use them cautiously. Have them in key areas so staff can get in touch with home base when they need to. Even better are cell phones using text messages only. No one wants to hear "The Final Countdown" ringtone while they're trying to figure out a way into Zardon the Lich King's garden.

Tune back in next Wednesday for Part 2 of 6 Big Mistakes When Running an Event!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Osiris Sanction

On a previous post, I lamented the fact that there was no game in which players played themselves. However, on that same post I was introduced to the game Osiris Sanction. And I've got to admit, I'm pretty impressed.

Normally, I give posts regarding technique or theory, but this one goes out to the actual players in Ohio.

Would you be interested in playing Osiris Sanction?

In Osiris Sanction, the players are essentially spies working to bring down a super-powerful secret group (think Illuminati). In doing so, they engage in three types of missions: Alpha, Beta, and Theta.

Alpha missions are very "cloak" (as in "Cloak and Dagger" WITHOUT the dagger). This is where people discern clues that indicate information can be found in a real world location or by talking to real people. You will most likely have to do research to interpret clues. All this happens in the real world, without any weapons at all.

Beta missions basically include any online communication or gameplay that exists in online spaces. The most common example for Osiris Sanction is Second Life, but it could take place in any online space (usually using something that's free to play).

Theta missions exist in a VR mainframe that is advanced enough that it seems almost lifelike. The gameplay consists of advanced laser tag type combat (with hitpoints and options for weapons), but also includes hacking and disarming of bombs, each which use skills that are close to the real world counterparts.

Usually a full adventure starts with Alpha/Beta communication, and upon success of interpreting those clues, you discover what the theta mission will be.

I am thinking of getting a Cleveland cell together (with the possibility of running some stuff in Columbus), but I wanted to get an idea of how many people would actually play. There would be a cost to participate, as securing the gear and locations for theta missions is a little pricey, but it probably wouldn't stray far from the cost of LARP events around here now.

For more information, visit the Osiris Sanction Website. I would suggest reading through the rulebook (although reading through the meat of the Theta isn't super important right now), and then reading through "A Coyote Story."

Who's interested?

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Week In LARP - October 24th

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

Celebrate Halloween with a great LARP event!


NCN will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, October 28th and ending Sunday, October 30th. The game will be held at Camp NEOSA at the IG location of Syrinx. It's $45 to PC and $2 to NPC (for insurance). This game wll be using 9th edition rules, and will be a horror-based murder mystery. For more information, visit their forums.

NERO SWV will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, October 28th and ending Sunday, October 30th. The game will be held at Camp Cherokee (KY) at the IG location of Borderlands. It's $50 to PC and free to NPC. This game wll 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!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

You Are A Character IRL

So I've been doing some thinking since I watched Jesse Schell's presentation from DICE 2010. I'm wondering the best way to make a LARP integrated into the social structure, while still being immersive. This is a difficult task, but I think there's one way to achieve full immersion and social integration of the game.

Make a LARP where you play yourself.

I know that one of the big draws of LARP is that you get to be someone else, but you can make it so that you are still playing yourself, but you have more when you're in the game.

I was thinking about this, because Jenn and I both got each other the Supernatural Role Playing Game for our anniversary (God Bless Nerds). And that, like WoD Hunter, is something where your character can be you, but also be more than you.

Yes, you are a normal person. But occasionally you go on hunts, and you have skills and such that make you useful in those situations. That way you can talk about the game to others without breaking immersion. Hell, you can facebook about it, or check facebook while you're playing it, and no one would feel ripped out of the immersion.

This could also work with a number of other concepts, where there is some trigger where you can do more inside of another world. Maybe you're really a superhero, and when you put on a special mask you get powers that let you fight evil. But you're still you, and you can talk about it all you want to others without breaking immersion. And the mask thing explains why you don't go around punching zombies every day and still have to go to work/school.

Now, the obvious downside of this is that it dances on the thin line of being too real, and then you get the Mazes and Monsters effect, which looks pretty terrible from any outsider. You don't want people telling others on facebook that they themselves (not a character) is a wizard who summons the dead. That could go bad pretty fast.

What do you think? Would you participate in a modern-ish type game where you are playing yourself, except you have some means to special powers (think the rings from captain planet)? What if you didn't really have special powers, but you still did adventures and such, like the hunters from Supernatural?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Looking for Contributors

As some of you may have noticed, Tim hasn't been posting much as of recent. His new position keeps him swamped, and he simply doesn't have the time to write when he gets home.

I've done my best to keep up with the furious pace of a post every weekday, but we're getting towards the end of the LARPing season. That means I'm going to have a lot less anecdotal posts to go on.

Based on comments I've seen below, I know you guys and gals have a lot of great ideas and opinions on LARPing. Wouldn't you like a platform for your opinions?

As such, I'm taking on guest posts for anyone who's interested (maybe I'll make it a segment), or even take on a full time contributor to the blog. If you're interested, send an email to

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Art of Makeup...

is something I don't actually know a whole lot about.

Let's face it. I'm an engineer. While I might be an expert with mathematics and logic, I tend to fail pretty hard in the arts department. And no small part of that is because I don't practice.

Anyways, on the last Larpcast, we talked about the importance of makeup, even though both Mickey and I are rather unskilled with actual makeup. And there are two very interesting points that I've taken away from that podcast.

1. Airbrushes FTW

I don't really have any experience with them, but there was no shortage of praises sung for them in the comments. None of the chapters in this area (that I'm aware of) use them, and that's actually kind of surprising, now that I think of it.

Sure, it is kind of expensive. And yes, it's going to require some training for NPCs so that it can be used properly. But the speed and quality at which makeup can be applied is unparalleled. As such, I highly suggest any make up heavy games invest in an airbrush for NPCs. And make sure people are trained in it.

Which brings me to my second point...

2. We Need to Have a Theater Makeup Class

This is something Jenn had come up with back in the day, as something that WAR was thinking of hosting for plot teams, but never actually came to fruition. This is definitely one of the hardest things to do well as an NPC. Great makeup is far more immersive than good makeup, and nothing breaks immersion like bad makeup.

There's over 9000 colleges in the state of Ohio (see what I did there?) and there has to be a few of those that have a theatre department, who might enjoy holding a class for a bunch of LARPers. Even better, they might do it for free (or next to free) if they think it can be used as a learning experience for their students.

Someone make this happen, and I'll be happy to advertise for the class on the blog.

So what about you guys? Do you guys have any opinions on these topics, or any tricks that you've used to help makeup look better? Drop it in the comments!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Week In LARP - October 17th

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

Look out for Halloween deals, as the season is drawing to a close!


OGRE will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, October 21st and ending Sunday, October 23rd. The game will be held at Chief Logan Reservation at the IG location of Starlen's Crossing. It's $40 to PC and $10 to NPC. This game wll 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!

Friday, October 14, 2011

YouTube Friday: The Invasion of Games

Anyone who knows me knows that I totally dig the theories behind gaming and game design. Today's video is a little old, but it's still totally awesome. And for the astute reader, you might recognize the name Jesse Schell from an earlier post (or you can just follow the link).

This is from the DICE Summit (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) in 2010. It's another one of those marvelous conventions for innovation in gaming, held by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS). LOVE THOSE ACRONYMS.

So gaming has changed a ton in the past 10 years, but have you really tracked what's happened in the past 2 years? Jesse talks about how invasive games have become in our culture and can be found everywhere. I found that final part that talks about what it will be like in the future was most appealing.

Part 2

Part 3

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Back to Basics: Double-Hooking

As I noted in the comments from the last post, we sometimes get away from talking about basic concepts that I might take for granted. So let's do that.

Let's talk about double-hooking.

Double-hooking is the act of using your PCs to NPC for one another. That's pretty much it. Nothing complicated to it.

This greatly reduces the need for NPCs, and when utilized at proper times, gives the ability for overwhelming numbers of monsters against a smaller group of PCs. It let's you focus your time on guiding full time NPCs into more advanced roles. Finally, it lets you run stuff faster than if your NPCs had to change costumes when running multiple modules.

NPC shifts break immersion, so doing so in the middle of an important story can be bad. There is less time to guide the NPCs when they're double-hooking, so you might not get the results that you had planned for the module. Also, in costume heavy games, it's a pain for players to change into NPC cosutmes. Finally, you shouldn't require it, because players want to PC. And if you don't require it, you might not get the NPCs you'd hope to have for a specific module.

Have any questions about double hooking? Drop them in the comments!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Using" Your Players

I know it sounds bad when presented this way, but a good plot team knows how to use their players for the minor tasks at an event.

Doing so frees you up to run the event.

The two best examples of this is the use of the guildmaster position in WAR and a PC running the general store in Exiles.

The guildmaster is the person who manages the players' needs from the guild.  This creates a buffer between plot and the players, and also allows for players needs to meet.  For example, a player might want dispel scrolls while another player might want to trade in/sell those scrolls, so no logistics are necessary.

In Exiles, a PC can work for the general store, selling bullets and other supplies to the players.  This basic task doesn't really require staff to perform.  This frees up that staff to set up the next big thing.

Now, the obvious problems with farming out this work to players is that it cannot be something important and you have to be able to trust your player doing the task.  If you're afraid of that, this might not be for you.

But if you can farm it out, it's totally freeing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Electronic Puzzles

One of the best things about playing a game with some form of technology (Steampunk/Modern/Post Apocalyptic) is that you can turn your riddles into electronic puzzles to be solved by the PCs. I used one at the last Exiles event and it worked well.

The big benefit of a puzzle like this is that you can have a trigger that doesn't need to be marshaled. You can simply use terminals for a key code or a 1 in x chance to pick the right answer (that's what I did). It's great for immersion and if done correctly, doesn't need a hands on marshal or a break in play.

Of course, I may be biased in favor of electronic puzzles. I am an Electrical Engineer after all.

The one I used had six terminals, one of which turned on a light bulb and played a pulsed buzz. The five wrong ones would simply play a constant buzz, so I would know from a distance what happened and could react accordingly. If I was at home, I'd include a picture of the prop, but alas, I'm in NY/NJ this week.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Week In LARP - October 10th

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

Get in some LARP before winter hits!


NERO Cincinnati will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, October 14th and ending Sunday, October 16th. The game will be held at Camp Graham at the IG location of Ironpost. It's $50 to PC ($45 with prepay) and is free to NPC. This game wll be using 9th edition rules.


Einherjar will be hosting their September battle this weekend on Sunday, October 16th 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.


Vandlar will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, October 14th and ending Sunday, October 16th. The game will be held at Lewis Arboretum. It's $55 to PC ($40 with pre-registration) and is free to NPC, but all players must bring $10 extra for food.

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, October 7, 2011

YouTube Friday: RDCCDX LARP

Forgive me, because I don't remember who posted this on Facebook, but I dig it. There's really to things about this though.

First, this video, and the rest of the Ronin Dojo Community College DX is hilarious. Second, the guys who made this will shortly be making a show for Cartoon Network called Level Up, which has loose ties to LARPing. In that show, 4 friends are going to have to deal with video game characters that are leaking into the real world.

For more information, you can visit their blog at

I apologize to anyone who is offended by this video ahead of time. For the rest of you, Enjoy!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Truth About Volunteers

LARPs rely on a lot of volunteer work in order to get things done. But it always seems like people forget an important aspect of volunteer work.

You have to work quickly and efficiently.

See, I have known a couple of instances where people who were volunteers put time and effort into something, just to have it discarded and wasted. This is about the worst thing you could possibly do. Not only was that time wasted, but the volunteer will recognize that their time was wasted and be less likely to donate their time in the future.

When using volunteer labor, you really need to get the most from the time invested by volunteers. And at a certain point, you need to let loose of micromanagement and let them act. Time is the most precious resource, and every minute you keep them from working on the problem at hand is a minute that is wasted.

Just some food for thought.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Inside Man

I'm surprised I've never talked specifically about this topic, but the last event I was at gave me an idea. I'm going to get a sweet looking book, cut out the insides, and make a mount for my phone. Why?

Because I want to be able to give plot a heads up whenever people are doing things without having to go to monster camp.

I've always given praise to the games that utilize smartphones, but normally those games have a reason to allow the use of them IG. But what about using them in an OOG capacity to reduce logistics?

Now, when I say inside man, I don't mean playing an NPC that's interacting with the PCs. This is strictly a PC who keeps a way to contact plot on his person at any given time. They should only use this whenever they're out of sight of other players or in some other capacity, or go out of their way to make it look IG so texting doesn't break the immersion of others.

What do you think of this plan?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Stepping It Up With Sound Effects

With Exiles coming up, I'm reminded of one of the things that really helps build the atmosphere in that game.

Sound effects and background noise.

You see, we do a lot of steampunk stuff and a lot of vehicle modules (train, riverboat, stagecoach), and it's often very hard to represent that stuff on a shoestring budget. Our buddy Ryan is fully capable of building amazing props using just camp foam, yarn, and duct tape (don't ask me how he does it), but that stuff only gets so far.

But with the addition of sound effects, you make it that much easier for the players to imagine that they're in a factory, or on a boat, or in the middle of a battlefield with explosions going off.

So if you have the capability to do so, I highly suggest the use of Sound effects or background noise to make you modules more immersive.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Week In LARP - October 3rd

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

Starting to get cold. Wear warm clothes!


Exiles will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, October 7th and ending Sunday, October 9th. The game will be held at Lewis Arboretum at the IG location of Redemption Hills. It's $40 to PC and is free to NPC.

Triumph will start running their haunted trail this weekend in Beavercreek, OH. If you'd like to help out, they'll be running it every weekend until the end of October. For more information, visit their website.

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!