Thursday, July 5, 2012

In-Game Holidays

Happy Day after July 4th!  Hopefully everyone got all or at least part of the day off to stand outside and sweat by a BBQ watching fireworks :)

Thinking about the reason for the season, as it were, got me thinking about holidays in other worlds.  People as far back as we can figure have had their own celebrations.  They've had special days that commemorate events, nature, the seasons, deities, and whatever else was important to them.  It follows, then, that your created world could have the same thing!

Due to scheduling, it's not always possible for a LARP to set aside a certain date for your holiday. But there's no reason why your world can't have a, say, mid-summer festival.  Or really any type of festival that commemorates a certain event around a certain time of year.  PCs, you could even start this off by recognizing a previous event you were a part of (Happy Day of the Dead Lich everyone!).  Then keep doing it at the same time every year.

This can add a lot to the in-game atmosphere.  Holidays are something that gives a people an identity, as what you celebrate says a lot about you.  Look at Americans - we've got quite a few days that others don't specifically share, like 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day; and that says a lot about what Americans have valued as the holidays were created.  Some days may be wild, some may be somber, but it can really help build your world and your NPCs.  If you only run a few events a year, these holidays could even be the reason for the gathering.  Rather than referencing the last "market day" or whatever your group uses, you could instead talk about what happened at your harvest festival, or last Dragonslaying Day.

As plot, I've always loved using holidays (maybe a bit too much) as inspiration for mods or other encounters.  If anyone remembers the 3-legged turkeys at Ashton around Thanksgiving, I apologize :)  But holidays can give you great ideas for mods where you need them.  In spring, maybe some potions at your Festival of Love got out of hand.  In the fall, maybe different groups need help harvesting.  After going to a lot of events, they can run together, so giving something a theme can make that game memorable. 

You can also use it as a reason to have games, contests, and other events.  Staff doesn't need to set it up, they can work with an interested PC to help it come up.  These can be contests of skill using in-game and out-of-game skills. I've found it's good to have both, so that people who are good at one or the other can still participate!  And don't leave out non-martial talents like art, baking, or performance.  This is fun for the players and also helps Staff take breaks as the games are going on so they can concentrate on other mods knowing the PCs are occupied.

I will say that this sort of all-out fair can't be done too often.  Every one of your events can't have contests of strength, as that can get boring - unless, of course, you've got a fun plot reason.  A town of barbarians may regularly see who's stronger to determine leadership or something. This could even evolve into a ritual of some kind - but I digress :)  In general I think the character that was the strongest at the June event will be the strongest at the July event, so in LARP time doing this once or twice a year makes more sense.  I think the specifics about running a game-day festival could be a whole new post, so I won't go into it more. 

You can also support the theme in other ways.  Have someone make a special Midwinter treat that you only make that time of year.  Give out little trinkets that represent the holiday.  Come up with traditions for your NPCs to mention, and even incorporate them in game.  Example:  If you have a day of remembrance, bring in one of your NPCs to lead a candlelight vigil, make a speech/toast, add new names to the banner of the fallen etc. This specific example double-dips, since it goes back to the post about remembering fallen characters (see what I did there)! :)

But what do you think?  Does your game have any regular festivals?  How can it work for you?

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Week In LARP - July 2nd

This Week In LARP

Happy 4th of July!


WAR will be hosting a 2-day campaign event this weekend starting on Friday, July 6th and ending on Sunday, July 8th. The game will be held at Camp Giscowheco (WV) at the IG location of Lumberton Shire. It's $50 to PC ($30 with good NPC ratio) and is free to NPC.

NERO Indiana will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, July 6th and ending on Sunday, July 8th. The game will be held at the Nameless Creek Youth Camp. It's $50 to PC, but you can save $10 by pre-paying and $10 by tent camping. It 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, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sharing Your Site

This weekend we used a new camp for Exiles. We were drawn to it by its promises of bunks (with mattresses!), fully functioning kitchens, running water, and air conditioning.  Yes, the site we had before was not so fancy - for some of you used to deluxe locations, you're probably cringing right now :)  Unfortunately as a small game, we have a small budget, so we're only now getting to the point of being able to afford a nicer site.

Problem is, we can't buy out the whole camp.  As a Girl Scout camp, that means we're sharing with, well, girl scouts.  We've got the main lodges in the center of camp, but they're still there at some of the tents.  And I'm sure we're not the only LARP group in a similar situation. 

So, what to do if you are sharing your site?

First, set some ground rules with the site and any rangers.  Ask the ranger/camp coordinator to tell any other groups not to wander through.  If nothing else, there's the safety issue.  This helps to protect both groups from the actions of the other, since outside groups won't have signed your waivers.
Be clear with your site about what you're doing, and how it might affect other campers.  Most LARPs are up late yelling about strange things (and maybe swearing), and that you might have props and set ups in certain places.  Let them know that you like your privacy (if you do) and see what suggestions they have to help. 

If you're getting people coming through your reserved area, nip it in the bud early on.  Take the issue to Staff.  If Staff can't get a hold of the ranger, or already have, someone should talk to the other group's leader and work something out.  Choose someone who's not scary :)

Try to have someone take a look at the location ahead of time to see if you can use some other, out of the way areas for your mods.  A lot of sites are okay with groups using unreserved camping areas, so you can avoid interruption by taking the action there.

You can also plan more mods inside, if your buildings allow for it, and keep out of the way of oglers.

Make sure and mention to your people that the camp is shared, and ask everyone to be on good behavior.    Know the camp rules and follow them, since you don't want a violation getting you reported and possibly deported. :)

In the end, you'll probably still know the other group is there, and the immersion is going to be broken a bit.  So I guess it's up to each group as to whether or not it's worth it.  For us, it seemed like everyone was okay trading some minimal interruption for air conditioning and showers.  But it may not always be the case.

What do you think?  Are nicer facilities worth sharing?  How do you compromise with sharing a camp?

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Week In LARP - June 25th

This Week In LARP

It's hot outside! Prepare for the heat and drink lots of water.


WAR will be hosting a 2-day campaign event this weekend starting on Friday, June 29th and ending on Sunday, July 1st. The game will be held at Camp McKinley at the IG location of the Trun Woods. It's $50 to PC ($30 with good NPC ratio) and is free to NPC.

NCN will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, June 29th and ending on Sunday, July 1st. The game will be held at Camp Trinity at the IG location of Syrinx. It's $50 to PC and is free to NPC.

ARGO will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, June 29th and ending on Sunday, July 1st. The game will be held at Camp Yough (PA). It's $40 to PC and is $15 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, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Randoms & You

I've heard it said that the easiest way to make an event decent is to run randoms every 20 minutes.  For me, that doesn't make my event, and I don't really like randoms at all as a PC.  Usually they are not presented in any interesting way, they can break game momentum, they can roll PCs who just want a break, and as Staff they can drain resources that PCs would prefer to use on mods.  And worst for me, they don't make sense.  Why did a squad of orcs decide to attack superior numbers of armed adventurers in what is supposed to be a well-established and guarded settlement?  I don't know :)

That being said, I think they might be necessary in a lot of games, and can add a lot.  So how can randoms work for you?

That being said, randoms can work to your advantage.  When you have a larger PC group, they're not going to be going on all your mods, and giving them something to fight can help entertain them.  Newer players or players who just like the thrill of killing things can enjoy random monster slaying.  And you also don't want your PC areas to feel too safe - the thrill of danger is part of the draw for a lot of players. 

So, how to do it right?

First, timing is everything.  If you send randoms out at the wrong time, you could derail mods - which most people enjoy much more than any random!  Be aware of what the rest of your team is doing and what mods need to get done.  Don't take resources away from them if you can help it (you can be a one-man random!).  And try to keep an eye on what the PCs are doing.  Ask your NPCs who were just in town, or PCs who are at the shack, how things are going.  Also, if your PCs have set up some major event, like a ceremony or festival, try not to ruin it (unless it's good plot, of course! :) ). 

Second, scaling is still important.  If you're sending out goblins into a town that's all above level 20, it's probably not going to be as fun (unless there's plot or you do something interesting).  And if you send down a horde of death knights and there are only 2 people awake, that can make for grumpy PCs.  Again, ask people what the town atmosphere is like and scout it out. If you're not sure if people are around, try starting out with something small and work your way up to the big guns if needed.  Also, make sure that your NPCs aren't out to kill people. Always make sure they know the limits you want on the encounter and how tough they should be.  No one likes to resurrect from random spiders :)

Make it worth their while.  PCs hate it when they get through a fight and the NPC doesn't have treasure.  Don't over-reward, but make sure and put appropriate treasure on the monsters.  You can then use this to even out treasure distribution for your event as well.  If you have the space, put a couple random minor magic items on the occasional kobold, and people will be more interested in engaging them!

Spread the love - alternate where the randoms come from and what they're doing.  If you do the same thing every time, you can get those types of folks who just sit and splatter the NPC as it spawns before anyone else can get to it.  Especially if you start giving out good items here and there.  Changing it up can help keep more people entertained.

And finally, my favorite point.  Try to make the randoms make sense.  A pack of wolves isn't going to attack a town under normal circumstances, so think about things that might.  You can really use this to your advantage to reinforce plot lines.  If there's an evil druid plot, maybe they are sending their new twisted tree creations in to test their strength.  Maybe the goblin army has suicide bombers trying to destroy morale.  Or the mad alchemist is sending minions to plant poison distributors.  Or the ancient elder dragon's presence is driving the forest creatures mad.  Not only are you entertaining people, you're fleshing out your plot lines!

If you run out of those ideas, try "hook randoms."  These are mini encounters that take place within eye/ear shot of town. They're not just monster x attacking the PCs, but they can still be of any level, and the entire town can engage.  Example - a traveling merchant runs in saying orcs attacked his wagon on his way to the tavern. Something that requires basically no prep, and you can run it in town.  You're adding a little bit of extra depth to the random to have it make sense and be a little more exciting to the PCs, but you can use the exact same resources and monsters.  All you need is a little creativity and a few minutes of planning to figure out an idea that will work.  This is basically putting hook mods in Staff's hands from time to time.

Don't forget that role-play NPCs entertain people too.  Not every random has to be for fighters!  Your role-players and puzzle-solvers are also waiting around town for their next mod, so send in a strange merchant, an old story-teller, or some other engaging NPC.  These tend to entertain smaller amounts of people, but can be very welcome to those PCs who don't like killing poor, defenseless bugbears all day :)  You can use random time to put in an informative NPC for your plot line, or to engage a character's back story.  Or just for fun.  To get a little wider appeal, have them do things like host impromptu contests (riddles? singing?  stories from the PCs?). You can even use these types of characters to help recharge a drained PC group by selling or giving out supplies or recharges - for the right price. 

Purposeful randoms can be a great chance for Staff & NPCs who had some wacky ideas that don't quite work for plots or mods to use them!

In smaller games where PCs can go on more mods, randoms may not be as necessary.  In these cases, if the PCs aren't modding, they're probably resting or refreshing and randoms can actually hurt more than they help by draining resources on both sides of the table.  But then again, you can use a few of these ideas to bring danger into the town - instead of hooking a mod, have it happen there! 

What ideas do you have for making random monsters fun and useful?

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Week In LARP - June 18th

This Week In LARP

Sorry for the confusion regarding the NERO Indiana event.  I was going off of the NERO Cinci cross-chapter events, and thought it was this week.


The Exiles will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, June 22nd and ending on Sunday, June 24th. The game will be held at Camp Rolling Hills (Lodges) at the IG location of Silver Springs. It's $40 to PC and is free to NPC. As always, this includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday.

NOTE: THIS GAME IS BEING HELD AT A NEW CAMPSITE. Well, at least new to Exiles.

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, June 15, 2012

Update on LARP Ohio

I know you all deserve an explanation on why posts from me have been so scarce lately.  Since the beginning of this blog, I've endeavored to have a post a day (with the occasional fallouts).  That's quite a grueling pace for a casual blog, but I felt it was worthwhile.  I had a lot of things that I wanted to say, had an itch to write, and really enjoyed it.

But the truth is, I can't keep up with the grueling pace anymore.  It's bad enough to post every day when you have a lot to say.  But it seems I have already said most of what I wanted to say.  Between this blog and my writing on, I've done more than 400 posts on the subject of LARP.  That's quite a brain dump.

In addition to that, a lot of my tastes in LARP has changed since I started this blog.  In the GNS Spectrum, I've gone from what I would consider to be extreme Gamist to primarily Simulationist.  However, I think that most of my readership is Gamist/Narrativist, which makes writing for my audience a bit difficult.

Finally, I do think I'm hitting a bit of a null in my LARPing career, and may just need to let the LARP part of my life take a bit of a backseat.  I spent a lot of energy on it these past few years (particularly on NERO in the past 9 months), and I'm a little burned out on it.

So what does that mean to me?

Well, it means that LARP Ohio won't be posting daily anymore.  Of course, with my absence the past few weeks, I'm sure this isn't much of a surprise to anyone.

However, we are not shutting down.

I still plan on doing "The Week In LARP" posts, because I think they're just too helpful, and will occasionally make posts when I feel something is particularly post worthy (or if I have something on my mind).  In addition, Karin will keep giving us wonderful, thoughtful, and relevant posts.  So make sure you come by and read them on Thursdays!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Communication is Key

Okay, so, I'm going to rant.  I know I probably shouldn't, but what's posting once a week on a local blog about LARPing for if not for the occasional venting session?  I will try to make it a little useful, since I think the situation also illustrates some important do's & don't's in communication that apply easily to a hobby situation at LARP.

Here's the story, which you could skip and just skim the main points below :)  For my Hubatron's 30th this year, I wanted to get him something really awesome.  I remembered a leather cowl we'd seen, and ordered it about 5-6 weeks out.  No problem, they said, we're starting work now and it should be there soon.  Great!  It should make it for his birthday!  2 weeks passed, and the birthday, but I'd ordered it hoping to make it to his party later, and there was still time.  I tracked them down - no problem, they said, it will be there!  The week of the party came, and I hadn't heard a thing.  After a few emails and calls, I finally heard from them and they said they had some troubles, and would ship it overnight with a free apology gift and confirm with me in the next 2 days.  Again, nothing. I waited, and tried them again.  And again, after multiple calls and emails, I got a hold of them and asked if they could at least send it in time for the event he was going to in 2 weeks.  No problem, they said, we are so sorry, they said, it should be there.  As you can guess, it didn't arrive.  Only this time I had to tell him what it was so he didn't make himself a new cloth version.  At this point, not only was my triumphant gift late, now it was spoiled.  So sad. :( Again with the tracking them down, and so on, and again they assured me it would be there soon.

Of course, it didn't come.  And despite trying to get a hold of them, they've never returned my calls or emails since.  And I swear, I wasn't crazy mean or anything!!  :)  So now, here I am, present-less, and trying to think of what I can learn from the whole thing that might be useful. So here goes.

-Tell it Straight - I worked customer service, and it's a crummy job, and I don't like applying it to a volunteer situation.  But one thing I know is that you should still be courteous - and to under-promise but over-deliver.  I don't mean lie, I mean set up realistic expectations.  If you are running a game, don't promise your players things you aren't sure you can deliver on.  This goes for players too.  If you're making something for someone, or offering other help, be honest about what they can expect.  Even if it's just that you aren't sure you can make it to the game - if plot is running something around your character, it's good to let them know to have back-up ideas.  Even if you really think you can do X, take a minute to think about it before you set something in stone, and maybe build in a little wiggle room if you're not 100%.  You don't have to divulge every uncertainty, but let people know in advance that they may need alternatives if that's the case, and give plenty of notice so people can plan.  I think it's very easy to forget that other people are planning around you when you're in the middle of things.  LARPing is what we do to have fun on our free weekends, so people may be basing their good time on your help! :)

-Keep Up to Date - Things change, problems come up, and drama happens.  I feel bad that it might have happened to the company I ordered with. :(  And if they'd just let me know, I wouldn't feel so frustrated.  When things do come up, let people know.  Don't make them track you down, that just makes everyone more frustrated.  Even if it's not good news, most people would rather just know so they can adjust their plans.  So the sooner you know you have to cancel that event, or that you can't NPC as promised, the sooner you should send that email to tell people, if you can.  If you don't have time, or aren't up for it because of the situation, try to have someone else do it for you if needed.

-Be Clear - I have to take some of the blame for my situation, because I should have pushed to have things laid out from the start.  When you're communicating, make sure you are as clear as possible with the details.  Say what exactly you're looking for (this goes for props, plot requests, anything), any rewards desired/offered, any time limit you have, and so on.  It is hard, because we are all volunteers, and we need all the help we can get!  But if you need that one prop to look a certain way, or if you aren't okay with donating something with an uncertain reward, then set it up.  Be nice about it, but try not to leave room for misinterpretation that could lead to frustration.

I should also say that, in regards to my above rant-story, I didn't ever pay, so I'm not in too bad a spot :)  Even so, I'm not sure what to do.  Should I wait and still hope that it'll come, or go get something else and risk it coming and having to pay for both?  Make sure if you do get into a sticky situation to lay it out as well as you can so everyone knows what they need to do with whatever fallout there may be.

-Consider an Apology - Like I said, things happen, and sometimes they're not anyone's fault, so not every situation needs a big apology, or any at all.  But if it's appropriate, think about how you could make up for a mistake.  Maybe it's some kind of goblin reward, maybe it's making an extra set of claws, maybe it's offering to do extra NPC time.  Or just saying you're sorry :)  Just make sure you can follow the first point here.  Most times you don't have to do anything extra, but if you offer it, it does make it worse to be told you'll get something more and then not get that either.

Although, I admit, that cowl is beautiful and I still really want it for him :)  All us LARPers are usually willing to forgive any mistakes that are made so we can get back to doing what we enjoy - we should just remember to be courteous in cleaning things up so that no bridges are burned.

Okay, there you have it!  What communications tips do you have?

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Week In LARP - June 11th

This Week In LARP

As some of you have probably noticed, I've cut back on posting.  I'll give more information in another post.


WAR will be hosting a 4-day event this weekend starting on Wednesday, June 13th and ends on Sunday, June 17th. The game will be held at Lewis Arboretum at the IG location of Rage Hollow. It's $20 per day to PC Wed/Thurs, and $25 per day to PC Fri/Sat ($10 off per day with a good NPC ratio) and is free to NPC.

NERO Elkins will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, May 18th and ends on Sunday, May 20th. The game will be held at BSA Camp Mahonegon (WV). It's $50 to PC ($41 if you prepay) and is $10 to NPC ($1 if you prepay).

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, June 7, 2012

Pre-Registration: Hot or Not?

Our little LARP, Exiles, just launched a pre-registration program before our last event.  There's a whole 'nother series of why and how, but it occurs to me that I've seen such systems come and go in other places and I wonder why?

The benefits for the game runners are that they know who's coming, so they can plan encounters, logistics, and even food.  For the players, they can streamline their check-in process, don't have to worry about bringing cash, and give Staff a heads up that they'll be attending so that everything is ready for them.  All great, things, right?

I've seen games offer rewards for prereg.  Sometimes it's money off the event fee, sometimes it's goblins or their equivalent.  Even better!

But just based on casual observation, it seems that the system isn't used as often as I'd think.  A lot of people don't know until the last minute if they can make it.  Or they can't scrape together the money to pay in advance.  Or they just don't feel like pre-registering :)  The rewards, where they're the goblins or equivalent, are set at a level to be fair, and that fair amount doesn't seem to be enough to really tempt people. Even offering a discount for the event fee didn't seem to work as well as I'd expect where I saw it at WAR.  People just have situations where they can't commit to a hobby in advance, and pre-registering isn't something that works for them.  If they do it, it looked like it was more for the convenience than the reward in a lot of cases, especially if the game doesn't offer that game fee discount (which can be hard to do for smaller LARPs).

On the back end, setting up the system can be a bit of a pain, as it requires a little more effort from your financial person to monitor everything coming and going at all times.  And it might even cause unnecessary work for Staff who prep logistics or plot, only to have the player not make it.

Financially, using something like PayPal incurs a fee for every transaction.  For your average event of $40, it's actually around $2 that is lost.  Add that to any discount, and games can lose a considerable amount.

So then, is pre-registration worth it?  Maybe it wasn't, and that's why games have dropped it! 

I like the idea of knowing who's coming, especially at a small game where every individual can make a big difference to our plans.  But I wonder the best way to make a system effective.

What do you think?  Does your game use a pre-reg system?  Is it effective?  Do you use it?  What do you like about it?

I'm curious to see how things work at other games!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Remembering Characters

This week was Memorial Day here in the good ol' U.S. of A., and I hope everyone took a moment to remember those who served/are serving.  And although LARPing is a pretty far cry from that, it did make me think about how we remember characters in the games we play.

Whether a character was heavily involved in plot or only known to a few, the player behind that persona probably spent a lot of time and effort on them.  We use our free weekends to be these other people, we spend our money on their costumes, and we get excited about their stories.  When they're gone, it's often a pretty bitter pill to swallow.

Bill has already talked about character death, but I was thinking more about how a game can remember those characters when they have died. 

One option that was discussed is making the character part of the game world.  Making them an NPC the player can play is dangerous, since allowing people to continue to play the same character, even as an NPC, can devalue the danger of death.  It can also make people who don't get this option feel left out, but there are certainly times when it might be appropriate and good for the story.  Just be careful! 

Another option, though, is to make the character continue, but not have them come into game.  In NERO with elemental transforms, this is easy to do - the character's spirit becomes a player for that element, and they become a Name talked about by others, or even a contact of some kind.  You can do it in other genres as well - maybe they are resurrected as a messenger for a deity, or turned into a steampunk cyborg.  Whatever happens, that character goes on into the sunset, as it were, and Plot can integrate them into their stories (they're just not the hero anymore).  This can be a fantastic way to nod towards a character that was heavily involved, though it can still run the risk of devaluing death.  And Staff should make sure to set clear boundaries with the player or as a policy!

So, what can we do that doesn't "cheat death"?  :)  Well, one thing is simply to keep a list of the fallen.  You can have it as a graveyard, or even get a plaque made, or write it on a banner to hang in your tavern.  That kind of thing can add gravity to your setting, but also it's an easy, meaningful way to keep characters in everyone's thoughts. 

Staff could also keep a more extensive record, something that could be posted on their website.  Maybe when a character dies, that player can write a short (or long, as you prefer) biography.  Who they were, what they did, and how they met their end.  This lets the player say good-bye, and also allows the character to be remembered for their contribution to the setting. 

I think that it's a nice idea to have options that can be done for any character, regardless of whether they had a transform (etc) or not.  It's hard to see your character just disappear as if they didn't matter, especially if you played them for years.  Having options like these can help players feel more like their stories mattered, and maybe help ease the disappointment that comes with character death and encourage them to keep playing. 

What other ideas do you have for remembering departed characters?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer LARPin'

Ah, it's summer!  Maybe not officially, but at least in Ohio the sun is here, along with the heat.  Summer is the busiest time to LARP, so you're probably planning on having quite a few weekends dedicated to games over the next few months. 

Summer offers relatively clear weather where you can get camps that don't require heat.  You can enjoy sleeping under the stars!  You don't have to be weighed down by layers!  People have more free time to get out there, and it's just generally good to be outside. But it's hot.  Those high temperatures can be just as much, if not more, of a damper to your game than winter chill, so here are a few things you can do to beat the heat.

Water - this is a priority.  Drink it.  Don't drink pop or anything else sugary or hyper-caffeinated unless you're drinking a lot more water to balance it out.  I've gotten dehydrated because all I was drinking was sugar, and it's icky. :( Worried about carrying it around? Try a camelback.  You can put it in another bag or just cover it with some cloth to give it a more period look.  You can also get leather bottle holders!

Summer Costume - First, cut down on unnecessary armor, or even go to a lighter version.  You don't want to trap all that sweat and heat in - ask yourself if it's worth the armor points.  You don't need to reduce yourself to a Metallica t-shirt and sweat shorts to stay cool (unless that's already good for your game!).  There are all sorts of short-sleeved blouses for ladies that still look pretty period.  Or try a gauzy shirt and just roll up the sleeves. You can also make sleeve ties or use sleeve garters.  Now's a good time to wear lighter skirts, and open-sided wrap pants allow for ventilation. These can all be pretty cheap, and your friendly neighborhood seam-person can help :)  Also, a little more expensive, think about getting some summer Under Armor, which is designed to help keep your body cool.

Cool Down - Make sure that you make time to cool off.  Take a break and rest, drink some water, and let yourself air out :)  Related to the hygiene post, take off some of the heat-traping aspects of your costume and sit in the shade.  Take a cool shower to bring your body temperature down.  Change out your socks and other sweat-soaked elements - you'll feel better & smell better!  Think about bringing things like freezie pops for the tavern and extra water in a cooler.  Staff, coordinate to make sure that you have access to cool water for your team, and think about bringing them some extra heat-beating treats! :)  Cooling down the inside can help cool down the outside!

Take it Easy - Don't push yourself during the heat of those scorchers, if you can.  Try to go on role-play or investigation mods in the hottest part of the day.  Plot, think about planning those kinds of things so that they can take place during that time.  Also, think ahead and consider where you're having your mods - try to make them in shaded areas that no one will pass out getting to (hopefully).  It's hard when you're NPCing, but try to rotate out people to give everyone time to cool down.  Yes, you want everyone to have fun, but having someone pass out from heat exhaustion won't make it better!! :)

Beat the Bugs - Let's not forget summer mosquitos! :)  Don't forget your bug spray, and think about bringing a citronella candle to keep them away from your sleeping area (if you can burn it safely).  Keep lights out where you can so the bugs don't swarm inside your tent/cabin in the dark (especially while you're out - your tent/cabin mates will be thankful!).  They do have silent mosquito repellers, which I've used and seem to work pretty well.  I got it from a guy in Louisiana, and you know they've got bugs down there!  Also, people sometimes forget, but this is tick season - give yourself a check before you go to bed to make sure you haven't picked up any hitchhikers. 

Got any more tips on beating the heat at LARP?

Friday, May 18, 2012

YouTube Friday: Delirium

For those of you unaware, Delirium is a Nordic LARP where the players are patients in an insane asylum. It's chuck full of amazing LARP goodness.  This documentary can show you some of that goodness, but unfortunately it's not in English (but at least it's subbed).


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Assemble! Grouping up in LARP

So, hopefully you all saw "Avengers" at least once by now - if not, make it a mission! :)  My second viewing got me thinking.  Movies, like LARPs, only rarely have a group as the main focus.  There are some books that involve groups, often getting killed off one by one, but they still usually focus on one main character.  In a book or movie, that's because you want your audience to relate to your characters, and it's harder to do that with multiple protagonists.

But in LARP, where your audience IS your character group, why aren't awesome PC groups more common?  Well, most everyone wants to be the main character.  The groups PCs tend to join are usually NPC groups, where they are chosen for the Fellowship, or passed the test to be the Warden, and enter into the ranks of the elite. But they get to have all the attention from that group, since they're the only PC.

I can't argue too much with that - it's awesome to be the hero :)  But there's certainly a case for a PC group instead.

First, by forming a unit with your friends, you have a built-in reason to hang out with the people you like.  Maybe you want to get away from them at games, but if not, why not share your adventures with people who will appreciate it?  The stigma at LARP is "I don't care about your character" - but your friends will!  You can share your awesome moments and experiences with people who share your enthusiasm for that cool game moment.

A group also allows you to more mobility.  As an individual, you usually need to attach yourself to other people in order to go do things. But if you've got your group already in place, you are set for action.  You can set it up with a mix of classes to ensure you're ready for anything. Usually 2 fighters, a healer, a combat caster, and a utility rogue/templar is a great combination.  But try it with whatever works for you!  An all mage group who can pull it off will be that much more legendary :)

And let's talk about style!  Don't groups who coordinate look pretty awesome?  Everyone proudly wearing the symbol on tabards & shields, a banner flapping by their camp... One person wearing a uniform probably just looks like a costume.  Multiple people look pretty badass. :)

As you get higher level and more powerful, you can turn your group into its own epic force.  The group will go on mods together, and have those stories to tell that others will repeat.  And as a big plus, they'll be more active and visible than any NPC organization.  This will ingrain your group into the general consciousness much more than NPC groups that are only around for a plot or personal interaction. 

As you build your organization, if you want people to look at is as an elite force, you can make membership difficult, so it's a privilege to join.  You can take people based off of their combat, their knowledge, their cunning, their baking prowess, whatever!  Build up the group and they can be a legend in the game, and you didn't have to rely on NPC favor to get it. Contact Plot to let them know your intentions, and they can tailor things for your team to suit your goals.  It's a plus for them as well, since any mod for one of the group will (hopefully) entertain the whole unit :)

And you don't have to give up individuality.  Like our Avengers, each member can be unique.   Each character can pursue their own path, and it's a lot easier with help.  As the characters' stories are told, they just add to the atmosphere of being a hardcore unit.  You've got the only known survivor of an alien race?  Your healer is the chosen of the Fae Queen?  Your rogue is an assassin for the Emperor?  And they've all come together to form the Badass Patrol?  Pretty awesome if you ask me.  :)  All of that individuality can go into making the group that much stronger, and you still get the benefits of having support.

So think about it.  Maybe for your next character idea, get together and form a group! 

Have you seen PC groups that work?

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Week In LARP - May 14th

This Week In LARP

Expedia sucks ass.  More to come on that.


WAR will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, May 18th and ends on Sunday, May 20th. The game will be held at Camp Giscowheco at the IG location of Lumberton Shire. It's $50 to PC ($30 with a good NPC ratio) and is free to NPC.

NERO Elkins will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, May 18th and ends on Sunday, May 20th. The game will be held at BSA Camp Mahonegon (WV). It's $50 to PC ($41 if you prepay) and is $10 to NPC ($1 if you prepay).

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, May 11, 2012

YouTube Friday: Nordic LARP

Today's post comes from the Nordic LARP wiki that I linked to on Wednesday. For those of you who are not in the know (like me), Nordic LARP is actually a style of LARP, rather than a place where things happen. Perhaps this video, "Introduction to Nordic LARP" by Johanna Koljonen will give you a little more insight into how Nordic LARPs work.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Getting Your Game Face On

It's well into the LARP season now, but plenty of people may find that after the initial rush or getting back into playing, they are missing a little extra something.  Here are a few ideas to get you back into the game.

1.) Re-connect with your character - Over a break, it's easy to lose the momentum you built with your character last season.  Once you're back into the swing of playing, you may realize you're not as connected with your character.  Review your character's history to refresh your roleplay. Remember what your character's about - maybe watch the movie that inspired them, or pick out a theme song to get into their mood. Then take some time to remember what you were up to last year, and figure out what you want to get into this year.  If you don't have character goals, make some up! :)  Decide what you want to do as a character in-game, and what kind of cool skills you'd like to work up to out-of-game.  This can help you decide what you want to pursue at events, or between games, if you're looking for direction.

2.) Refresh Your Costume - We posted a lot about ways to spruce up your costuming over the break, but you may not have gotten around to it :)  It's not too late - replace those ripped pants, buy a nicer pouch and keep your costuming looking good.  Pick something nice to buy yourself - some kind of costuming you're excited about.  Putting on a costume can get you into character fast - and it's a lot easier when you know you look good!

3.) Review the Rules - Maybe it's been a while since you last read your rulebook, so now's a great time to wipe off the rust.  A lot of times, especially if you play multiple games, our memories of the rules aren't the same as the reality - especially with changes that are usually made early in the season.  Knowing the rules is very important, and it's too easy to just let it slide.  You'll be sharp on your game-play, and that can help get you into the groove!

4.) Renew Your Skills - LARP is somewhat physical, and with anything, practice makes perfect.  Figure out what strategies work for your build and practice to get good at them. Figure out the best combinations of spells, practice your swings and blocks, set up a target in your basement.  I knew a group who used to make up basic characters with different skills and protectives, etc., and then fight each other and trade off.  It got them very good at knowing the rules, forming different strategies, and just generally being better at the game overall. And who doesn't like being good at something?  :)

5.) Return to Basics - If you are still not feeling into your character, maybe it's time to make a new one.  Sometimes starting out at low levels can help make the game feel new. You can try out an aspect you've never gotten into before, explore lines of plot or factions you don't know about, and again find fear in facing an orc.  :)

Got some other ideas for getting into your game?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Nordic LARP Wiki

Know what's awesome?  Nordic LARPing has a Wiki.

 If you love game design, I totally suggest digging into this bad boy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Limited Run Games

On teh Facebooks, Stephen, long time commenter, brought up an excellent point about NERO.  Here's what he said:

I just figured out Nero's problem. Or at least it's IG one. There are no mysteries left. There are no "final frontiers" to explore.

Absolutely brilliant.

Now, I know that today's post may seem a like a foreign concept to LARPers in Ohio, but there are actually a number of games that have solved this problem by running games on a limited timeline.  The idea is that you start the game with a story to tell, and know that in a few years, when that story is told, you can move on to the next great LARP adventure.

I know that Bloodlines, as well as many Accelerant games (Madrigal 1, Aftermath, Endgame, Invictus, etc) have done or will do this, at varying levels of success.

These games usually run between 2-5 years in length, and have a set storyline that will unfold during that time.  The organizers are then given more leeway to mess with the structure of the world, and can have the PCs create a bigger impact at the end, since they know they can pull out the stops.  Also, there is little worry about a major power creep, like has been experienced at NERO.

The downside?  The most obvious downside is that players that are interested in character growth via skills and abilities may not like the idea of a game that will end, leaving them with nothing.  The other problem is that limited run games cannot do much cross-chapter work.  Accelerant solves that problem with CP exchange (if you NPC at Madrigal, you can put your experience on your character in Mirror Mirror, End Game, 7 Virtues, etc).

I would love to participate in a limited run game here in Ohio.  Would you play in a limited run game?

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Week In LARP - May 7th

This Week In LARP

Expedia sucks ass.  More to come on that.


The NERO Indiana has been canceled due to a booking conflict with the camp. For more information, visit their website at the link above.


Exiles will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, May 11th and ends on Sunday, May 13th. The game will be held at Sycamore State Park. It's $40 to PC ($35 if you're new) and is free to NPC. The event fee includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday.

Trials of Terra Nova will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Saturday, May 12th and ends on Sunday, May 13th. The game will be held at the Bradford Woods North Lodge (IN). It's $10 to PC each cycle ($30 for all three cycles) 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, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Touchie-Feelie LARPie

Tuesday WAS the 1st of May, but this is a topic I've brushed by a few times in my past posts on romance and significant others at LARP.  The Touchie-Feelie Rule.  WAR has it, but not all NERO chapters do I'm told - so what is good and bad about it?  Should it be at your game?

One of the biggest considerations I feel in having a "no touchie-feelie" rule is if you allow minors at your game. If you do, that's a big vote from me to have this in place.  No one wants to ever hear "but I thought she was 18" and deal with the legal ramifications of randy teenagers.

Having the rule in place puts a check on the hormones and sets the ground rule of what's acceptable and what's not.  I don't think it adds to anyone's game to see people making out in a corner of the tavern, or to accidentally walk in on it.  But more importantly, it is a safety net for players.  As we all know, there are some weird people in the world, and you probably don't want them touching you.  With touch casting and first aid, everyone's got an "oops, that was your..." story - but with physical contact being limited you can feel safer knowing that this kind of thing should always be an accident.  Not everyone is okay with physical role-play, either. This rule saves you.  And it saves the staff from dealing with the drama. 

And for the outside world, especially parents, a rule like this can set their minds at ease.

So, can a game without this rule be a good thing?  I'm not talking about a crazy free love compound or anything, but I mean just being able to hug your significant other without feeling like someone might report you.  And when it's cold, you can (*gasp*) sleep in the same bed.   Things like that. People can (and do) sneak off even with a rule in place, so it's not really that part of it - it's more the comfort and convenience of being able to be a couple and do things like share toiletries because you can use the same bathroom to brush your teeth. :)

And it is nice to have an "we're all adults here" feel.  However, all it takes is one bad apple, and it can ruin a lot.  It may be best to put a rule like this in place before the bad apple gets into the barrel.  In a smaller game, where it's 18 and over, it's easier to keep an eye on people and keep the drama to a minimum.  So it might work for those games, at least for a while.  I have to admit, though, it's nice to be able to relax just that bit extra those 7-10 weekends of my year!  :)

But what do you think?  Should a game always have a touchie-feelie rule, or are there situations where it's okay to go without?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

YouTube Bonus - Shit Gamers Say...

It's hard to keep coming up with posts while I'm in NYC.  So I'm going to take the easy way out and go with posting a YouTube video.  Thanks Ryan!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

LARPing while Injured - Know your Limits!

This post was inspired by my sprained ankle, and the fact that I've got an event coming up (two, actually) that I may not be 100% for.

It's tough when you are unable to perform at your best during a LARP game.  It's even worse when you're hurt and further strain might cause more of an injury.

For me, the question arises on whether or not I'll be able to function as a non-combatant at the events.

Exiles is a very combat oriented game, and my character there is combat oriented, so being unable to run may be a no-go.  That, or start another gentleman character.

However, at NERO, my current character is a merchant who is very economically and politically motivated, so it would be very easy for me to play light or even go completely non-combative.

It's of the upmost importance for a good LARPer to know where they have to draw the line.  It would be selfish of me, to both other players and game staff, to try and LARP beyond my capacity.  If I were to get injured, it could put them in hot water and could stall the game for my fellow players.

I've seen far to many people try and push past their injuries, and more often than not, it ends up backfiring on them.

So here's the PSA:  If you're hurt, don't try and be a hero and don't be selfish.  If you don't think you can do something, don't do it.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Week in LARP - April 30th

This Week In LARP

Something starts on the First of May, but I don't quite remember what it is.  And don't put it in the comments.


NERO SWV will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, May 4th and ends on Sunday, May 6th. The game will be held at Camp Cherokee (KY) at the IG location of Borderlands. It's $50 to PC ($40 with prereg) and is free to NPC.


Triumph will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Saturday, May 5th and ends on Sunday, May 6th. The game will be held at Sycamore State Park. It's $35 to PC ($30 if you prepay) and is free to NPC, with a $5 suggested donation 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!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Improving Your In-Game Setting

There have been slight pushes over the years I've LARPed to improve the look of the tavern/saloon/cantina, and for people to make their sleeping space more in-game.  A period looking gathering place can add a lot of atmosphere - but there are a few issues.

First, there's safety, both of players and of your stuff.  You probably don't want to bring your antiques to a game, or anything that you mind too much getting broken or dirty.  And it's hard to find a way to do open flames that don't run the risk of falling over and catching things on fire.

Second, it's extra work that not many people want to do.  They want to go and have fun, not re-decorate a musty tent or sagging cabin.  But there are a few easy ways, oh reader, to improve your look without breaking your back or your bank.  Some of these have been mentioned before, but they're good ideas!

1.) In-game Lighting - Turning off artificial lights wherever possible makes a huge difference.  Eyes will adjust, although safety should still be #1 concern, and likely your food prep people and NPC shack will always need the extra light.  Speaking of safety, candles and lamps add great atmosphere and provide a good light source.  But make sure you're not violating any regulations.  To avoid danger, use closed, sturdy lanterns, and put them in places where they won't get tipped over.  Electric candles can work pretty well, and while the little battery operated tealights look okay, they don't give much light.  Try to avoid the LED lanterns, as they're bright and don't look at all period - or you can muffle the light with a screen or filter to get the best of both worlds.

2.) Tablecloths for All! - Some cheap fabric can go a long way to hiding immersion-breaking aspects.  If you have time and energy, hang them over those scouting posters and signs in your tavern.  If not, you can use them for tablecloths, or drape them over that old cooler in the corner.  Put them over picnic tables, hang them in doorways, cover the ground in your gypsy circle - the uses are endless!  This one can be tough outdoors in the rain, so some vigilance is required so you aren't dealing with a soggy, muddy mess at the end of the game.

3.) Add Accents - Shop your thrift store for a few period-looking accents on the cheap.  Wooden or metal candlesticks, bowls, platters, etc., can all add to your atmosphere. In your saloon you can use them to put out snacks, in your personal area you can fill them with phys reps of ritual components, or odds and ends your character might have.  You can get wooden boxes and use them to store your stuff too, so they look good and are functional!  :)  If you keep them clean, you can just throw them in a box at the end of the game, and it doesn't get much easier than that!

4.) Set Pieces for Your Setting - Put up things that add to the atmosphere of your particular game.  For example, if you've got an old west saloon (not that I'm biased), put out gambling tables and decks of cards.  You can find chess sets for cheap, or other games that suit you - and they serve a double purpose of entertaining people.  Even outdoor games can work - put a theme-appropriate spin (with a little paint and prop work) on easy things like horseshoes. 

And where is your setting anyway?  People often know the name, but associate your location more with the camp than the in-game terrain. Try putting up maps, flags/banners, or even landscape art of your in-game area.  Do you have an important NPC in your life, like a mentor, elemental master, count, general, or governor?  Put up their picture!  Most games have some kind of resident artist, so enlist their help.  This kind of thing can help PCs visualize where you want to be, and add to the flavor.

5.) Keep it Clean - I've said before that picking up is the nice thing to do, but it also helps with immersion.  It's hard to have a serious role-play moment next to a collection of half-empty Gatorade bottles and a pile of moldy shoes.  :)  Put trash in bins and bags, and keep your personal, non-period stuff away when you can.

Got any more ideas for making your location look good?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


A lot of LARPers have been playing for a long time.  They've seen so much and heard so much.  They've experienced highs and lows, both IG as their characters and OOG in the community.

So it's no surprise that so many people end up jaded.

Hell, I myself am jaded when put into certain situations.  I often have to take a step back and ask myself why I'm getting all worked up or upset about something that often has no real bearing on me.

This post is a response to something I noticed at Exiles.  I'm not saying these people are bad people in any way, but we have a few players who are known for being jaded at NERO.

But you know what?  You would never know that by playing Exiles with them.  Having them around was a blast.

This clearly indicates to me that it's a problem with a particular community rather than a player themselves.  If someone is mistreated too many times, or has the goals that he has for a LARP game (immersion, gamist, storytelling) broken too many times, that player is more likely to become jaded.  LARP communities have the same problems as any other community, such as gossip, cliques, and the like.  We people stop acting decent to each other, players get jaded.  

The obvious solution is just to start being nice to each other.

So next time you see a player who's jaded, just be aware that there's a good chance that there's a reason why they're jaded.  And if your particular game breeds jaded players, then maybe a holistic look at the health of that community is in order.  

Oh yeah, and do your best not to be a dick.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Week In LARP - April 23rd

This Week In LARP

Let's all hope that the cold this past weekend was a fluke.


WAR will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, April 27th and ends on Sunday, April 29th. The game will be held at Lewis Arboretum at the IG location of Rage Hollow (formerly Rockcrusher Forge). It's $50 to PC ($30 with a good NPC ratio) and is free to NPC.

NERO Indiana will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, April 27th and ends on Sunday, April 29th. The game will be held at Nameless Creek Youth Camp (IN). It's $50 to PC ($10 discount if you pre-pay and $10 discount if you tent camp) 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, and we'll add you as soon as possible!

Friday, April 20, 2012

YouTube Friday: Kickin' It

Today features yet another kids show featuring the topic of LARP.  The dorky kid has a battle and tries to get his friends to go, but they think it's too nerdy for them.  Ultimately, they show up and help their friend, and at the end of it all, they're not ashamed of LARPing.

While the LARP is not really well developed and they do the normal thing and make everything look as bad as possible, it ends the same way as many other forms of media, with the cool people thinking it was actually fun.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

NPC Sign Ups

Getting NPCs has always been a problem with most LARPs. There have been all sorts of tips and tricks listed - improved rewards, creating an inviting atmosphere, enticing with interesting NPC roles, etc. However, there are some times and some games where this still doesn't get enough NPCs to give your PCs a good time. So then what do you do to get the NPCs you need?

A few games are more forceful in their recruiting. They ask or require PCs to put in some sort of NPC time, whether helping in the shack, with logistics, with the kitchen, or whatever else the staff team needs.

Obviously the push-back on this is that not everyone will be okay with paying for a game they also have to work at - and I can't really blame them. After all, I don't always want to spend my weekend working! :) So I've seen in some of the more commercial/business games a reluctance to request or require NPC time.

The down side of this then is that, when you're not getting the NPCs, your games don't have enough bodies to give everyone a quality time people pay for. It's a bit of a catch-22. In more community oriented games, I see more people willing to give time with the mentality that helping just a little will ensure that everyone has more fun.

There are still issues with the volunteer method. One is that if it's volunteer, you end up leaning on the people who come to help out, and the people who don't do the work get to enjoy the rewards. The second is that there tend to be more volunteers earlier in the event - when things start winding down people get tired, they want to fit in as much play time as possible, and no one wants to miss those climactic night-time mods! And arguably, those final mods are when you need help the most - your NPCs are tired too, and you need more bodies to make those end fights tough!

One thought I've had is to request NPC time or kitchen help via a sign up sheet. We haven't tried it fully yet, but the goal is to nicely ask for help, and provide slots people can sign up for. That would allow the bodies to get spread out over the event, and give us the volume we need when we need it. Obviously we can't predict all the times extra help will be needed, but at least we'd be better covered.

It doesn't help with the inequality if some people end up doing more volunteering than others. We can try to help with this by providing more rewards to those who do step up, but we hate to require people to NPC. Hopefully this would just be fill in for those events where we don't get the NPCs.

If your game was short on NPCs, how would you feel about signing up for a shift?

On the other end, there are the games that require NPC time. I've not been to one, but I've never heard anyone who plays in one hate on the idea either - when it's built into the community as part of the game experience, people aren't as reluctant I think. If you have played in this type of game, how does mandatory NPC time work?

Or does your game get volunteers another way?

When it comes down to it, NPCing is a dirty job. You are there to give someone else a good time, and you work your butt off doing it. It's just hard to sell that. If you've got good tips, please post them up!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Avoid Searches

One of the staples of the RPG world is "Searching."  So it's no surprise that a lot of staff teams will try and integrate those searches into their games.

But if done incorrectly, searches can break immersion faster than almost anything else.

You see, we don't usually have the benefit of having a perfect replica of the setting.  We run out of cabins and tents and try to make them seem like castles or caves.  So when you tell players to search, they now look in every nook and corner of that anachronistic shelter.  They're looking in things that may or may not be IG and in the process they may be checking near refrigerators, electrical outlets, and the like.

So if you really want to have a search mechanic, make sure you put boundaries on it and supply everything.  If you want the players to find a needle in a haystack, you've got to bring the needle and the haystack, and make sure the players know where the haystack ends.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Week In LARP - April 16th

This Week In LARP

Spring LARPing is finally here. Let's hope the weather stays dry!


NCN will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, April 20th and ends on Sunday, April 22nd. The game will be held at Camp NEOSA at the IG location of Syrinx. It's $50 to PC and is free to NPC.

PRO will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, April 20th and ends on Sunday, April 22nd. The game will be held at Raccoon State Park (PA) at the IG location of Woodhaven. It's $40 to PC ($50 at the door) and is $10 to NPC ($15 at the door). Food on Saturday is included.


Kishar! will be hosting a game on Sunday April 22nd! The game is at Paul Ruster Park ( in Indianapolis. Check-in starts at 10:30AM, and the game runs from 11:30AM-5PM.

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 13, 2012

YouTube Friday: Cuneiform Tablets

Today's YouTube video was brought to my attention by Mike, one of the Invictus staff members, who found it on the Propnomicon Blog.

 I'm pretty excited about this, as it's a chance to play with resin and clay to make some sweet props. I might have some pictures that I'll use from results of this process, but I don't want to put them out yet (because *SPOILER ALERT* they're for this weekend's plot).



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Religion in LARP

So this past weekend was Easter, for those of you observing, and it got me thinking - what's the place of religion in a LARP?

When I first started, WAR was proud of saying that there was no religion in the game. The plot and setting didn't have it, and the oog atmosphere was neutral. Being able to say this is a nice point to tout to outsiders. Nervous parents can come and see that the game is not a cult, and those who might be predisposed to see some sort of devil worship can be told otherwise.

It also makes players of all creeds and none more welcome. No one has to worry about being discriminated against, or having awkward moments in (or hopefully out of) the game. No holy wars or inquisitions that everyone may not be comfortable with.

However, over time, I also started seeing negatives. Religion is a strong aspect in most table-top and fantasy settings. Historically, humans have had beliefs in deities probably since the beginning, and so an absence of those beliefs can feel like a hole in the story. Especially as your world tries to explain the big questions (even just in game). What happens when characters die? Where does magic come from? Are there greater powers out there? And so on.

From a story standpoint, having religion of some sort can add a lot of atmosphere. You can create a pantheon that suits your setting and allows your players to explore different aspects of the world. You can set up religious orders to guide the PCs and provide plot hooks, as well as make for easy points of story and conflict. With religion, there's an automatic system in place that characters step into that helps them categorize the world. If you see followers of Bobthor the Destroyer, you know they're bad; and if you see people wearing the symbol of Bambi the Healer, you know they're helpful (well, in general :) ).

And of course, religious figures allow you to insert powerful beings that can be challenging villains, or can simply step in to take action when things need to be steered in a certain direction. Having an established NPC with that sort of clout may keep people in line without ruining your immersion - if it makes sense. Obviously staff should avoid being heavy-handed with this, and let the PCs decide their own fate as much as possible. But in those instances where it might make sense, you can give your PCs a clue or a little help. Maybe even save them from death if they've put in the time and effort.

For PCs, it can be an interesting role-play experience to follow a certain path, as the restrictions or beliefs of various orders can make for good characters. These paths can also (with enough work) lead to things that make that character unique, like certain knowledge, abilities, or items.

WAR has since gone to what I see as a middle ground with the elemental paths and having the transform/apprenticeship system. Basically, the elementals fill in the deity role - they're powerful, involved, and can grant information and other favors. They also come with a built in recognition system - water vs. fire, death vs. life, and so on. This allows plot to build various groups and orders and stories with the same themes of an actual religion (devotion to a cause, fighting the enemy, and so on), but they don't ever need to take it to the point of saying "god" "worship" or otherwise confirming it is a religion. So basically they can still claim the "no religion" immunity while allowing the good stuff in :)

It also works for their transform system, since you can give each character their own sort of path and contact. Without that ability to customize, it can be frustrating for everyone following the same path to have the same NPC contacts, the same role-play suggestions/restrictions, etc.

But depending on your game, a pantheon or religious system may add a lot of immersion. For example, if you've got more of a historical theme, religion is a huge part of most time periods. Players can live out roles they grew up watching/reading about, like secret monastic orders and holy warriors. Having a pantheon can help get your players into the atmosphere, give them something to do, and give them something to shoot for. You can still single out characters for rewards, but there's not the same pressure to give everyone their own interaction.

And I think there's some weight behind saying someone was touched by an angel, vs. saying they were touched by an elemental - we've got more of an ancestral memory that gives the spiritual some heavier recognition. And you can use real-world happenings, documents, languages, and iconography to enrich your story and setting (hey, it's hard to make it all up yourself!). Most people attracted to gaming and LARP are usually understanding of the line between life and fiction, and aren't offended by in-game representations. But if you're casting the widest net, certainly a game that references real-world religion may put off more people.

Can the religious aspect be avoided all together? I'm sure, but it's probably going to be hard to keep it that way and keep it in game. Characters and players are going to want to know the answers to the big questions, especially as they get more attached to their characters. And now that LARP and gaming in general are becoming much more mainstream, and everyone is forgetting about the whole "Mazes & Monsters" nonsense, having to counter anti-fantasy stereotypes seems to be less and less important.

So what do you think? What's the place of religion in your game?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Blog on the Block: Gamesthetic

I'm always a fan of new LARP blogs that come out, no matter what the information is about.  I'm also a bit of a nut for theory on rules and game design.

So it's no surprise that I'm pretty excited about Rob Ciccolini's new blog, Gamesthetic.

For those of you who are not familiar with Rob's work, you need look no further than the Madrigal and the Accelerant ruleset.  He's been involved with LARPing for a very long time and has played in tons of different systems, and those experiences have shaped the simple and intuitive nature of his game.

Even though he only has a few posts so far, I find that most of them contain some gem of information that sparks insight in my mind, such as his suggestion to focus on player interaction rather than plot interaction if you want to become involved.

If you consider yourself a connoisseur of game design, or are running a game and really want to take it to the next level, I highly suggest that you subscribe to his blog and read it religiously.

You can get to his blog at or in the blogroll on this blog.   

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's That Time of Year: Garage Sale

Jenn and I just hosted a garage sale this weekend. The weather was fantastic, the crowds were pretty decent and the takeaway was... well less than we hoped.

But it also reminded me that Garage Sales are magical places where people can get some pretty swanky stuff for LARP. 

With it still being fairly early in the LARP season, you may have a few weekends open where you can hit some sales to see what you can find. While most of these sales are filled with crap that isn't a lot of use to people in their day-to-day lives, you can get some really great stuff on account that everything is priced to move.

Some things I look for include:

Anything Fabric
Table cloths, drapes, tapestries, whatever.  If it's something that can be used for LARP, then great.  If not, the fabric itself might make it worthwhile.  And while I'm creeped out at the idea of wearing someone else's close from a garage sale, there may be something you can do with the fabric, since clothing normally goes for next to nothing.

Dining Sets
I'm not talking full ceramic plateware, but sets of glasses, bowls, etc.  That stuff is amazing at increasing the IG atmosphere, but most of us would balk at the prospect of buying a set for $100.  You might have a chance to get something great at a low cost!

This is pretty much the cornerstone of the garage sale.  People have way too many trinkets and stuff filling up their house, and when they say "Enough is enough," these babies make their way to the table.  A lot of them are junk, but you can also find some real gems (not literally) that could be used as props or items at your game.  And again, for a low, low price.

What do you think?  Do you hit up garage sales in hopes of finding LARP treasures?  If so, what's the best treasure you've ever found?  

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Week In LARP - April 9th

This Week In LARP

Spring LARPing is finally here. Let's hope the weather stays dry!


NERO Cincinnati will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, April 13th and ends on Sunday, April 15th. The game will be held at Cub World at the IG location of Framingarhalan. It's $50 to PC and is free to NPC.


The Exiles will be hosting a 2-day event this weekend starting on Friday, April 13th and ending on Sunday, April 15th. 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. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner on Saturday are included in the event cost.

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 6, 2012

YouTube Friday: Good Friday (for LARPing)

Happy Good Friday!

I usually try to find a video that's topical for the holiday at hand, so today's video was found by searching YouTube for "Easter LARP."  And this is the gem I found.

Now, don't get me wrong.  The first part of this video was a little hard to swallow.  There's lots of anachronistic stuff like the cargo shorts or the Elmer Fudd references.

But I really want people to listen to what Scott is saying.  He hits all my favorite topics, like how plot should be making the game fun for the players and fun for the NPCs as well, how players and plot should be meeting to form the story, and how it really is a community.

They really seem to have their heads in the right place, and I applaud the team over at Shards of Orn for that.

Enjoy, and Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mid-Event Recharge

Last week I talked about keeping it clean at events. One benefit I mentioned was that it helps refresh you, and that's the topic for today! LARPing gets tiring, especially if your game runs Friday night through to Sunday. Not just being caked in mud and sweat, but also the lack of sleep and the (probably) unusual amounts of activity and excitement. Especially if you're NPCing. And if you're Staff, your brain is probably on overload trying to handle running the event and dealing with the unexpected. So take some time out to recharge.

If you arrange an hour or so out of your afternoon, it can make a world of difference. It's not just physically resting, but letting your brain take a break as well. Get your thoughts in order, figure out what you want to tackle next, and set up for the rest of the game. This is important in any length of game, but for a 1-day or Saturday-Sunday game there isn't as much time, and theoretically you won't be as tired.

I speak a lot to our NPC/Staff people out there, but this can help a PC too. You can enjoy the game more if you're feeling rested and up for the action, and you can make sure and fit in all those things you want to do if you do a little organization.

What to do? A power nap always works wonders. Even just shutting your eyes and resting for an hour can help. This is a perfect time to take a shower and change your garb. If you can't do these things, just change your socks and sit with your boots off. Get a snack or drink if appropriate (something healthy works best to recharge your body).

Go someplace quiet and environmentally comfortable - rainy, hot, or snowy weather wears on you as well. Just a break from the elements in someplace dry/cool/warm will remind your body you still love it.

I know some folks use energy drinks at opportune moments. I am still testing it, but I think that an hour's rest is better. Or maybe both? Or all of the above?

For me, when I'm PCing I like to sneak in a book and read for a little while. Reading always makes me feel recharged, if it's the right book! And it can even make you feel more immersed if what you're reading is appropriate to the setting. Depressing epic fantasy, while thematic, may not work here since you have to dedicate a lot of mental power to it :)

How to find the time? Well, if you just went on a mod and you know you won't be leaving for another soon, seize the moment! Chances are you'll have an hour at least before everyone gets it together for the next run. Anytime is a good time if you feel yourself dragging or getting cranky - taking a time out will help you enjoy the event more later, not to mention being able to move better and remember all your calls!

As Staff, arrange a rotation with your team where everyone can take a break. Don't just go off without telling anyone, and make sure things are covered. Try to hook role-play sessions or smaller mods during this time so that you don't need everyone. Make sure and enforce it if you see someone getting worn out or grumpy - and let go for long enough to rest up. NPCs will be more energized, more focused, and more likely to last through the Big Battle.

Try it and see! Or maybe you already do - what do you do for your LARP reacharge?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Last Resort: Banishment

We play a game where characters in a universe filled with fighting and death and adventures.  No matter how real we try and make it, there are certain concepts that will never actually translate well.  Characters will never really feel pain.  Characters often don't fear death, especially in games where death is not necessarily the end*.

So what is the worst possible thing you could do to punish someone in a world like this?


Really, Banishment should be reserved for the worst of the worst crimes, like Treason or Serial Murder.  And yet, I have seen a lot of people throw it around lightly in my years at NERO.

When you banish someone's character, you're telling them that the player can never play that character at your game ever again.  In most cases, it ends up being an OOG punishment for IG actions made by the player.  And that's fine for certain crimes, as this offers the risk that games with limited death can't offer.  You know, "Go Big or Go Home."

So what's the point of this article?

You should only be banishing characters for premeditated and extreme crimes and you should never banish someone for something that's accidental or may not have been clearly illegal.

I remember Galavast, where for a time the PCs had made the punishment for every crime "Death, Banishment, and loss of all possessions."  On the surface, it looks like it's just someone trying to prevent crime with harsh punishments.  But, in essence, a PC was punishing players OOG for committing crimes by banishing them.  That PC was essentially banning players from playing at Galavast for anything, even victimless crimes.

That's a terrible business model.

Now, in some games I've seen a much better punishment that banishment.  Characters are permitted to remain, but they are no longer protected by the laws of the land.  They lose the security that they once had but they can continue to hang out with their friends and participate in the game, albeit more difficult to stay safe.

So let this be a public service announcement - Banishment is a heavy handed punishment reserved for high risk crimes.  PCs should never have the ability to issue banishment, and plot should only ever use banishment for premeditated crimes where the players know the cost of failure.

*Players may fear death, but they don't fear it in the same way as real life.  They fear losing their character, but they don't fear the unknown that accompanies death.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Week In LARP - April 2nd

This Week In LARP

This week we celebrate Easter by roleplaying a bunch of rabbits looking for eggs, and the winners are rewarded with chocolate!

I couldn't find any events, but I can't say that I'm surprised due to the holiday.  So relax, get your kit straightened out, and get ready for the following week.

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!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Conquest of Appalachia

I'm super excited and can't contain myself.

You may have noticed a lot of posts recently about immersion, tents, etc.  Well, as usual, I write about the things that I'm working on.  And finally I can announce the thing I've been working on.

Conquest of Appalachia.  

We're bringing Conquest of Mythodea to the US and we'll hopefully break through the stigma that comes with playing LARP.

For those of you who are not familiar, this is a "Fest LARP" which means it's treated a lot like a long running concert/renaissance faire.  Except, everyone is in costume.  We'll have vendors, inns where you can get drunk, comedians, and vomitoriums, all fully immersive and participation for all.

And all you need to bring is a costume, your wallet, and an open mind.

I don't want to get into too many details, but here are some of the things we've improved upon from the Conquest system.

Combat Everywhere
To improve upon the feel of the game, doctors are suggested to carry flasks and give shots to players that are injured as a form of anestetic.  In order to keep the immersion factor up, the alcohol should be real and should be terrible (ideally grain alcohol).  This also acts to balance the game, as weaker players can team up on a powerful person to force them to take shots and reduce their battle effectiveness.

Because of this, we figured there's no reason to limit combat to non-drinking areas.  Players can be attacked at the inn, in their sleep, or when they're on the toilet.

Furry Friendly
In order to bring as many people into the hobby as possible, we're making the game 100% furry friendly.  In order to encourage interactions between our Furry friends and the rest of the roleplayers, we've implemented an interactive and revolutionary system for mounted combat.  Bronies unite!

River Styx
We've also designed the death system so that it would be fully immersive.  Characters who die must go to the area that represents the River Styx and deal with Charon the boatman.  Hopefully you brought your two silver, or else Charon might make you do your best rendition of Renegade to get across.

Players are encouraged to get sponsorship from one of the many companies that will be vendors at the game, such as Wizards of the Coast, Edhellen Armory, and Walmart.  However, to keep in the spirit of immersion, characters who are sponsored by companies must come from the place that bears their name.  So characters may actually be Wizards from the coast or hail from Edhellen or the Mart of Wall.

This is going to be seriously wicked.   The Conquest of Appalachia will be held exactly 1 year from today.  Get pumped and mark your calendar!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Larpcast 26: World Building

Brand new episode of Larpcast went up today!  In this episode, Mickey and I talk about world building in LARP, with a guest spot from WAR's Bryan Mularcik (GM and Plot member for Rage Hollow).

Dig it!

YouTube Friday: My Apology

Now that it looks like the dust has mostly settled in the whole NERO International thing, I think it's ok to put this out there.

Some things were said by both parties, and I think it's important to view it from the other person's shoes to see what kinds of things you should apologize for.

So here's my apology for rocking too hard.  


PS: Did you guys notice the Skyrim reference in the video?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fighting LARP Funk

In the light of all the serious business that has been discussed lately, I'd like to go for a slightly lighter topic that is dear to my heart: stinkiness. Yes, we are usually camping in the woods, so there is a certain level of hygiene that cannot be attained. But there are ways we can fight the funk, and germs, that come with sweating in the dirt for 3 days :)

First, a few supplies can go a long way. Easy: a small bottle of anti-bacterial gel. If you're eating on the go, or just don't have easy access to running water, this can save your immune system. A lot of LARP foods are handheld: burgers, grilled cheese, packaged snacks, etc. When you think about where your hands have been at a camp without many bathrooms, and how often you eat with those fingers, well, it may just be a good idea :)

I also like to bring a jug of water and a bar of soap. You never know when you might need it. If you do have to use latrines, this way you know you can wash your hands. I also use it for brushing my teeth and washing the worst of the grime off when showers aren't available. It makes me feel better, and even a washcloth bath is better than no bath - your friends and bunk-mates will thank you!

And don't forget the simple things. Wear extra deodorant. Re-apply. Freshen your smell with a little body spray - you can get travel size for men or women at most any drug store. You may not realize that your aroma has gone a bit south, so apply lightly for the good of those around you. :)

Next, try bringing some extra costuming. Friday nights are dark and short, so putting your B-Team costume on then to get it dirty can be worth it when you get to enjoy fresh, clean garb the next day. Especially socks and undies of course, but having a cheap alternate shirt and pants can really help making you feel cleaner and smell better. Not to mention being useful if it's raining or muddy! If you don't have alternates, try hanging up what you can to air out. You could even bring some Febreeze. I also like to bring a few small plastic bags and use one to quarantine dirty clothes!

Make sure you're cleaning your costume between games too!

And finally, keep the area clean. It's not only considerate, but it helps fight down on yuck. Put away your food, drinks, and dirty clothes so they don't stink up the place! :) Bring a trash bag, or just use one of your shopping bags, where you can contain half-eaten food, wrappers, and sticky pop cans. Leaving these out attracts bugs and even animals to your cabin, which is not a fun thing to wake up to!

It's just common sense, but I've often encountered a feeling of "it's hardcore to be dirty". I'm not saying we should all live in a hypoallergenic bubble, but I'm always surprised at people who just choose not to take a few steps in the cleanly direction. And I know that showers at a camp are often kind of weird/scary - but so was whatever I rolled in last night :) Not only will it wash off the grime, but I always feel refreshed and revitalized afterward. Everyone's got different levels of what's comfortable, though.

Just a few ounces of prevention are good for you, and those around you! :) So help a girl out and fight the funk!

Got any more ideas for fighting LARP funk and keeping germs at bay?