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.