Sunday, December 30, 2012

Costuming a New Character

A fun and rather lighthearted question for a blustery day...

I'm interested in the problem of costuming a new character-- especially a new player character. For me, costuming a player character is often more difficult as, beyond budgetary concerns, the costuming ultimately has to be functional and weather-appropriate. (A winter cloak, for instance, may look great, but is inappropriate for an unseasonably hot autumn day.) A corset, for instance, might be really beautiful, but it also needs to withstand line fights and long stretches of continual wear. (Hats and boots fall into a similar category.)

How do people set about costuming a new character? Where do you go for inspiration? How do you start purchasing and/or making things? What sort of things do you think are absolutely necessary to acquire for a starting event? Similarly, if you have a limited budget, how do you throw together distinctive and effective costuming (this is especially useful for NPCs)? I know a lot of my readers have large costume bases, so I'm interested in costuming from different perspectives. How do you create a good costume from a lot of wardrobe? How do you create one from a more limited wardrobe?

A Happy New Year to everyone!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Artwork: Remi and Esme 2012

Artwork by Zoe

And now for some artwork that were holiday presents this year: Esme and Remi, my Madrigal PC and my husband's. They were completed in an hour or two last night with watercolors bought in Japan (and forgotten about until 24 hours ago).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On Surprising Staff

A submission from JJ!

So every now and then, the staff I'm on runs into a situation where a player decides that they really want to surprise staff with something.  And by surprise, I mean they want to surprise people OOG, not surprise some character that is played by a staff member.  It doesn't come up all that often, but when it does, it usually generates a fair amount of discussion among staff about how to handle the situation.  Here's the general feeling I've gotten from most of the people I've worked with.

Surprising staff is totally ok if: you are mostly trying to get a fun emotional response from the staff character.  Surprise! confessions of love/hatred, surprising them with a meal to cheer them up, anything that isn't supposed to have any effect other than generating some sort of emotional response from the staff character is cool, and tons of fun.

When it is not so awesome: if you're trying to get the staff character to drop information or actually jumping them with spells and weapons.  I understand the desire for an 'authentic' surprise response, but really, if you want to surprise the staff character into dropping information, it's WAY more likely to succeed if the staff member actually has time to figure out what information they should know to drop.  We try to build really well-rounded characters and to be briefed on as much as we can, but the sad truth is that I don't know everything that all my characters know, and if you happen to hit a topic that I am not OOG briefed on, then you're going to get a shocked exclamation, but no actual information on where my minion hid the liche's bottle.  Which is disappointing for everyone, both the player who set the whole thing up, and the staff member who'd probably *like* to reward the player for setting things up and get out information on their plotline.

Any thoughts on that?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Body Image and Body Hate in LARP

First! Happy end of the season, for most of you! I have had a busy, but productive season, and I’m eager for what the winter revels and spring sessions bring.

With that being said, back to blogging!
A quick note-- this piece contains conversation about body image and body hate within the LARP setting. This may not be your cup of tea, as it may be a) personally upsetting or b) simply boring. I wanted to give fair warning to readers, so that people can skip this if bothered by these topics.


A recent piece, by Alex Hern, in the New Statesmen focuses on the “misogyny of geek culture.” It’s an interesting read, and one that warrants some thought. However, the piece brought forward some specific concerns from my community of friends. Most of them were related to this passage (pulled from Tony Harris’s rant that sparked all of this):

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Module Writing Processes

As I'm currently staffing three games, I've been thinking a lot on module writing processes. I have a fairly reliable module writing style, but I'm curious as to what more experienced staffers do. Where do you start? How do you brainstorm? How does input from and collaboration with other staffers help you? How do you pair down all of your ideas into a streamlined document, presentable to a larger staff? Do you use any technology or web services to help the process (I'm pretty dedicated to Google docs, myself)? How do you edit text and incorporate criticism?

Just some questions to think about. If anyone has processes, styles, and strategies they'd like to share, I'd be grateful.

Oh, and on the topic of a certain three games...

I'd like to take a brief bit of web space to talk about the three games I staff... and upcoming opportunities therein.

Endgame is, well, ending. We have two events left, and, I promise you, they're sure to be exciting. That being said, if you're interested in getting involved in the last two events (happening this coming spring season), please send our NPC coordinator a message. Not only can you get some CP for new games, but you can take part in an excellent, intelligent, and well-executed game. (And I really don't say that lightly-- of all the games I play, Endgame provides some of the most thrilling and emotionally taxing RP I've experienced to date.)

Like Rome? Like Egypt? Like your historically inspired fiction with magic, epic battles, intrigue, and ancient lore? The come play Invictus. There will be drama. There will be fighting. (Oh, will there be fighting.) If you haven't already, go check out the rules and forums! And come play!

Clockwork Skies
If you're already familiar with The Calling, then you probably know about Clockwork Skies. If not... it's Steampunk done right. Sure, we all know about Steampunk. But, trust me, this isn't just bustles and goggles: this is going to be a really innovative approach to the world of Steampunk. Plenty of combat and RP, so come play! You can check out the staff here.

Please. Come play. Come NPC. Make my suicidal decision to staff three games worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Picturing Fantasy: Photography and Costuming

post over on Xeph-Ink, about photographing costuming, really caught my attention. (In fact, this post is largely in response to Xeph's blog, so please go check it out!) Xeph writes about the best possible ways to photograph costuming; she mentions lighting, context and environment, and models, as well as her own experiences with the ins and outs of photography. Professional costumers are probably familiar with the trials of photographing LARP pieces well, but, with a more general audience in mind (myself included), I wanted to give a few thoughts on photography and costuming.

During a LARP, I think it's easy to see fantastic costumes and makeup for what they are: well-done elements that add to the immersive IG universe. However, to me at least, once costumes drift outside of their intended context (for instance, in the middle of the woods at 3 am), they lose a lot of their magic. Sure, when someone is standing under the fluorescent lights of a bathroom, I can see skillfully applied make-up and/or a well-conceptualized costume, but something is, undeniably, missing. The diamond studded skin becomes a face with glued on plastic gems. The whiskers or scales body paint. While the beauty of the piece is still apparent, the real life of the person wearing it is obvious. In many ways, this is how the art of LARP works: it's ephemeral-- and tenaciously glued to its own context.

This is problematic when/if we decide to show our costumes and makeup to an audience outside of the LARP event itself. As Xeph writes, costumes out of context look a little sad: in your living room or on your front porch, your highborn tarantula queen doesn't look nearly as elegant as she did two weekends ago, deep in the woods. We've all seen the pictures of costumes photographed outside of their intended environment: unless the game itself is modernistic, they rarely look good (boffer weapons, an entirely different story, even less so). This is a pity: a lot of people, even if they aren't LARPers, could probably understand and get into LARP through pictures of good costuming.

All of this considered, I've seen some pictures, including those on Xeph-Ink, that are fantastic: not only are the pictures themselves artistically taken, but the setting works. The model doesn't seem awkward. The costume, even though obviously outside of a LARP or Faire, is displayed to its full potential. While photographs of costumes may seem superficial, to me, they have a larger significance: well-done photography is one way to preserve and communicate our art form. As I've discussed before, LARP is difficult to communicate or display (as well it should be, perhaps). In my opinion, options that allow us to successfully capture our art form should be pursued.

So, what are methods for successfully photographing costuming and makeup? Are you a fan of photographing costuming? Are there privacy concerns involved with photography? And, please, for some really practical technique tips, go check out Xeph-Ink!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Talkative Monsters

In New England, LARPing season is in full swing-- like many of my comrades, for the last few weekends and until it gets really cold, I've been packing my totes and zipping off to the event-of-the-weekend. It's been tiring, but grand. On these many rides to-and-from LARPs, conversations, unsurprisingly, drift towards LARP. One thing that's been popping up a lot for me is the issue of RP-active combat NPCs.

To be clear, these are the crunchies-- the little ones who pop up until you take down the bigger one(s). They are often played by tireless NPCs who have been thugging for most of the weekend. They probably don't have a backstory, and they may or may not have a particularly good briefing. They are there to fight PCs, to be a body, and to amp up the danger of an encounter. This brings me to the problems of role-play with these NPCs.

As a PC, I dislike completely lifeless, uninteresting crunchies. Even if you're only out for an hour, endlessly recycling, I really appreciate when people put in the extra effort to breathe life (or unlife) into Random Zombie 5. Monster-appropriate grunts, movements, and, when appropriate, strategies go a long way for me. With that being said, as a PC, there is nothing more obnoxious than a random monster who is distracting, through over-acting, from the real focus of the fight-- to me, it's like a chorus member constantly upstaging the lead.

So how do you strike a balance in crunchy RP roles? Personally, I think it has a lot to do with monster camp briefing-- as an NPC, I enjoy it when I'm given simple and clear instructions, which include motivations (this can come from a stat card or, ideally, a person). The monster master at Aralis is particularly good at doing this: rousing speeches, funny and wonderfully delivered, provide motivation and meaning for even the smallest roles. I'm curious as to other people's opinions and experiences regarding "RP-active crunchies"? Do you like them? Hate them? Notice them? If you staff games, how do you brief crunchies relative to RP? If you NPC, do you attempt to characterize even the most "inconsequential" monsters? How?

Monday, September 10, 2012


As an NPC, I love playing villains. Being the character that PCs love to hate is, in a strange way, rewarding. Even when PCs want to do terrible violence to your character, knowing that you, as an actor, have facilitated an emotional bond is exciting. Furthermore, as a PC, I realize how essential villains are to many LARPs-- especially in PvE LARPs, villains can amp up the intensity of a plot, provide motivation, and offer a moral foil for players. However, while most games have them, I do not think that playing a fully characterized villain is particularly easy: villains have been in fiction for a long, long time, and it's hard to play one without stumbling on some established trope ("evil faerie" and "mad scientist" are my usual go-to's). So, with that in mind, how can you make a villain interesting? How can you make one painfully boring?

As either a PC or an NPC, how do you play villains? From an observer perspective, what types of villain characterizations are successful? Which ones are failures or tired cliches? Do you have any favorite LARP villains (against whom you've fought, or with whom you've "worked")? What makes their characterization so good? What tips do you have for playing good villains?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Staying in Mundania

by Zoe

I was chatting with a friend last night; we were talking LARP, as we tend to do. The friend, who has various experience staffing and playing, mentioned the role of "mundane plot" in LARP-- especially fantasy LARPs or high-magic environments. The friend said that he preferred mundane plot over continually epic, high-fantasy encounters. After some thinking, while I like my epic plot plenty, I came to agree with aspects of this argument. So, I have some questions, and some brief answers of my own. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

What is "mundane plot"?
For me, mundane plot is the stuff that makes a world real, but doesn't have universe-dismantling consequences. It's the conversations with farmers, technicians, refugees, villagers, and minor politicians. The modules that allow you to engage with the daily grind of the gameworld's population. The minor moral decisions that don't impact the larger flow of the game, but engage players in a lasting way.

I'll give an example of mundane plot that was engaging for me. In MM, a group of NPCs and staff member lead a weekend plotline that involved a debacle between a fae lord and a village; the bone of contention was a river that the fae lord wanted rerouted. The rerouting would, of course, significantly hamper the villagers; however, the players owed the fae lord a favor. Beyond basic combat modules, the plot involved several round table meetings between the players and related NPCs (including the mayor of the village, villagers, and representatives of the fae contingent). Players, as a group, had to devise ways to appease both parties-- some players, myself included, were, without question, in support of the fae; some were, without question, in support of the villagers; everybody wanted to have their interests represented in the conversation. The plot was, mostly, back and forth discussion about drilling wells, rerouting rivers, and repercussions for the surrounding communities; innovative modules to dig the well and reroute the river followed. Writing it out, it, admittedly, sounds a little boring. However, it wasn't-- it was fantastic. The level of normalcy involved drew us in-- we, epic characters of legend, needed to figure out how to provide irrigation to a random village's crops. If we had decided to ignore the plight of the villagers, in favor of pleasing the fae lord, nothing dire would have happened-- but the goodly players among us would have felt uncomfortable. It was a story arc that, through its normalcy, involved us, as characters, on a variety of levels. Simple as it was, it was a very engaging, well thought-out plot.

How does mundane plot add to a campaign?

As in the example presented above, mundane plot can make players feel involved in the world around them without involving higher-order fantasy. It can be a good way to involve character well-versed in the universe, but also to pull in newer players who may not understand the grand overarching schemes. Moreover, when epic characters and plotlines are constantly used, they have a tendency to get old and, worst case scenario, cheesy. Throwing in a goodly dose of "mundania" can help that.

When does it detract from a campaign?

Mundane plot, when done poorly, can feel like filler. Poorly done mundane plot feels like modules for bored players, or for players who don't have any connection to a larger plot. Obviously, this is problematic, and needs to be avoided. Careful writing and, perhaps even more importantly, really good NPCs, can help people avoid this. In order for mundane plot to work, the actors involved need to be skillful, knowledgeable, and interesting (easier said than done)-- that way, minor issues feel like major issues, which is the trick to making mundane plot work.

So... how do you use mundane plot in your LARPs? Do you enjoy it? Avoid it? What are some successes and failures you've had?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Cottington Woods Rule Book

Decisions! Decisions! The Cottington Woods preliminary rulebook has been released! What are you thinking of playing? Do you have ideas for costumes and props? If you're attending the playtest (I sadly cannot), please be sure to include some thoughts!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Comfort Levels

Hello everyone,
Thanks for being patient with me. Here in the archipelago, I've been hiking until I can't really stand anymore, which leave me with very little brain for LARP. However, in my lonely mountain retreat, I was mulling over something that has come up a couple times for me in conversation, writing, and playing... comfort zones.

(Please excuse the awkward English-- I haven't been using it at length or in any sort of formal context.)

Firstly, what is a comfort zone (and I'm sorry for the lack of a better term)? Within LARP, I'm operatively defining it as an individual player's tolerance and willingness to participate in any number of IG/OoG scenarios. For instance, PC Jenny Jones may have a comfort zone that allows her to enjoy emotional conversations with fellow PCs, political intrigue, and one-on-one combat. However, PC Jenny Jones may have a comfort zone that does not include any sort of PvP nor romantic relationships with other players (PCs or otherwise). Moreover, devoutly religious OoG, Jenny Jones may feel intensely uncomfortable if required to engage in IG religion. Superficially, this situation is easy enough-- don't send Jenny Jones any potential suitors, and make sure she gets in on any juicy usurpation plot (but avoid church stuff, or forewarn her). Seemingly, Jenny should have a fun and comfortable game.

However, when Jenny is one of 60+ players, all of whom have individual comfort zones, this can get complicated. How can the player base, including staff and non-staff, successfully navigate and address the comfort zones of every single player? Admittedly, this is a difficult question into which a lot of thought has been poured-- pregame surveys, post-event letters, and experiential learning have all contributed to helping us learn how to deal with the comfort zones of our fellow players. After all, LARP is, if nothing else, a fundamentally prosocial experience. So, some questions on comfort zones...answer any, all, or none.

What is your comfort zone? How do you make sure it is respected? Have you ever run into problems with your comfort zone/tolerance levels on an OoG level? How did you deal with the incident?

How do you mitigate your OoG comfort zone with the expectations of the IG world?

As a staff member or NPC, how do you deal with varying PC comfort levels in a game?

Are there ground rules for player interaction that facilitate an environment of mutual respect?

Are there ever times when pushing a player out of their comfort zone is ok-- even desirable? Why or why not?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Healthy Competition

Olympics are on my brain, so some thoughts about LARP competitions...

In-game competitions are often excellent ways to a) advance a plot, b) entertain PCs, and c) use a conservative number of NPCs to accomplish both a and b. Set in the middle of an event, a contest of some sort, lasting for a few hours, can not only add to the gameworld atmosphere, but also occupy PCs who would otherwise be bored. For this reason, in-game contests are a frequent occurrence in LARPs, especially in games that emphasize a larger landscape outside the central "town." Contests, executed well, can be excellent ways to introduce NPCs, encourage PC bonding, and allow people to demonstrate special talents. However, less successful contests also exist, and we've probably all experience one or two. 

All of this considered, I wanted to pose some questions about IG competitions? Do you like them? How are the best utilized? What format do you prefer? Should there be a boon, prize, or reward? What should be avoided?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Thinking: Staying Cool in the Heat

The summer weather in Japan always reminds me of two things: 1) the Japanese definition of "lightly muggy" is my definition of "the 7th layer of Hell on a breezy day," and 2) water is really important. Moreover, it's also made me realize that the Japanese are 200% better at staying cool in heat than New Englanders are. Beyond the usual "wear light and cool clothes" and "drink water" that most of us know and follow, the Japanese have managed to perfect staying cool in damp, hot, and uncomfortable weather. I think a couple of these, along with the old standbys, transfer well to the LARP setting-- so, some stuff I've seen here, as well as the usual precautions. Karin on LARPohio also wrote a good post on this awhile ago.

1) Wear light clothing that dries easily.
This is basic. Just like in the colder weather, dress in layers that you can change in and out off. Sweat, rain, dew, and drizzle can, in the summer months, quickly turn to mildew, and make your costume uncomfortable and unhygienic. (Thinking back to junior high health class, we all know what warm and damp equals.) Comfortable clothing can easily look period, and most games have a "summer armor/costume" rule for the hotter months. Invest in some garments that not only look good, but are also practical (light linen and cotton all work for me).

2) Drink water. Lots of it.
Another essential part of warmer weather. Drink more water than you normally would-- a lot more. You're not only outside in the hotter weather, you're running around and exerting yourself. Water is absolutely essential: check, before going to a LARP, about how much you need daily, and then how much you would need for, say, a weekend of active camping. Failing to drink water can, of course, equal, fatigue, dehydration, irritability, heat exhaustion, and all that stuff. Have a "drinking buddy" who helps you remember to drink water before and after fights, and regularly throughout the event. Similarly, find an in-game flask of bottle that will encourage you to drink more water.

Edited-to-add an excellent point from commenter jjmarika (included below, but I wanted to emphasize it):

The sad corrollary to this is that sometimes drinking water is not enough. I was at a one-day in the summer and was feeling awful - headache, too hot, sorta sick, all the signs that I was really dehydrated. I kept drinking water, and it did absolutely nothing. Finally a friend whose brain was not entirely fried handed me a gatorade and 15 minutes later I was fine. So yeah. If you are missing electrolytes/nutrients/sugar, sometimes water alone is not enough. Recommend having at least one thing of juice/gatorade/whatever along, too.

3) Use fans.
The Japanese use paper hand-fans all the time. Not only are they elegant, but they're also really quite effective-- a few minutes wafting yourself with a paper or cloth fan looks good, but also dries up sweat, and cools you down. Some people, I've seen, have little battery-operated cooling fans-- I have no idea where to get these, but they seem effective.

4) Eat foods that will give you stamina.
In the hot weather, it's easy to lose your appetite-- especially if you're racing around, waiting for the next module or encounter. In Japan, there is a belief that, in the summer, eating nutrient dense foods, in small amounts, is the best way to stay healthy. At a summer larp, I think this is especially important-- the heat is tiring, and without proper nourishment, you're going to be dead on your feet by 8pm on Saturday. Nutrient dense foods include high protein stuff, complex carbohydrates, and the so-called good fats. Be careful, however, of too much salt.

5) Comfort is everything.
A lot of people, especially warrior-tanks and highborns, forgo comfort in favor of costume. Be careful of this in the summer: heavy boots, ornate corsets, detailed armor, and cloaks may all look beautiful, but can quickly cause heat exhaustion and, at the very least, irritability. Your light-cotton skirt and simple shift may look less than stellar (compared to your autumn costume), but, when the mercury is rising, and you're soaked in sweat, you'll be much more likely to enjoy the game than if you were in full garb. Of course, some will never forgo their full costume-- that's not me, but I can see the motivation behind it.

6) Irritability.
I've mentioned irritability a few times, but it bears clarification: in the hot weather, temperatures and tempers run equally high. People are often uncomfortable, over-tired, and over-heated-- this can make for snappy conversations and unintended nastiness. Be mindful of this. Firstly, if you need to give yourself a time-out, do so. Go sit in your cabin, take a quick shower, or have a snack. Secondly, if people are snappy at you in hot weather, be a little more understanding-- there's no real excuse for incredible rudeness, but, if people are hot and exhausted, just give them some space, and hope they get over it.

What do you do to beat the heat at late spring, summer, and early fall LARPs?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Theory Thursday: Non-Larping Influences

A quick announcement: as many of you know, I'm currently in Okazaki, Japan for the rest of the summer. I'm doing a fairly intensive language program, and, accordingly, won't have much time to update this blog. (Pictures and tales from not-so-old Japan here.) Accordingly, I probably won't have very much time to post new things other than questions for discussion. So, if you've been thinking about submitting something, please do so! Email any ideas to

Onto the question...

What non-LARP "proper" activities have influenced your LARPing style? Consider things like cosplay, theatre, vocal performance, reenactment, creative writing, and that sort of thing. What sort of non-LARP elements do you bring to the game from these activities? How has it positively influenced your game? Have there been any negative "side effects" from using non-LARP things within a LARP?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Theory Thursday: Playing with Morality

Most of the LARPs I play have a distinctly "heroic" morality-- characters are expected to a) do good things, b) support good things, and/or c) at the very least, do bad things quietly. However, as many of us know, even within a "heroic" setting, there is plenty of room for moral shades of gray.

With that being said, as an NPC, PC, or staff person, what have some of your most interesting "moral moments" been? What difficult decisions have you forced on players? What dilemmas, as a player, have you had to reconcile? How does morality, and the ramifications of moral decisions, add to the bigger narrative of your game?

(Also, thanks to everyone for the fantastic comments on recent posts. It's exciting to have such a thoughtful readership on this blog-- it really helps to keep the conversation going, and to widen perspectives on LARP.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Note Taking: How LARPs Can Ease Your Scholarly Urges

by Zoe Eddy and Anthony Reed

I'm pleased to have the input of my friend, Anthony Reed, the fellow who originally introduced me to LARPing. Anthony is also a diligent note taker and note sharer; his tactics for note-taking have improved my experience and approach to LARPing.

Note-taking may seem like a strange topic. Note-taking is something, in my opinion, that players do religiously or almost not at all. As an anthropologist and a writer, note-taking has always appealed to me. Zealously taking notes, I quickly found, improved my game experience, and allowed me to, on a meta-level, interact with the game world more reflectively. Anthony and I thought about the note-taking phenomenon at LARPs, and expanded on it a bit further.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Creating Atmosphere

by Dan W.

Another great post from Dan on the role of courtesy in LARPs-- sometimes courtesy, beyond simply making people feel better, can also improve the gameworld of the LARP in question.

Creating Atmosphere: The Game is What You Make It

One of the wonderful aspects of LARPing is that it is not only a shared experience, but that the creation of that experience is shared by all its participants as well as the creators. It's rather an amazing thing, but this can also at times work against a game when not everyone is on the same page. Most of us can probably recall at one time or another either in a LARP or tabletop game when a particularly powerful or compelling moment was spoiled by an ill timed out of game reference, joke, a cell phone ringing, or something similar. Emotionally engaging scenes, particularly those involving creepy or scary themes depend on everyone involved being invested in what is happening, and the shared imaginative space we collectively seek to maintain is easily broken. Creating a memorable and effective game experience depends not only on staff and NPCs, but equally on the player's contributions as well, and there are some things all of us can do to help things along. You've paid your game fee for the weekend, you may as well help get the most you can out of it.

First, it's not just about you. You may have decided you're playing Max Power The Undefeated Hero who isn't scared of anything, isn't phased by anything, and comes off as a cocky showboat, but keep in mind how your role-play is effecting the game space for those around.If you go in with a group of your fellow PCs into a dark module building with some heavily costumed creepy monster, some brash comments here and there may be appropriate for you, an unending string of them may spoil the mood for your fellow players. Some players
really enjoy drinking in the flavor of a scene, they want to be frightened, sad, or otherwise pushed to experience how their character will react to intense situations. This can only happen for them, however, if the mood in a scene is maintained. Going overboard on giving silly nicknames to enemy villains, excessive smack-talk, or even worse breaking game and making movie or video game references and the like can instantly undo everything plot is trying to accomplish (and remember what they're working for is to entertain you). So, be aware of the roleplaying atmosphere when you enter a situation, and help to strengthen it. It's fine to roleplay your hero how you see him or her, but you don't want to steamroll other people's roleplay while you do so.

Second, mistakes happen, and sometimes you just have to roll with the retcon. NPCs coming into a game have a lot of information to absorb, and not everything is going to stick, so you may find that an NPC hook coming to take you on a mod somewhere gives you information that contradicts things you know to be true, or that it turns out later was inconsistent with other things going on. Have mercy on the poor fellow. Sometimes when an NPC is sent out it's with only a sparse briefing from a frazzled staff person being pulled in twelve directions, and they may get something wrong, or they may have been given a very in depth seventeen page briefing which means they've probably forgotten 90% of it. So, when you run into a situation where the person running your encounter ends up having to clarify a confusing situation due to conflicting or inconsistent information, get the real story and just let the rest slide. Mistakes will happen, and harping on them accomplishes little save to further embarrass the poor NPC who is already feeling bad for having screwed up the information they gave out in the first place, and we don't want our NPCs to feel bad. It's understandable that you may feel a lot of frustration in the moment, but be aware that obsessing verbally over this sort of thing can end up adding to the frustration of other players.

Third, it's not contest. Plot is trying to tell a story and create memorable experiences, they're not trying to beat the players. NPCs are told quite frequently 'play to entertain, not to win.' PCs are expected to play to win, but at the same time it's important to keep in mind that it's not you vs. the GM. The game is supposed to be fun for everyone, and when staff throws you a particularly daunting challenge or hard fight, more often then not it's because they want you to have the chance to be heroic, and they're hoping you'll succeed. If you do get thrown a no-win scenario, keep in mind that the aim is still to engage you in a story that is fun. Think back to epic
science fiction and fantasy you've read or watched, and how much sweeter the hero's triumph is when they finally claim victory from seemingly insurmountable odds. Compare that with your average Saturday morning cartoon where the heroes win every single time, it gets pretty boring.

Helping to maintain the atmosphere that plot is trying to create isn't just about being courteous to NPCs and your fellow players, it's about creating a better experience for you. If you find you're breaking character repeatedly because you're not into a scene, consider if there are things you can be doing to help improve things. If one person starts breaking game, most likely other people will be too, so the quality of any encounter is entirely dependent on what the people involved make of it.

How have you moved to make games more courteous? Does courtesy create a better feel of immersion? What are ways to appropriate roleplay challenging situations?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A New LARP Blog

Hello everyone,

The great Spring/Summer LARP marathon is done, and I'm soon jetting off to do some research in Japan. I intend to update, as it will be a nice way to stay in touch with everyone. Also, Japan is a big source of inspiration for a lot of my LARP aesthetics.

Stay tuned for a collaborative post from my good friend Anthony (on note taking), and, in the meantime, please check out a new Larp blog: LARP Theory from Scott. It's exciting to see all of these LARP blogs coalescing, so please show your support.

Be well,

Friday, June 15, 2012

How do you deal with boredom at a LARP?

No matter how thrilling the LARP, how invested your character, nor how seemingly non-stop the action, every single character, in every single LARP, will eventually come across the Great Beast of Boredom.

Boredom, at a LARP, happens. It happens for a variety of reasons: you're not interested in the weekend's main plot; it's just not "your event," and, while all of your friends are getting personal plot, you're sitting in a tavern, vainly hoping the weird-looking-creature-from-another-realm is looking for you and not the other weird-looking-creature-from-another-realm; you, through ill-fated odds, have missed every single NPC who has waltzed into town, looking for unoccupied adventurers of any sort. This stuff happens to everyone, though hopefully not routinely. And it causes boredom, which can easily shift to negativity, hurt feelings, and out-of-game dissatisfaction with an event.

I think that dealing with boredom is an important skill, and one that I am slowly learning. Especially during a busy or transitional event, it's important to be able, I feel, to entertain yourself using the structure around you-- even at the most "you-centric" event, chances are you will have a couple hours or more of downtime. For newer players, it can be difficult to get involved with larger swaths of plot. For example, recently, due to some stretches of inactivity at a previous event, my friend and I started designing an in-game, self-sufficient group to make us feel more involved. The beauty of this group is that it is completely player driven, and operates within the existing structure of the game world: when plot is busy making the event run smoothly, we'll have something to do that requires no outside "help." (I'll let you know how it goes once it's in the works officially.)

How do you deal with boredom? More interestingly, has your game improved because of steps to involve yourself?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On Repulsion...

Recently, I got into a conversation with a group of LARPers about "gross-out" techniques: LARP mechanics and special effects meant to elicit a visceral reaction-- generally one of repulsion. I wanted to mull over it a bit, and then present some questions to readers.

Repulsion is a powerful emotion/reaction. It borders somewhere between hatred, fear, and, if the offensive subject is done well, pity. (In my anthropological work, repulsion and disgust is actually something that I have studied quite a bit-- I apologize, in advance, for pedantic babbling.)  For those familiar with Julia Kristeva's work on the abject, repulsion is the reaction that protects us-- the vulnerable viewer, the subject-- from a thing that threatens our personhood and identity. The most obvious example is a corpse (especially one that is visibly decaying): a corpse reminds us, the living observer, of our own mortality. By rejecting it-- through a wave of nausea, discomfort, and/or outright fear--, we reject, on some level, our own mortality. Our human weakness. The reality that, wriggling inside us, is the potential for decay. Of course, repulsion doesn't need to be directed at a corpse specifically: rotten food, vermin, insects, and disease all elicit powerful reactions of disgust. However, some would argue, and I don't necessarily disagree, that all repulsion stems from fear of the corpse and, more specifically, dying things.

To blather for a moment, to me, as someone who uses a significant amount of gore in her writing, art, and performance, there is a big difference to "repulsing" people and simply "grossing people out." Repulsion involves fear, and, to me, a confrontation with things we realize we never wanted to reconcile-- repulsion involves a recognition of a taboo intellectual curiosity. Gross-out moments involve a simpler visceral reaction: nausea or a clenched chest, without any sort of intellectual investment, as reaction to something that is simply disgusting to our senses. Both have their moments, though repulsion is more powerful. Repulsion taps into fear and, more importantly, intelligence.

To move on to LARPing, the power of repulsion is legendary. We have all probably had at least one moment, in-game, where our characters encounter something that is, simply put, repulsive. To give an example-- mine comes from Mirror, Mirror: At the tail end of a grueling 6-hour grinder, we had to reclaim orbs. The trouble was, we had to reclaim orbs from a vat of viscous goo (some sort of xanthan gum creation). It was utmost import that we, brave champions that we were, quickly and efficiently reclaim the orbs, and make a dash for it. Easier said than done: the goo was pretty disgusting. Beyond the slimy feel, the goo (which we couldn't see clearly due to the darkened module space) was disconcertingly tepid: it was warm enough to suggest something was wriggling and/or living within it. It was simple, repulsive, and, most importantly, really upped the intensity of the module. It was a good example, I feel, of the "repulsion component" used appropriately.

Repulsing people is a subtle art. As in a film, in a LARP it's easy to go over board: lots of gore, over-selling special effects, too many added sounds, and layering rotting-corpse-upon-rotting-corpse. For squeamish players, it becomes obnoxious to have to deal with excessive attempts at gore. For players who enjoy gore, excessive amounts become silly and laughable. Depending on the tone of your campaign, laughable gore might be perfect. However, if you're going for severity and mystery, less is more.

Repulsion, as I discussed, involves fear. That means it inherently involves manipulation. In order to repulse people, manipulate their expectations. Look at standard things in your game that players take for granted: safe spaces like taverns, standard attacks, and friendly, visiting NPCs. All of these things can be carefully tweaked to elicit fear. Consider the following examples...

1) Taverns: I, like many players, use taverns as places where I can feel safe. While I would never want it to be an all-the-time thing, careful toying with the Tavern, especially at "spooky" events, can be really powerful. For instance, many taverns have beds across which players stretch themselves. As part of a horror-based plot line, stick a disembodied hand under a pillow. When the players find it, it will be scary-- all the more so because a safe space has been invaded. Finding an unwelcome guest (such as insects, vermin, or, well, a hand) is much scarier in your own home than in some abandoned ruin.

2) Standard Attacks: Flavor attacks can go a long way to repulse people. Accelerant uses a standard call, "[Attack] [by Trait]" leading to calls like simply "Agony" or "Agony by Light" ("Agony" being seized by some sort of pain to the extent where you can only block). If hit by something like an "Agony by Fire," players generally roleplay the fiery pain. "Agony by Light" elicits players rping a blinding light. Accordingly, a well-placed Trait on this sort of call can easily repulse players. To again borrow from Mirror, Mirror, I give you the infamous "Agony by Maggots." Just think about it. Yes, that's right. Maggots squirming everywhere. When I was first hit by that Agony attack, as soon as my brain registered the nature of the trait, I was so repulsed that I almost dropped my weapon. It was brilliant and disgusting. Also, most importantly, it was subtle.

3) Friendly NPCs: We all expect unfriendly NPCs to be ugly and heinous, but what about friendly ones? Try this: send an rp-heavy NPC into town. The goal of this NPC should basically be to chat up players, get to know them, and help them out. However, make this NPC hideously ugly-- perhaps gaping sores or something similar. In any case, make the NPC truly difficult to look at. This will no doubt repulse players, but in a very powerful way: it will force them to reconcile any biases they may have based on the physical appearance of an individual. That's the power of repulsion: it forces us into an internal debate with our values and prejudices.

So, these are just a few ideas, and urge you to pursue your own. What have been particularly repulsive moments in campaigns? Is there anything that you would want to try? Is there anything that has failed? Where do people need to draw the line?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Some Make-up Tutorials

by Zoe

Not to much in the way of theoretical rambling today, but instead a series of eyecandy: make-up tutorials from youtube. I've been passing time by watching these this week: they're fun, and have given me some fun ideas. To be fair, I've seen some Accelerant LARPers who outdo any of these artists, but, for beginners like me, these videos are great for inspiration. If any readers do phenomenal makeup-- and I know some of you do-- I'd be happy to accept tutorials. Also, while most of these artists are women, these could certainly be unisex designs. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Theory Thursday: LARP Workshops

So, a mainstay of both conventions, faires, and Nordic Larp is workshops, lectures, and other "how-to's" concerning all things LARP. Activities can range from make-up to combat workshops to panels on game design. Following some conversations with similar-minded friends, I've been wondering how workshops might be applied to a smaller LARP setting. I think a one-day event, run by people within a singular system, would be a) a good way to bring people together, and b) a way to improve people's game. In my professional life, I workshop all the time: conferences are ways to listen to innovative thinkers (in my field), and learn valuable techniques. LARP is such an applied art form, that I think workshopping different things would be really beneficial. Here are some of the things I envision as being useful to the games I play:

- Durable Fantasy Make-up: I often see people at LARPs who not only sport fantastic make-up, but seem to apply make-up in a way that prevents smudges and runny streaks (even after a 3-hour grinder in light rain). Slowly learning through trial, error, and youtube videos has been my way-- it would be great to have a workshop on how to apply a range of make-up.
- Costuming Basics: I am not a sewer, nor do I have gobs of money to spend on costuming. I would love to learn where to look for cheap, functional, and attractive clothing. I think this would be especially beneficial for newer people, who may not want to invest lots of time and money into costume-finding.

- Acting Workshops: We all know the LARPer who does five phenomenal accents per event, has perfected the art of gesture, and can play any character, from heinous to pitiful. It would improve everybody's game if we could all learn some tricks-of-the-trade.

- Traps: I've always wanted to learn how to assemble traps and trap modules, but, as a hands-on person, videos don't really do it for me. There are some great trappers out there, and I, personally, would love to learn from them. And maybe even have a test module of a trapping event.

- Music Workshops: I'm always looking for short, accessible songs well-suited to a LARP. Also, as someone who loves to sing with others, I'm into this sort of thing.

- A Panel on Running a Monster Camp: If you've NPCed, you've probably been in excellent MCs and terrible ones. Getting together a group of staffers, all with Monster Camp experience, and asking them to share organizational tactics might be beneficial for everyone.

Alright, enough of my rambling...

Would you be interested in a one-day event geared totally towards LARP workshops relevant to your community? Have you ever participated in one? What sort of things would you want to see workshopped?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When in Game, Always Be NPCing

Contributor: Daniel W. (Arcadinal on gmail)
Submission: non-fiction piece, from Dan's blog, on sportsmanship

Dan has written an excellent piece on PCing, player dynamics, and sportsmanship. It's an important topic, and one on which many of us, myself included, don't frequently write. After reading, please go check out Dan's blog, The Paladin's Perspective. I have been following it recently, and he offers a lot of sage advice.

A couple years back there was a discussion on someone's LJ about meta-level PC/NPC interactions. NPCs are frequently told 'don't play to win, play to entertain,' but the question came up as to whether or not PCs had a responsibility to watch out for the fun level of NPCs. One person asserted no, they didn't feel they had any responsibility towards NPCs at all, which created a bit of a stir. Here's my take on it.

I've only been LARPing for several years at this point, but I've done quite a lot of NPCing over that time, and it's a hat I can't really take off anymore. I'm pretty much always trying to keep an eye out particularly during fights as to how NPCs seem to be enjoying what's going on. Why? It's pretty simple. I like big melees, and lots of them. I like having a field choked with people running about thwacking each other with sticks, but I can only do that if there's someone for me to fight. Lets face it, boffer solitaire just ain’t that fun. I love to crunch as an NPC, and I have a pretty good idea of what makes for a fun fight from both the PC and NPC side at this point. I want NPCs to come to games I PC at so I can get in good fighting, and plenty of it, so I want them to have a good time while we're going at it. So, just as while I'm NPCing I'm constantly trying gauge PC enjoyment of what's going on, as a PC I'm doing the same thing.

There are a few good rules of etiquette which are admittedly situation dependent, but I personally feel help to make for a fun time for all involved, and I strongly feel this applies regardless of what side of the line you're on.

First off, don't mob the poor 4 vitality crunchy who's out doing field pain in a 17 on 3 fight. If it's a drag out brutal melee with folks being deathstruck and high-damage lieutenants roaming the field, then sure, go all in. If on the other hand you're in a relatively secure position and you see a breathless NPC crunchy is already fighting three people, just let those folks have it. You'll get plenty of other chances to get your treasure. There's no reason to mob the poor fellow with ridiculously overwhelming numbers. It can also aggravate safety issues as multiple people descending a single frazzled out of breath fighter means more chances of wild swings and unsafe head shots. As said, it's one thing if you're running down a lieutenant, but give the grunts a break.

Secondly, gauge who you're fighting and use some common sense. I have had some awesome full speed duels with some folks who I know from experience really get into it, and it's a blast. We're running all over the place, the swings are fast and furious, both parties are clearly enjoying themselves, and its a rush. When your opponent, however, is timidly approaching taking the odd cautious poke here or there, dial it back a few notches. Especially if you're skilled enough to take the person out with some well placed taps, there's no reason to go to town on that person at high speed. Also, if you're about to engage someone who you know likes a quick fight, but notice they're standing next to some folks who maybe aren't so inclined, be mindful of this so you don't inadvertently trample or clothesline folks who are a bit less rough and tumble.

Third, some may say this breaks immersion and such, but I don't think it's out of line to periodically offer a “thank you” or “good fight” to the exhausted NPC you just put down as you search them for treasure. I noticed some PCs doing it at Madrigal when I started NPCing there, and I try and make a point of doing it myself now because that person is there devoting their time to getting beat up by me and my fellows. I think it helps to let people know their efforts are appreciated.

The bottom line is that regardless of whether you're a PC or NPC, you're at a game and it should be a communal effort to ensure that all involved are having a good time. NPCing is the volunteering of the LARP world, for the most part no one's getting paid for this. So, it's a good idea to try and keep the volunteers entertaining you happy so they'll come back. It's a game, have fun, make sure your opponent is having fun too. That is after all sort of the whole point.

If you've worked the NPC shift, have you had experiences with sportsmanship that have made you more or less inclined to NPC that game again? What is "good" vs. "bad" sportsmanship?

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Art of the Joke: Humor in LARP

by Zoe

So a friend and reader of the blog, bakeneko, urged me to do a post on humor in larps, and I think that's a really interesting topic. One of the reasons I larp is because I like the community, and, more specifically, I like how people bring their senses of humor into play. Also, as anyone who has larped with me will know, I'm kind of a ham, and I like to be funny. Larps are one of the few places where my (bad) jokes are fully appreciated. In fact, now that I think about it, humor is one of the major things that drives me to larp-- I've never really considered it before. So, I posed a few questions to myself, and urge all of you to answer them as well. Most of my examples come from Accelerant's "Mirror, Mirror," so apologies to non-players... but it really is a funny game.

Why is larp humor so funny?

At larps, I often guffaw at things that would elicit, in real life, only a light chuckle. I chalk this up to two things. Firstly, consider the horror movie: a well-done horror movie has really funny moments, with laugh out loud jokes. These jokes are made all the funnier by the emotional switch to fear borne from suspense: the contrast between scary and funny makes the jumpy moments (as my sister calls them) terrifying-- and the comedic instances hilarious. Larp achieves this same effect: the seriousness of a significant battle makes the IG banter all the funnier. Also, during a larp, you're generally exhausted, so everything's a riot. 

Also, larp allows us to exploit fantastical situations more easily: some of the funniest things in Mirror, Mirror are the flavor traits that people use to flesh out character abilities. For instance, take "Heal by Darkness"-- admittedly, only lightly humorous on its own. However, when a "by Darkness" healer heals a downed Person of Righteous Goodliness, and that individual is agonized or traumatized by the effect, it turns into a subtle joke that really only comes across in a larp interaction.

What kind of humor works at a larp?

I think the more larp humor can play on in-game situations, the better. That way, no one's offended, and you really add to the immersion of a game. Mirror, Mirror offers some of these in-game based jokes: for example, consider unicorns and orphanages. Among a number of characters, there's the ongoing joke/completely serious concern that neither of these things is particularly good news: unicorns are constantly being corrupted, and orphanges are the origin of evil cult rituals 9 out of 10 times. This has lead to many player-spoken litanies against helping unicorns and/or orphanages. 

I generally think humor functions the best when it's worked directly into how a character interacts: if a character is naturally funny, to me, it feels more genuine than when a serious character looks for opportunities to be funny-- it turns into character-breaking jokes. An example of in-character humor: there was once a brilliant NPC who we referred to as the "wedding planner." His job, during a large field fight, was to "fix" the attacking monsters through in-fight adjustments-- he did so accompanied by a series of obsessive-perfectionist comments and criticisms, muttered under his breath. There was no obvious attempt at humor, which may have been jarring-- instead, comedy was worked deep into the character's personality; the character was fantastically acted, which made the whole thing effective.

How can you work humor into a character?

For me, working humor into a character can be difficult. Some people are naturally funny and gregarious: playing a character that exploits these personalities, for those sort of people, comes naturally. For others, myself included, it can be a bit more of a task to make a character funny: falling into the pit of "trying too hard" is exhausting and obnoxious. Instead, I try to seize on things that work towards in-character comedy-- especially ones that mesh well with the gameworld. I tend towards absurdism, so predilections towards odd obsessions, asking seemingly obvious questions, and sporting questionable morals (towards the darker shades of gray) all work well for me. Ultimately, I think comedy in a larp is not wholly reliant on clever jokes-- for me, the funnier characters depend on acting and full incorporation of humor into a character's larger personality.

What kind of humor doesn't work at a larp?

This is an important question to ask yourself. Humor is powerful. It can both build and sever bonds between players. Moreover, when people are getting laughs from half of the player base, they don't necessarily realize a group of people are not amused (in an out-of-game sort of way). Admittedly, you can't please everyone, and people may be un-amused for a variety of reason. However, your sense of humor, however artfully delivered, could border offense. For that reason, it's important to incorporate humor into your gameplay carefully. To this end, I have three basic rules. 

The first one: be nice. It's Rob Ciccolini's rule from Accelerant, and I think it works well in determining what is or isn't funny. Even if you're trying to be funny, don't be insensitive. Don't insult things like physical appearance, speech impediments, skill, or perceived intelligence. If someone sings a song or reads a poem, and it's less than stellar, don't say anything negative unless it's really obvious they were performing in jest. If you're character is an insensitive jerk, and you really want to make jokes at another player's expense, focus on in-game things: elf-ishness, in-game character traits, and obsessions with, say, unicorns. Also, make sure that the brunt of your jokes is ok with it-- if it's your plan to habitually joke at someone else's expense, talk about it before game. Say something like, "My character is an ass, and likes to make jokes about others-- is it ok if I do that to you? I don't actually mean anything by it, but I like interacting with you, and guessed that you probably wouldn't mind." And go with whatever they say.

Secondly-- don't make people uncomfortable. The big one for me on this hinges on OoG racism: I've run into out-of-game racist jokes one or two times, from individual players, and it made me supremely uncomfortable (to the point where I avoid the situation altogether). Rape jokes are another big one: avoid them. There's been a lot of discussion, out of the larp community, on why sexual abuse jokes aren't funny-- a larp situation is no different, in many ways, from an OoG social situation. Think before you speak, and recognize that people come into game with OoG sensitivities. Be nice. Be respectful. Be considerate.

Thirdly-- keep it in game. Don't break immersion by making a joke. Admittedly, I'm not an "all the time in game" person. Muttered jokes and conversations with friends, in the safety of my own cabin, sometimes dally outside of purely in-game conversation-- I come to larps to be with people. However, I avoid making jokes, loudly and publicly, that clearly break immersion for others. That's rude-- we all come to this game to play, and the general expectation is that you stay in-character at all times.

Not to end on a downer note... but what do you find funny? What are some of the funniest experiences you've had in a larp? What hasn't worked?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Emotional Resonance and Innovation

by Albert

I have had the pleasure of working with Albert at Endgame, and I have been continually impressed by his ability to weave interesting and innovative plot. Now, as I join plot staffs for two games, I'm taking my experience working with Albert with me-- he has certainly helped me learn how to craft experimental modules that are open to improvement and further innovation. I approached Albert with the subject of plot writing, and he provided me with the following thoughts. 


I was given a question:

"How do you write good, emotional plot that is also innovative (i.e., not just an opportunity for players to come in, sob about their character histories, and leave)?"

Creating emotional resonance is all about getting hooks into a player's character. What do they care about? Are there people, PCs or possible NPCs, that are part of their sphere? What does that character struggle with? 

Looking back, the biggest key to this recipe is to let things steep. Allow NPCs time to form organic connections. Throw out possible hooks and see what catches... then reel them in slowly. Going for quick emotional punches can be effective, but are hard to sustain. Why? I think most players emotionally adapt. Players will lapse into humor, distraction, or 'oh this again' mentality to deal with intense situations.

If you them to care, truly care, beforehand, you got them hooked.

For myself at LARPs, Innovation is an approach to writing and running. It requires the capacity to be fearless in trying new things. To take a step back and see outside the standard LARP formats (field fights and modules) we lock our minds into. You need to not take it personally when things go horribly awry. Or worse, when players hate your module. 

An important note: Innovation does not mean Incomprehensible! If players don't understand or can't see the meaning behind what you are doing, you just created a crappy piece of modern art. Never forget the payoff: the friction between innovation and emotional resonance.

So how does one create emotional resonance in creative ways? For myself, I tend to incorporate the following via bullet-points:

* Surprise Them: Scenarios that players don't expect tends to elicit spur of the moment reactions and emotions. This can help sneak that emotional resonance in. Bait-and-switch, bluffing in the pre-hook, etc. all fall into this. But be careful of overuse! Messing with players expectations in bad ways, IG or OOG, can lead to grumpy players. Know what your players are capable of rolling with.

* Make Sure It's Not All About Me/You/Him: If the module is designed to have only one 'active' participant, then everyone else is a trapped audience. Double-check that EVERYONE (PCs and NPCs) have ways to interact with any scene. This can be reasons to actively RP or doodads to be interacted with. Give them a way to leave if it's not their cup of tea. If it can't be helped, make sure the players have some expectation that they are in for a cutscene.

Also, think about the personal plot you are directing. Is this focused on that player as the primary? Or are things happening to that person for their friends to resolve? Can you co-opt them as an actor in a module and open the field to others? Trust in people's capacity to be awesome and wanting to spread the love to their friends. And if they aren't, be firm the PC/Staff delineation. If they want to write plot about themselves, there are other avenues.

* Feedback: Player choice is invaluable. If the player feels that he has the power to alter the world or impact the flow of events, they can open up. If things are railroaded, they will feel extraneous. The latter is a killer of emotional resonance. If ever possible, never chisel the outcome in stone. Let the player's actions (and NPCs!) have power. I cannot stress this point enough.

* Do your research: Each player has unique themes, perspectives, and goals. It's vitally important to know what will work for them and what won't. If you need to ask the player for information, drop them a staff-validated e-mail. Ask them what they want post-game. People/issues they are connected to. Any aspects of their character they are looking to fiddle with or address. 

Doing a module/plot only to have it flop because you don't know the guy is something everyone will run into. Don't take it personally on yourself or the player. Clarifying what you are both looking for will save time and frustration on all sides. This goes doubly true for non-standard plots! Do you like all aspects of LARPing? Every module you've been in? Obviously not. People aren't on the same wavelength, but you can at least tune in to double-check.

* Floon: For long-term games, make sure you are innovating, writing, and running around the threshold where you enjoy it. If you aren't having fun, it will trickle into everything else. Be honest about what your capable of. A module or two per session? Do you just enjoy RP roles in town? Can you juggle five criss-crossing plots at once? Are you a Plot Lich who knows no rest or sense of self-preservation? If you are honest with yourself in that arena, writing isn't a chore. It's an enormously fun way to channel your inner creativity.

So these are the things I look for in writing innovative personal plot. What do you think works for you?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cottington Woods: Searching for Inspiration

Many New England larpers are incredibly excited about Cottington Woods: the new dark fairytale game premiering this coming November. I am one of those people-- Cottington Woods, with its horror/fantasy theme, is, in many ways, everything I'm looking for in a larp. I already sent in my character concept, and I had a very good time designing the character. More interestingly, I had  fun searching for inspiration around which to design character.

My PC concept, named Corvus Corax Amanita, is a dark and eccentric woman from an established and morbid family. Since my character is not approved yet, I don't want to give away too much. However, I did want to share some of the things that helped me write and brainstorm Corvus. It just goes to show that inspiration comes in unexpected places:

1) The bird skull collection site
2) In the Company of Crows and Ravens
3) Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms
4) National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms
5) The kusozu-emaki (no pictures, but, caution, graphic)

Where do you go for inspiration? What unusual things have you come across?

Stay tuned for next week: there will be ample features on Invictus and a spot on Kyranthia from the creators (they're having their first event this weekend).

of Costumes and Blogs

Firstly, as a follow-up to yesterday's conversations about costuming-- I'd like to spotlight 2 people in the costume community and their respective websites: Lydushka's Completely Custom Creations and Xeph-ink. I've had the pleasure of viewing these makers' costumes in person, and they are absolutely gorgeous. If you, like me, are not particularly gifted in the construction process, please check these out.

As a closing thought, please go check out the following blogs-- FairEscape and LarpcastLarpcast has a new episode featuring the co-creator of Wyrdcon. FairEscape is not a new blog, but a blog I started reading recently-- her writing is great,  and her costuming is stunning. Please do go check out this blog for more reading material!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Theory Thursday: Costume Guides

So, this is a day late, and I apologize for the lack of updates. I'm encountering some keyboard issues that are forcing me to use a less than stellar dictation program-- this makes posting a little difficult.

So, in the spirit of new games, I want to talk about the procuring costumes for new characters. What sort of things do you make sure your character always has? Where do you shop for costume items? Or are your costumes made by hand? Where do you go for costuming inspiration? How do you help new players find costumes?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spotlight on New Games

In the New England community, there are a variety of new games debuting in the next year or so. Forums are a-twitter with possible character concepts, costume ideas, and prop construction. Over the next week or so, I’ll be looking at newer larps in the New England area. Please check out the websites below, and, if so inclined, share your character concepts and plans.

Are you involved with any of these games? Also-- am I missing any?