Friday, March 30, 2012

In-Game Spaces

Contributor: Zoe
Submission: Thoughts about creating lasting and repeatable in-game spaces.

Part of making a believable gameworld is offering your players predictable and appealing in-game spaces. These are places that, almost every game, will make an appearance-- moreover, the places will look the same time and time again. In other words, it's not the standard, but oh-so-lovingly dressed, module space or one-time tavern. These are areas to which players can and will want to return. I identify two types of these spaces: 1) permanent spaces and 2) visiting spaces. Visiting spaces are a bit trickier, so I'll start with the former.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Marcel Mauss, Beneficial Actions, and Refusing a Gift

Contributor: Zoe
Submission: The art of beneficial traits and character development

Just some very pretentious rambling about LARP theory and anthropological theory.
For those of you who have taken courses in anthropology or economic theory, you are probably familiar with Marcel Mauss’s theory of the gift and reciprocity. For those of you who are not, I will briefly summarize one of the key points: gift-giving creates social bonds between members of a group. Reciprocity, the impulse and obligation to return an equal-and-opposite (and-even-slightly-greater) gift in return, is one of the most fundamental of these bonds. Therefore, when an individual refuses a gift or refuses to return a gift, then they are not behaving neutrally, but instead making a very strong statement. To refuse an individual’s gift, for instance, can be to refuse a relationship with that person. The Gift, by Marcel Mauss, is a relatively slim novel, and worth picking up, if this interests you.

Onto LARP and gift theory...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Making the Switch

Contributor: Zoe
Submission: On the intricacies of moving from tabletop to live-action

I recently wrote on the fine art of introducing new characters to an established game. In that post I mentioned the importance of making sure that lifetime tabletoppers understand the nuances of live-action gaming. It seems commonsensical, but many of these points are really important for everyone's enjoyment. Tabletop games and LARPs are as different as manticores and pegasi: while both are chimerical, their aims and preferences are a genus apart. So, if your dedicated RPGer has decided to join your band of Merry Men, make sure they understand the implications of a live-action game. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Into the Fold

Contributor: Zoe
Submission: A non-fiction look at bringing newcomers into an existing LARP group.

Bringing people to a game can be one of the most fun parts of a LARP. After months, maybe even years, of trying to convince friends to play with your team, you may find yourself wildly excited, and nervous, to bring new sheep to the flock. But why nervous? You may ask. Well, because suggesting a LARP to someone is like recommending a favorite restaurant to a friend. What if, despite your gushing and glowing, the friend hates the apple pie at Mimi's Diner? Or what if they get food poisoning from the seafood platter? Or what if, worst of all, the restaurant staff is rude to your friend? After a bad experience, your friend will, of course, still be your friend... but something is undeniably different-- you, O' Sage Suggester, have demonstrated that, despite a nigh familial bond with Friend XYZ, you either have a) poor judgment or b) no understanding of Friend XYZ's tastes. Despite everyone's good intentions, when you lovingly recommend something to a friend, and things go poorly, trust is a bit shaken. This probably resonates with many people who have or would consider bringing a friend to a LARP.

Obviously, LARPs just aren't for some people. I like to think these people don't like fun, but, hey, that's why there are different flavors of ice cream. For most people, LARPs are awesome-- for many, however, LARP-fun might require a bit of social lubrication. This is especially true if you, the seasoned LARPer bringing friends to a game, is well-established in the LARP community. So, here are a few tips to consider before you usher in your companions.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Behind the Curtain: LARP Combat

Contributor: Torrin
Submission: Behind the Curtain: LARP Combat

A behind the scenes guide to combat in a boffer LARP. This is directed at boffer LARPs that are more story-based with mods, wandering monsters and field fights as part of plot lines, rather than the combat-only LARPs that are out there. No disparagement is intended, just clarification of focus.

Ultralight boffer weapons look pretty harmless, and the combat looks like a bunch of people flailing at each other, shouting and throwing bags of birdseed. I find YouTube videos of LARP fighting particularly silly looking, mainly because, frankly, it is. Everything in a LARP is geared toward the experience of the participants and the safety therein. It is NOT a "spectacle" experience, like stage combat. So with all the focus on the participant experience how it "looks" to an audience, takes a back seat.

Combat at a boffer LARP, even though it may look random is really anything but. Since ultra-light boffer weapons do seem so harmless the training to use them can get overlooked. Unfortunately any "sport" that requires controlled impacts against unarmored bodies really needs some training to do correctly and safely.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Foreshadowing, from Istamira!

Contributor: Amanda/"Istamira"
Submission: Foreshadowing
LARP System: Accelerant (Madrigal)
Location: Boston, USA
PC Name: Istamira "Mira" Nascirus
Years LARPing: 0 years, 9 months 
Website: Istamira's Quill

In and out of character commentary from a novice larper. Character names, places, and sometimes even plot specifics may be changed or altered to protect readers from horrible knowledge that could threaten the very fiber of the universe! ... or something like that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Invictus Announcement!

Invictus Announcement

Mickey Golosovker and Whitestone Games are proud to announce a new Accelerant Game: Invictus. A 3-year running LARP, Invictus will be a fantasy game set in a world inspired by the Roman Empire. Players will be able to be characters inspired by Roman gladiators, Egyptian priests, and Phoencian performers. Mickey and staff have been developing this game for awhile, and it looks to be a great campaign.

Here is the formal announcement! Check out the website, sign up for the forums, and join the mailing list. Many familiar faces will be on staff, including, of course, Mickey of Mirror, Mirror, and Madrigal, some Endgame staff, NERO people, and newcomers like me, Chris, and Anthony.

Introducing the new live action roleplaying game; Invictus!

Welcome to a world of Roman themes and ancient magic. A game of heroic fantasy, Invictus will run from 2013 through 2015 and tell the story of three of the most significant years in history. Players will portray characters from the diverse provinces of Illara, the greatest empire the world has ever seen, and come together to fight against the many faces of evil and corruption. They will be soldiers and sorcerors, merchants and mercenaries, patricians and plebians. They will come from rugged mountains and shining cities, shifting dunes and sapphire waters. In the eastern empire they will create a new future with hard choices and bold action while danger and intrigue lurk at every corner.

Come join us make the world come alive!

Mickey Golosovker and Whitestone Games

For more information, including campsite and 2013 event dates, please visit

Sign up for our mailing list at and our LJ community at

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Of Horses, Carriages, and Other Impossibilities

One of the greatest challenges of a LARP is reconciling the Out-of-Game realities that effect the IG experience. Every LARP, of course, has to deal with a standard set of these (many of which are inevitable parts of campsite structure): cars become carriages, camp cabins are villages, taverns, or ruins, and some features, such as electrical wire, are just ignored entirely. Generally, this requires players to accept the "willing suspension of disbelief." But what about other things, especially creatures, that are standard parts of daily life? I'll give you one example: horses.

As any fantasy lover or historian will know, horses are integral parts of classic fantasy repertoire and actual historical maneuvers. Cavalry were essential to military development, and horse husbandry facilitated human complexity. Clearly, though, horses are not feasible for a LARP. While we may be able to forgive giants, dragons, and unicorns (all of which I've seen at a LARP), the absence of horses is a bit jarring. Horses are part of idiomatic parlance ("I could eat a horse/beat a dead horse/horsing around"), and, for many people, a day to day reality that is hard to ignore. So, in a LARP, it's reasonable to a) phys-rep some horses (difficult) or b) make an IG excuse for the dearth of equines. I know Madrigal has some excuse-- they were lost in a series of wars, or something similar, and I'm sure other games have encountered this. Mirror, Mirror has the very nifty and tidy "refraction" mechanic: things don't appear in the gameworld as they would elsewhere-- this is due to mirrorways and "refraction" through these mirrorways. (There is, in fact, a horse IG-- he has been refracted as a small mouse.)

What OoG/IG problems have you run into-- either as a PC, NPC, or plot staff? How have you dealt with these OoG realities that effect IG play?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Interior Decor and You: A Cost-Effective Guide to LARP Abodes

Contributor: Zoe
Submission: A non-fiction guide to living in luxury or lichdom in your LARPing universe.

Setting the scene in a LARP can often prove difficult. It can be time-consuming, costly, and cumbersome come set-up and take-down. However, there can be no denial that a well-decorated LARP really makes the game. Take, for instance, the library of Endgame or the Rose Tavern in Madrigal. Both of these in-game areas are carefully maintained and styled to match the feel of the gameworld; PCs and NPCs alike work hard to create spaces that contribute to the immersive post-apocalyptic or fantasy universes, respectively, of the two games. However, as anyone who has taken down Rosie's tavern, post-game, knows, a lot of effort goes into the construction of the one room tavern. For the average player, who may or may not have access to a large van or U-Haul for props and scenery, this may not be an achievable goal. Even though a truckload of Elven accessories and decor made for an incredible Eluviar party at the Madrigal highsummer, most people don’t have the will or the way to make such an extravagant gala a reality. Most often, players and staff are working with a limited time frame, budget, and storage space.

So, how does the average player or staff member deal with financial, temporal, and spatial constraints? Read on, and I’ll explain my “Still Life Theory of Minimality.”

Saturday, March 17, 2012

World Building: What Do You Look For in a New Universe?

This is just a quick post that is really more for my edification. I'm currently writing LARP background plot for the up-and-coming Invictus. I love to write, so I find myself lost in the little details. However, I'm wondering what people look for in new game universe information. What sort of things get you to play a game? What do you need to successfully build a character? What is unimportant? What do games often leave out, that you wish was included? Consider the following topics, how important are they to you?

  1. Cosmology, religion, and ritual practice.
  2. A solid rule and skill system, clearly written and available. 
  3. Pictures and visuals from the gameworld.
  4. A detailed geography and climate with regional information and a map.
  5. Suggestions for clothing, make-up, and props.
  6. A guide to game-appropriate weapons and armor.
  7. Culture write-ups for regions or ethnic groups.
  8. A rich political system that PC can immediately join.
  9. A guide to NPCs that a character would know or about whom a character would have information.
  10. A timeline and current-events log for the game.
  11. An active and usable forum system, website, and character database.
  12. A bestiary.

Friday, March 16, 2012

NPCing: The Ins and Outs

Contributor: Zoe
Submission: How I have successfully crafted NPCs
System: Accelerant, 2 years

Beth wrote a great post on the art of talking with a "Big NPC." Similarly, J.J. wrote a really useful piece on character development from a PC-perspective. However, what do you do when you are the Big NPC-- or one of her talkative minions? As much as I love PCing, I think NPCing really gives you the opportunity to play with character, depth (or lack thereof), physical representation, and game system interactions. So, here is my novice approach to character design. LARPcast, LARPOhio, and Beth (in livejournal and elsewhere) have all published much more on this, so go give it a look. For my take, read on...


This blog is primarily about PCs, and LARPcast centers around staff and game-design. However, it's important not to forget the NPCs that make a game run. The LARPcast team answers some questions has a good post about how to effectively play an NPC. Check it out!

What are your experiences, good, bad, and ugly, with NPCing? Consider, especially, character development. Have you ever had a character that should have been boring but was absolutely fantastic? What about a character that was beautifully written, but fell flat?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Back in Town: Getting into Game after a Leave

Contributor: Zoe
Submission: non-fiction considerations about leaving a LARP temporarily
Years LARPing: 2

     Due to research pursuits and travel, chances are that I won't be participating in my usual LARPs this season. While I'll try to make a few of them, I'm facing a LARPless summer wherein I'll miss 2-3 events per game. In the games I play, I'm in the fuzzy limbo of new-relative-to-others/establish-plot. Accordingly, while my absence won't significantly impact the game, I don't want to lose the nascent plot-seeds I'm planting. While I'm not too concerned, I wonder the best way to exit the game, and, perhaps more importantly, re-insert myself into the gameworld.
     This problem, it would seem, would be of large concern to many others-- especially those who are more established in the gameworld. Real life happens: weddings, funerals, pregnancies, illness, military leave, exams, business trips, and vacations. Sometimes, as has happened with a few friends, people just need a break.
     So, what are the best ways to leave and enter a game? What experiences have people had that have been successful or disappointing? To start, I think communication is key. If the absence is planned, communicate with your team, plotstaff, and perhaps key NPCs. In game, mention how "due to the wedding of a relative, I won't be adventuring for the next few gathers-- is there a way I can contact you to stay in touch?" Touch base, again, OoG via an email, post-event letter, or in-person. Plot-staff, especially, may help you ease out of game. When you get back to playing, your team can help make special accommodations to get you up-to-speed on any changes.
     In the event of an unplanned absence, use contact emails to let people know the circumstances. Generally, people want to make LARPing fun, familiar, and comfortable for you. While you may not want to disclose all of the details, it can be useful to have a "safe harbor" when you return from an illness or family emergency. Also, in many cases, remember that you're part of a larger community-- people may miss you, want to help, or stay in touch with you. Perhaps this sort of contact isn't your cup of tea-- if it is, however, it can be nice to let people know.
     What suggestions do you have for leaving and entering a game in which you've been a long-time player?

Friday, March 9, 2012

From the Pen of Inquisitor Sahaal

Contributor: Adam
Submission: Photography and Prose
System: Lost Eidolons, Accelerant
Character Name: Sahaal (he's been through various titles, but I'm not sure which one he's on currently)

Lost Eidolons is a LARP set in a Lovecraftian, steam-punk world. The players live in the town of Greyhook-- a burgh plagued by weres, spirits, and any number of unspeakable horrors. The writing and flavor of the game leads to in-depth character development and intense roleplay. Father Sahaal, played by Adam, is perhaps one of the best examples of this. Sahaal is an intricately written and performed character-- his actions range from far-reaching religio-political intrigue to cloistered scheming to grand plans of world conquest. He's not evil, and he's not good. Adam also goes far-and-beyond the call of standard costuming: he and his "retinue" sport complicated and realistic clothing, makeup, and weapons. Moreover, the appearance of the retinue fluctuates depending on the group's current situation.

Read below for a taste of Sahaal's religious prose, as well as some picture of the good father. Want more anti-heroism? Read Loralon's account!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Weapons: A New Perspective

Contributor: Chris Wilkins
Submission: Interview
System: Accelerant
Location: Cambridge, MA

Chris is relatively new to Accelerant, and weapons-making, but, in two years, has already made around 20 unique weapons. It's nice to be able to work with someone who can tailor a weapon to match my character's world. Moreover, Chris uses authentic archaeological designs to make his weapons match a flavor. Although some of the weapons are a bit bulkier, they are really fun to use-- especially is you have a character from a thematically specific universe.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

And So Begins the LARP Season!

Contributor: Beth Fallon
Submission: non-fiction guide to PELs
System: Accelerant (but all take heed)
Years LARPing: 21

With the end of the Mirror, Mirror Revel, and Aralis and Lost Eidolons on their ways (not to mention a host of non-Accelerant games), the Post Event or Summary Letters are probably flooding inboxes. Or they should be. When I first started LARPing, I didn't really care too much about PELs, because I was too busy gushing about The Magic of the First Event (trademarked). Then, as I became jaded (literally and figuratively for Madrigalites), I had my First Real Event Complaint (also trademarked). It was minor, but I was a little devastated. What if staff hated me? What if they told the offending person? What if someone complained about me? What if I hurt the person's feelings-- it really wasn't that big a deal, was it? When I finally sat down to write the letter, however, I was a little dismayed. How could I frame it without sounding whiny, overly aggressive, or mean-spirited? How long should I spend talking about it? What if, in writing about the module, the reader ignored all the good things I had to say about the game? What if they ignored my personal character requests because they were worried about fixing the single bad part of my experience?

I think we've all been here. PELs, especially if something went less than perfect, can be difficult to write. We often have close friends who are on staff, and LARPing is a small community. Therefore, I'm giving you Beth Fallon's guide to PEL writing. As an experience LARPer and staff person, she gives a good perspective on not only how to deal with OoG problems, but also how to make staff aware of IG desires and goals. So, read on, and incorporate her advice into any post-game summary you might submit.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spotlight on Mirror, Mirror: Highlights

So the Mirror, Mirror Revel, the first of its kind (I believe), has come to an end. It was a huge success, and, despite the mucky ice-sludge, very fun. I invite PCs, NPCs, and staff alike to share their highlights in the comments. Looking forward to the LARPing season here in Accelerant land.

(Tomorrow, as brains defuzz, I'll post an excellent guide to PELs that comes from experienced LARPer Beth F. of Madrigal, Endgame, 7V, and other LARP fame. It may be a useful tool for newer/rusty PEL writers.)

I'll start with my personal favorites:

Discussions with Wiv and Whispers on the ethical merits of being a neutral Death Aspect. Also, Wiv's perspective on reading and literacy was highly entertaining. And it explains a lot.

Asking the Cursed Lord about the feasibility of meeting some dark fae in the Cursed Forest. Judging by his response, I can't help but think he was slightly amused.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

LARP Links!

Hello all,
I'm currently stomping blight at the Mirror, Mirror revel. However, I'm more than happy to shoot you a few links and and exciting announcement. My friend, Jyn, of Madrigal and NERO fame, sent me a pile of LARP websites to consider. Give them a look-- I haven't had a chance to yet, but I'd love to get your thoughts.



(many of which also have blogs/forums) (Boston-area) (Boston-area) (Baltimore/DC) (California, supposedly the US Knutepunkt?) (New Jersey)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spotlight on Mirror, Mirror: Thoughts from a Cave

Contributor: Zoe
Submission: Thoughts from a Cave, fiction by Tev
LARP System: Accelerant-Mirror, Mirror
Years LARPing: 2

With the teaser released, the bags packed, and the happy band of (most anti-)heroes ready for adventure, I give you a somewhat anti-climactic end to the Mirror, Mirror spotlight. Check back in tomorrow for another post, and Sunday for a recap of the event. I'll also be posting something else from Beth about PELs-- even for those of us who have written dozens (or hundreds), a refresher is never a bad thing, especially if something goes horribly wrong in the first event of the season. But, for now? Thoughts from a Cave, by Tev.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spotlight on Mirror, Mirror: Loralon

Contributor: Lawbard of Livejournal, or Trelaine of Madrigal
Submission: fiction, Reflections of Fire
LARP system:  Accelerant - Mirror Mirror
Your Location:  MA
Character name:  Loralon
Years LARPing:  21

A recollection from everyone's favorite totally-not-evil warmage! (Or whatever he is-- war priest, mayhaps?