Help Us Build A Better Studio

Help Us Build A Better Studio

I’d like to draw your attention to the video and link below.  Here at LARPBook we’re aiming to build a better studio to improve the quality and range of videos we produce.

The next stage is to buy a new computer and a set of studio software to go with it and we were hoping that the larp community might want to assist.

So I am going to ask you to do two things. First watch the video below. In it our lead host and all round video guy Stuart will explain what we’ve bought in the past and what we are hoping to buy next.

Secondly click on the link below the video and consider donating to the campaign. All the usual Go Fund Me rules apply. Please read these if you are not sure on how Go Fund Me works.

Finally I’d like to say thanks. Either for donating or just taking the time to listen.

 

Help Us Buy New Equipment

Click here to fund LARPBook
Creating Larp Atmosphere with Names

Creating Larp Atmosphere with Names

Here is the thought. Names give a culture flavour. You hear a name and you immediately start cultural associations. Rightly or wrongly a name trips your cognitive bias and imagery or assumptions about that person or place hit the imagination.

Names are powerful things.

So can we make use of this when bringing new players into a larp?

There are some fantastic settings and mythos in larp, I think it’s a natural trait of larpers and larp designers to come up with wonderful stories and settings.

I sometimes wonder though if writing a story or mythos with a some heroes and great places is enough.

Yet how do we do more. Chronicling every location, and every event isn’t realistically possible. Besides which trying to think of everything at once would probably not lead to anything useful. Settings need time and space to grow. They cannot be magicked out of a hat.

So here is the idea. Write the mythos and the setting. Create the backstory and in it leave enough mystery for future growth and surprise. Then in addition come up names. Names for the ordinary man and women in street. Not characters – just names you might hear. Come up with the names of towns and villages. Not whole maps. Just names you may hear. The same is true public locations – shops, hostelleries, meeting spaces, and so on.

What you are doing is not adding to your background; or detracting from it. You are just creating some flavour.

If you are then generating characters use the names you have written but do not be limited to them. Does a change to pronunciation of an existing name work – go for it. If you think of a new name then great – add it to the list. This evolves the name dictionary for your world.

If your players are creating characters then make sure thet have the list. Let them pick from it but also make it clear that this is an inspirational list. Not a rigid thing to select from. Instead more of a set of guidelines to help their imaginations along the right path. If you like the look of the names your players come up with then these can also go on the list.

Everytime a character is created you are then either using a name that fits or adding to the richness of your games mythology.

This should also help your plot writers when it comes to adding another story to the background of your larp.

Every story helps name the things in your world and every name helps build the world.

Of course the bonus is that all the characters will have names that help describe their shared heritage and background.

Names will make your world richer and more flavoursome.

Of course games set in the real world, or a previously highly developed fictional setting already have this advantage.

The image used in this page comes from Flickr User KyOn Cheng.

Learn more about the image
Review: Find My Larp

Review: Find My Larp

First Impressions

Clear simplicity are the two words that first come to mind. The start of the home page is dominated by a single search box; Google style. Type in what you are looking for and the site will try and find it.

Scrolling down takes us to instructor buttons that will help its two primary audiences (larp organisers and larpers), learn how to use Find My Larp. These help areas are simply written and should be a help to anyone. For me the focus is on organisers and there is some nice transparency on how payments later. I’ll come back to the payments later but for now lets say I like the method used.

Finally we come to options to select larp by country and genre. Arranged in a grid with large nicely illustrated buttons these are nice and easy to use.

Searching

So how easy is it to search?

Well the home search box didn’t immediately accept text for me. However clicking on the magnifying glass logo solved that. Simple text searches work well and bring up the available options

Also You move from into a search area with options for selecting, countries, genres, price ranges and if the larp is child friendly or not. I really applaud the indictor for child friendly. Very often it is not explicity stated on larp websites if an event is child appropriate or not. So making this a thing here is really important. Well done.

Putting in prices ranges is another smart move. It feels as if the price differentials in larp get bigger every year. Again leading this to be something that needs to be clearly illustrated.

Search results are shown on a grid of results, in a list, or on a map. The map is cool. Although personally I prefer the grid. This is a personal response – I just happen to find this view easy to read.

Search in Find My Larp

Listings

So now we now that we can find things what does a larp listing look like?

Like a product listing is the answwer. The illustration is from Bothwell School of Witchcraft. An inaugral listng for Find My Larp. You can see space for a large clear illustration and easy to use ticket selectors. Scrolling down there is plenty of space for descriptive text, a link to the larps creators, a Google map of its location.

Importantly there is plenty of space to describe both the larp and any payment options / terms. Flicking through the listings I haven’t found anything that looks like a larp that has run out of space describing itself. Big tick there.

Money

Find My Larp takes payments for tickets. This is done via Stripe. You may not have heard of Stripe before. Do not be concerned about that. Stripe is an online credit card processing system that has been making big inroads with Internet developers. It is very secure. It’s designed from the ground up to seamlessly integrate into websites. Outside of LARPBook I spend some of my time working on website development and technology consulting. Like a lot of people in my position I’ve been won over by Stripe so I am very pleased to see it being used instead of PayPal.

This is a great decision.

 

Final Thoughts

Find My Larp is a welcome addition to the websites on the Internet that list larps. It is well thought out and it is easy to use. I’ll admit I haven’t made a booking through it yet – though that is almost certainly only a matter of time.

If I was launching a new larp – I would list here. No question about it.

I particularly like its International slant. Travel for larp and in fact larp itself is becoming global. Working with that trend can only be the smart move for Find My Larp.

Click Here for Find My Larp

Visit Find My Larp
LARPBook Special: The Green Cloaks Interview

LARPBook Special: The Green Cloaks Interview

Green Cloaks is a larp that has been growing quickly and getting a lot of attention recently. It is a science fantasy tale about the fate of humanity amongst the distant stars.

Which means that we were delighted to have the opportunity to interview Enys Coggles and Sammy Kilsby about the Green Cloaks.

It was an interview beset with technical difficulties. Basically our normal interview system developed a rebellious streak and pretty much went on strike. We resorted to plan B. As a result we were only able to make an audio recording; but it is a good one.

We hope you enjoy it .

 

Listen Now

 

Larping Modifications For The Win!

Larping Modifications For The Win!

In today’s culture it is normal for someone to upgrade what they already have. People with cars modify them to have nitrous. A popular vape box mod is adding an atomizer to an e-cigarette. PC gamers will mod their computers so that the graphics on their games can run at high frame rates. Those who LARP are not afraid to modify their equipment either!

A LARP, or a live-action role playing game, is the process of pretending to be a character from a board game or fictional universe. People playing a LARP will act as if they are their favorite character from a particular role-playing game, donning that character’s clothing and using the character’s weaponry to play-act scenarios from a game in a real-world context. The idea behind live-action roleplay is to bring fictional universes into the real world.

Live-action roleplay games started in the 1970s, when game enthusiasts started re enacting events from their favorite board games. The LARP phenomenon has continued to grow ever since, and there are game festivals, conventions, and tournaments throughout Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Canada, and the United States.

LARP Gameplay Rules

Like regular role-playing games, LARP participants create rules so that their live-action game coincides with the rules of the board game or fictional universe it was inspired by. Generally speaking, these rules dictate how a live-action character can act in the wider context of the game, tournament, or competition itself.

Just as importantly, LARP rules tell players what weaponry they can use during gameplay. Most of the time, game participants are allowed to use foam swords, airsoft guns, or a NERF Gun to re-create game situations.

Modifying LARP Weapons

Because they are so easy to make, the majority of LARP players make their own swords before joining a game. To make your own sword at home, all you need is a few tubes of pipe insulation foam, duct tape, and a polypropylene pipe. In terms of tools, it’s best to have a pocketknife and a sharp pair of scissors handy.

Now that you have your insulation foam, pipe, and duct tape at the ready, start making your own LARP weapon modification by cutting the insulation foam vertically, from top-to-bottom, so that you can wrap the foam around the pipe. If you can’t cover the polypropylene pipe with just one piece of insulation foam, cut your extra tubes of insulation foam into smaller strips and duct tape the foam around the pipe. The idea here is to wrap your pipe with a couple layers of insulation foam so that if you accidentally hit an opponent in the heat of battle, the impact won’t hurt them.

Expert LARP weapon designers tell us that you shouldn’t cover the entire length of the pipe with insulation foam — you’ll need room for a handle, after all. To create your very own LARP weapon handle, simply wrap one end of the pipe in several layers of duct tape. Duct tape is a great material to use for the handle because it will offer good grip when you are swinging your sword during a roleplay battle.

From an aesthetic standpoint, most LARP weapon makers like to paint or spray paint their sword when they are done constructing it.

NERF Gun Modifications for LARP Games

Besides foam swords, NERF guns are frequently used in LARP scenarios. And, like foam swords, LARP players frequently modify NERF guns to better represent the weaponry used in the game they are re-imagining.

At the moment, many LARP players are creating their own NERF wrist guns that can be hidden underneath the sleeve of a sweater or jacket. To create your own, simply take a small NERF gun and remove the yellow or orange-colored casing so that all you’re left with is the actual NERF blaster itself.

From there, screw VELCRO straps around the NERF blaster. This will enable you to strap the NERF gun to your wrist. If you want, you can further accessorize your NERF gun. Many LARP players also spray paint their NERF weapons black or dark grey to make them look more realistic.

I’d like to take a moment to welcome Devin Caldwell to LARPBook. Dean if a UK based freelance writer and larping enthusiast. We’re hoping to see more of Devins work in the future.

The image used in this article is from Flickr user Anton Olsen that shows a Nerf gun being modified. You can learn more about this image and Anton if you follow this link

Larp as the entertainment for a stag party

Larp as the entertainment for a stag party

I was recently at a larp run as a stag party..

Now larpers putting events together to celebrate events isn’t too unusual. What made this one different is that none of the players were larpers; yet they had requested that a larp be put together for them.

So I was attending as crew and I personally had nothing to do with the stag party. I was there to help run a bespoke event. That was true for every larper there.

In fact a veritable who’s who of larp suppliers had been assembled for this.

I’ll try and explain how all of this worked and came together.

Who Did What

Larp design and event organisation
WyvernsTales History & Stories

Bar and Wench  –
The Crimson Moon

Food to die for
Mhorish Event Catering

The Venue
Oakraven Field Centre

The Overview

Wyvernstales History and Stories had been contacted to include about 16 participants in a larp event. As preparations developed this evolved into a bespoke event just for the stag party attendees. It turned out that this was far better than including the party in an existing game.

Tailoring everything to the participants created a friendly and intimate atmosphere that allowed guards to be dropped and concerns about not fitting into be removed. All the players could simply be themselves.

The reason for wanting a larp was it turned out quite simple and also a familiar story. The stag, his best man and a number of the others were all board game and D&D players. They were aware of larp as a thing but had never tried it. When the time came to organise a memorable stag event the idea of larp was posited and turned out to be the thing they did. This also means that not everyone had a gaming background. They really had no idea what to expect (beyond drinking).

The Rules

The players had no larp experience and so a very reduced set of rules were employed. Essentially enough to keep the players safe in combat. The players were given pre-generated characters complete with agendas, secrets and guides for how to play the character.

The Game

The setting was more medieval than fantasy, the story line focused on players interacting with duplicitous characters whilst trying to hide their own somewhat dubious pasts.

Of course the past has the habit of catching up with you; when you least expect it…

Essentially it was a group of people invited to meet up with a manorial lord only to find out that things were not as hoped. There were clues to find (and this group was great at that), characters to interact with, games to gamble on and of course mead to drink.

In addition to the main plot training had been laid on. The players were taught to fight with swords and to fire bows. A few of them were quite the natural Robin Hoods! Others revelled in picking up a sword or axe and being told to hit someone! Combat really opened things out for this group as they discovered that larp fighting is fun! They also discovered that it can be tiring too!

It wasn’t long before the realisation dawned that if they could do it, they could try it and that barriers and limitations were down. In effect they discovered that being in the larp was permission to play. This grew as the event progressed. They never took anything too far, they were always looking to make sure things were not being spoiled but they were also revelling in the all the options that were opening up in the game. They had learned that thing that every larper knows. Play is fun and its made all the better by letting your imagination go out for a run!

Flexibility

The game was simple. It did not constrain the players. Also time in and time out were dependent on their need. As was supporting what they wanted to do.

A surprise for me was being asked to help start of a mystery game where the poor stag had to undertake a series of challenges in order to unveil a murder. It ran for a set time and I have the utmost respect for the players and stag alike. I won’t say what happened, I will give applause. In other words just because a  larp had been ordered didn’t mean that other things can be done to suit the needs of the players.

The aim was fun and we succeeded.

The Photos

Just to give you a feel for things

Takeaways

So here are few things that were a result of this weekend.

Larps biggest problem is not being understood. On this weekend both gamers and non-gamers had a very good time. Once someone realises that larp is fun and that they have permission to play then amazing things happen. To grow larp needs to help get that message out.

Gaming culture has an impact on how a game is played. Non larpers placed in a larp do not behave like larpers. The extent of this is normally masked as most games contain old and new players; with the effect of moderating behaviour. Put all non larpers together and suddenly larp tropes are gone and a new dynamic is established.

A number of the players realised that they had opened the doors on a whole new world and they were fascinated. There were some fantastic conversations as a result. Experiencing is far better than any amount of show and tell.

A bespoke larp for people not used to the hobby can be a fantastic thing. It creates an atmosphere all of its own and it is something to be revelled in. Ask me to do another of these and I’ll be there in a heart beat.

And Finally

Thank you to everyone – for letting me work on and experienced such a great weekend.

Curious Pastimes – Renewal 2017

Curious Pastimes – Renewal 2017

Its time to think a little bit more about Curious Pastimes and more specifically Renewal 2017. Now we covered this is in a diary format. Writing on each of the event about the previous. If you’re interested in these look to the block of diary entry links in this post. These capture the day to day and the emotion of myself personally being in and around this event. However I wanted to round off the coverage with some other points of view.

We’ve another gallery for you. These photos were taken by Steve “Flasher” Mitchell. Steve is the longest standing CP photographer and I hope you like the gallery we’ve put together here for you.

First though I think it may be idea to try and describe what Curious Pastimes is not as a series of accounts or images but as a thing. So I’m going to break this down into a few sections for you and go from there. What I want to convey is that this is a good larp to go to. It can be as deep or shallow as you like. You will find help if are new to the game and it is a game that can grow with your experience. It’s also a great place to meet larpers from other systems.

The Mechanics

The rules and mechanics are from a UK perspective a traditional skill based method of defining a character. This means it’s a points based system. Points buy skills and the skills go on a character card. Your character only has the skills that the card says it has. However this does not stop role-play.

The skills system exists for game balance, but the level of role-play in the game goes from a high level of immersion to less if that is what you are looking for. All that is expected is that you don’t spoil anyone elses game. So its simple mechanics and the level of role-play is up to you. That’s a classic British larping approach and for a large scale game it really works

The Diary

These diary entries where written during the event. Mostly written at the start of the next day between breakfast and time in.

You’ll find comments and photos for each day

Day 1: Friday

Day 2: Saturday

Day 3: Sunday

Day 4: Monday

 

Learn More About Curious Pastimes

Where Real World Meets Game World

In the game there are two areas where real world is felt. The market-place and the food vendors area.

The market place is a collection of larp equipment and costume traders who are there for the length of the event. They tend to keep long opening hours. Although costumed they are not really in character and you are paying with actual real-world cash.

The same is true for the food vendors. Although in both cases every effort is made for that need for the real (money), to have as little impact as needed. Hats off for getting this right. In both these areas its not problem being in and out of character. So great

The Atmosphere

This is the part of Curious Pastimes that I love. In fact its one of the things that I love most about larp. This is a friendly place. People genuinely want to talk to you. They want to say hi and have conversations. They want to role play.

If you like combat then the battles are extraordinary, not just due to the number of players, but due to the way in which Renewal handles the terrain it has to hand. Its a place where you move for quite while without being sure where the other armed force is. When action happens you are working in the main with a woodland environment. It feels British and Mythic.

Coming away from the action I loved how the camps felt, and In particular the first time I walked into one and it felt not like a group of people camping but like a small community living in the open. I should point out that this was one of the in character areas. There is also out of character camping for people who prefer this.

This is a simply a safe and relaxed place to be. I can’t wait to go back.

Organisation

The word here is slick. CP have been running these games for a long time. Duties are clearly laid out for the crew. Radios are used effectively and from a players point of view its easy to ask questions. CP run a tight ship.

I wanted to wrap up the diaries so that I could give an overview. I’ve stayed away from World and Plot as these are things that players need to experience. There are also good references you can look at on the Curious Pastimes website. Instead its more of a system overview. High level I admit but I am also willing to answer questions.

The Photos

 

Our total and utter thanks to Steve “Flasher” Mitchell for these photographs

The Video

We also put together this short video to try and capture the feel of the event

 

Curious Pastimes Renewal 2017. Event Diary – Day 4: Monday

Curious Pastimes Renewal 2017. Event Diary – Day 4: Monday

It’s our fourth day at Curious Pastimes. That means it’s Monday and climatic battle day. Time in for this day runs from 10am till 3.30pm. So it’s a short day. It’s also pack up and go home day so this make it the end of our CP adventure.

The morning is given over to the battle. The players (in this case the Lions faction), have their objective. They need to recover something special. They’ve got themselves allies and have made up an army. They are up against all the other players who either want or are able to take the field. These are now one massive monster crew.

Now here is the bit I like. Neither side is referee directed. The players must choose their entry to the battle field based on information learned. The Monster side don’t get told what to do either. The monsters are under direction from battle leaders who would normally direct their forces during faction combat. These people now get a briefing as if from the big bad and must make their own decision as to where and how they start.

The battle area at Paccar Scout Camp is wooded valley.

We’d elected to cover the battle instead of fighting in it; entirely for health reasons sadly.

However here is the first special part of the battle feeling.

We knew where the monsters where entering from. Yet it took very little time to reach a point where we could not see them or the players.

We were in a forest with two armies made from hundreds of players and we did not know where they were. I can see why Curious Pastimes like this location. It is incredibly atmospheric. The feeling of not knowing where things are coming from is exhilarating.

Armies however are good at finding each other and it took not take long for them to find each other and combat to ensue.

At first it was running, attacks. Elements of one side or another skirmishing.

It didn’t take long thought for the main bodies of troops to find each other. Then it turned into a brutal fight as both fought for superiority. Small units would break off to fight in the woods yet the main core of the combat units kept on hammering at each other. The word intense does not really do it justice.

Eventually though the grind of battle slowed and then stopped. The opposing sides where talking. It looked as if a negotiated settlement was taking place.

Everyone held their breath. Things were quiet. Then slowly and quietly the armies moved off the field.

The combat was over. There was an attempt to gain more through ritual by one brave and determined ritualist right at the end but this too failed.

Everyone made their way out of forest.

This was not the end of the event.

Battles have consequences and the players had several hours left before time out and so started post battle role-playing. Their were things to talk about, arrange and confirm.

I liked this format of straight into battle and then role-playing the fallout from it. That really was a great idea. It’s a new format for Curious Pastimes but the feed back at the time all seemed to be positive. No doubt a deeper look at this will be taken but it looks at the moment that this is a good format.

This also marked the end of our August adventure with Curious Pastimes. We will be back for more of their events next year. But for now, before you reach the photos I really want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone at Curious Pastimes for making this happen.

Battle Photos

 

The Video Diary

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