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.

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Questions To Ask When Going To A LARP

Questions To Ask When Going To A LARP

If you’re going to your first larp this Summer, or perhaps trying out something new for the first time then there are certain questions that you may need to ask. This post is for the new larper or a the new to a larp player. Its a list of things that need to clarified before going to a larp event.

The amount of information that larp organisers publish about their events varies enormously. Everyone will tell you the time, the place, the cost and the genre. Some will publish a lot more, but if you feel you want to know more than is published, then here are some questions and tips that will help you prepare for the event.

Where Am I Sleeping?

Let’s kick off with a big one. You need to know where you will be laying your head. Typically (and I am UK biased here) accommodation will be along the lines of

  • Camping (You Provide the tent and camping gear)
  • Sleeping Rough in Character (You really need to ask what you need to be bring)
  • In a bedroom (You may need to ask about how many (if any) will be sharing)
  • In a dormitory (Definitely sharing)
  • Shared Space – Bring Your Own Bed

Camping can be in character ( tent style depends on genre) or out of character (anything goes). You need to know which as this affects your choice of tent.

Sleeping rough means makeshift shelters, and possibly outdoors. This means you really need to clarify what the expectations are from the organisers at your time of booking.

Bedroom is nice. It may even be ensuite. You may need to share and mixed sharing can also happen. So clarify this if you possibly feel uncomfortable with shared rooms or sharing with someone of the opposite sex. Also do you need bedding.

Dormitories – you’re talking about limited personal space and maybe mixed occupancy. So again check. Again you should check about bedding.

If its bring your own bed – do just that. Get a comfortable camp bed of some kind.

The Tip: When in doubt pack a sleeping bag.

 

Food – What am I eating?

At a larp eating is very important. Your routines are going to change. You may be a lot more physically active than usual. You may be getting less sleep than usual. You may be colder or warmer than usual. You will need to eat.

The amount of catering a larp provides will vary enormously. Some games do incredible in character catering. Others let you fend for yourself. You should confirm which meals will be provided. You should also find out if snacks are available on site.Its also worth finding out if meals are at the start and end of the day. If this is the case what happens in the middle?

Its never a bad move to pack some non-perishable snacks. Don’t go hungry. Assume you will need food.

The Tip: Putting snacks in your larp bag is rarely a bad move.

 

Drink – Avoid Dehydrating

Two parts to this one. Alcohol and hydration. Lets start with the booze.

Alcohol is really simple as it depends on knowing the what the attitude to alcohol is like at that larp. Is it normal to drink? Is drinking banned for safety reasons? Is a little alcohol OK and a lot not so? All of these can only be resolved by asking the organisers. Very often you’ll be able to guess as the attitude to alcohol in larps tends to reflect where you are. For example most UK larps allow for drinking as a normal part of the experience; but being falling over drunk is seen as being not desirable. However regardless of what’s permitted remember that you will be taking part in an emotional and possibly physical experience. How does alcohol affect you? Remember to be true to your limitations. If drinking in such circumstances is not a good idea for you then do not drink regardless of what others say.

The next part if simply hydration. You will need to most likely drink more than usual. Especially in an outdoors Summer larp. I’ve seen a lot people fall over from simply not drinking enough water. So if possible carry water. If possible take a moment and have drink of something. Being thirsty is a bad thing. It can become dangerous if you dehydrate.  There’s not much to ask here as just about all larpers are aware of this risk. But you may need to ask what is a suitable in character water container.

The Tip: Do not become dehydrated.

 

When Am I in Game?

If you are in game you are meant to be in costume and portraying your character. You’ll need to know what time of night you can stop playing? When in the morning you are in character? Or is the whole experience from start to finish in character? Are there areas of the site that are out game? Like out of character camping or a chill room if you need to step back for a moment. There’s nothing worse than going for an out of character breakfast and then finding that everyone is already in character.

So ask the question – when and where should I be playing my character?

The Tip: When in Doubt Assume in character

 

What Should My Costume be like?

Really important if this is your first larp and to be honest given the modern trend for high costume standards this question never goes away. Fortunately you may not have to ask a question at all. If the game is well established there is a good chance of there being plenty of photographs online that you can take a look. Avail yourself of the larps website and any Facebook groups they may have. You will learn a lot.

Some larps may have costume standards embedded in their rules / guide books. Take a look at these.

Finally ask the question of the organisers or other players. You will almost certainly get some good answers. Don’t buy or acquire costume before you know what you need. That way can lead to a lot of wasted money. If its your first larp also ask about borrowing or renting costume. Looking good will help you enjoy the larp but there is little fun in spending a lot of money and only then discovering that you do not like.

The Tip: Ask how to look cool – but don’t blow the budget until you are sure about it.

 

Finally

These are all practical questions common to anyone going to a larp. If you are new to larping you should try and get these cleared up. Never be afraid to ask questions of larpers. The larp community by and large is full of helpful, friendly and thoughtful people. The kind of people who want to work with someone to better take part in their game. Always ask questions. They will not be laughed at.

Several Thoughts on The Cost of LARPs

Several Thoughts on The Cost of LARPs

Ok this came up in Facebook today and I’m posting it now as I think this could be a series of things to exam in 2017. The subject is the cost of larps. Historically event prices at LARPs (at least in the UK as these are the prices I know), have been generally quite low. However venue costs are rising (amongst other things). So are expectations. This drives the price up.

Then we came across this – (via Claus Raasted). An article that gives a financial breakdown on the cost of a larp. Here’s the article –  GYRM – How We Made A Loss

I think that next in 2017 this is going to be topic that we’ll be looking at

 

The image used comes the Flickr User: Richard Elzey. You can learn more about this picture and it’s licence here.

 

 

 

 

LARP – Tips for in case of Crew disaster

LARP – Tips for in case of Crew disaster

I recently attended a Forest Argent game as crew. This particular weekend event had a problem. In the week running up to it a large number of the crew had to either not attended or reduce their planned attendance. This as you might imagine really put the pressure on both the events organiser and the remaining crew.

This article is about what to do when you run out of crew; and is largely inspired by what happened on that weekend. Gideon the ref and all read Forest Argent head honcho did a stunningly good job of creating a weekend that the players seemed to thoroughly love. In other words whilst the going was touch the result was a total success.

So lets get on with what to do when you have not crew.

I should say that some of these tips need a deft and subtly hand to work – but work they will.

Encourage Player Creativity.

Larpers are a creative bunch. If you can get them talking and coming up with ideas then it is likely that they take actions that will develop their characters and come up with creative methods of dealing with the events scenario. So give them time to talk and let them know they have time to talk. Let them think a major moment in the scenario is scheduled a little way in the future and also give them some juicy bit of plot point to deal with and let them run with it.  Once you get them talking don’t try and block their ideas (even if some of them may be a but outlandish). Instead encourage trial and experimentation. Let your reduced crew drop in other salient points here and there and then step back. The chances are there you have just lit the fuse on a creative powder keg. All you have to do is wait for the boom!

Keep an Eye on Crew Welfare

If you have a reduced crew then the remaining members are going to be working harder. Don’t take the hard work for granted. Make sure they are fed, watered and getting as much rest as possible. If there are problems don’t put the pressure on instead work with an solve the problems .

In short -even without much in the way of crew – put the crew before the game and the chances are you will have a better game.

 

Your crew have good ideas – Use Them!

At this point I’m going to run with the idea that as your crew is reduced the ability to run NPCs are intended is damaged or in some cases lost altogether.  Ok so take a stock of what is left. Lay out some possible timings and directions the plot may go in an discussion it with your crew. Allow your crew to expand on the remit of existing NPCs and come up with good ideas. Let them shine and modify the game plan. You may not be able to run the game as planned but your crew may just be able to help you do something amazing.

 

Costume Maketh the Crew

If your crew numbers are low then the likelihood of representing multiple characters comes into play. If this happens then what matters is making sure that each character has a such a strong visual cue for the players that they can forget its being played by the same person as the chap they met half an hour ago and is in fact someone different. Its not just changing costume that helps here – its making sure some extremely noticeable is used to spell out the difference. In the Forest Argent game I mentioned I played one section with a giant colander tied to my head with a canvas bow case (that was tied in a bow). Once the players had stopped guffawing the new character was quickly accepted as being just that. I’m not saying you always have to use a colander (but it does seem to help).

 

You can’t count what you cannot see

Taking things off camera can really help with a sense of numbers. Communicating with some one you cannot see can really add tension. So in a fantasy session use a single runner to get message exchange going. As technology increases this just gets easier as one a exchange of messages with one person can still imply that you are ultimately dealing with a force that is just too large to deal with. This can also be used to give players time to think and discuss and plays nicely into the first point in this article.

 

In The Dark One Can Become Many

A variation of you can’t count what you cannot see is the enemy in the woods (or any other obscuring environment). One person carefully making noises, leaving clues  and so on can appear to be one of many. So if your crew numbers are low make sure at least one of them knows the site and get them to take full advantage of the dark once the sun goes down. I once saw one crew member terrorise and lodge full of people simply because he kept making noises from different directions.

 

Well that’s it with the tips. I’m sure there any many others – if you do have suggestions like these then please get in touch. I’d love to put them out.

 

 

The image used in this piece is by Flickr user Jonathan Kos-Read. Click here to learn more about this image and it’s licence.

 

How to make a LARP Sword (or Dagger)

Once upon a time it was difficult to buy good quality larp weapons and for many people there is no need to make your own. This wasn’t always the case (In fact I remember an attempt to build some in the 90’s that lead to decent fighting sticks and comedy Kukri’s), and regardless of availability there is nothing as satisfying as crafting something that is bespoke to you.

How to get started is another matter.

Fortunately there are these 4 videos from Talented Pixi Cosplay that are very useful. They detail how to make a large dagger (that by way of extension could become a sword). I like them as they show failures in the construction process – and you can learn a lot from this.

If you do have a go at making your weapons – I’d love to post pictures so please send them in.

Here are the instructional videos.

Seminar – Writing a Theatre LARP

On the latest LARPBook podcast you may have heard somewhat vague thoughts on Theatre and Parlour LARP. That’s simply due to the nature of the 3 hosts. I have a background in Freeform larp – especially the modern day horror genre. Luke has a fantasy larp background and Stuart sits somewhere in the middle.

I’ve also realised that larpers from different styles of play don’t necessarily understand LARP outside how they play,.

I think it need to redress that – and I’ll do it in form of video.

This one comes from Jeff Diewald and is a seminar on writing a theatre style larp

3 Videos for LARP Archers

3 Videos for LARP Archers

I’ve enthused about the high speed archery of Lars Anderson and his aim to make archery less of a sport and more an exploration into what may have happened in the past in close combat and hunting situations. I am a big fan of experimental archaeology and stripping away assumptions made by modern life styles and Hollywood that leads us to a better understanding of how people may have really operated in the past. I’m also a big proponent of we shouldn’t be surprised by great historical achievement. Our ancestors are human. They are just as intelligent as we are – just lacking the advantages given by hundreds or thousands of years of technological change.

However I do feel a need to balance my view. Lars is one, but his work has also brought more attention to other people working in this area and I feel that it is needed to show these together so that as Larpers we can use them to take a view not just on how archery works, but also on different ways of playing a character with a bow.

I also suspect that this means at sometime I’m going to have took at other weapons and also demonstrations of theatrical larp techniques as well.

Lets start with the high energy work of Lars Andersen. I’ll let the video make its claims

Now lets take a look this archer. They key here seems to be control and fluidity. It also neatly bypasses the claims that quiver is bad news. I also note that the quiver is rigid and that almost certainly helps with a smoother draw from the quiver

And now a tutorial on how to burst fire 3 LARP arrows. Bogdan Landzhev has been working on LARP archery techniques for some time and has been getting good results.

So after watch these videos what I have learned. Well I think this is my take away

  1. Irrespective of weapon make sure you can represent your character well. Since archery is quite technical if you are playing an archer make sure you take time to practice between events.
  2. Be mobile and use the environment to your tactical advantage. You don’t have to get in close. You do have to make sure that you hit the enemy and not your friends.
  3. Be calm
  4. Find a way of moving with your bow that works for you.
  5. Develop your own technique and style

The photo on this post comes via Flickr user Tom Garnett. You can learn more about this picture and its licence by clicking here:

Some NERF for LARP Recommendations

We’ve had quite a bit of interest in Nerf for LARP article and right now a number of people are working on follow on pieces and sets of recommendations.

We’ve also had our first set of recommendations in are they are

These are all from Ram M Ramadan via Facebook.

Thank You Ram!

my best advice keep it Simple. maverick/ strongarm are best most reliable guns, Vulcan can jam other guns are slower

Painting idea taken from Internet
Modification : remove air restricted as YouTube. We don’t like spring modification more powerful can be more dangerous

Also buzz bee is a great range rather then Nerf see buzzbee long shot shot gun can be saw down looks great painted

I like the idea of adopting the air restricters on Nerf guns., Rams point is that increasing the poundage can make guns more dangerous and in addition I’ve heard it reported that it is possible for a more powerful spring can break a Nerf outright. In case you’re wondering about this talk of springs. Nerf guns basically use a spring to drive down a plunger and this causes the rush of air that fires the dart. The more air that does through the more powerful. More can be fixed by pushing with more force (a bigger spring) or by allowing more air in (remove the air restrictions).

I hope this helps. More as it comes in.

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