Archive

Author Archive

How to Make Weapons: Sword

July 15, 2013 1 comment

Here we are going to have a gallery tutorial on how to make swords!

Advertisements

Rule #1: Cardio

March 29, 2013 Leave a comment

(Today’s article has been written by Mark, one of Exile’s NPCs and an avid runner.)zombieland_rule1_cardio

Hi, I’m Mark and I am a Runner. Yes there was a capital “R” for Runner. I can finish a ten mile race in 70 minutes and have done marathon distance twice now. The first time was an accident, the second time intentional and now I am training to do that distance as an official race. What does this have to do with LARPing? A lot! Boffer LARPs are very physical and being in good cardio fitness is key to success. Countless times I have been chasing a player (I’m almost always an NPC) and I have had to stop and let them catch their breath to prevent a real life medical issue. Stereotype aside, many LARPers are not in the greatest of physical health. Improving your cardio will not only make you a better LARPer, but improve your health in real life.

First lets talk some basic running terms. When you run, how fast you go is determined by your stride length and stride rate. The stride length is the distance one foot travels before setting down again, for average adult male runners it is about 28 inches. Next is stride rate, this is how many strides you do per minute or mile (usually mile, though metric users can use kilometers if you want). Then there is sprinting, this is running at your top speed. While sprinting is very good for training (and for burning fat), it is not good when LARPing and should be avoided (more on that later). Interval training is alternating between fast running and slow running/walking (or even complete rest). Interval training is key to improving cardiovascular fitness. Now that I have covered some basic terms let’s apply them to LARPing.

Sprinting is bad at LARPs: it is a safety issue. Sprinters have longer stride length, which means your legs are kicking out more. Most LARP sites are not the most stable ground, this means larger chance of tripping over something. When chasing another person you want to match speeds before attacking, and if you are sprinting you won’t be able to match speeds and stand a good chance of crashing into them. Finally, sprinting wears you out very quickly, you have maybe 60 seconds of top speed, then you are out of breath and combat probably isn’t over.

Key to almost any sort of running training is know your one mile and 5k (about 3.2 miles) times. If you are a beginner you may need to work up to a 5k, there are plenty of resources available to get you there 

Interval training is my favorite training for LARP. There are many different ways to do it, the simplest involve run fast for a set time or distance and then rest for one to two minutes.  I personally like run a quarter mile for 90 seconds, rest 90 seconds then repeat 9 more times. This is taking my best one mile time (6 minutes) and trying to maintain it for about two and a half miles by taking breaks in between.

I will end this post with a cheat for you all. They say the only good running training is running, but using an elliptical can help a fair amount and put less stress on your joints. You can either try for a good half an hour workout, or something shorter and mix in some interval training. Do not use a treadmill, they put excess stress on your joints.

Good luck and good running.

Categories: General

Be the BEST NPC EVER!

February 7, 2013 Leave a comment

zombieSome games require that you NPC, some games do not.  No matter where you are, though, there is no excuse for not putting your heart and soul into NPCing.

People will occasionally complain about mandatory NPC shifts.  But even if you don’t like it, you have to think: what about all the people who NPC for me?

When it is your turn to PC, you want the people being your monsters and villains to be entertaining and awesome, don’t you?

Well, they aren’t getting paid.  They, like you, came to the game to enjoy themselves and have a good time.  If you want them to be awesome, energetic NPCs, you have to return the favor.

No matter how much you don’t want to NPC (sometimes, I would rather shoot myself in the foot than play a cookie-cutter monster), you have to remember that the effort you put into it HAS the be equal to or better than what you want to receive!

It is all in the way you look at things.  Sure, there is not much to interact with if you are a mindless creature, but ham it up!  Have a good time making people stare at you in horror as you creep out from under their bed.  Wait until they have made eye contact and slowly drool fake blood.  Sneak up behind them and screech like a creature just let free from hell.  Really get into your parts, and you will find that your NPC shift goes by quickly, and that you had a lot of fun, too.  Then you get to smile later when people come up to you and thank you for making them wet their pants!

I will play a brainless flesh monster with as much gusto as I play a crazy fairy or a badass necromancer.  I HATE being a cookie cutter, but since cookie cutters are a necessary part of the game, I will not be a half-assed cookie cutter.  I will be the most terrifying brainless nightmare beast you have ever SEEN.

And I can only hope that the favor is returned when it is my turn to PC, and someone else’s’ turn to take their turn at being a creepy shadow monster.

Categories: NPC Advice

Let’s Talk About Gear!

January 3, 2013 1 comment

bagI would like to take a minute to talk about your gear at an event!

Everyone has a set of in-game gear that they carry on them as they run around the woods, but what about the out of game gear!?

Well, what about it?

Let me tell you, my out of game gear has always come in handy.  I try to carry a number of things that would make (usually out of game issues) disappear.

Some of the more obvious ones include:

  • A Pen
  • A Lighter
  • A Knife
  • A Time Piece

These things are self explanatory.  But I will explain them anyway, just because.  You always need to write things in a LARP, and it is annoying to need a pen and no one has one.  Lighters are great for candles, cigarettes and fires, should you want to light a fire pit.  Knives are great for costume or prop malfunctions, or if you just need to cut paper or sticks.  And everyone always wants to know what time it is.  You will be the coolest kid in school if you know!

Some of the less obvious:

  • The most important thing on any list.

    The most important thing on any list.

    Needle and Thread

  • Small tube of Hand sanitizer
  • Some extra paper
  • Spool of strong string
  • Swath of scrap fabric in color with your costume
  • A pack of cigarettes (even if you don’t smoke)
  • Small flashlight
  • Roll of black Duct tape

Some of these seem kind of extraneous, and in the case of the duct tape, maybe a little bulky.  However, almost everyone I have seen in games carries a bag of some sort, and a half used roll should not be too heavy.

So, to explain:

Needle and Thread

Believe it or not, this has come up at least five times in my last two events!  Which is kind of crazy.  Wardrobe malfunctions can be a trouble, and being able to fix them immediately is nice.  I got to repair someone’s armor mid-battle (there was a small clarify, since someone lost their glasses).  If you keep the needle stored in the thread and keep the whole thing in a small pouch of your bag, it will be light and out of the way.

Small tube of Hand sanitizer

LARPing is so dirty.  How many times do you wash your hands?  Now, how many times do you put food in your mouth?  Think about that for a second.  Or if there is an injury and you get blood on you?  Usually, though, I use it for camps that don’t have running water near their out-houses, or in the winter when camps turn off their water.

Some extra paper

This can be in the form of a few folded sheets, or a little note-book/journal that your character keeps.  If you ever need to take notes, or write down a name or a clue, this is your man.

Spool of strong string

You want this to be thicker than thread.  Preferably something that you can use to tie things up in trees, or tie prisoners together, or tie extra gear to yourself (finding extra swords, or whatever) or setting in-game traps… Whatever.  A small spool of it should do!

Swath of scrap fabric in color with your costume

If you keep a swath of fabric on your person, you can use it for EVERYTHING.  I like to keep a black one with me.  It works for headbands, hand-cuffs, fake bandages, blindfolds, quick costume patches, actual slings (had someone wrench a shoulder once), wraps for sprains (I sprain my ankles every ten seconds), and even just a cloth to tie around a bunch of little gear that you need to carry.

A pack of cigarettes (even if you don’t smoke)

If you smoke, you probably already have this one.  I try to carry one with me because

A: all my friends smoke, and they get cranky when we have down-time and they want one

B: Some times, other people want a cigarette, and if you have them: TAA-DAA!  Now you have made a friend!  We LARP to make friends and have fun, so… That helps.

C: Maybe someone has something in-game that you want.  Maybe you can’t pay them with in-game coin.  And maybe they smoke… Just saying.

Small flashlight

People always lose their glasses at night.  Seriously: it is the ONLY time people lose their glasses.  However, that aside, while most people want to keep the game pure, and only use fire or special colored lights for the game-world, real-world emergencies need good light, and having it on you is always useful.

Roll of black Duct tape

This is great for fixing weapons, obviously, but also for injuries (splints, slings, sprain-support, even just big cuts, if you put some cloth under them.)  I go for black, because having a silver fix on a black weapon looks tacky, but a black fix on a silver weapon can be made to look pretty cool, pretty quickly.  Again, it is also pretty good for IMMEDIATE costume fixes.  (Ripped pants? Ducttape!)

All of these things can fit in a fairly small bag.  You can even work them into your costume.  My caster kept them all in a bag, but I have an engineer in a Steampunk game that wears them individually on a belt, cause it works for the character!

In case you forgot which was most important…

_________________

Really, Duce tape can wipe out the need for needle and thread, and cloth.  But I like to have options!

And… I mean… If you really try, you can make it work a LOT of things.  We are LARPers after all:

Duct tape fixes everything.

Categories: Costuming

Treasure Chests: God’s Gifts To Downtime

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

I have had to work with as few as 4 NPCs for an entire event before.  Because of this, I have had to adapt my events and behavior to be able to make those NPCs streach.  I want to write a series of articles about entertaining a LOT of PCs with VERY FEW NPCs.  So, without further ado, here is the first of my “Doing a lot with a little” articles.

Treasure Chests

I have to say, I LOVE putting treasure chests out for players to find in my game.  First thing on Saturday Morning, I send out the first NPC awake to set out treasure chests throughout the camp.

These are SO USEFUL to game-flow, and to breaking up the monotony of down-time.  If your players know that there are treasure chests out in the camp, they will be more likely to move away from your inn (tavern, main hang-out area, whatever) and adventure.  It also makes your players more able to entertain themselves, but still feel like they are interacting with the game world.

Get Them Out of Town

Often I hear complaints about PCs, and how they just congregate and don’t go out and look for adventure.  This shackles a GM, because you can’t really put out random encounter monsters, because there are no PCs to encounter!  If the PCs just hang out in town, you have two options for mod structure: attack town, or hook a mod.  You can’t just have players run into bandits, thieves, kidnappers or Jehovah’s Witnesses in the middle of the forest, because no one goes out to wander.

This is where treasure chests and randomly growing components come in handy.  If your players know that they will be rewarded when they leave town, then they are more likely to go wandering.

And because players are greedy, they will be more likely to go out in small groups, so that they don’t have to share treasure.  These groups are great to kidnap or just attack.

Make Them Entertain Themselves

You can get players out of town, and have them entertain themselves with this Easter Egg hunt.  It gives them something to do so that they are not bored!

You can also make the chests varying levels of difficulty.  Some can be trapped, some can be locked, and some can be enchanted.  You can make it so that it is a suspenseful crap-shoot when they open a chest!

Absolutely make use of the GM’s best friend in this case: Dominate.  Have one chest shoot out poison darts that drive the target mad with rage.  Now, now only are the players out in the woods on their own steam, but they are in the middle of a fight for their lives against one of their allies.

This keeps them entertained with ZERO NPC involvement.

________

I have seen games with really intricate ceremony components, a large portion of which were tagged flowers.  They used fake flowers with tags attached, and would put the flowers all over the camp first thing in the morning.  This was amazing to interact with, because you could go for a walk and come back with a bouquet of flowers that gave you power and earned you gold.

If your game cannot afford the fake flowers, or your staff does not have the time to attach tags to all of them, treasure chests are your friend.  You just put your item tags (printed ones are common) into the chests and hide them about the game.

Remember: you don’t want to make them too difficult to find for two reasons:

1: It is disappointing for players if they can’t find them.

2: You have to go find them at the end of the event.

If you don’t have the money to buy wooden treasure chests, I have a few tips about how to make really budget treasure chests. Sometimes when you look at your budget, seeing your expensive treasure boxes get destroyed by rain is disheartening.  Thus: look into alternate ways to make them that cost little to no money.

Having budget treasure chests is good, because they can get destroyed by weather and not set you back too much money.

And, as my last suggestion: give your players a place where they can drop off your treasure chests.  Make it REALLY easy for them, or else you will never see your boxes again!

Budget Treasure Chests

November 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I love seeing treasure chests in game.  Whether they are hidden out in the camp, or just sitting around someone’s in-game area, I love to see them.

Sadly, getting pretty, finished treasure chests can be expensive.  So, I have a few suggestions for making some on a budget.

Pre-Made Boxes

You can get un-stained boxes from stores like AC Moore or Michaels.  I LOVE these, because they are durable, and look really pretty.  If you get one of these (5-10 dollars a piece) and stain them yourself, you can get a lovely effect without breaking the bank.

If you are a GM, and are going to hide these chests in game, remember to not only stain the outside, but to get the bottom of the box, and the entirety of the inside.  You may want to also put a water-proof lacquer finish, so that your chests will hold up to the elements.

Cardboard Boxes

If you don’t have the money to spend, or if you are a GM, and are concerned about weather destroying your props (or players not returning your props), then you can use shoe boxes.

Or, really, any boxes.  Cardboard boxes from clothes, electronics, or really anything that comes in a box can be incredibly useful as treasure chests.  Especially the shoe boxes with the hinged lids.

In this case, simply take the shoe-box and some textured spray paint from Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, or any craft store.  Coat the entire outside of the box, and then the inside, in a layer of appropriately colored spray-paint.  Then you can take silver or gold paint and daub on dots where rivets might be, or paint the corners of the box in a metallic shade to make it appear as though there are metal edges.

These will look in-game enough that they will add to your game world, and are cheap enough that a light rain will not set you back 50 bucks.

Cigar Boxes

I like cigar boxes, but I don’t smoke.  However, every now and again, players come to game with cigar boxes as treasure boxes, and they always look amazing.

With these, obviously you have logos to worry about.  Sometimes they are ornate enough that they can add to the game feel of the box.  If not, sand them off and re-stain the box.  You can also paint over them with acrylic paint, spray them down with textured spray paint, or, if you are really pressed for time, glue parchment paper or tin-foil over it.

If you want to get a few of these, check out your local cigar store, and see if they will let you take away some of their empty cigar boxes from their display cigars.  It never hurts to ask!

 

_____

There are plenty of ways to make little treasure boxes without having to spend a lot of money.  What other ways have you made treasure chests in your LARPing (or crafting) career?

Injuries and Gameplay

November 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Hey guys!  Sorry that we went a few days without posting! We just had an event this weekend over at Exile.  The event went well, but we had an injury during our main mod.

I chose this picture because the kitten’s expression is surprisingly close to our injured player’s.

The person in question is ok, but it made me think of how injuries are often handled at LARPs.  Thus, I would like to make a few recommendations.  (Note: this article is meant to discuss things like sprains, minor fractures, impact injuries, and the like.  If you have some sort of horrific injury, follow the first two suggestions, but use your judgment with the third.)

First of, and obviously, for big injuries, a Hold should be called.  Everyone knows this, and I have never seen a LARP ignore this one.

Next: if you are not qualified to assist: move.  My players did this amazingly well, with only two people crouched down next to the injured player. In the past I have seen a game’s medics called over only to find a crowd around the player, making it difficult to get close and assess the injury.  Usually people get out of the way, but you should not be there in the first place if you are unqualified.  One person can hang with the injured person to comfort them until help arrives: five people is unnecessary.

(It is also a little embarrassing, at least for me.  I feel weird with everyone paying attention to me because I am hurt.)

Finally: resume gameplay.  Stopping the entire game for an injury (barring life threatening injuries) is unnecessary, embarrassing, and sometimes annoying.

Unnecessary because it does not take an entire game to be sure that one person gets the medical attention that they need.  As soon as the medics get the injured party off of the field, you should feel free to resume gameplay.  It shouldn’t take ALL of your GMs to handle someone with an injury.  In fact, having ALL of your GMs there will only mess things up!  Too many people trying to assist or make decisions will only make medical assistance take longer.  One GM and one medic (or one GM if the GM is a medic) is all that is needed.

Embarrassing because then the injured person may feel guilty or uneasy because they have brought the game to a screeching halt.  No one likes to be the reason that their friends stopped having fun, and if you compound that with an injury, now they might feel really bad.  I know that I do.  I feel really weird when I know an entire mod has stopped because I rolled my ankle.  Even if no one is mad (and most of the time, no one is mad) it is still a little embarrassing.

Annoying because now you have a huge group of people, standing around, waiting for the game to continue.  This one feels a little heartless, but it is valid.  You have paid money to come play this game, and want to play and be involved.  If you have to stand around and be bored while all of the GMs run off to handle someone with an injury, you are going to get annoyed.  Especially since, as I just noted, it doesn’t take 10 people to handle one injury.

As soon as you get the injured party off of the field, call your Game On.  After the scene or fight is over, if people want to come check on their friend, they can.  This has the added benefit of not having 10 people hanging around getting in the way.  You have some time to assess the injury in peace, while the players finish their scene, and the injured person has time to calm down.  A lot of pain is exacerbated by stress, and having a lot of people hanging around panicking at you is going to make you start to panic as well, which is no good for an injury.

In conclusion: it is better for the game, and especially better for the injured party, for one or two people to help out, and for everyone else to go about the game.