In This Issue: Special LARPY Awards Issue April 2006
What is LARPing?
What is NERO?
The LARPY awards
LARPY Awards Guests
LARPY 2006 Nominees
What can GAMA do for you?
What is the GPA?
Spotlight: Dragonbane LARP
It’s All About… Being There
You CAN con a con man!
Mine’s Bigger Comic
LARP Design theory: Skills
Sword Knight Boot Camp
How to make a Satyr
Interview with Rob Ciccolini
A Letter from the Editor We want to hear from you! What kind of articles would you like to see? What angles do you want us to explore? Have comments on anything you have seen here? Email or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to consider your suggestions! Thanks to you LARP Magazine Editorial Staff
LARP Magazine LARPY Awards Special Edition Copyright 2006, NERO International Holding Company Inc.All rights reserved. PO Box 453, Rye NY 10580 (914) 309-7718
Credits Layout and Editing: Matthew Pearson, Joseph Valenti Writing: Dan Comstock, Nathan Hook, Noah Mason, Matthew Pearson, Brian Torsey, Joseph Valenti Cover Design: Katrina Fedukowski, Catalyst Design Studios Logo Design: Katrina Fedukowski, Catalyst Design Studios Photography: Ian Aleksander Adams (www.ianadamsphoto.com) , Matthew Pearson (www.epicadv.com) , Fantasy Stock (fantasystock.deviantart.com)
www.nerolarp.com / www.larpmag.com www.rapidpod.com www.epicadv.com/catalyst
What is LARPing?
In large scale LARPs such as NERO® there is a dedicated staff of volunteers who write the backstory, the story framework, the encounters and act in the roles of the monster, villains, and common townsfolk you meet on your adventures to provide the work its organic feel. These people also work very hard between events writing new adventures and stories based on the players’ actions in the game. Large scale games commonly rent entire camps for entire weekends entertaining between 30 and 300 players from Friday night until Sunday.
By Matthew Pearson
In today’s world, with its stress and complexity, there is a need for quality recreation that gives you a chance to get away from everyday issues we all face. Take a vacation from the mundane and try your hand at a Live Action Role Playing (LARP) game. In a Live Action Role Playing game you not only create a character with a personality and back-story of your own design that can be very different from your own, but you Smaller scale LARP events typically run at conventions or actually act out the character in real time with other players. at game stores. These smaller games are typically designed for a small group of players to move through a largely There are many different types of LARP games. Some games scripted adventure. These adventures are akin to “Modare reliant on judges and/or dice rolls or other abstract ways ules” that we all know from table-top gaming. Sometimes to decide the outcome of any conflict or actions that the play- you get a pre-made character or guidelines for making one. ers engage in. Others allow players to engage in safe combat These types of events are a great introduction to LARPing.
using padded weapons to resolve combat and perform actions based on skills their character possesses in the game. In addition there are also live-combat games that are not really true LARPs . The games are largely focused on combat and run more akin to paintball with foam swords than a true LARP. These games typically run for an afternoon and can be very fun and challenging even for the most athletic people and are a great way to practice your skills.
Many readers of popular fantasy fiction become lost in the exciting worlds created by the author and form a picture of the worlds in their mind. In a LARP the story unfolds organically with no predetermined outcome. LARP players enjoy all the elements that make a good fantasy novel great and have an actual impact on how things develop and move forward. The depth of interaction and immersion in a well run LARP game simply cannot be matched by any tabletop, computer, or console game. Typically in addition to acting your chosen role, players and staff use costuming, make-up, prosthetics and other types of special effects to look the part of the character they choose to play. An Elf looks like an Elf. An Orc looks like an Orc. As you put on your costume and make-up and interact with scores of other players the feeling that you are assuming the role you have created for yourself is undeniable and is something that cannot be achieved in any other gaming medium.
What is NERO?
If the epic life is not your style, then you can play the part of a town merchant. You can make your money selling your wares and information for the right price. Perhaps you wish By Joseph Valenti to be one who investigates the magical arts, selling your The NERO® International Game System is the largest and scrolls and potions to earn the money.. Or would you rather oldest established organized LARP in North America, try and become leader of the Mages’ Guild? The choice is with over 40 chapters. The Tyrran Campaign is a fully de- yours. We have fierce warriors, crafty scouts, powerful magveloped game world with myriad cultures and kingdoms es, noble knights, and benevolent healers. There are smelly that has been in use for over 15 years in the NERO® game goblins, blood-chilling spectres, evil necromancers, vilsystem. The Tyrran Campaign world is also filled with lainous spies to fight, and your very own legends to create. elves, orcs, trolls, goblins, vampires, un-dead and all manner of fantasy creatures both monstrous and wondrous. Members within the NERO® LARP organization range in age from 14 and up and are from all walks of life and professions. NERO® games allows players freedom of action through an The helpful management, staff and players of NERO® will help easy to learn and fun rules system that stresses the importance you create a character that is right for you and answer any quesof the honor system and good sportsmanship. Combat is done tions about the game rules and the game world. The NERO® using safe foam padded weapons, struck with the lightest Rule Book is available online at www.NEROLARP.com. touch, and small thrown bird seed filled packets to represent magical spells. The combat rules are intended to allow anyone to compete safely and enjoyably regardless of real life skills.
There are two ways to play at a NERO® game; as a player in full control of your character or as a member of the cast who is controlled by the production team. Cast members are often called NPC’s (“Non Player Character”). The name encompasses the cast members and event actors who play roles ranging from conversational to adversarial, and it also covers writer, director, and producer which are considered the game staff that write and produce the game. The NPC’s play the roles of monsters and creatures and Both ways of playing are very different but they each can be equally fun and rewarding. NPC’s play the lawful role that gives out the hints and clues to the mystery, and who leads the lawful players to the places they need to be. NPC’s also play the unlawful roles who do the bad deeds (attack the manor houses on the outskirts), and then leave the clues behind for the lawful players to find. Under the NERO® game system an entire fantasy medieval town or world is created. In the NERO LARP Game, you create character concept for a fantasy character and actually play the character. It is much like improvisational theater in that you have a framework created by the props, staff and supporting characters and must develop your part as you progress through the storyline. Your character’s attitudes, ambitions, and history are yours to define. If the adventurous life is your calling, you may play the part of a wanderer, meeting with some friends in the tavern. While swapping tales, your party might get hired by a poor farmer in desperate straits, and spend the afternoon slaying a foul necromancer and his undead minions.
Play (Cosplay) conventions have an internal award program that recognizes the “bestof ” among the event attendees. The LARPIES will present awards to recognize the “bestof ” in the LARP and Cosplay communities, in the following categories: Best Solo Action Sequence, Best Group Action Sequence, Best Costume, Best Makeup, Best Creature and/or Monster, Best Prop, Best Weapon, Best Set Design, Funniest LARP Scenario, Best-Looking MaleLARPer, Best-Looking Female LARPer, Favorite Major Label Band and Favorite LARP related Band. This year we are expecting over 1,000 attendees, most of whom will come dressed in their finest costumes. There will be a red carpet greeting ceremony for the invited celebrity hosts.
The LARPY awards The Live Adventures Company has operated Live Action Role Play events at campgrounds and at game conventions since 1986. With over 45 LARP affiliates in North America producing more than 250 weekend-long events each year, we are the premier LARP promoter in the world. The Live Adventures Company invites you to join some of the biggest stars in film and television (and thousands of fans who worship them), as they honor the best Live Action Role Playing (LARP) participants in the world, at the 1st ANNUAL LARPY AWARDS. The LARPY AWARDS will be held at the legendary Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles, California on Sunday, April 30th, 2006. Created by The Live Adventures Company President Joseph Valenti and writer-producer David Ballard, the LARPY AWARDS, aka the LARPIES, were created to honor the world’s best LARPers and to celebrate the SciFi and fantasy films, TV series, videogames, card games and books that inspire all of us to make the world a better placethrough the power of creativity and imagination. John Ryan Jr. and Billie Proffitt are also producing the show. LARP events most often take place over a weekend at campground-like facilities that are decorated like movie sets to resemble a medieval city or other fantasy world. Writers act as the “Game Masters” who’ve created storylines with mysteries to be solved and tasks to be completed. They provide the direction for “Event Actors” who interact with the LARPers, guiding them through the storyline and giving them hints and clues to the mysteries. Hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of participants come dressed in homemade costumes, bearing foam-rubber weapons based on parameters set forth in the game rules, to play what is essentially a “real-life” videogame, TV show or movie. Most LARP organizations, Sci Fi, Animeand Costume
LARPY Awards Special Guests
Cindy Margolis: Aside from being the “The Most Downloaded Woman on the Internet,” Cindy’s current projects include her VH-1 special CINDY MARGOLIS INSIDE OUT, as well as her animated series CINDY B.C. Cindy plays a brilliant, sharp-witted and irresistibly sexy High Priestess on a mission to save Mankind. She has also been chosen as the new cover model for the Angel Gate comic book series THE 10TH MUSE (soon to be a major motion picture.)
Bobbi Sue Luther: Currently the host of MAXIM ONLINE, Bobbi Sue was also the co-host of the international hit Discovery Channel reality series JUNKYARD MEGAWARS. She has appeared in such films as DEUCE BIGALOW: EUROPEAN GIGOLO and on the TV series STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE, where she played the iconic role of a sexy green “Orion Slave Woman” (a character first introduced in “The Menagerie,” the pilot episode of the original STAR TREK series.)
Bill Goldberg: Pro wrestling legend Bill Goldberg got his start by beating Hulk Hogan and being named WCW Rookie of the Year. His career only went up from there, to the point where he is now one of the 100 most powerful people in professional sports, according to THE SPORTING NEWS. Goldberg has also had starring roles in such feature films as THE LONGEST YARD, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER II and LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION. He is currently hosting AUTOMANIAC for The History Channel.
Adrien Brody: Winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor in THE PIANIST, Adrien recently appeared in the international blockbuster hit KING KONG. He also stars in the upcoming Focus Features release HOLLYWOODLAND, as a detective investigating the suspicious death of original 1950s TV series SUPERMAN George Reeves (played by fellow Oscar-winner and DAREDEVIL star Ben Affleck.)” ZOLAR X: Extraterrestrial rockers ZOLAR X first landed on Earth during the height of the glam era and would frequently share the same stage with such bands as IGGY POP and THE NEW YORK DOLLS until the onslaught of the disco era forced the band to return to their home world. But now that the legendary ZOLAR X farewell album “Timeless” has been re-mixed by longtime fan JELLO BIAFRA of the DEAD KENNEDYS and released on ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES RECORDS, the boys are back on Earth with their silver platform space boots all shined up and their antennae back at full attention and broadcasting at full power. They are also the subject of a soon-to-be-released feature documentary entitled TIMELESS.
Deborah Gibson: The youngest person ever to write, produce and perform a #1 single (“Foolish Beat”), Deborah has sold over 16 million albums worldwide and starred in such Broadway productions as LES MISERABLES, GREASE, CABARET and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. This year she showed off a new talent - ice skating, on the hit Fox reality series SKATING WITH CELEBRITIES. Jose Canseco: American League Rookie of the Year, the first “40-40” player ever, and the unanimous American League MVP, Jose has also made a successful transition to acting, appearing in such TV series as NASH BRIDGES, THE TONY DANZA SHOW and THE SIMPSONS. Jose also recently survived being a cast member on the hit VH1 series THE SURREAL LIFE.
Amber Smith: Supermodel Amber Smith has appeared on over 200 magazine covers worldwide and was voted “One of the 50 Sexiest Women in the World” by MAXIM. She is also a working actress and has appeared in such hit films as L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, AMERICAN BEAUTY and HOWARD STERN’S PRIVATE PARTS. Her TV credits include FRIENDS, VIP and JUST SHOOT ME and she is currently in production on a new reality series for E! entitled THE AMBER SMITH PROJECT. Amber was also recently named the official spokesmodel for Anheuser Busch’s new MICHELOB ULTRA AMBER BEER.
Cris Judd - Selected as one of People Magazine’s “25 Hottest Bachelors” and InTouch Magazine’s “20 Hottest Hunks,” Cris has attained worldwide notoriety as a choreographer working with international singing-dancing-acting superstars Jennifer Lopez, Usher and Ja Rule. He has also acted in such films as BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE and guest starred on many TV series, including EVE, HALF AND HALF, and EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND. Vanessa Branch: Most famous for her role as the vivacious, pearly-toothed spokesmodel for ORBIT GUM, Vanessa is currently reprising the role of Giselle in the upcoming Disney feature release PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST, the sequel to the international box office hit PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL. Vanessa has also played starring guest roles on LOST and STAR TREK: VOYAGER.
Jon Daly: Known as a risk-taker for backing films that the major studios wouldn’t touch, legendary producer Jon Daly had his first box-office smash with James Cameron’s THE TERMINATOR. He then went on to produce SALVADOR and the Oscar-winning PLATOON with Oliver Stone. Jon currently has several films in production, including MOONPIE and PLAYED.
David Winning: Canadian-born David Winning has directed such series as EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT, Gene Roddenberry’s ANDROMEDA and the ground-breaking mini-series DINOTOPIA for ABC. He is currently filming the smash hit Sci Fi Channel series STARGATE: ATLANTIS.
Nikki Schieler Ziering: After being voted one the Top 100 Playboy Playmates of the Century, Nikki has gone on to appear in many popular films and TV series. She is currently featured in the ensemble drama STANDING STILL and has also made memorable appearances in such films as AMERICAN WEDDING and AUSTIN POWERS: GOLDMEMBER. She is also a favorite guest of radio superstar DJ Howard Stern.
Rebecca Mary: Currently appearing as one of “Barker’s Beauties” on THE PRICE IS RIGHT, Rebecca has also been the official corporate spokesmodel for BARBASOL and KILLIANS IRISH RED BEER. Rebecca was featured in such films as WHAT WOMAN WANT and BASEKETBALL and has had starring roles on the TV series THE MAN SHOW, ODD MAN OUT and THUNDERDOME.
Camille Anderson recently appeared in THE WEDDING CRASHERS opposite Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, and is also a recurring character on the hit NBC series LAS VEGAS. She has also guest starred on such sitcoms as DHARMA & GREG, and is currently starring in SKETCH PAD for HBO.
Ken Foree: Ken is still washing the blood out of his clothes after appearing in the Lions Gate releases THE DEVIL’S REJECTS and HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, both written and directed by psychoboogie rock star Rob Zombie. In addition to his horror roles, Ken has shown his softer side in Nickelodeon’s hit show KEENAN AND KEL as well as in guest starring roles on THE X-FILES, GENERAL HOSPITAL, BABYLON 5 and BROTHERS.
WANDA GOLDBERG: Before Wanda met Bill on the set of SANTA’S SLAY, she had been working for many years as a stuntwoman on such films as TEXAS RANGERS, JOHNSON COUNTY WAR and SPEAKING OF SEX. Her latest project is a co-production with her husband - a baby! (Due a couple of weeks after the LARPY awards.)
TRASHY LINGERIE GIRLS. The Trashy Lingerie Girls make appearances all over the world as representatives of Trashy Lingerie, a members-only lingerie store in Hollywood where celebrities like Madonna, Pamela Anderson and Demi Moore go when they want to look sexy, KUNG FU FEMMES: Featuring mar- either in their personal lives or in films like TRUTH tial arts choreography by KIRYU OR DARE, BARB WIRE and CHARLIE’S ANGELS. KENPO founder TERRY TANEIE, the Kung Fu Femmes got their start as a four-woman stage show at the MGM GRAND HOTEL in Las Vegas. They have since gone on to become the most sought-after female martial arts performance troupe in the world, touring the country to perform at such Sci Fi and fantasy conventions as DRAGONFEST, FANGORIA and XENACON We offer the best LARP equipment available.
We carry a fine assortment of chainmail armor, hybrid replica armor, latex weapons, and standard boffer swords. We also carry materials for building your own boffer weapons. No matter what type of Live Action Role-playing game you play – Gothic, Pirates, Fantasy, Theater style, Live combat, Medieval, or SCA – we have something for you. Our wares are perfect for Theater and Film as well! Actress/model
CYNTHIA LEA: Since being chosen as a PLAYBOY CYBER GIRL, Cynthia has gone on to model in ad campaigns for KROQ, SMIRNOFF and BUDWEISER, act in such movies as GIRLS GONE PSYCHO and make appearances in such TV specials as the alternative Super Bowl halftime show THE LINGERIE BOWL.
RACHEL GRANT: Rachel Grant has appeared opposite Pierce Brosnan in the James Bond film DIE ANOTHER DAY and was Angelina Jolie’s body double in LAURA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER. She recently finished production on the vampire thriller BROTHERHOOD OF BLOOD.
Latex Weapons Boffer Weapons Mehron Makeup Graftobian Makeup Cinema Secrets / Woochie Prosthetics Norton Armouries Hybrid Armor Anna-Kiss Chainmail
SHAUNA SAND: Shauna Sand got her start in showbiz as a Playboy Playmate, and since then has gone on to develop a career as an actress, appearing in such series as LAS VEGAS, CHARMED and RENEGADE.
Best Make-up ConQuest_Mythodea_04 - The Water Avatar - Philipp Heidtkamp - Germany NERO Avendale - David - Sir Nobunaga - a Drae (Dark Elf) - CT NERO Metro DC - Rivinious - Dave Wall - VA UCLA #014 - “Widow Merriwether” - Colleen Kennedy - CA
Best PROP ConQuest_Mythodea_07 - Shrine of Earth - Philipp Heidtkamp - Germany NERO Metro DC - Shield - Ben Mirabella - Wash. DC The Isles LARP - Temporal Gate - Ford Ivey - MA VALOR - #4 - Stone Towers - VALOR - Amy DeVan for David Hill - VA
LARPY 2006 Nominees
Calimacil Foam Weaponry - Patrick Lessard - Canada Forgotten Dreams Design Studio - Jakob Zimmerer - Germany Iron Liege Weapons - CA - Greg Feiler - CA Wetmaynard LARP - Enter the Piso - The Pig Weapon - - Nathan Johnson - CA
(Nominees Listed In Alphabetical Order)
Best LARP Costume Adventures Unlimited - T’Sarith - Rick McCoy - CA Adventures Unlimited - Musketeers - Lisa Schaefer & Anita Twitchell - CA ConQuest_Mythodea_11 - The Element of Magic - Jakob Zimmerer - Germany ConQuest_Mythodea_12 - The Element of Air - Jakob Zimmerer - Germany
Best Set Design Live Adventure - ConQuest of Mythodea - Philipp Heidtkamp - Germany NERO International - The Dungeon - Ralph Hernandez - NY VALOR #6 Best Set Design - The Crypt - with Towers - VA Wetmaynard LARP - Enter the Piso - - Nathan Johnson - CA
Best Group Action Sequence
Best Solo Action Sequence
Adventure Unlimited - The Academy - Anita Twitchell - CA LIONE LARP - Bandits! - Nicholas Henning - MA NERO International - Damsel In Distress - Steve Weese - NC Triumph LARP Dracos Cult Summons Demon - David Bledsoe - OH
UCLA Enigma LARP #012 - Robb Wolford as “Douglas Smith” UCLA Enigma LARP - St. Peter sings “Hell” by the Squirrel Nut Zippers at the Limbo Lounge Wetmaynard LARP - Enter the Piso - Nathan Johnson - CA Wyverns Landing - Sebastion Starsmoore - Leslie Stewart - PA
Funniest LARP Sequence Adventures Unlimited - Caught Napping - Mario Vasquez & Adrianne Grady - CA Adventures Unlimited - Rick McCoy - Greg Rudy - CA UCLA #17 - Scooby-Doo Cthulhu - Aaron ‘Enigma Elder’ Vanek - CA UCLA #015 - BurgerMeister - Aaron ‘Enigma Elder’ Vanek - CA
Favorite Band CruxShadows - www.cruxshadows.com The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets - www.thickets.net VNV Nation www.vnvnation.com Wolfsheim www.wolfsheim.de
Best Looking Male LARPer
Contact Information Withheld as a courtesy for the nominees. Please Contact The Live Adventures Office at (914) 309-7718 to arrange for contact information.
Adventures Unlimited - Rick McCoy - CA NERO Dallas Fort Worth - James Balelo - TX Triumph LARP - David Bledsoe - OH Dragonbane LARP - Nathan Hook - United Kingdom
Best Looking Female LARPer Corporate Identity Website Design Logos Illustration Grapihc Design Typography Fine Art
Adventures Unlimited - Kya - Adrianne Grady - CA Heroquest LRP - Sasha - Colin Andrews for Chow Rich - UK LARP Women - Anita Twitchell & Lisa Schaefer - CA UCLA #011 - Becca playing “Chastity West” - Aaron ‘Enigma Elder’ Vanek for Becca - CA
Best Monster Adventures Unlimited - Zombies - Anita Twitchell - CA ConQuest_Mythodea_06 - Dragon - Philipp Heidtkamp - Germany Kettle of Fish Productions - Byakhee - William Thrasher - GA Mike Tice’s Miskatonic University LARP - Giant - Mike Tice - CA
email@example.com (978) 821-5507
What can GAMA do for you?
been opened up to LARP groups as well as gaming clubs and conventions. This is important because for a very low annual membership a LARP can get access to discounted Credit Card processing, Health Insurance, Advertising Discounts, and the full range of benefits GAMA offers to its other members.
GAMA, the Game Manufacturers Association, has been supporting the gaming industry for over 30 years. Their con- For more information on GAMA and their membertributions to the community of gamers are immense, in that ship benefits, visit the GAMA website at: www.gama.org. they have facilitated communication, social networking, and the sharing of resources and information among its members since the Association’s inception. They also provide a more direct and substantial benefit to those game retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers who join by providing health insurance and a variety of other benefits including discounted advertising in GAMA-supported publications and several What is the GPA? extremely useful handbooks and mentoring programs. The Game Publishers Association, or GPA, is a cornerstone Recently they have added new benefits such as access to of the gaming industry and gamer community. They protheir industry surveys, bulk mailings through their distrib- vide a massive mailing list for all members, as well as a banutors and even an advertising design service to help mem- ner exchange program, and a newsletter called “Press On!” bers put together promotional material for their company. among various other bonuses and benefits. The GPA member pool is a collection of talent and resources in the gaming In addition after conversations between Joseph Valenti and industry, pulling from board and card games to role-playing, Matthew Pearson of NERO International at the GTS trade miniature war games and of course LARP. For more about show the GAMA Clubs and Organizations program has the Game Publishers Association, go to: www.thegpa.org.
Spotlight: Volta By: Brian Torsey My traveling companions and I lit our lamps to push back the darkness that seemed to creep up on us all at once. I gripped my sword very tightly in its scabbard, ready to draw it at a moments notice. Before we had left the town of Ashford we were warned that the Black Wolf and his band of brigands had been seen on the road that same day.
ing with us utter words of power and turned to see him healing a fallen man. Ingret was tending the wounded as best she could, but it was clear she was better at making wounds than healing them. Within a few minutes the two groups separated again and faced off against each other across the road. Veltan grabbed my arm and said “I can not heal this man’s wound; his arm has been withered beyond my skill to heal. We must get him to town!” Suddenly the Black Wolf spoke. “Till dawn our truce shall hold. Do not follow us, and do not tarry on the road.”
A great laugh brought us all out of our thoughts as six armed figures stepped out of the wood and into the road. “You have my word.” I said with my com“Good eve to you good people. Please drop your weapons panions sounding their agreements as well. and pass over your gold. My band and I will raise a pint to your generosity or to your memory… it all depends on you.” The brigands and their leader then withdrew from the road and were gone.I helped Lars to his feet, his withJust then, a group of shapes crashed out of the brush behind ered arm wrapped in his cloak, and we set out at a harthe Black Wolf and his men. “Undead” one of the brigands ried pace to Sterling. The town had to be no more than called with fear heavy in his voice, as he and his brethren were a few miles down the road, but the night was cold and assailed by the twisted moaning shapes.The Black Wolf let out the darkness deep… and as we had seen, there were a curse and said “It seems we have other business this night… worse things to meet upon the road than brigands. truce?” “Agreed” I said as I drew my sword and ran into battle.
As I engaged our new foe, I saw several of the Black Wolf ’s men already on the ground, and a few others hard pressed. I swung my sword at the nearest foe, almost cutting the creatures arm in two. It did not even flinch. I could smell the foul things rotting flesh as it tried to rend me with fingernails left to grow to claws in the grave. A wailing moan escaped its mouth as it pressed its attack. Again and again I cut at it, all the while avoiding its claw like hands. Suddenly, I stumbled and fell over the body of a fallen brigand.
NERO Boston / Epic Adventures Duchy of Volta Campaign , Massachusetts USA The Volta campaign takes place in the Duchy of Volta, a harsh and wild land filled with danger, magic and intrigue. The best way to describe Volta is: “Northern Europe at the end of the Dark Ages and early Middle Ages”. A wealth of opportunities exist for players in Volta, become a cunning merchant, a virtuous noble, a powerful mage, a compassionate healer, a skillful rogue, or a mercenary freebooter, the choice is yours!
The foul creature seem to be ready to fall upon me and finish me for sure, as an axe buried itself in the creatures chest, felling it. “Get up friend! It’s not time for bed yet!” said Hamish with Come aid the people of Volta and their Duke, Ivarr in their a laugh, as he bent to retrieve his axe from the fallen enemy. constant battles against the Undead Horde and bands of Orc raiders, Goblin warbands, ferocious Ogre mercenarAs I got to my feet I saw that our combined forces had man- ies, and brigands. aged to destroy all but one of the creatures. The Black Wolf and I reached it just as it mauled the arm of Lars, one of my traveling companions.The man fell to the ground and let out an otherworldly scream. We looked in horror as the wounded man’s arm seemed to age a thousand years before our eyes. The creature’s hands seemed to burn with power. Then the creature’s eyes began to blaze with an ugly red fire and in a booming voice heavy with evil it said. “You may have lived this night, but soon you shall wish you had not.” The thing fell to the ground as if it were a puppet and its strings had been cut. I heard Velton, the Earth mage travel-
Contact info: NERO Boston / Epic Adventures www.neroboston.com (617) 335-5062 11
Spotlight: Dragonbane LARP By: Nathan Hook Dragonbane is a unique one off event running in Sweden at the end of July this year. It will include hundreds of players, up to a limit of 550, already including many from diverse countries, including the US, UK, Russia, Israel, and many of the European countries. For 145 Euros, the event represents extremely good value/ It has benefited from the support of various universities, governments and companies. The booking deadline is the end of April 2006. Dragonbane is a low-fantasy event set around a collectivist village whose industry to based around the production of magical scrolls and reveres a Red Dragon as it’s living God. The majority of the players will be inhabitants of this village, living in the purpose built longhouses. Others will play Dragontamers, brave adventurers come to ‘liberate’ the village from this dragon or witches, immoral magic users with their own agenda, who are in period camps on the outskirts of the village. The game starts after a battle in which all sides failed to achieve their aims, and now struggle to make sense of a world where the social order has been shattered. Players create their own characters in discussion Dragonbane will be a player-led event with no Non Player with a ‘character coach’ that helps weave the different player Characters (NPCs) present save the dragon itself. There is characters together to create interesting social dynamics. no preset and expected conclusion, with fate being in the hands of the player characters to shape. In this LARP style, Human vs. human the focus is on characterization, personalities and relationcombat is resolved ships rather than the game elements. The number of culby safe foam weap- tures present is kept low to encourage everyone to be an inons made to the dividual in their own right rather than a generic character. European standard which are supplied Dragonbane has extremely high standards of immersion. by the event orga- Cooking, sleeping and so forth are all done in character for nizers and used in real. The village and lake are real. The creation of the paper game with a sim- and dyes for the scrolls is real, and there will be a working ple ‘health level’ blacksmith’s forge on site. The magic will be made real by system. Combat use of special effects and stage magic tricks. The dragon against the robotic is actually a huge robot built on top of a forestry machine, dragon is carried able to move, talk, react, and breathe real fire. Costume with siege weap- patterns are supplied to allow players to create appropriate ons and oversized costumes, many inspired by an Eastern / Tibetan look. For metal weapons. some players this level of immersion is challenging. HowThe game is likely ever we believe it will create a deep and vivid experience that to feature little will maintain the illusion for the whole week of game time. combat, with more focus on social in- More information is available on official Dragonteractions and at- bane website located at: http://www.dragonbane.org tempts against all the odds to find positive solutions. 12
It’s All About… Being There By Dan Comstock In every movie, every TV show, every commercial, we see people living rich and exciting lives, glowing with vitality. We watch them get in gunfights, fend off the zombie horde, steal cars, escape from exploding buildings, and save the world. We are detached as if watching them through a window. The exciting world seems to be a world of images and illusions, the glass of the television screen is the impassable border between the exciting and the tragically mundane. From our armchairs and movie theater seats, we watch a flickering image of William Wallace, of Neo, of Frodo, of Buffy. We hunger to be like them, we hunger to live lives of idealized violence, of tragic drama, and to deliver bad oneliners smugly to our nemesis during a climactic final battle.
of miles to go play a Live Adventure game, and then just sort of play along, waiting for something cool to happen to them. It’s not going to happen, in a game or in life, unless you want to engage rather than merely participate. Adventurers these days have to go looking for their narrative. Part of the joy of Live Adventures is the departure from the mundane, the escape from the day-to-day into the scene, and the experience. Here are some examples of people who make regular daytrips into that realm:
Regina and Jasmine dressed up as fairy-tale Princesses and locked themselves on the second story balcony of a building. They called out to aspiring heroes passing on the street below to come inside and rescue them by unlocking the door. Inside the building, there was a foam sword on the stairs, and a masked villain pacing the hallway before the balcony. To save them, a random We are surrounded by action heroes.But the movie ends, the stranger off the street would have to defeat the villain credits roll, the lights come up, and we go back to being who in a duel, and unlock the door to save both Princesses. we “really” are. We go back to facing our mundane challenges and mundane rewards. Many of us go back to being bored, or boring, passively sliding down the day-to-day rut. It doesn’t have to be that way. Many people are discovering that there are alternative ways to have fun. It’s possible to go have real, live adventures, and break out of the gray-normlands, the everyday zombie-state. To me, it’s an attitude. I try to engage in every exciting activity I can, never turning down a potentially fun experience. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo steps up and decides to take the ring to Mordor despite the risks involved. At the beginning of The Matrix, Neo is given the “red pill / blue pill” choice, beckoning him to approach his destiny rather than run away from it. Rather than dodging the proverbial bullet, he bites the hook, and takes a dangerous step towards freedom. This, basically, is what separates the Hero from the Supporting Cast, and what separates the Live Adventurer from a life of routine boredom. The Obnoxious Jerk Cabal of Stamford, Connecticut, a guild of zen-lunatics, has a monthly “Time Travel Adventure”. In You could wait forever for the One Ring to fall into your a typical reality experiment, they wear the garb of different lap. It’s entirely possible that a madcap misadventure will eras (cowboys, knights, ninjas, flappers, mad scientists, et appear, unbidden, on your front doorstep, beckoning cetera) and hand out flyers to anyone who happens to pass you to action and excitement. More likely you’re going to this public spectacle. They claim that their motivation for this have to find your own adventures. In order to see them, absurdity is, in part, “to make everyone’s day a little weirder.” you have to see the world for the playground it is. I believe that the universe does not want itself taken so seriously.
The Pirate Action League, of Purchase College, in New York, will bury treasure in random places on campus, and draw I’m worried about people who have run out of vitality. I’m elaborate maps of where it’s stashed. Weeks later, they’ll dress worried about people who spend their vacation watching up as pirates, get drunk on rum, and gallivant around the camTV. I’m worried about people who will drive hundreds pus following the map. When they find where X marks the 13
spot, they reclaim their booty and celebrate… with more rum. than observe someone else’s. The action hero of an illusionary world is still a hero, more so than the person sitI snicker to myself whenever I overhear someone com- ting next to him on the bus who’s not much fun to talk to plaining about how “there’s nothing to do around here!” and passionate about little. There’s little reason to settle for a It can be a boring place if you’re only looking for fun in routine life. There’s little reason to be satisfied with what is, typical places, in typical venues. You could go to a bar. when the what-could-be is exciting, vital, virgin territory. You could go bowling. You could watch a million movies and when it’s all over, you’ll have even less in common with the characters that have movies about them. At the end of a large battle in NERO Avendale, (the game I run) I was talking to a friend of mine who was very new to the hobby, and still a bit self-conscious about it. When I asked him if he enjoyed the fight, still pumping with adrenaline, he explained, “At first, it felt really weird to put on a costume and go do something this different. But when the music peaked and the line of monsters crashed into the line of knights, and everyone was screaming, trying to defend them selves. I was there. That was awesome. I’m so glad I came this weekend.”
You’re the hero of your own movie. So what’s your story? Dan Comstock is a young, up and coming LARPwright in southern Connecticut. When he’s not immersed in imaginary worlds, he enjoys the company of his cat, Flapjack. He is always prepared with thirty feet of rope.
I’m reminded of Elizabethan plays. In the days of Shakespeare, the theater-goers would cheer and boo at the actors, throwing roses or rotten fruit. The audience really got into it! You’d never expect that kind of reaction from a modern audience. The screen has us trained to watch, detached, at a distance. The new dramas, the kinds I enjoy, are all about the experience of getting out, being there, and engaging. I’d rather fight in a battle than watch one. I’d rather live my own story 14
Later in the week you and Bob talk about gaming more. It turns out he played Final Fantasy® on his Playstation®. Was that a flicker of the Torch of Hope you see? Why yes, Bob loves By Stephen Weese console RPGs! Maybe you can convert him to the LARP side. So you are at work, having lunch with some co-workers, and You casually mention that you play a game that takes all weekthe subject arises: what is everyone doing this weekend? Bob end sometimes. He seems interested. You go back to your says, “I’m going bike riding in the mountains.” Jill says, “I’m desk thinking you’ve almost got him; soon, he will join you. doing yard work, and then spending time with the kids.” Then you say, “I’m going to dress up in a fantasy costume, run around pretending I’m someone I’m not and while I’m at it, whack some other folks with a big piece of foam on a stick!” Only that’s not what you really say. What you really say is something like this: “I’m going camping with some friends for the weekend.” “How nice!” everyone exclaims. Because there is no way in hell you are going to, on your lunch break, explain what you really are going to do this weekend. Welcome to ‘The Shame of the LARPer.’ What would Bob and Jill possibly think of you if they knew what you were doing? Who would they tell? What would your boss say? You might kiss that promotion goodbye! Perhaps you’ll tell them you have another, less shocking hobby, like sadomasochism and bondage. Or maybe you could tell them you are just an Finally, it is time to bring him over. You mention that there axe murderer spending the weekend stalking your next vic- is an all-weekend role playing game coming up soon. Bob tims. But never, ever, must they know that you are a LARPer. looks at you and says, “Speaking of playing all weekend, have you heard of those freaks that go out into the woods But maybe you can win Bob and Jill over. You can’t tell them and pretend they are their game characters?” You stand in all at once. On the next lunch break you mention, casually, shocked silence. You had such high hopes for Bob. But it Dungeons and Dragons®. Was that a suspicious look from looks like once again, you’ll be “camping” next weekend. Jill? Does she think you are a devil worshipper now? But wait, there is some hope: Bob played some D&D in college.
You catch Bob by the water cooler the next day and ask him about his old D&D character. He opens up about Dalmar the Assassin that had both a poisonous and magical dagger. You start to see some light ahead: maybe, just maybe Bob will understand. 15
You CAN con a con man! by Noah Mason The convention scene runs all year round, and among this season’s first conventions is MegaCon in sunny Orlando, FL. We started this year’s con tour with a journey down couth. MegaCon, based in the Orange County Convention Center, sports the most massive dealer’s room I have ever seen. This is also the most diverse convention I’ve attended, with more or less equal parts gaming, anime, comics, and artists. Based on the booths in the vendors’ room alone, I would say this was more of a comic book convention than anything else, with a healthy portion of the floor devoted to independent artists, but the other classic elements of nerd-dom were present in significant enough a portion to satisfy the diehard fans of any particular niche. Among the other interesting and entertaining events of the weekend were several panels and appearances by celebrities With me were my frequent traveling companions Joseph such as John Schneider of Dukes of Hazard and Smallville Valenti and Paul Brown, along with a few other friends. Os- fame, as well as Marina Sirtis (Star Trek’s Diana Troy,) “The tensibly I was there to do interviews and research for this Crypt Keeper” John Kassir, “Space Ghost” George Lowe, wonderful column, and Joe for business reasons, but in real- and Troma Entertainment’s Lloyd Kaufman, as well as a ity we all had our hands full manning the Nero International variety of big names from the comic book industry. There booth and answering the questions of the massive amount was also a Star Wars themed costume contest which sported of con attendees. We were located directly across from the several quite fetching Twi-lek women and a multitude of artists’ portion of the dealers’ hall, giving us a great view of Jedi, not to mention the ever-present 501st Imperial Legion. the big posters and prints the various artists had on display. Much to Joe’s delight, we were also located within eyeshot of I was pleased to find out that our next-door neighbor was the both the pretzel stand and the Haagan Daas ice cream stand. creator of a short independent film based on The Punisher, which he submitted for the film festival and competition. The most popular gaming activity at the convention was the I have always been an avid comic book fan, and The Punfoam sword fighting competition being run by our good isher was always among my favorites, so I made it a point friend Jim Gasser of Barbarian Battles. Each day of the con- to sit down with Cory Sosner, the producer and star of the vention there was an organized tournament, with random film, as I made my round of interviews. Mr. Sosner founded sparring matches throughout the rest of the day. Although Get Me Out of Jersey Productions as a collaborative effort billed as “Foam Sword Fighting,” the Barbarian Battles between fellow actors and other friends in the film indusproduct line is by no means confined to simple, straight- try essentially as an experiment to see if they could make a bladed weapons. They also sport a sizable array of axes, high quality film with a limited, almost nonexistent budget. spears and pole weapons, and even their swords sport cross I have a copy of First Round, and as anyone who been in my guards. These weapons are based on the bulky Amtgard/ house for more than ten minutes can tell you, Sosner and Dagorhir design and are fully compatible with those games. company are off to an impressive start. With several undeIt is to Mr. Gasser’s credit that the aesthetic of his weapons niably Punisher-style gunfights, a brawl with Wolverine, suffers very little if at all from their large size. As the hun- and the scheming of both the Kingpin and Jigsaw all in less dreds of fighting ring participants could attest to, the Bar- than fifteen minutes, I don’t see how you could go wrong. barian Battles products maintain maximum safety without sacrificing any of the “cool factor” from wielding realistic There were a great many talented independent artists and looking swords and battle axes. Though MegaCon was the comic book creators displaying and selling their work in first convention he has attended in an official capacity with the Artist Alley portion of the vendors’ hall. There were his company, Mr. Gasser was very pleased with his success, a couple artists I recognized from previous conventions especially the enthusiasm of the attendees for the hobby. around the country, but for the most part both the work and composers were new to me. Dozens of cartoonist sat 16
poised in front of easels or sketchbooks resting on their laps, sonally meeting the people who will take his work home. drawing both for commissions and for the sake of passing time. I had the opportunity to interview with two of, in Of course, several theatre style games were being run my opinion, the best artists in the fantasy genre present. throughout the convention as well, including Paranoia and Call of Cthulhu. Several of their players stopped by our First I spoke with Tracy Cornet, creator and proprietor of booth in the vendors’ hall and invited us to play, but unforFantastical Photography. Her dazzling pictures of faeries and tunately our own business had us far too busy to go visit. other mythical creatures such as mermaids, unicorns, satyrs, and even a darkly unique rendition of Little Red Riding Hood All in all, MegaCon was a gas. Of course one would realdrew the attention of everyone walking past her display. She ly have to go out of their way to not enjoy a weekend in is based locally in Orlando and has been selling her amaz- Orlando in the middle of Pittsburgh’s bitter winter, but ing photos and attending conventions for two years. Tracy weather aside it was still a very enjoyable event. Look forhas been known to play several different tabletop role-play- ward to another report from Florida in next spring’s issue! ing games and in the past has played the Mind’s Eye Theatre LARP based in White Wolf ’s Vampire setting and is currently looking into playing Deleria, the modern faerie tales game.
Paul Vicenti, a creator and purveyor of oil paintings on canvas, was the second artist I interviewed. Although Mr. Vicenti works in many genres of painting including the more mainstream, he also does quite a bit of work in the areas of fantasy (particularly medieval fantasy,) horror, and most recently Greek mythology. His Lord of the Rings pieces immediately caught my attention, as well as some truly impressive dragons and other fantasy prints. The biggest draw for these conventions, for him, is the camaraderie shared by the attendees that comes from sharing some basic level of common ground. Although the major art shows and galleries may bring in more money, much like Ms. Cornett he enjoys the connection he gets at conventions by per17
LARP Design theory:
open questions - there are no right or wrong answers - and how you answer will depend on the style of your LARP.
Part 1: Skills
- Juggling. This is always a hard skill (as far as I know), because it’s considered so obscure and ‘harmless’ By Nathan Hook to make having a soft skill for it pointless. Also, having someone with only a soft skill declare ‘I’m juggling these This series look at various different aspects of LARP design balls’ may damage the suspension of disbelief. However if and theory. This first one looks at something common to most a character is called upon to entertain a high status person, LARPs – character skills, and different ways to handle them. such a skill may suddenly become really useful. Is this fair? There are two core different ways to handle character skills in LARP events, soft and hard.‘Soft skills’ are skills which the character can have without the player doing so. For example the ability to create fireballs is normally a soft skill. ‘Hard skills’ are skills which the player needs to have to use. For example, walking and/or talking are normally hard skills.
- Lock-picking. In many LARPs this is a soft skill. However, I have seen a player take out real lock picks and pick a lock for real during an event. If you were running an event how would you respond to this? Wold you tell the player they can’t do that, or applaud their skill? The same might equally apply to players breaking a code or solving a puzzle for real.
What is a soft skill and what is a hard skill varies greatly between LARPs. It can be argued that making as much use as possible of hard skills makes the LARP more immersive and ‘real.’ Use of soft skills is more associated with tabletop role-playing, or less kindly has been described as ‘hiding behind your character sheets.’
- Romance. I was once at a LARP where characters pulled a random coloured bead from a bag to determine how well they ‘perform’ with a forest nymph they met. While not actually a game skill this is another form of ‘soft resolution.’ It’s worth bearing in mind that soft skills can be used for actions too dangerous or ‘in bad taste’ to carry out for real. I also heard about a freeform LARP that used However a counterview to this is that excessive use of hard the game pat-a-cake to represent sexual contact, which is skills restricts what a person may play. Should a person an example of one hard skill be using to represent another. who is not very stealthy in real life be allowed to play a stealthy character? If you believe they should, then you need some game mechanic to represent stealth.There are also combinations of these two approaches that could include: ‘Soft skills that permit the use of hard skills’ - where the player is required to spent character points to buy as a soft skill as well. For example, a player may need to buy the literacy skill for their character to be able to read, but the player will still then be able (and allowed) to read for real. ‘Hard skills that affect the performance of soft skills’ – where how the player does something affects the results, even through it’s a character skill. For example, many big LARPs have a ritual system where players can buy a ritual magic skill for their character, but the outcome is also affected by how well they act out the ritual for real. ‘Soft skills that affect the performance of hard skills’ – use of foam weapons is considered a hard skill. However some systems have soft skills that increase the damage caused by each blow, or allow blows to be negated by dodges.
- Well digging. I heard about a LARP where some player characters tried to dig a well and the hard skills players decided to try to do this for real. They got into a mess because none of them actual knew how to dig a well for real. This example points out one of the problems of an I shall now give some examples to consider that should excessive hard skill approach: it restricts the range of charhelp to get you thinking about these issues. I pose them as acters someone can play. Of course no LARP actually has 18
‘well digging’ as a defined soft skill. However some LARPs have very broad soft skills. A character with ‘ranger skills’ could probably claim they knew how to perform them, for example. How narrow or broad skills are is something to consider carefully when designing your system.
- Is your system for mostly soft skills (like White Wolf ’s MET system) or hard skills? Do you need soft skills at all? - Should your soft skills cover the actions the game is about, or actions that occur in the background? What about skills that are only used in downtime? - Are your soft skills broad enough? Do they overlap (which may not be a bad thing) - If a player actually just starts doing things for real (picking locks, breaking codes) because they can really do them, how will you react as game organizer? The next article in this series will look at another common element of many LARPs – combat, armour and injury mechanics, and the possible different approaches.
Different LARP traditions have taken different approaches. In the Nordic countries, almost everything is a hard skill (ex. if you want to be a blacksmith, you actually have to know the basics of blacksmithing). This works because LARPs over there are about playing normal characters, not one with exceptional skills or supernatural powers. Some players like the idea of training themselves to learn useful in game skills. Other LARPers object to such because they think that is going too far or don’t have the time or interest.
Nathan Hook is a British post-graduate and published author for Dungeons & Dragons and Ars Magica. He is a former member of The Camarilla and has run over thirty LARP events in the UK. He is currently UK co-ordinator for the Dragonbane Project. (www.dragonbane.org) He lives in Bristol.
In the UK most LARPs have combat-related soft skills and soft skills for things perceived to be ‘useful’ that affect game balance. Skills without perceived use are often left as hard skills. A few have argued the reverse would be better to make players act out those things that are the focus on the game. In the US, soft skills are more main-stream. This often leads to very large rulebooks but does allow more ‘heroic’ styles of game with larger than life characters. NERO’s® slogan ‘be all you can’t be’ sums this approach up. If you ever design (or review) a LARP system, how it has addressed the question of hard and soft skills is something to consider carefully, and inform the players of, so they can act appropriately. To sum up, here are some points you should bear in mind:
Sword Knight Boot Camp A Fighter’s Paradise By Luke Matthews The end of March brings with it a unique LARP event: Sword Knight Boot Camp, an annual Amtgard® event that travels the country to bring the knowledge of the boffer fighting arts to LARPers everywhere. Amtgard® – a non-profit LARP organization where players can participate for free - was founded in El Paso, Texas about 23 years ago, and now consists of over 150 chapters across the country. Over that time, Amtgard® has developed and refined a fast, intense combat system that has become the primary focus of the game. Sword Knight Boot Camp (or SKBC for short), unlike many other Amtgard® events, is a self-sustaining event. No one Amtgard® chapter sponsors the event; instead, a committee of independent players organizes it, and fronted the money for the first SKBC. Since that first SKBC, all event proceeds go toward paying for the next year’s event, and the event never needs outside sponsorship. In this fashion, SKBC is never tied to a specific Amtgard® group, and the organizing committee has free reign to move the event around the country and run it how they see fit.
What makes Sword Knight Boot Camp unique is the intense focus of the event. Unlike other Amtgard® events that incorporate courtly endeavors, full-class combat involving magic and special abilities, and varying degrees of role-play, SKBC strips away many of those aspects in favor of delving purely into instruction and practice of LARP melee combat in its purest form.
Learning from the Best SKBC was devised 4 years ago by two long-time Amtgarders, Mike Paxton and Matt Schufeld (whose character names are Sir Cedric Pentacles and Sir Guy Kasama, respectively), who were looking to add a fighting-centric event to the annual schedule in their local Amtgard chapter, the Kingdom of the Iron Mountains in Denver, Colorado. During brainstorming sessions for the first SKBC, the two decided to bring in a host of guest instructors from different parts of the country to offer some variety to the fighting at the event, and SKBC evolved into – as its name implies – a full fledged boffer-fighting boot camp, with classes taught by some of the finest fighters in the LARP world. All instructors at SKBC have earned the title of Knight of the Sword, one of the most sought-after titles in Amtgard. Amtgard rewards players for extraordinary achievements with one of 4 different knighthoods, each focusing on a different aspect of the game. The title of Knight of the Sword is awarded to a player for demonstrating extraordinary combat prowess in fighting tournaments. All of the instructors at SKBC have earned their Knighthood and proven themselves worthy of teaching the subject matter at hand. Classes at SKBC range from the beginner’s level such as “Single Sword 101” and “General Combat 101”, to more expert-oriented fare as “Advanced Florentine” and “Advanced Sword & Shield”. Not limited strictly to specific weapon styles, there are also classes like “Body Mechanics”, which teaches a fighter how to develop their movement, stance and reactions to their opponent, and “One on Many”, instructing a fighter in the art of dealing with multiple opponents. These classes are interspersed with communal meals provided by the event organizers, where fighters can “talk shop” about what they’ve learned over the course of the event. Between and after classes each day, a field at the event is dedicated entirely to combat. Fighters will engage in a never-ending series of large-scale fights called “ditch battles”. This dedicated fighting field is lit for combat at night, and is open to attendees of the event 24 hours a day. It is on this field of battle where the students can take what they’ve learned and put it into real practice, much of the time directly against the instructors from whom they’ve been learning. Moving Things Around Unlike most annual Amtgard® events, which are regional events held in the same area every year Sword Knight Boot Camp is unique in that it changes location. The event organizers choose a new place to host the event based on bids presented to them by groups of players from chapters all over 20
the country. In this way, the instructors at SKBC are able to have developed their fighting styles. The knowledge imspread their knowledge of the fighting arts to a much wid- parted through an event like SKBC, while being presented er audience, and improve the skills of players everywhere. within the framework of the Amtgard® rules, is also valuable to any LARPer looking to improve his or her combat. The first SKBC, held in 2003, was held close to Denver where the original organizers make their homes. The sec- “I’ve seen many of our good fighters make the transition ond was run by the same organizing committee, but was to NERO, Dagorhir, or IFGS.” commented Mike Paxton, a moved to a location just outside Dallas, Texas. In 2005, member of the organizing committee for SKBC. “I’m sure the organizing committee expanded and began accepting many of our instructors would be happy to work with fightcompetitive bids for the location of the event, choosing to ers from another LARP with their own fighting styles. Much have local autocrats handle the regional aspects of the event of LARP fighting is a mental game; how do you break down (such as providing the site and meals), while they contin- someone else’s fighting, how do you analyze your own fightued to handle recruiting instructors and developing class ing. While weapons and specific rules might change from schedules. SKBC 2005 was held just outside Atlanta, GA. game to game, the mental/kinesthetic differences are minor.” The advantage that SKBC provides players within Amtgard® is obvious, but the event has great value to fighters from all across the LARP world. While other live-action games may not focus as heavily on combat as Amtgard®, players interested in improving their fighting skills for any game can benefit from the instruction provided by Sword Knight Boot Camp. Whether you’re just looking to keep your character alive the next time you get into a fight, or you want to dominate the field at your local game, SKBC can give you the knowledge you need to become a force on the battlefield. For more information on Amtgard®, check out http:// www.amtgard.com. SKBC information can be obtained at http://skbc.naropa.edu. To find an Amtgard® chapter near you, go to http://www.amtgardatlas.com. SKBC 2006 makes its way to the Pacific Northwest, where there is a heavy Amtgard® population that is somewhat geographically isolated from the primary concentration of Amtgard® chapters in the Texas/New Mexico region. With over 15 Amtgard® chapters between Washington and Oregon alone, this year’s event is expected to draw the largest attendance for SKBC yet, and it is a welcome addition to this year’s event schedule. Many players in the Pacific Northwest who may not have access to the teachings and fighting styles of players from other regions will now have the opportunity to learn from the best. Knowledge Is Power The benefit of a traveling instructional event such as SKBC is clear: fighters from all over the country have a chance to learn from the best in the world without having to make a cross-country trek. Isolated pockets of the Amtgard® community such as the Pacific Northwest now have the opportunity to see how other parts of the game 21
How to make a Satyr By Nathan Hook This article discusses how to costume a Satyr along with some background material on how such creatures have appeared in various settings, both in mythology and modern RPGs.
The Cthulhu Mythos includes ‘the men of Leng’ who are evil horned goat legged creatures that resemble Satyr. The Glorantha game world includes a race of goatlegged creatures who follow a Goddess of Rape. The Warhammer world used by Games Workshop includes Beastmen (also in their Warhammer 40,000 setting), many of whom have goat legs, and an expansion for their talisman board game included a Satyr player piece.
Accounts of Satyr - Satyr in Myth Satyr, also called Fawns or Pans, are a race of creatures that look and act like little versions of the Greek God Pan. They are described as having furry goat legs and horns. They appeared in classical Greek theatre as ‘country bumpkin’ characters. The Celtic Mythos describes the god Cernunnos as also fitting the description. The English mythological character of Robin Goodfellow (used by Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s dream) could also be interpreted as a Satyr. Obviously the same image also turns up in Christian imagery as associated with the devil. In myth Satyr are always male, and lust after nymphs and human women. There is an obscure reference in welsh mythology to a female faerie with goat legs hidden by a green dress that seduces men and drinks their Costume blood. That is the closest actual reference to a female Satyr. As you can see from the above, a satyr costume is very usable in a great many settings. To make a costume you will need legs, hooves, horns and hooves. Going bare-chested One theory on the origin of the Satyr legend comes from a for Satyr is appropriate if you feel confident enough. If time when the Celtic peoples raided as far as Greece. To the not, I would use€ a velvet shirt to represent faerie mateeyes the Greeks these barbarians appeared as wild hairy men rial. Another option is to look at classical Greek or roand wore furry leggings (where as the Greeks themselves man dress. One of the benefits of Satyr is not needwore skirts) which may have given rise to some of their image. ing to use make up, and if you follow the instructions here, not needing to use spirit gum or liquid latex either. - Satyr in history
- Satyr in Roleplay Games Satyr are a standard monster race in the Dungeons & Dragons monster manual (later supplements included rules for them as PCs), and a standard kith (race) in White Wolf ’s Changeling: The Dreaming. Various Ars Magica source books include a write up for Satyr, some of the realm of magic and some of the realm of faerie. A female satyr (despite the notes above) appears on the cover of the 1st edition of Ars Magica’s ‘Faerie’ sourcebook.
- Horns You can buy stick on ‘devil horns’ easily enough from a fancy dress shop. For better quality I recommend Hightower crafts: http://www.hightowercrafts.com/page34. html. However, I find these can cause problems if used long term, since such sweat causing the glue holding them to run. Another easy option is to attach to a hair-band. The method I prefer however is to get a piece of fabric, wrap it round your head and wear it as a head scarf. Tie it at the 22
back with a reef knot. Look in the mirror and mark two dots on the scarf where you want the horns to be. You then remove it and make small holes here and push the horns through. The base of the horns should hold them in place. If need be, use liquid latex to glue the base of the horns onto a slightly larger piece of plastic faux-leather fabric, to make sure they can’t come through the hole completely.
I recommend wearing a very thin pair of normal trousers underneath your goat legs. These help soak up any sweat, since you are wearing a lot of fur and thick fun-fur is awkward to wash. Put a big belt in these under trousers. When you tie the ribbon, make sure it’s tighter than this belt, and that will prevent your goat legs slipping down.
What have you made so far works, but lacks the basic When you replace the headscarf, you will now have your horns, ‘goat’ shape with an extra joint in. What you need to do rising from much higher on your head than if you had glued is sew padding on the inside of your legs. Turn your goat them to your forehead, and never need to glue them again. legs inside out. Take a spare piece of fun fur and sew in just above where your knee is on the front of the leg. Sew all around it, and stuff the pocket inside this piece with - Goat Legs either foam or spare off-cuts of fun fur (which you probably have lying around by this point). Do this again about For this you will need to buy a very thick fun-fur fab- halfway between your angle and knee on the back of ric. I recommend trying to match your natural hair co- each leg. This padding will create the proper goat shape. lour as close as possible. What you are basically making is a pair of trousers to begin with. I used martial art - Hooves trousers as a pattern, Basically cut four pieces, one for the front and back of each leg and sew them together. For this, you will need plastic faux-leather maYou also want to cut a fifth diamond shaped piece. Sew terial which is fairly cheap to get. I recommend this into the crotch of the trousers where the four quar- light brown, but other colours are possible. ters meet. This will give you extra material to make sure you can’t rip them if you are jumping around. Basically you are making boot covers. Cut a hole in the fabric just big enough to get your foot Take two short rectangles of fur and sew them back to through. Slide your foot in and but your Larp boots back. Put this part way in between the two quarters at the on. Let the fabric fall over it. Now cut round it. back and sew it in. This will create a short stubby goat tail. These work as simple hooves. However, to give it that cloFold the inside of the trousers over and sew it down around ven effect, cut the down the front. The fold both ends of the a ribbon or an old shoelace. Basically you put the trou- cut inwards and stick them together. I used a conventional sers on and tie them with this to secure them using a shoe- stapler for this then gaffa taped over the join on the side lace knot (so it’s easy to undo), and tuck the ends inside) for each grip (and to cover any rough edges of the staples). Costing Here is All the
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what the costume cost me to make. fabric I brought from a local store.
Thick Funfabric – 4 metres (enough for me to make the legs and hairpiece, with enough spare to make a quiver out of it to go with the costume) at under £5 a metre Plastic or faux leather – 2 metres (enough for hooves and a leather tabard to go with your costume) at under £3 a metre Horns from Hightower crafts £7.50 Total £33.50 (approximately $50) 23
Useful Accessories - a good flagon or bottle is a good Satyr prop
Interview with Rob Ciccolini Presenter, Madrigal LARP
- remember your costume has no pockets. A simple cloth shoulder bag may be a useful addition 1.
- a waistcoat (or untied leather jack) often looks good The thing that is cool about Live Adventures is that the exif playing in a suitable setting for such garb (such as perience is highly interactive. Most entertainment today changeling). Leather bracers can also be a good addition. is passive. The audience is not involved. They take the role of observers. They watch the action and live vicariously - Hunting weapons such as bows and spears look good, as to through the characters. Our societyis almost becoming classical Greek weapons. I recommend a shoulder mount- voyeuristic. Live Adventure events are interactive activities. ed quiver rather than a hip mounted one for Satyr, given The audience is not only involved in the ongoing process in the increased chance of catching it between your legs. but they are largely responsible for determining the direction of the story, the action, and the medium as a whole. - Massage oil can be a useful prop to put across This puts Live Adventure in a space with very few other acyour Satyr’s ‘tactile’ nature, or to create an other- tivities; organized sporting and paintball leagues, commuworldly faerie smell. Aromatherapy oils can also be nity theatre (for the actors and crew), and maybe karaoke. good for helping you get into the creature’s mindset. The people who become highly involved thrive on interac- Since you are wearing a head scarf anyway, take two pieces tivity. For many of us, passive entertainment is simply not of spare fun-fur in a long triangle shape. Sew them back as interesting. When we see something interesting we want to back, then use odd bits of cloth to tie a few knots down to become involved. Unfortunately it is impossible for us to it. Put this under the back of your headscarf to create the jump into the screen of a good movie. We cannot involve effect of your satyr having long hair tied in a pony tail. ourselves directly on the stage of a play. We cannot jump up with the musicians when we go to concerts. By attending a - ‘elf ears’ can be a useful addition if Live Adventure we become in part responsible for the emoyou want to stress your faerie nature. tion, the excitement, and the passion going on around us. We are involved in the decision making process, and it allows us to learn through trial and error what works, and what doesn’t. Unlike most other interactive activities, we are involved on a number of levels. We can be involved physically and competitively like organized sports, we can be involved as other characters and play out stories like community theatre, and we can perform and inspire passion like karaoke. Live Adventure events encourage players to be involved in many ways. We become embroiled in the game on physical, social, and intellectual levels. 2. You’re the father of numerous innovations and attitudes in LARPing. What cool ideas have you brought to the table? This is a difficult question to answer. Most of the things I have accomplished have been the result of collaboration with the people I was working with at the time. Many successes came from the ability to know how to use a good idea and modify it to best take advantage of the context of a specific game and player base. Perhaps my contributions are more a matter of making tremendous mistakes that the community as a whole could learn from. If I could be known for one thing I think I would want people to re24
member me because of the passion I have for the art and the desire to inspire that passion in others. If the stuff I have done has in any way inspired someone else to create and execute a cool encounter, rule set, or setting for some game then I am happy to be considered in that light.
sive, and seemed to evoke emotion from the PCs who watched the giant procession proceed through town.
~ LIONE Rampant: The Arrival of the Dutchess (and the accusation of Myriken). When the High Priest Rexus revealed Myriken to be an ex-slave and the entire town 3. Tell me about one of the characters you play. The char- erupted into civil war.~ NERO Wildlands: The Crowning acters that stick out in my mind are the characters that of Deathwatch. Imagine a huge party full of angry PCs and successfully break out of my typical archetypes. For ex- volatile NPCs given free reign to act as their characters dicample at Atlas Adventures I played a character from New tated, and not knowing what was going to happen at all. Orleans named Remy that was unique for me in two ways. First, he talked with an accent. Second, he was an enter- ~ NERO Ravenholt: The Bridge of Fire. One of the first tainer. These things were completely new to me. I had nev- modules NERO Ravenholt build with their module facades, er done an accent before, and I certainly had not sung in the set up was extensive and impressive. I have yet to see front of an audience at any LARP. I walked into the first another module set up with such an elaborate atmosphere. event having no idea if I could pull either off. When all was said and done I was happy with the way the accent came across, and I was pleased that I was able to overcome my own anxiety and perform. Maybe the other PCs were less than pleased with the singing part, but I was able to experience that aspect of the game. That role added new archetypes to my character repertoire. This also helped me better understand characters who take entertaining skills. As it turned out, the most difficult thing about running that character was acting against my nature and taking things slow. The character was an easy going gentleman from the south. He was laid back and lived life at an easier pace. The character did everything in his own time and generally took longer to do it. I tend to be goal oriented and higher strung than Remy. It was actually somewhat difficult to downplay emergencies, move at a relaxed pace, and go off on wild tangents in conversation instead of trying to get to the heart of the matter. 4. What’s the most memorable adventure or scene you’ve been a part of? So many … so many. No matter what I say there will be countless scenes that I won’t think of until later. ~ NERO Ravenholt: The trial of Capulus. The court of Capulus is brought to trial in front of King Richard, played at the time by the same fellow from King Richard’s Faire. Although I only observed the proceedings that trial set the tone of the game for years. ~ NERO Ravenholt: The Introduction of the Chessmaster. The very first appearance of the Chessmaster. The NPC controlled an army of spirits through some ritual and to punctuate his appearance the NPCs slowly marched into town in a long line holding dim lights. That weekend we had 140 NPCs and the players didn’t really know that. On Friday night seeing that line march slowly through town and gather on the field was pretty impres-
~ Legends Roleplaying: The Meeting of Ryan Kane. When Ryan Kane, to make a point to his werewolf pack, killed and beheaded the ambassador of the Wereboar tribe and I spent the rest of the night running from packs of werewolves. ~ Legends Roleplaying: Standing Stones of the Fey. There was no ring of Stonehenge like stones when we went to bed, so waking up and seeing the giant ring of stones in the misty morning was surreal. ~ Madrigal: The Battle Dirge of the Shadowlords. It was the first Shadowlord weekend at Madrigal, when the PCs had to sing the Shadow Dirge to drive the Shadowlords back through the gate while fighting off their Shadow minions. At one point I stood across a misty field and heard the clear dirge rising above the din of the battle while the purple glowing eyed Shadows moved to stop them. 25
~ Atlas Agenda: Rocketing the Giant Cockroach. When it comes to devising cool gadgets and devices, Ben Becker is a genius. An air powered rocket launcher is even more impressive when you are on the receiving end of it. His advice to me was, “Make sure you wear a cup.” ~ Madrigal: The Darkest Road. The PCs battle for their life the entire length of the Darkest Road to battle and imprison the corruptor that dwells at the end. I am sure I will come up with dozens more in the days and weeks to come. Oh and realize I missed out Shandlin’s Ferry “Guard’s on Pikes” scene, Atlas Agenda’s Zulu fight, and NERO Ravenholt’s multi-level module set up with high and low levels that snaked through the building. 5. What are games going to look like in ten years?
long term planning to introduce and train new plot people before they are critically low in that area. Otherwise we are doomed to a cycle of game implementation wherein each plot committee makes the same mistakes over and over. ~ The biggest challenge to Live Adventures in the online computer gaming community. It is an interactive and highly visual activity that requires much less preparation and provides a much more consistent entertainment experience. It is much easier for gamers to go online and participate in an interactive gaming experience than venturing out to a campsite to participate in what is inherently a wildly variable and volatile experience. Online gaming provides immediate satisfaction, while Live Adventures provide the higher potential for encounters that are much greater... and much worse. Human nature tends to settle for immediate and comfortable satisfaction. Making Live Adventures compelling and relevant in the face of this will be a challenge for all games.
If I knew that then Live Adventures wouldn’t be nearly as fun! Some trends I do see however: 6. What was the first game you ever ran, and what was it like to run it? ~ Many people are opting to run limited scope campaigns with a definite beginning and scheduled end. It allows them The first event I ever ran was a weekend event for NERO to tell a complete story within this time. It is less daunt- Ravenholt back when it was running at Camp Wing. The ing to many people with busy schedules than commit- game had been featured in an article in Dragon Magazine, ting to an ongoing campaign. I suspectwe will see more of a national tabletop gaming magazine, so that next event this, and these will splinter the community further mak- had tremendous interest. It was one of the biggest NERO ing it harder and harder to run really big ongoing games. events ever, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 players and 140 volunteer staff, or NPCs. The reason the ~ In order for the Live Adventures community to expand event was so memorable to many people was because the it will have to move to a apprenticed system of some kind game at the time was largely about inter-Baronial activiwhere new plot people can learn the art from a mentor rath- ties. While there was rarely all out conflict between the er than learning it through trial and error. This will mean PCs, the game catered to their rivalries. Mike Ventrella that game owners will need excellent management skills and was a master at supporting and encouraging Baronial politics. The plot often took a back seat to this, with plots and modules acting as a backdrop for Baronial interaction. The premise of the event thrust the entire game into a plot threatened them as a whole. While the details of the event weren’t particularly good, the game itself had become complacent about plot because that type of plot had taken a back seat to the ongoing political game for quite a while. The shock of over one hundred NPCs acting as a coordinated invasion on the town was intense for many players. With that many NPCs there was literally danger from all sides. That combined with the hit and run combat tactics of the experienced players that were NPCing for me made for a dangerous weekend. The weekend was the first “critter” weekend where a large, coherent enemy body foreign to the PCs threatened the entire town. The creatures were giant bugs with a unique name, but they were quickly dubbed “Brood” by the players 26
because of the enemy from the pages of the X-men. People always assumed I stole the idea from the X-men but it actually came about another way. The brainstorm began with Lizardmen. One night while playing I was scared senseless by a group of lizardmen stalking the camp at night. The encounter was memorable because I could hear the hissing of the NPCs in the dark before I could see them. I set out to make another creature with a distinctive noise to it. At first I had a squeaking noise and was considering Were-rats or plague rats as the creatures that made the sound. Two problems came up. First, the squeaking was very easy to ridicule so I was worried any intensity would soon become irritation to the players. Second, after making the sound for a couple of minutes my throat hurt. I knew I’d never be able to have NPCs do this for hours. So I made some noises that involved less of my throat and felt more comfortable. After playing with sounds for a bit I came up with a clicking sound. “Ticka ticka ticka” could be made with your tongue against your teeth. It was also alien sounding and hard to ridicule. It sounded to me like insects. And so the Brood were born.
~ To become involved, concentrate on interacting with the other players rather than plot. So many players enter a game and expect to “work” plot to get attention and go on adventures. The problem with this is that plot is purposely trying to spread their attention to all the players. So the more you try to get their attention, the harder they will work to interact with other players. Instead work on interacting with other players. You are more likely to be involved with the game as a whole, you are more likely to be invited into plots and adventures, and your game will ultimately be more satisfying because your involvement won’t stall every time plot is looking the other way.
~ Join or form a group. So many players are gun shy about joining a group or creating a group for the game. Some imagine influential solo characters that aren’t tied down to any one path. Some don’t want to commit to a group. Some are intimidated about approaching other people about involvement in a group. Players hope that going at it solo will allow them to do everything. It rarely works out that way. Characters who are involved in a group get to exMost of the really good ideas for the weekend weren’t even perience most plot targeting any member of that group. mine. The Chessmaster was an NPC suggested at a plot They can pursue their goals much more effectively with meeting by Lonny if I remember and I am spelling his name the backing of a strong group. They are much less likecorrectly. Mike V. took to the NPC. Randy Pierce and Brian ly to take deaths because there are people watching their Donahue really helped me solidify the mechanics of the main back. Most importantly, they get to play with their friends. plot. Ford Ivey took a big risk allowing me trun an entire event since at the time I was basically an unknown personage. ~ Don’t play a character that will prevent you from doing fun things. If you find that you want to go on a module but The weekend was utter carnage. We made tons of now clas- “your character wouldn’t do that” then either your character sic mistakes that had never been made before. We relied should have a life changing experience or you should make on a plot that used negative motivation to get the PCs in- a new character. For along term game you want to devise volved. We didn’t provide proactive ways to cleanse your and play a character that is fun, and that means the characself or solve elements of the plot during the ongoing week- ter should like doing the things you like to do and should end. The large-scale “hell grinder” fight on Saturday night not like doing the things you don’t like doing. It sounds obthat had all kinds of crowding and delays as the players vious but I am amazed at how many people develop long moved from encounter to encounter. The event lacked ad- term characters that prevent them from doing the fun stuff ditional plot to entertain players who couldn’t go into the they want to do. If you enjoy fighting don’t make a cowardly hive. I swear after that hive module we had to rewrite half scholar. If you hate politics then have a reason that your the rulebook. That module also marked the demise of the character doesn’t do that. I understand and applaud peotalc powder packet. The white cloud in the module rose to ple who want to break the mold and develop new types of two feet high. We could barely see the floor. We spent four characters to play. There are plenty of times to do thatwhen hours trying to sweep it out of the building after the event. you are playing a short term character in one shot events or when you participate in the game as an NPC. Your long term The weekend, however, was intense and had a lot of new PC should have compatible interests with you as a player. stuff and helped break the players and the game out of its complacency so to many people it was memorable. ~ Help other players look cool. If they do something that’s cool tell them so, in game. If they have an opportunity to look 7. Do you have any advice for people who cool support them in that rather than trying to jump into their are new to the Live Adventure scene? chance to shine. If you do this successfully not only is it rewarding, but people willwant you to be involved in their plot and Here are my top ten suggestions on how to enjoy LARPs: you will have more going on than you know what to do with. 27
~ Be forgiving of mistakes. Players will occasionally stumble. Plot will make mistakes. Staff will screw up in combat. Unforeseen circumstances will occasionally make things difficult for you. Understand in your head and heart that this stuff happens and laughit off. Know what your tolerance for mistakes is and plan to make the best of these. Itâ€™s fine to tell plot you donâ€™t like that type of encounter in a summary letter after the event. If you are prepared for some level of tolerance then your event will be much more fun. Iam not saying you should wildly subject yourself to a poorly run game. Knowing what you will tolerate up front will make it easier to wave off the occasional mistake and prevent them from destroying your enjoyment of an otherwise good event. ~ Be bold. Take chances. Many players have an excellent instinct for staying safe. Sometimes the more memorable encounter, and the action that will be more fun, is to take the chance and go for it. If you really want to destroy that critter chase it into the woods even though itâ€™s dangerous or people say itâ€™s stupid. Speak up against the powerful NPC. Will you die more often? Yes. Will you have more fun and end up with more stories that are memorable? Almost certainly. ~ Donâ€™t skimp on preparation and involvement. If you are going to play a game, then *play* it. Prepare for it, stay the entire event, stay on site, and bring the things that will make it fun and memorable. The more preparation for an event you do the more fun you will have. Make sure you have a good costume that is functional. Check your costume pieces before the event. Bring good, well kept weapons and bring an extra weapon in case one breaks. You shouldnâ€™t be stressed that your weapons will fail weapon check. Bring and use your cool props. Decorate your cabin with cool props. Donâ€™t be afraidto set up a tent camp if that will be more fun for you. Make sure you have comfortable and proper bedding. Make sure your make up and elf ears are in good shape and well stocked. Have extras. Make sure you have good food. If you like cooking, bring some way to do that. Bring extra socks and extra boots. The more prepared you are, the more you will enjoy the entire event experience. The more you put into an event, the more fun you will derive from it.
when something big and icky comes to eat your head. ~ Be uncomfortable. Live Adventure is gloriously uncomfortable. During a great event you might be tired and sopping wet. You might ache and get too little sleep. You might be too cold or too hot. You might have to wear bug spray because itâ€™s the time of year for insect swarms. This is part of what makes live action glorious. It makes those comfortable moments when you get home and can put on a fuzzy set of slippers all the more wonderful. Once you put it in your head that you will be cold or wet or hot then that is no longer a factor that mitigates the fun of the event. ~ Be prepared physically. Live Adventures as we run them provide wonderfully active and physical encounters. If you come to an event lacking sleep and nutrition you wonâ€™t have as much fun, especially since the event will likely add to those stressful conditions. Sleep well before the event and eat properly as you would for a sporting event. If you want to be good at fighting and running around then you will have to practice and get exercise. Stretch before the event to prevent injury. Even characters that focus on role playing will likely get in plenty of walking, standing, debate and passionate discussion and proper sleep and nutrition will help you enjoy these things. 8. Do you have any advice for LARP veterans? You are a veteran so you think you can ignore the advice for new players. You shouldnâ€™t. Rob Ciccolini
~ Make your own fun. Have other things to do. Bring activities and have goals that donâ€™t rely on plot. Organize a card game with decent stakes. Run a fighting tournament. Have a sing- a-long. Plan a walk through the woods to discuss some philosophical game topic with like-minded characters. Plan to take the time to introduce yourself to other players you might not know and find out something about them. And of course, be prepared to drop your plans
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