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LARP: Live Action & Real Problems

Taking Inventory

by Jason Hosler
Jan 26,2005


LARP: Live Action & Real Problems

by Jason Hosler, Raging Gargoyle Games

Taking Inventory

By this point you should have an idea about what system you are going to use and have a couple of potential locations picked out. Now you can get to work actually prepping for your first event. The most obvious thing that you will need is props. In this category I am including tags for all the items that require them as well as the phys-reps themselves. This is another point of difference between simulation and theatrical LARPs. Theatrical LARPs do not need to provide phys-reps for armor, weapons, or any number of little jejaws. This isn't to say that some of them don't require armor phys-reps and such, just that they do not have the usefulness that they do in simulation LARPs because they don't serve any more than a decorative purpose. In most cases, however, you will need a paper tag for every item that enters play. Every form of LARP I have ever played use some kind of tag to confirm the identity and qualities of every item in the game. Now the amount of information on these cards may vary but at the very least they should identify the equipment they are supposed to represent and the type of equipment that it is (ammo, armor, weapon, herbs, etc.).

Besides the tags you will need, you will also need the actual phys-reps for any props that you plan to use. It may be that you only need a minor thing or two, in the case of the theatrical LARP, or you may need a couple dozen weapon phys-reps and a few suits of different types of armor. If you're lucky your players will provide their own weapons and such, but that is not something you can count on for your first, second, or even fiftieth game. This leads into one of the great debates of the LARPing community: how to build weapons.

There are lots of different ways to build boffer weapons, from the simple, foam-padded PVC pipe sword to complex, realistic looking latex rapiers. Each of the different ways of construction have different pros and cons. There are two many various types of weapons and weapon constuctions to go into here, but that will probably be a topic for a later column. Suffice it to say that there are lots of ways to make you weapon phys-reps and before you sit down to build something you should review your general safety policies. If you are licensing a system these are probably already laid out for you, but if you are using a home-brewed system. The general safety rules that are in place for the vast majority of US LARPs are as follows:

  1. Head shots are not allowed
  2. You should strike hard enough that the blow is felt, but not so hard as to hurt
  3. You should never swing more than 45°
  4. You cannot postion yourself so that you only present non-legal targets to your opponent
  5. You must watch out for your opponent's safety while fighting, and warn him if he is going into hazerdous territory

Some games have additional rules such as "no thrusting" and "no groinshots", but those become very dependant on the game and the comfort zones of the people involved. The main thing to consider when setting up your game is to maximize the comfort and safety of your players.

Plot Committee

The Plot Committee is the people who are responsible for making the game run. It can be made up of anywhere from 1 to As Many As It Takes. There are lots of responsibilities that must be handled for the game to run. For really small games all of these duties can probably be performed by one person, but once you get to having more than five or six people, the weight of trying to manage everything will quickly become more than one person can manage well. Some of the jobs that must be filled are:

  1. Director - Makes the final call on what is and isn't going to happen in the game and is the final adjucator of rules.
  2. Logistics Coordinator - Ensures that the event location has been reserved, all the non-prop supplies (tags, event outlines, registration supplies, etc.) are ready and available, that registration goes smoothly, basically all of the small details that have to be organized out of game for the game to run smoothly.
  3. Financial Director - Acts as the game's accountant.
  4. Props Master - In charge of organizing and catalouging all of the props and game equipment (packets, cables, etc.).
  5. Safety Inspector - Must review the safety and usability of all weapon and armor phys-reps before each event.
  6. Site Marshal - Must verify that the site is clean and organized at the end of each event.

As I said earlier, some of these positions can be done by one person or farmed out to player volunteers. The other main purpose of the Plot Committee is to determine what is going to happen during the event and in what order. This is where it becomes vitally important that you have one person who everyone acknowledges as the final decision maker on what is going to happen with each plotline. Invariably, if you have more than one person working on plotlines, one of them will come in conflict with another. For this kind of reason, and because the game is so dependant on them, it is very important that all of your Plot Committee be able to work together and resolve differences without alot of drama.

Next time we'll talk about advertising and attracting a player base.

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