Archive for the tag “boffer”

Thrusting Weapons (101) for Socal Larps

What games can I thrust in?

Thrusting is not allowed in both Twin Mask (TM) and Dystopia Rising (DR).

Thrusting is allowed in Dying Kingdoms (DK), Empty Thrones (ET) and Rendallir Remembered (RR).

What consitutes a thrust-safe weapon?

No latex weapon is thrust safe.

DK/ET require that the weapon tip cannot fit in an eye socket and have 1″ of open cell foam. This is a minimum requirement, and I highly recommend at least 3″ wide tip, and at least 4″ of foam (mixed opened and closed cell) between the core and the tip.

I have a thrust-safe weapon, how can I thrust safely?

There are two primary ways to hurt somebody with a thrust.

    1. You thrust them in the face/throat.
      solution: Avoid thrusting to the sternum, shoulder or collarbone. These thrusts are likely to get blocked up into the face, especially by newbs. Very tall people may get away with downward thrusts to these zones, but newbs will still manage to block the thrust into their head.
    2. You thrust them in their center of mass as they lunge at you. The target’s entire bodyweight goes into the thrust.
      solution: Thrusts should be quick jabs, with none of your body weight behind them. They should be done with a loose arm, and a hammer/”ok” grip (only thumb and forefinger gripping tightly). This will allow your arm to move backward if the target lunges into the thrust.
      A pistol grip on the weapon requires that you grip the weapon tightly, and constricts your forearm and elbow. A pistol grip is great for many other shots, and definitely gives you more precision with your thrusts. However, it causes issues when the target lunges into the thrust.

6 Scene Beat Sheet for extended LARP mods (Scene #6 and Overview)

goal(s): wrap up details, foreshadow further events
element(s):  roleplay, paperwork

Resolve the Conflict
In this last scene, we clean up any niggling details.

  • Your Mr. Johnson hands out the promised rewards.
  • Mysteries that were unresolved get clarified.
  • The players divvy up loot.

The key to making this scene work is having an NPC present, nominally your Mr. Johnson.  This can be logically difficult (why is the helpless diseased villager who hired us in the middle of the Forest of Death?”).  This can also have a production cost (i.e. the villager is needed in Scene 1 as well, and in a multi-team format, might be problematic).

The other tool here for “tying up everything” is a scroll or letter.  This puts something physical in your player’s hands, which is always welcome.  You can combine a letter with the “hand-wave” travel back to civilization, and resolve all your loose-ends.

Allude to a conflict in the future.  If you villain escaped, give your players a hint about the villain.  Where or how did the villain escape?  What is the villain’s next step?  This kind of information will get your players champing at the bit for the next episode.

RECAP of the 6-Scene Beat Sheet

Scene 0 Introduce the Conflict
Scene 1 Warm-Up Bandits
Scene 2 Complicate that Shit
Scene 3 Ambush them in the Dick
Scene 4 Jack of All Trades
Scene 5 Final Fight with EBG
Scene 6 Resolution

Post-LARP post: Dying Kingdoms Camper – November 13-15, 2015


This game had some great highs, and very little lows.


    • The above photo by Flip Cassidy.
    • The group my PC is with, the Stormcrows, had a tits-hot camp.  The tent, and all the decorum were just amazing, and very immersive.  Even better, I didn’t have to set it up 🙂  Even more betterer, the campsite was a 15 minute drive from home.
    • Mattos was able to further his personal plot-line a bit (fyi, I’m taking it slow, I’m in no rush).  Mattos’ allergy to elves was able to insult them quite deeply.  (OOG, I know it’s a confrontation of the internal story that somebody playing an elf has, i.e. I’m pretty).  Mattos as able to discover that he has some kind of fae blood, role-playing with Skaven (the ever-amazing DW).  He also discovered that the svaltafar (drow/dark elves) smell amazing to him.  (OOG, I’m interpreting that he has a fae-spirit aligned with the svaltafar.   That spirit hates all other elves, and is pretty evil itself.  Mattos doesn’t know this IG, however).
    • Starting about 2 on Saturday was when the game picked up for my character.  Mattos had a great moment liberating a slave that had been brainwashed by lizard-people.  I sent this slave (IG name Essen, OOG name David Pulcifer)  back to Maldava, and paid a pretty penny (a full gold solarum) to make sure he got there, paying for a caravan to keep him tied up and drunk the entire journey.  I predict my upcoming downtimes will be breaking the brainwashing on this slave.
    • The last battle was pretty gnarly (in the good way).  As usual, we NPC’d for this fight.  Also as usual, I skirmished rather than holding the line.  Par for the course, I got a lot of backs.  I’m glad that I was able to hurt/scare folks, but didn’t end up killing any PCs.
    • We Stormcrows got back into character after the big battle, and started cooking.  Ian/Bear had a murder non-vegetarian stew.  I brought murder-free stuffed acorn squash, which was uber-tasty.  Unbeknownst to us, there was a cooking competition set up for two characters that I assume have in-game cooking skill.  Turns out, my squash won the “unofficial” contest.  This makes me interested in the cooking skill, but I don’t think it fits Mattos’ background.
    • During the cooking and eating, we Storm crows performed a ritual to summon the Morrigan.  OOG, this was our “let’s get some content” plea to plot.  Boy howdy did they deliver.  Emily played the Morrigan, and was awesome.  I was genuinely afraid of her, and tried my best to not get her attention.
    • Barker (Johnny Bias) and I had a long conversation as a result of this summoning.  The Stormcrows had rescued his bodyguard earlier in the game, however, so we struck up a convo.  Barker let me know how troubling the summoning of the Morrigan was to the rest of the group (player base), and why her asking for the Black Mirror was a fail-grenade.  Mattos disclosed with Barker how everything wasn’t as it seemed, and asked for his help in stalling any efforts the Stormcrows made in the short term.


  • It was fucked cold.  Luckily, I was so close I just went home each night.  It did suck making the hike out to day parking at 2 am, however.
  • I lost my temper in the final battle.  Yes, I took shield bash in the lips, and it wasn’t an accident (i.e. the guy did the classic newb-scoop shield bash, and he should know better).  Nevertheless, I’m always more upset with myself when I snap like that, and that anger-poison lingers with me longer than it should.

6 Scene Beat Sheet for extended LARP mods (Scene #2)

Scene 2 – Complicate That Shit

goal(s): establish the villain, up the stakes horizontally severely
element(s):  role-play, puzzle, physical challenge

This is a non-combat encounter, and it’s goal is to up the stakes horizontally.  The best way to describe this is to give you the typical scene early in a novel or movie.

The hero has what appears to be a simple problem.  

“This mayor hired me to check out that graveyard where scary sounds are being heard from.”

The hero appears to solve the problem.

“I arrived at the graveyard, and sword-punched a bunch of zombies in the head.  Problem solved!”

The hero breaks something along the way, or discovers that the problem is way more complicated than previously supposed.

“All of the zombies went down easily. We could clearly see their eerie green soul juice float away towards that creepy tower up the hill.”


Overlap with Scene #1

This scene can use the same site as scene #1, it just occurs sequentially afterwards.  In the above example, the fight with the zombies is scene #1.  Scene #2 would be something mysterious about the zombies (strange tattoos, glowing gems, , possessive spirits, scroll fragments) for the players to interact with.  It can be obvious the PCs screwed up and made things worse, or left ambiguous for them to argue over.

Introduce the Villain

If there is not a singular villain (the EBG) established yet, now is the time.   The existence of “evil bad guy” is a ring in the nose of PCs they will rarely ignore.  Putting a name to the “face” is just that important.  It’s hard to hate something you cannot name, or a nebulous organization.

example: the Necromancer Evilbadgai possesses the fallen zombie corpses from a distance, and warns that players of their certain doom if they try to disrupt his plan.  The players have to wack-a-mole (err.. zombie) to shut him up, perhaps with other players arguing with them to stop chopping up the zombies because they want to talk to Evilbadgai.

Make this Scene Have Flesh

You will want this scene to take up screen time.  I’ll say this over and over, but treking everybody out into the woods (after hours of driving, costume prep, etc.) for a grand total of 20 minutes of content is not cool.  The same goes for having a scene where only one PC interacts, and the rest play swap the but thumb.  Yes, those other larps you play in do it all the time.  Slavery isn’t cool either, and everybody used to do it.  


The best way to increase screen time is to adhere to Rule #2 from the first post of this series (i.e. make sure every PC is involved).

Whatever your non-combat macguffin is here, make it involve the efforts and interactions of as many PCs as possible.  The resulting complication and coordination will become a content creation machine.

example:  Evilbadgai is able to speak with the dead relatives and ancestors of the PCs.  He has seen them coming for days from his interrogations of the spirits of the dead.  As a result, he is prepared, and will torment and vex them with the status of their loved ones (or enemies) in the afterlife.

Transition to Scene #3

As always, you must have a clean transition to Scene #3.  You very likely need Scene #3 to be in a different site than Scene #2.

sidetopic:  communication channels

Whenever you increase the stakes, you are performing an information transfer from you to the PCs.   You’ll want to figure out how to best do this transfer.  You can just drop a “forsooth, you hear drums in the distance.  It sounds like the ritual has begun.”  In some cases, that’s the right thing™.  How you convey the stakes is just as important as what the stakes are.  

  • Forsooth from the Storyteller (or an ST-enabled NPC)
  • Lore from a NPC
  • a written document

Each of these information channels has strengths and weaknesses, which I’ll wax about here.

Forsooth from the Storyteller
The Storyteller does an info dump.

pros cons
cheapest production cost Usually too fast, so it isn’t content
highest consistency
you guarantee that the PCs get the info
Usually boring, as it is an info dump
Breaks the “show don’t tell” rule

Lore from a NPC
An NPC does an info dump, or is available to be questioned.  The typical here is either the Mr. Johnson, or a captive NPC.

pros cons
This is slow, so it’s content. Medium production cost – you must prepare the script and info for the NPC
 Best role-playing interaction. Worst consistency
The NPC could be killed, the PCs could not ask, the NPC can screw up the important points of information, the PCs can miss it easily
 Can act as your non-combat macguffin itself, rather than the result of the macguffin  Requires a reliable NPC

Written document
You have a written document to be recovered by the PCs.  This is a scroll on an NPC, or a book on a table.

Almost as consistent as a Storyteller Forsooth.
It can be missed if the PCs don’t search the appropriate location.
 This has the highest production cost
 This is take-away content, to be referred to later by the PCs.
Ergo, the ST doesn’t need to repeat themselves.
 Best method for complex information
 Best method for foreshadowing
(i.e. the most likely to be remembered by the PCs)

6 Scene Beat Sheet for extended LARP mods (Scene 0)

I’ve been working on a 12 scene beat sheet for line-course LARP games.  As part of the process, I decided I wanted to have a 6 scene version, since that is likely to be a lot more appropriate for 99% of the LARPs out there, and I’ll likely use it as well.

For a quick reference, this is a very meta outline for a mod, describing what happens in each scene in broad strokes.  It provides a skeleton, and it’s the detail that adds the meat to it.

There’s a few rules I’m adhering to here.

Rule #1 — Any scene must be a full scene.  It must include one (or more) of the following:

  • Provide a place for PC development
    • confront or challenge a PC’s goal/belief
    • introduce new world canon related to a PC
  • Establish or increase the stakes
    • horizontally increase the stakes with complexity
    • vertically increase the stakes with severity
    • z-axis increase the stakes by involving more PC, or making it more personal to a PC
  • Playground elements (i.e. simple fun)
    • There’s something “live-action” related to the encounter, which is something for everybody to interact with physically.  This is commonly a combat, but can be physical challenge/puzzle.  These elements are like sugary foods, they are great in moderation, but you need something in-between them to cleanse the palate.

Rule #2 — Always try to involve the entire subset of players with every scene

I can best describe this rule by the classic violations of the rule.

  • The role-playing scene with a single NPC, which will probably be dominated by just a few PCs.
  • The puzzle scene that can only be interacted with by a single player at a time.

Without further ado, here’s the first “beat”, Scene #0.

Scene (0) – Pre-Game Conflict Intro

goal(s):  introduce the conflict, identify the characters involved.
element(s):  role-play, exposition


This doesn’t necessarily need to be a scene.  This is the introduction of the conflict.  Ideally this is pre-game with email based “lore” about the conflict, and identifying the players that will be involved.

However, without pre-game lore, this becomes an additional scene by necessity.   In the common parlance of a world course game, this is the hook scene.

In the context of hook scene, this is usually the single NPC that comes to the camp, has a problem and asks for help with that problem.  This does accomplish the minimal goals, but it breaks both rules #1 and #2.

All too often, the NPC is somebody the players have never met, and the conflict is something the players don’t care about.  The players play along, since it’s the content, and they want the content.  However, kicking it up into a full scene takes just a simple detail.  Simply include something from one character’s background.

There is a simple twist to really kick it up a notch, and it has several side benefits.  It does require a kick-ass NPC that can adlib.

(1)  The conflict of the mod should relate directly to a PC.  The low-hanging fruit here is to have the bad guys be the bad guys for a certain PC.

(2)  The “Mr. Johnson” NPC enters the camp, and starts talking to people.  The NPC does NOT approach to the target PC.  When he talks to people, Mr. Johnson may or may not discuss the conflict.  Just as importantly, the Mr. Johnson asks about the PC he is talking to, and relationships the PC has with others.    Let them infodump a bit, as everybody loves to talk about their character.

(3)  Eventually, the conflict leaks back the the “PC that cares”.  If not, the Mr. Johnson can prempt the action by approaching that PC.  It’s there that the “hire offer” comes.  At this point, the Mr. Johnson has hopefully talked to a small subset of players.  Assuming you are not targeting the mod for the entire playerbase, this can be conveniently is about the number of players you intend for the mod, as well as the power level of PCs.

(4)  The Mr. Johnson should not immediately say “ok, let’s go”.  Instead, they should be trepidatious about the motives, virtues and/or skills of the PCs.  Mr. Johnson should do an in-game version of the Circle.   Ask each character how they know each other.  It’s possible (if your game culture allows it) that the Mr. Johnson could take an ST role here and tell folks OOC that it is appropriate to make up something new here.

(5)  The Mr. Johnson, now appeased that the players are virtuous and/or skilled enough to tackle the conflict, presents the offer.  This is a great place to confront a PC’s goals and beliefs.  Are they in it for the gold, the glory, or the good?

(6)  Conveniently, this process takes 15-30 min, which gives time to set up the rest of the mod.  It’s also a pretty good chunk of content all on it’s own.


Whatever your conflict is, it’s important that it’s small to start with.  Not every adventure is about saving the universe from certain doom.  If your conflict starts at the top, it has nowhere to go but down.

Martial Arts experience in LARP

There’s a common question on LARP forums, with the basic phrasing of this–>

Will my experience with X translate to LARP fighting?  [For X insert – fencing, HEMA, SCA, martial arts, etc]

The simple answer to this question is no, it won’t translate.  In fact, it will likely frustrate the shit out of you in the short term.  

The slightly longer answer is, if you’re the best fighter at your SCA club or Amt/Bel/Dag park (or similar endeavor), you’re going to be pretty good at LARP.  You will need to be careful not to use the illegal stuff, and you’re still gonna get pwned by some skinny kid with half a neckbeard who looks like he hasn’t worked out a day in his life.

  • All of these styles involve hitting people hard.  LARP is about hitting soft.  
  • Most of these styles focus on only hitting first and then stopping.  LARP is about hitting more often than your opponent, not necessarily first.
  • Most of these styles involve hitting people in the head and groin.  LARP isn’t down with that.   
  • Most of these styles don’t allow partial blocks, and instead use powerful blocks.  LARP usually has pretty generous blocking rules that allow for no power or stability needed behind a block.
  • All of the weapon styles use weapons about twice the weight of LARP weapons, and with half the spring of LARP weapons.  LARP weapons as a result can strike, parry and riposte incredibly faster.  
  • I can almost guarantee you’ve only practiced in well-lit areas, with even footing, and plenty of room to move around.  LARP will put you in a dark rocky ditch surrounded by thorn bushes.
  • All of these styles involve very short bouts against single opponents.  LARP will have you fighting for hours against dozens of enemies.

The even longer answer is that there are aspects of all these styles that translate, but the simplest way to say it is “if the martial technique involves your arms, it doesn’t translate”.  The stuff you learned with your arms was designed for hundreds of years as a means to kill other people in real life.  This is the primary problem with the fencers/kendo people.  You might have success with the techniques at first.  The powerful attacks, body rushes and head fakes put people on guard against real physical harm, and you are landing blows as a result of their fear.  However, all of these are Dick Moves™ in LARP, and hopefully somebody corrects you early.  These are also a great way to get targeted every time by spell-casters and archers who conveniently find you every combat.

Here’s what does translate.

  • athleticism – being a fast runner, having mighty lungs and bearing a strong arm are going to go a LONG way in larp fighting, no matter where you get them.  Martial arts teaches you breathing as well (as in, don’t forget to do it) which is a key lesson.
  • footwork and body mechanics – These will translate to a degree, but will take some serious (but very fun) reworking.  
    • The TKD reverse punch has the same footwork and body mechanics as my fast/sneaky left leg lead, right hand leg shot.  
    • The florentine “pop-over” is very similar to a front leg thrust kick/roundhouse kick/spinning back kick combo.   
    • A good (fast) fencing lunge still works for everything below the waist, but you have to modify what you do with both hands.  The sword hand needs to cut, not thrust.  The off hand needs to guard rather than balance.

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