Category Archives: CLARIFY! Blog

Writing Highs and Lows for Events

Writing highs and lows after an event is often a fun after-event activity that lets you reminisce about the event and let everyone know how much fun you had. However, post-event reviews (highs and lows) are fundamentally about making sure that the game knows what you liked and what you didn’t about an event. There are things that you can do and things that you can avoid when writing these to be sure that your voice is heard, and that your game grows and improves.

Writing Constructive “Lows”

book-twoFirst of all, I try to ALWAYS start with “Lows” when reviewing an event. Partly because I want to be sure they are read, partly because I want to end on a high note, so that both myself and my readers come away from the post having the last thing they encountered being nice.

You want to be sure that you actually LIST your LOWS! It is not bad for the game that you tell them what you don’t like, exactly the opposite. If the owners don’t know that you didn’t like something, they can never change it. While listing that you loved everything makes GMs smile, if you didn’t really like everything, they will never know, and it doesn’t help.

Next, you want to be sure that your lows are actually helpful and constructive. There are things that you really want to avoid, and I will tell you why.

Avoid Personal Attacks

When listing something you didn’t like, try to make your point as non-personal as possible. Saying, “I was not fond of the troll mod” is better than saying, “Tom’s troll mod wasn’t fun.” When you add a personal element, people feel like they are being attacked, and they are less likely to listen. Yes, in a perfect world, people would take the criticism and deal with it, but we are human and have emotions. If you want your criticism to effect change: try not to piss people off.

If you have a complaint about a specific person, like: “Billy was being a dick and hitting people in the face” you should always send that into the game in a private message. You want to avoid appearing to have personal vendettas, or embarrassing someone on a public forum. Embarrassment like this can just make a person surly and angry, and if you want them to change for the better, it may be best to handle it privately.

Be Specific

General dislike of something does not actually help a GM know what to change. In the above example, “I was not fond of the troll mod”, you should add a LOT more detail. Why were you not fond of it? What would you liked to have seen instead? Simply saying that you didn’t like a thing doesn’t necessarily tell owners what they should change. Try, instead: “I didn’t like that ALL the trolls had five uses of Sever Limb. It made the mod overly difficult and much less fun.” You can even add recommendations here, though try not do add too many. “Maybe some of them can have Knockback instead!”

Avoid JUST Things the Game Can’t Change

So, a lot of people will post things in the lows like, “The weather” and “I lost/broke my prop” or “I couldn’t be there the entire bad-weather-lighteningevent.” While these seem like nice things to list, because they are “lows” but not anything that the game did wrong, they don’t actually help much. You can list them, if you like! It can make the GMs smile to know that their event went so well that you are DIGGING for things to list in your lows. However, if you ONLY list these kinds of things, it doesn’t give the owners much to change.

Sometimes, with things like the weather, it can even be frustrating for the GMs. “I can’t change that! GOD! Why is everyone listing that!?” Yes, game owners should plan for poor weather, and have alternate things for players to do instead of making them stand in a blizzard/hurricane. If your GMs had a lot to do that avoided the weather, though, maybe avoid listing that one.

I am not saying DON’T list these little things. Again: it could make the owners smile. I am saying, however, that you should also include things that the game owners and GMs can change and have control over, so that the game grows and improves!

Praise AND Criticize for Good Results

Say you want to criticize something that you normally would really like; food for example. The kitchen puts out an amazing breakfast and dinner, but lunch was just burnt and yucky. You may not want to mention lunch, because generally the kitchen does a great job and you don’t want to make them sad. However, they really do need to know that something was not liked, so they can avoid it in the future. In this example, you may want to both praise and criticize in the same breath.

You may want to go with a statement like, “Breakfast was wonderful, I loved the fruit salad, I though that lunch was over-seasoned and way too spicy, but dinner was so tasty, the chicken was seasoned perfectly!” It lets the cooks know that you liked and appreciated their work and food, but there was one thing that you were “Meh” on. Remember, everyone working on these games are HUMAN and have feelings, even if you want to say, “This mod sucked” and just leave it at that, you are probably just going to upset people, and the criticism is not going to help.

Writing Constructive “Highs”

Believe it or not, there are ways to write “highs” for an event that are not super helpful! Also, I assume that you want people to read all your highs, and sometimes people will just skim if the posts are not interesting to them. The following should be useful in making sure that not only are your thoughts read, but that they are useful and constructive to the health of the game and all of its players!

Encourage Specific Players

For Low Low Prices

You will want to make sure that your “highs” help make the game and all the players grow and improve. When writing your reviews, your “highs” can encourage players who were not entirely sure of themselves, helping them want to come back to the game and letting them know that they were appreciated.  This is where you want to mention specific names and actions. You don’t have to write a book, but mentioning, briefly, a lot of the people with whom you had a good time will make them smile, and make them want to read more.

Say a player’s costume looked great!  Or someone did an awesome fight, and so on.

Through these actions, you can help in the growth of your game! If people think they were ignored, or no one liked them that much, they may not come back. A pat on the back from a bunch of players really encourages new players, or even older players, to keep doing the amazing things they are doing!

Talk About Other People

Talk about awesome things that other people did, not just things that you did. I know this seems a lot like the above entry, but it has a purpose. If you are constantly writing about the things that YOU did that were awesome, and never also mentioning other people, you look like a braggart, and people are less likely to read your entire entry. Everyone wants to hear about themselves more than anything, it is human nature! So, while you, as a human, will want to talk and hear about yourself, other people ALSO want to talk and hear about themselves. Mentioning them is a great way to get them to read more about you! 😀   It will also encourage other players to write more about people who aren’t themselves, and then you may get to see what people liked that you did, helping you grow as a role-player.

Reward Good Behavior with Kind Words

You can also encourage the game to alter its behavior through your “highs”. If you see something new that the game did, and you liked it, make a fuss! They will know that the players liked the new thing, and use it again. Was there a thing that you liked that the game always does? Mention it every other month or so. “I still love that the game puts out random treasure chests! So much fun!” Yes, you probably have mentioned it before, but letting the game know that you still like it will encourage the owners and GMs to continue that behavior.

Be Specific

Again, you want to shout out about very specific things that you liked. “I loved the event!” is great! GMs LOVE to hear that! But after you say that, be sure to include details that you liked, so that the owners and GMs can repeat them in the future! GMs might think that you liked the event because of the troll mod, but that was the ONLY mod you hated! So be sure to tell them what exactly you liked.

And Now, A Note To GMs and Owners

I am human, just like anyone else… I do not like hearing that I did something wrong, or that someone didn’t like a thing I did.

Just like most people, I get upset when people tell me I did a bad job, or forgot something. For those of you who do not know, I sometimes perform weddings! Yeap! I have married 6 couples so far! In one wedding, I legitimately forgot to ask the couple to exchange rings. In the biggest wedding I have performed to date, I left the congregation standing for half of the ceremony (I forgot to tell them to sit down.) When I said, “You may kiss the bride” I didn’t MOVE out of the way, and therefore was in all of the photos of the happy couple.as152447

BOY was I embarrassed! God, it was humiliating and upsetting to know that on one of the biggest days of these peoples lives, I screwed up.

However, I am glad that they told me. I am glad that it was mentioned. No matter how embarrassing or upsetting it was: I never forgot the rings again. I moved before announcing that they may kiss the bride. I haven’t done a wedding since I left the congregation standing: but I sure as hell will not do it again.

The point is: it sucks to be told that you did something wrong, or that these people, for whom you have put out a LOT OF EFFORT, didn’t like/appreciate something. However, we have to listen, and we have to try to not get mad! If someone’s lows make me mad, I will wait before I send them a message, so that I am not responding angry. I can’t!! They are only trying to help, and I NEED to know when my players are upset, or do not like anything. If I shoot them down, I will only encourage my player base to never complain again: and that is not healthy for my game.

So I make every effort to remember that my players aren’t complaining because they hate me, or the game. If they hated me or the game, they would simply never speak up. Writing Highs and Lows is an act of love, born out of wanting to make the game better. Sometimes we forget that, but both GMs and players should always think about WHY people write these reviews, and the reason boils down to: we want a better game, and we have to work together to make it better!

Thanks for reading! This was a long one!

Remember:

T-0001-LU-LAYON-Red

Jess the Red

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Mad Lib Mods

MadLibsI haven’t done an article in a while, and having spoken to some folks about mod design, I think I have a good one! I am calling this style of mod a Mad Lib mod, and I would love to hear what you guys think.

Often times when you come to a new LARP, you can be made to feel very left out. Many games like to focus a lot if not all of their attention on the regular players, and new or occasional players (called NOCs for the purpose of this article) feel brushed aside or left out of the activity.

It is hard to allow for NOCs when you are planning an event. You never know if they are going to show, or if they are going to ever come back. You, as an event planner, want to be sure that your regulars are enjoying their time at the event. They are the source the majority of your income, and they are constantly there to support the plot. Your loyal players deserve as much of the limelight and attention that you can give them, and there is nothing wrong with that.

However, if you want new blood to be hooked on your game, you do have to divert some attention to them as well. Sometimes you have as few as one event to get new players to love it and want to come to your game forever. Sometimes the occasional players are looking for a new game, and are coming back to test the waters. If they do not feel wowed, they may just shrug the weekend off and go elsewhere.

But how to do that with no planning?! I mean, a lot of work goes into modules and setup, and how can you be expected to run things specifically aimed at special NOC players? How can you even predict them! THIS IS MADNESS!

Nope! With Mad Lib Mods, you can make any player feel like the center of attention with little to no effort on your part. What you do is write a pretty generic mod, that any of your younger, newer, or whatever, NPCs can run with little to no supervision, and you make it easy to fill in the blanks for whomever shows up at the event. Have a packet of five of these at any event, and if you get new folks, or occasional folks, send your NPCs out to do these mods, aimed directly at them. If the players come back, you can turn these one-shots into longer plot lines, but if they don’t, no big deal.

For example:

Mad Lib 1: Princess is in This Castle.

__(Hook)__ comes into town crying that has gone missing.

He/she needs the help of __(devout/loyal/extreme/famous)__

followers of __(god/order that this particular group/person follows)__

to help him/her rescue __(priest/princess/merchant/whatever)__ .

Sadly, the stronghold is guarded by loyal __(noted enemy, maybe of this newbie PC/Group, maybe just the same as the event, to make them feel included)_, so it will be a fight.

Mod needs 3 – 5 NPCs.

1-3 _(BadGuys)_

1     _(Damsel/Damsdude)_ who can do double duty as a _(BADGUY)_ until it is time to rescue him/her)

1     _(Hook)_

You then quickly fill in the blanks, hand your NPCs some character cards and send them on their way. Hopefully your Mad Lib Mod has a little more detail, but it shouldn’t be too hard to make some pretty detailed mods that, nonetheless, can be targeted at anyone, and tweaked to be sure that you make it look like it was for them.

Easy things to tweak are things like the race of the players (make the hook the same race as them!), the god of the bad guys (opposite whatever god the players worship), and the type of enemies (whichever the players are best equipped to beat, making them feel powerful.) This will make them feel special and like you planned this all just for them!

This includes the new guys without you having to do much work, and it looks REALLY good on your plot team. How could you have prepared this so quickly! This is amazing! Thank you so much for going out of your way to put in a mod specifically tailored to us! How cool is that?

All of the above will be what you hear from your now happy NOCs, while you cackle silently to yourself about how easy it truly was!

I hope this was useful! Here’s to great LARPing for everyone!

Keep Calm 

And

LAY ON!

~Jess “The Red” C

Injuries and Gameplay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be the BEST NPC EVER!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get It In Writing

Get It In Writing

My mother used to say this all the time: “Get it in writing.”

Whether it was agreeing on chore schedules, or future rewards for good grades, I was told to always get it in writing. Since it was my mother, it was not because of mistrust, it was to stave off misunderstanding.

But the lesson has stuck ever since.

In business (I own a screen printing business) you have to get all transactions in writing, so that you know who-done-f***ed-up if something goes wrong. In legal issues (to include marriage) everything is hammered out at the beginning of an arrangement, to avoid lawsuits and arguments in the future. Getting things in writing insures that, when the tables turn, or things just mess up, everyone knows what is going to happen and no one is surprised.

I feel that we, as LARPers, need to take this lesson to heart. We build these games with our friends, trusting that our friends will always be there for us, that we will never argue, and that no one will ever mess up.

We have to understand that we are all human, and as much as you love your friends, as much as you trust them, as much as you SCREAM “BUT RED! MY FRIENDS ARE DIFFERENT AND IT WILL BE ALL ROSES, DAMNIT!” I am sad to say that we are all going to make mistakes and piss someone off.

So, when doing things with your game, be sure everything is in writing and everything has a paper trail. Did you promise someone a bonus for service? Write it down and e-mail it to them, so they cannot claim you offered something more, and so that you do not forget. When you take on staff members, make them sign some sort of guidelines, so that if something goes wrong you can point to where they messed up and institute a proper punishment. When someone pays or donates, give them a receipt and mark it in your books, so everyone is clear.

This works for players, too. Make sure there is some textual evidence of anything that you receive, so that if something goes wrong, even if it is as innocent as a server crash, everything is written someplace else and you can clear up the problem quickly and with the fewest arguments possible.

I feel like so many of us have falling outs over things that could have been avoided if the initial arrangement was clear and documented. Take the time in the LARPing world, and in your day to day life, to be CERTAIN of the arrangements into which you enter.

That way we can all find new and exciting ways to argue. It is the human condition, afterall!

All my love!

Red

NPCs: It’s Hard When They Aren’t All You

In a tabletop, the NPCs are all you.  They do exactly what you want them to do, drop hints exactly when you want them to, and never do anything that surprises you, (unless you have multiple personalities, in which case, I want to game with you).

Obviously, with a LARP, this is not the case.  Your NPCs are 5-20 different people, and they only know as much as you tell them.  If you have experienced NPCs that you can trust, you can send them off to do complicated mods on their own.  If you have a bunch of new kids, you have to watch them a little more closely.

My biggest piece of advice here is to trust your NPCs.  If you try to micro-manage with your NPCs you are going to go crazy.  Nothing is ever going to go the way you want it to, and the sooner you come to accept that, the more fun you will have.  You have to be ready to adapt to surprises when running a LARP.  There will be times where your NPCs will get a line wrong, or tell people the wrong thing, and you have to be ready to change your story to fit it.

But Red, what if my NPCs tell the players that a main character is evil, or dead, or just tell the PCs something wrong?

 

Simple!  Have a more trustworthy NPC character come out and say it was all a lie!  Or a mistake!  Just because your NPCs have said something, does not mean it is cannon.  Slips like this are easy to deal with.

But Red, my NPCs were supposed to die in a battle, but the players ran away!

Well, it looks like your PCs just gave you MORE to work with!  Rather than worry about possibly running out of entertainment for the players, they have just given you an easy 2 hours.  Simply attack them again!  Or in a different way!

MY NPCs have blatantly ignored my instructions and did whatever they wanted!

Are the PCs having fun with it?

YES!

Go take a nap.  Your NPCs are obviously doing a good job.  Just because it is not what you planned doesn’t make it bad.  Take a break.  Frankly, I have never met a LARP GM who was not overly stressed.  The nap should do you good.

But what if the PCs weren’t having fun?

I find that the players often forget something un-fun or boring if you just assault the town with something crazy.  Or send them on an insane treasure hunt led by a goofy NPC.  Remember, if you end big, they will remember your event fondly.  Follow up something disastrous with an NPC called Billy the Bomber, or Dynamite Pete, and make the PCs dodge explosions for an hour or so.  They will be fine.

You have to give your NPCs some leeway, and let them add their own ideas and character to the parts that they play.  If you are too controlling, your NPCs will become bored or resentful, and that bleeds into how they interact with the players.  Give them some ground to be inventive, and you won’t be disappointed.

The best mod ideas I have ever seen have come out of my NPCs sitting around, waiting for the next assignment.  (Except bubble-gum elementals.  I will never forgive you for that, Courtney.)

Also, remember, while mindless NPC villains can be fun (wolves, zombies, Halo Players) they can get dull after a while.  These get dull for both the players and the NPCs.  Give your NPCs, even your BRAND new ones, speaking roles.

Even if you don’t know if you can trust a new NPC, or how well they will perform, give them a part to go out and have fun with.  Cast them as an annoying fairy, or a bumbling farmer.  Let them be the hook for a mod that is not too important, or let them go out and gamble with your players.  This makes them feel included, and it gives your players someone new and different to play with.

The more responsibility and freedom you are able to give your NPCs, the less likely you are to have a nervous breakdown mid event and run out of the camp with a trail of bodies behind you.

Good luck!

Bobbin, Spool, Needle and Thread

Costumes made for Halloween.

“So ya wanna make a costume? ANNNNND ya wanna do it for cheap… AND you want it to look good. GOOD GOLLY, ya must be crazy.” OR SO ONE WOULD THINK! Hi, I’m Baylee and I am a costume addict. (Hi, Baylee.) I’ve been LARPing for half of my life (10? 11? years). A LOOOOOOOOONG time. In that amount of time, I have always tried to find ways to get the most bang for my buck when it comes to costuming. (Especially when I was younger – $2 allowance does not get you much in the way of rogue clothes.) There are many tricks of the trade that I have picked up over time and I hope to share them with you. As much as I’d like to push my little business wagon around, I like to help my friends and fellow LARPers out a little BEFORE taking their hard earned cash. This means pointing you in the best directions for non-custom costumes. Things like coats and vests and pants and not Entropy Purple and Obnoxious Yellow, burlap and 16 yards of tulle, Assassin’s Creed-esc, fitted battle skirts and fancy ball gowns with 4 patches that you want done in a week for which will pay me in four weeks… I could go on…  😛 Anyway. So my posts are gonna be about costuming and, heck, prop stuff if you want. I am open to questions and would love to tell you of the stories of my costuming. Things like how 3 triangles of cloth sewn to your underwear 2 days before your 18th birthday is a BAD idea. And so on. I am always open to help a LARPer in need of a good looking costume. ‘Cause let’s face it: Nike sneakers and basketball shorts are not good costume pieces unless you’re running modern day scenarios. ASK ME STUFF. All my love, Baylee P.S. Maybe I’ll post something helpful tomorrow. 😀

Rule #1: Cardio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck and good running.

Be A Thief, Not A Jerk

No, that’t not me.

I have played a rogue so often in games that, at this point, I refuse to take any rogue skills on my character sheet: I can hide and sneak and steal and beat-feet with the best of them.

I end up having to give a lesson on being a thief/rogue that people don’t hate A LOT.

The biggest problem with being a successful rogue is that you are doing things that are going to make people mad.  You are going to be thieving and lying on a regular basis.

Sadly, this tends to make you enemies.  Having enemies IN-GAME is a good thing.  Having enemies OUT-OF-GAME is a bad thing.

You want to avoid being a dick.  I am sorry for the frank language, but it is true.

________________________

Lying

You are going to lie as a rogue.  It just happens…

Don’t mistake being a rogue with HAVING TO LIE.  You CAN tell the truth and still be in-character.

Be smart.  Does it actually do anything for you to lie about where the main villain went?  Then don’t do it.

Unless you can actually make bank or have a real reason to have to lie, don’t do it habitually if you want to be a successful rogue.  People won’t ever believe you, and then how can you get them to look in the wrong place for the Treasure Of MasterGoldEnStien?

(Being a habitual liar for BAD reasons is an entirely different character concept.)

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Thieving

If you are going to steal, NEVER STEAL EVERYTHING.  This is a HUGE rule.  Yes, I know that your character would probably steal everything that is not nailed down, but then you are going to make out-of-game enemies.

There is psychology behind this that may make so called “role-play purists” mad, but if you think that no one is going to be mad at you for stealing their shit, you need to go home.  Understand that people spend a lot of time gathering up their money, components, items, etc.  If you take all of it, they will become disheartened, angry with you, and may even not want to play anymore.

You can still steal things!  But you have to use good judgment so that you can be a successful thief without making players mad, or being a jerk.

Here are some good rules of thumb:

10%

Only ever steal  (at most) 10% of what people have.  If they have 10 gold, steal one.  This means you have more money, and they can’t really be too angry.  It’s only one gold!

Never Big

If you see a bunch of items that someone has, never steal their coolest, best item.  They probably spent a lot of time getting that, and it will dishearten them Out-of-Game if you take it.

Yes, I understand that your character would take it, and I know that you think that they are bad role-players if they get upset, but you are wrong.  You, not your character, are being mean if you take someone’s favorite toy.  Take something else!  If you see a Staff of Blasting, a Pendant of Dodge, and The High Gift Of The Gods To Magey McMageinstine: take the staff or the pendant.  Leave them their awesome toy, so that they don’t get mad at you out-of-game.

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You want to be a rogue who can thieve and such, and you can!  Just make sure that you don’t alienate the other players at the game.  Get yourself a reputation as a good rogue, but also as an awesome player.

Costuming Comfortably

I think one of the more important things people need to realize when they are putting together a costume is needing to be comfortable. Though a wise woman once told me, “Beauty is pain and pain is beauty,” this doesn’t always have to be your mantra when it comes to costuming. There are plenty of ways to go about looking good without constant chaffing or inability to breathe.

Bigger May Be Better:
When it comes to shirts and pants, you may want to take into account that you might be LARPing in colder climates, this means you’re going to want to put layers under your costumes (Unless of course you have a winter costume in mind for your character – furs and heavier cloths make great winter clothing). Bigger sizes allows a good number of layers to easily fit underneath. Now, I’m not saying that if you’re a size small, you should be running around in an extra large shirt, I’m saying that your costume should maybe be a medium, in this case, so that you can at least put thermals on under it.
On another note of bigger being better, we have to take into account that we change size naturally. What may have fit us last summer may have gotten a little tighter after stuffing our face during the winter holidays. If you’re going through puberty, those pants that were a tad baggy last year MAY be up at your shins and that shirt may not fit your chest! Unless you know of someone that can alter your clothes, you may want to look into bigger clothes if you plan on playing your character for long periods of time.

Sexy Clothes:
Ladies, I know you wanna look hot (You’re girls doing the whole LARP thing, trust me, that’s hot enough for most nerd guys) but sometimes it’s just not comfortable to subject yourselves to the cold or strains on your body just to wear a corset or bodice. Well, correctly made corsets constrict your breathing and your flexibility. In the words of Madam Everglot: “Get those corsets laced properly! I can hear you speak without gasping.” Combat characters are difficult to play when you are passed out in the middle of the field like something out of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. If you are going to play a barmaid, sure, wear all the corsets you want, but I suggest a waist cincher or a bodice if you are going to play a fighter.

Shoes:
BOOTS! And broken-in ones at that. ALWAYS break in your boots before LARPing in them. Loafers make great shoes as well.

Accoutrements: 
Metal studs and eyelets look great on a costume but the backs can cut you like a thug from Camden. Be careful when dealing with them. Try to put these fancier layers on the outside of a costume.

Jewelry:
Earrings and necklaces look great on people in general but unless you want to get yourself caught on a tree or your earring ripped out of your ear, you may want to hold back from wearing them. Rings are usually okay to wear.

Layers:
I talk a lot about being cold at a LARP because I AM ALWAYS COLD. Be sure that you have thermals or under armor without logos (see previous post). If you’re a girl wearing long skirts, wear pants underneath. If you’re a guy, put some thermals under your poet shirt. If it were real life, you’d be bundled up. It’s nooooo fun being cold and having to sit near the fire the entire event.

Layers, if you do it right, also look good. Good layering: Warm layer (thermals/under armor), costume shirt, vest/armor, furs, cloak. Fur wraps around your ankles look great, too (over pants of course)! For girls a good layering example could be: Under armor layer, costume shirt, cincher and/or vest, in-game looking coat/furs/cloak. Skirts can be layers upon layers, especially if they are different lengths and colors, and pants can be worn underneath.

Summer:
In contrast, have a summer outfit or at least a light layer that you don’t mind wearing in the summer. A nice flowing shirt and a skirt or loose pants. Tight clothes are the enemy in the summer as they prevent the breathing of your body.

Extra Clothes:
Sooner or later, you’re going to get wet at a LARP. Be it rain, snow, sweat, lake, swamp, kiddie pool, or slip-n-slide mod, you’re gonna find yourself uncomfortable for a good amount of time unless you bring extra skivvies. “Baylee, what the heck are skivvies?” Skivvies are your undergarments: panties/boxers, bras/camisoles/a-shirts, and socks. THESE AREAS CHAFE WHEN WET! ANNNNNND no one likes sitting in them wet for too long. It can even cause disease! Bring extras of these! Always!

Comfy Cloths:
I have to say one of the most comfortable and versatile cloths to LARP in is broadcloth. It is a cheap cotton cloth that comes in EVERY COLOR and makes for great breathable costumes in the summer and easy to layer in the winter, that is if you’re looking to make your own costume. Cotton shirts, if you’re looking to buy, are more easily bought than most other fabrics.
Fleece is a loooooovely fabric for lining the inside of your cloaks. I think EVERYONE should have a lined cloak, single layers are mostly pointless as they don’t hold as much heat… ’cause let’s face it, that’s really the only reason you should be wearing a cloak or cape… Otherwise, “NO CAPES!”
Wool is one of those fabrics that you either like or you don’t. I know of people that have allergies to it, so you have to keep that in mind, but wool costumes are great for winter and if you indeed like the feeling of wool, go for it.
If you’re looking to go fancy and not particularly combat heavy, satin or costume silk feels lovely, however it does not hold warmth.
There are a number of interesting cloths to work with that are, sadly, not very comfortable. Canvas and burlap are not comfy fabrics at all, thicker cotton sometimes chafes especially if you have nothing on under it. The back side of fake fur is VERY itchy, so I suggest lining it with something. Velvet and crushed velvet are very pretty, and everyone seems to make capes and cloaks out of it, but I suggest lining it if you are going to make something because it does not hold heat at all.
On an anecdotal note: I once played a character who was a stand in for the God of Death. Her costume consisted of a black corset, a knee length skirt, and 5 inch heels. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Baylee, you broke all of your rules.”  I know, shut up. She ever showed up thrice, so, it didn’t matter. Well, the one time, it snowed. Lemme tell you how miserable I was sitting in the snow in that get up. All the cloaks in the world would not warm me up. Moral of the story, don’t do what I did.
Now, I’m not suggesting to run around in sweats and slippers, but players need to keep in mind that temperatures, body types, and moods change. The last thing you want to be is awake and cranky at 4 in the morning with only a short skirt and tank top to wear in the snow. If you have one scene where you have to look good no matter what, that’s understandable, but an entire event of that is miserable. Don’t subject yourself to miserable.

LURVE!
Baylee