A Case Against Turn-Based LARP Combat

How rules can help or hinder immersion and resolution in parlor-style LARPs which have traditionally used turn-based methods.


Recently, I started attending my local Mind’s Eye Society Vampire: The Masquerade game (Domain of Mysts/San Francisco). It’s fun so far, I like the staff of the game and people are very friendly. But, it still uses a turn based combat system with a several hundred page rulebook and it made me remember that these exist. 

This article is about mechanics. It is also largely academic since these mechanics are outside of the jurisdiction of the local staff unless all players involved in a scene agree. 

It is my belief that two of the most common complaints about vampire, the opposing concepts of “vampire superhero” and “killbox as a strategy”, are cultural issues that can be traced back to mechanical problems. 

Continue reading “A Case Against Turn-Based LARP Combat”

Regarding Plot and Dropped Information

This post is primarily discussing long-running games that have strong staff-directed plot components. Think most ongoing vampire games like MES, NERO/Alliance/etc, that sort of thing. This doesn’t apply as strongly to short run games, let alone one-shots.

Introduction: The Core Problem

Every single game I have been in has run into the problem of plot threads being dropped or information lost by players, except one, which I’ll talk about later. This wouldn’t be too big an issue if it didn’t result in players feeling helpless, lost, or ineffectual. 

It is also frustrating for staff running plots. They drop all these hints, that go… nowhere. The players don’t put the picture together. They don’t register that they just got a juicy, plot-defining piece of information, or they do understand it and then hoard it. It’s frustrating and often leads staff to continue the plot as originally written, letting consequences pile up. 

This in turn can frustrate players more, since they are suddenly punished for things that they feel are outside their control. It’s rarely possible for players to discourage plot-hoarding. Staff often attempts to by directing information (often referred to generally as “plot” in many games) towards players who spread it around. However, this requires that staff do more work figuring out exactly who is sharing what with who, and is fallible. 

Continue reading “Regarding Plot and Dropped Information”

On Being “In-Character”


(CN Note: mention of IC sexual assault, violence, and death.)

Some discussions came up at the last NERO BANE event regarding what it means to be in-character and restraints on in-character actions, and on the drive home I remembered this article about the harm done by the concept of IC vs. OOC as a measure of worth. I think it aligns fairly well with my perspective, and has a lot of good conversation fodder. I’m going to expand on my thoughts on it in this post

After years of gaming, including in games that attempted to enforce very strict rules about IC vs. OOC motivations, that made emotional bleed a taboo subject, that had no rules regarding consenting to stories or scenes, I realized that the environment I had come from was the cause of a lot of grief. The habits I picked up there had negatively affected players in those games and later ones. I disregarded their out of character feelings and even what made a good story, because I had learned that “in-character” actions were always justified.

Continue reading “On Being “In-Character””