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A can of worms...

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Penthesilea View Drop Down
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    Posted: 06 September 2002 at 12:00am
I’m a newbie but my check should be in Boulder by now so I’m gonna risk opening a can of worms.  Right now I have two tabs open on my browser. One is set to IFGS -- obviously -- and the other is set to the NERO site. Comparing the list of NERO chapters to the list of IFGS chapters, it looks like NERO is the more successful organization. Whether or not it is more successful is open to debate. The point is, to the person who may be looking for a LARP organization to join they look more successful. Since people tend to go with success whenever possible, they will go with NERO. They might not even look closely at IFGS. I know that the fact that NERO has an Indiana chapter listed caught my interest. I went with IFGS because I bought the V. 6.8 rule book years ago and enjoyed it. If I hadn’t already been familiar with the IFGS, I probably would have contacted NERO which brings me to the “wormy” questions.

What are the NERO people doing that the IFGS isn’t?

What can we, the IFGS, do to counter their apparent advantage?

And the real “wormy” question. The IFGS is not for profit. NERO is for profit as near as I can tell. If that is what makes all the difference, should the IFGS change its status in order to compete? And if it does, how would we go about it?
 
That should be enough to get the discussion “ball” rolling.




 
 

Edited by Penthesilea - 07 September 2007 at 10:40am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Malrubius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2002 at 12:00am
I'll go....

NERO is for profit, which, as I understand it, means that a single person, or perhaps a group of folks control their chapter.

NERO, so far as I know, mostly runs (what we IFGSers would call) "World Course" events. Everybody wanders around at basically the same time.

So that said I wonder how many of their chapters are active.

I suspect they've lowered their barriers of entry. If you pay them money, you own your chapter, and you can start running events.

In IFGS you'd have to be ratified\certified by our Board, which has a list of requirements (as I understand it).
As a "provisional" chapter prior to that you can't really sanction your own games.

In IFGS the sanctioning of games seems to be a significant stumbling block that I do not think NERO chapters have to deal with (though I could easily be wrong about that).

So there's that aspect. I suspect in NERO you can slap down some cash, announce an event, and start gaming. Barrier of entry.

As far as countering their advantage....I don't know. It's a chicken egg problem. You can't run games if there is no chapter. Similarly if there is no chapter you can't play IFGS. Since starting a chapter seems (and I could be wrong) more difficult in IFGS that places a certain limit on how fast we can expand.

Also as I understand it our games seem a bit more work intensive than theirs. Certainly you can run no-prop IFGS games, world courses even, but the production seems more work intensive.

If there is nobody to run games, or if the folks that "always" run games get tired of doing that (burn out), then...no games, no chapter, no growth. I'd imagine that having direct control over your entire game world (or section thereof) and also a profit motive (though I can't imagine NERO is a huge money maker for folks) is more of an incentive for folks. Particularly if they don't have to deal with sanctioning.

I can't see what making IFGS a for-profit org would do to change any of those factors.

For reference: I've been in IFGS 15+ years. I've played games in 3 states and in at least 6 chapters. I've never held a chapter or society board position. I have been involved in the sanctioning side for 10+ years.

Thanks for the post! Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Billco Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2002 at 12:00am
Darn you Jonas...you beat me to the punch Smile.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Gladius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2002 at 12:00am
As a side note the NERO Colorado website seems to be down. I don't know if that's an indication of their inactivity or not. There is apparently a new chapter in Nebraska though :)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Malrubius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2002 at 12:00am
However, you said it so much more eloquently. Big%20smile
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Penthesilea Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2002 at 12:00am
Thanks, guys. I can see where slapping down the cash required for a "franchise" would be a lot easier than getting together a group and organizing a chapter. Maybe one of the first things we need to do is make it easier for like minded individuals to find each other. Playing up the opportunities to "create", be it costumes, props, stories or whatever, would probably be worthwhile. Now, me, I write -- Crom's toenails! Do I write! -- but because of my family situation producing is pretty much out of the question. The thing is, with the IFGS, I don't know where to start in terms of what the "world" is like. I have my own world that I write in which I created when a thread of mine on another site took on a life of its own. It is very flexible in terms of what can be done -- anything basically -- but not all game worlds are that way. We might be able to get more stories in the inventory if we had a "World Book" or at least, a "World Outline." Is there something like that lurking around that I've overlooked?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Ray Appling Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2002 at 12:00am
Each IFGS chapter has their own world, and within that chapter you will also find game designers that write what we call closed world games. Closed world games will differ from the chapter world.  In the IFGS as a game writer, you are free to write within or outside of your chapter's world lore.  It's of course encouraged to write within the world lore of the chapter but it's not required.  In Colorado, our world is "Land of the Seven Tribes".  Someone set up a wiki on that.  Check it out here.

http://db.ifgs.org/mediawiki-1.6.5/index.php?title=Main_Page

As a side note, I tend to think of the IFGS as a quality rather than quantity organization.  Quality for me means consistent game play across chapters and role-playing balance.  Our games tend to encourage role-playing not just fighting bad guys or each other.  I love fighting, but I love role-playing more.  I want a story to submerge in.  Playing the IFGS well takes skill. I like it's complexities over other systems too simplistic combat.  On the other hand I also agree with Bill that I think our combat could be toned down a bit and still be challenging.  (ie. Smaller numbers used, less in your head math).

I’ve been in the IFGS since 1991 and in that time I’ve seen games in 4 or 5 different chapters.  While there are chapter differences in rules interpretation or what I think of as “house rules” for that chapter, the game is the same which makes it great for cross country travel to different chapters.  I’ve seen heavy combat games that take you from combat to combat, and I’ve seen games where it was all mental and involved role-playing your way through it rather than beating everything in your path.  Each game has its own flavor and story depending on the writer and the how the game was produced.  I’ve seen games with castles and dragons actually built as full size props and games with hardly any props at all and you had to use your imagination (which is sometimes better if you have a good GM).

Unfortunately, I can’t speak from personal experience regarding NERO, Vampire, Amtgard or other LARPs to compare. 

I personally believe where IFGS needs help is promotions.  We need a more public presence.  Since we’ve been around since 1981, I consider us a success regardless of our current numbers.  We’re still around and producing games after 26 years. That’s saying something.  We were one of the first LARPs in the world. (not saying THE first since there may have been another one.  This is based on the interview with John Cade some years ago I did for “The Chainmail”.) I think we’ll be producing games for years after other LARPs fold. Our downfall really is promotions; getting new members.  We have the experience, the staying power, but a dwindling membership base.  Why?  Most people I know in the IFGS joined and have stayed long term.  People tend to stay till they either got married/had kids, moved out of state, or had a job that interfered with the hobby or, simply burned out.  If membership isn’t growing and eventually people leave for what ever reason, then numbers will decline if you’re not actively seeking new members to replace them.



Edited by Ray_ - 06 September 2007 at 9:25pm
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Penthesilea Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2002 at 12:00am
There is no question that we need better promotion. The YouTubes that have been going up are a good idea. Another thought I had was that first person accounts of what it was like to participate in a game -- both "in game" and "out" -- would be interesting to read, especially if someone had no idea what LARP is all about.
On the writing front: how much similarity is there between "chapter worlds?" I'm thinking that if there were major differences between "worlds" it would be difficult for a game to move between chapters without a lot of revisions. Too many revisions and it becomes easier to start from scratch. [Note to self: Put on research hat and start digging...]
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Ray Appling Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2002 at 12:00am
Originally posted by Penthesilea

There is no question that we need better promotion. The YouTubes that have been going up are a good idea. Another thought I had was that first person accounts of what it was like to participate in a game -- both "in game" and "out" -- would be interesting to read, especially if someone had no idea what LARP is all about.


Already on that actually.  I have video with interviews from players on that subject.  I have a video project in the works specifically for promotions.  Funding the project has slowed me down though since it relies on my personal finances to do it. (IFGS isn't funding the project... though I wish they would)  Prices on software has come down though and being a full time student again has it's advantages.  =)  So I actually see light at the end of the tunnel to actually pursue the project again.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Malrubius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 September 2002 at 12:00am
Originally posted by Penthesilea


On the writing front: how much similarity is there between "chapter worlds?" I'm thinking that if there were major differences between "worlds" it would be difficult for a game to move between chapters without a lot of revisions. Too many revisions and it becomes easier to start from scratch. [Note to self: Put on research hat and start digging...]


I'm not sure what you mean here. Can you expand on what you are asking about?

There're no "revisions" going from chapter to chapter. The local game world is just another world.
Like Greyhawk vs. Forgotten Realms vs. you own custom creation.

What is it you think would be revised?

If you mean the nature of the plot of the game as it interfaces to a chapters world...it's rarely an issue and not a large stumbling block in any case that I've ever seen.

Have you been to an IFGS event yet? Or a weapons practice?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Penthesilea Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 September 2002 at 12:00am
Originally posted by Malrubius

Originally posted by Penthesilea


On the writing front: how much similarity is there between "chapter worlds?" I'm thinking that if there were major differences between "worlds" it would be difficult for a game to move between chapters without a lot of revisions. Too many revisions and it becomes easier to start from scratch. [Note to self: Put on research hat and start digging...]


I'm not sure what you mean here. Can you expand on what you are asking about?

There're no "revisions" going from chapter to chapter. The local game world is just another world.
Like Greyhawk vs. Forgotten Realms vs. you own custom creation.

What is it you think would be revised?

If you mean the nature of the plot of the game as it interfaces to a chapters world...it's rarely an issue and not a large stumbling block in any case that I've ever seen.

Have you been to an IFGS event yet? Or a weapons practice?


My writing question referred to specifics inherent in the "world." Basically, how general versus how specific should an adventure intended (hopefully) for production by more than one chapter be? For instance, the world I'm currently writing in makes heavy use of gremlins. If I were to write an adventure in my world, with gremlins playing an important part, they would have to be replaced with something similar if the adventure was to be used in a world where gremlins don't exist. How much work that would be would undoubtedly influence whether or not the adventure was produced.

And no, I haven't attended any events yet. As near as I can tell, the nearest active chapter is in Wisconsin. That is a bit of a road trip since I am located south of Indianapolis.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Malrubius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 September 2002 at 12:00am
Not so much actually. Certainly any given person submitting a game to a local sanctioning committee could change whatever they wanted but there is no continuity between...anything really.

You see the games ARE the world. If you write a game featuring gremlins then there are gremlins. If another chapter (with your permission) takes your game and makes them all "magical mutants", then there are magical mutants.

There is no plot committee, nor a world committee.

It's one of the things, which I think Bill alluded to, that is unique about IFGS, the writer is creating the game world.

It's unusual for games to be run in multiple chapters by the same people. So generally what you see is a person taking a game through their local sanctioning and that will produce differences in the game script but there's no *need* to adapt or alter things.

If it's in the game copy, and the game runs, then "it" (whatever it is) exists by virtue of that.

Dragons, Cat People, anthropomorphic Toad people, technologically advanced raiders from across the sea, Xaosian Symbiosi, whatever you want.

The specifics inherent in the world are the games that run in the world. If the elements introduced in a game are popular (in either a good or bad way (I'm still waiting for a game where I can kill me some Avendarians for example)) then they'll appear in other games by other writers.

If you intent to write games that would be available to be run in multiple chapters then it's best to keep them to a fairly basic story line that could happen "any where" in the standard fantasy realms.

If "some peasants" are having trouble with a "dragon" eating their sheep and torching their crops, then it can run anywhere since most worlds feature peasants and dragons. When the game is put through the local sanctioning process the person re-running the game would be able to alter those details as they saw fit.

It could be "the people of the Southern Marshes", it could be "A Fiery Hallock" instead of a dragon, and so forth.

Does that help answer your question?


Edited by Malrubius - 07 September 2007 at 10:31am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Penthesilea Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 September 2002 at 12:00am
Yep. "Keep It Simple, Silly! And save the Blackhawk helicopters and gremlin piloted airships verses the orcs and cave trolls for the fiction writing!" LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Malrubius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 September 2002 at 12:00am
Or you could put them in there. More interesting and unique games are more likely to be run else where.

Anybody can slap together the aforementioned "X hires you to do Y", and because of that there's not a lot of reason to keep generating essentially "the same" content.

More weird and unusual game structures are really the fun parts.
Plots and critter stats and so forth are less relevant in my opinion compared to the underlying game structures.

IFGS offers a PC focused experience. So the experience will be more enjoyable if it's not "the same" as previous experiences. The differences could be expressed in many ways. Different kinds of puzzles (tangrams or surgical tubing knots, instead of riddles and color combination puzzles). Different kinds of fights\encounters.


Certainly until you've seen a few games, from both the PC and NPC sides, looked at a few game scripts, watched a few games run from the production side, it's hard to grasp how the IFGS as a organization works.
In my opinion at least.

It's not like what I understand of NERO, nor does it really resemble "table top" gaming, even tho it's much like "module" based gaming (ie, a team, a series of encounters, a plot) because of multiple teams going thru games at the same time, production\stacking\logistics issues.

I think we've got some games in the SSC section of the IFGS.org site, you might read through some of them, or try the Game Writers Handbook, which is a bit out of date, but still quite useful.


EDIT: some examples:

You could have a Were-Panther (Forvalaka) that is SO fast that the PCs are required to fight at "half speed".

You could further buy some waste meat from a grocer and spread it around the encounter site a few days ahead of time, so that it's nice and rank by the time of the game.

You could further built a "den" for the creature so that the team has the experience of creeping in there, not sure where the critter might be, when it might attack.

Or you could just have a guy in a field under a tree who jumps up and attacks the team when he sees them.

They would be "the same" encounter, but one will be better remembered, and produce a more intense experience for the players.

So it's both writing and implementation.

Or you could write the were-panther speed using different mechanisms. Give them a high level Free Strike every few seconds. Give them the ability to use Monks Speed to enter and leave the combat area. High level Disengage from fighters.

This would give a different feel than "PCs move at half speed" (which is more commonly used for low level undead in games. Zombies move at half-speed for example (except the DJZs (Dreaded Jogging Zombies, which sucker you in by doing their shambling half-speed walk, until you get in range, then they sprint\charge)) but it's still the same thing.

Things like that.






Edited by Malrubius - 07 September 2007 at 10:54am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Penthesilea Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 September 2002 at 12:00am
I'm definitely in "research mode" right now. I'll probably be downloading like mad over the next few weeks. I've already downloaded "The Game Designers Manual Vol. 4" for reading while we're on vacation. 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Penthesilea Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 September 2002 at 12:00am
Originally posted by Malrubius

Or you could put them in there. More interesting and unique games are more likely to be run else where.

Anybody can slap together the aforementioned "X hires you to do Y", and because of that there's not a lot of reason to keep generating essentially "the same" content.

More weird and unusual game structures are really the fun parts.
Plots and critter stats and so forth are less relevant in my opinion compared to the underlying game structures.

IFGS offers a PC focused experience. So the experience will be more enjoyable if it's not "the same" as previous experiences. The differences could be expressed in many ways. Different kinds of puzzles (tangrams or surgical tubing knots, instead of riddles and color combination puzzles). Different kinds of fights\encounters.


Certainly until you've seen a few games, from both the PC and NPC sides, looked at a few game scripts, watched a few games run from the production side, it's hard to grasp how the IFGS as a organization works.
In my opinion at least.

It's not like what I understand of NERO, nor does it really resemble "table top" gaming, even tho it's much like "module" based gaming (ie, a team, a series of encounters, a plot) because of multiple teams going thru games at the same time, production\stacking\logistics issues.

I think we've got some games in the SSC section of the IFGS.org site, you might read through some of them, or try the Game Writers Handbook, which is a bit out of date, but still quite useful.


EDIT: some examples:

You could have a Were-Panther (Forvalaka) that is SO fast that the PCs are required to fight at "half speed".

You could further buy some waste meat from a grocer and spread it around the encounter site a few days ahead of time, so that it's nice and rank by the time of the game.

You could further built a "den" for the creature so that the team has the experience of creeping in there, not sure where the critter might be, when it might attack.

Or you could just have a guy in a field under a tree who jumps up and attacks the team when he sees them.

They would be "the same" encounter, but one will be better remembered, and produce a more intense experience for the players.

So it's both writing and implementation.

Or you could write the were-panther speed using different mechanisms. Give them a high level Free Strike every few seconds. Give them the ability to use Monks Speed to enter and leave the combat area. High level Disengage from fighters.

This would give a different feel than "PCs move at half speed" (which is more commonly used for low level undead in games. Zombies move at half-speed for example (except the DJZs (Dreaded Jogging Zombies, which sucker you in by doing their shambling half-speed walk, until you get in range, then they sprint\charge)) but it's still the same thing.

Things like that.






Definitely something to think about. If you really wanted to get creative -- or insane, take your pick! LOL -- you could have a massive paper drive and then build an entire "lair complex" out of chicken wire and paper-mache. It would have to be made in sections so it could be transported to the site, of course. And waterproofed and painted but those are minor details....Wink  [Goes off thinking of ways to make Game Producers hate her......]
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