Greetings From Mordavia America!


#1

Hey Gang,

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Matthew Reeks and I live in New Orleans, Louisiana in the U.S. I am 25-years-old and have been LARPing since I was 16. My four best friends and I discovered Mordavia NZ back in 2006 when we were in High School and fell in love with the system. Specifically we loved it’s simplicity, focus on immersion and character development. Well fast forward a bit. One year and three months ago we started our version of Mordavia with 11 players. Today we’re going strong with 60 players! It’s very exciting for us to see our community grow and we owe some much to Ryan Paddy and to the original Mordavia NZ Staff and Player Base. There was a time when one of my buddies was contacting Ryan Paddy via e-mail and he was giving us advice on starting our own game. I just wanted to touch base with part of community and say that the spirit of Mordavia thrives in the American South. I would also like to show anyone who’s interested what we’ve done. I hope this starts an interesting conversation.

Best wishes,
Matt Reeks


#2

Awesome! Since Mordavia finished in Auckland our community formed NZLARPs as a non-profit to help fund setup and other costs for games and create a gear library, meaning future games are easier to get going. As a result our community has had a huge amount of creative input into making and running a wide variety of games, thanks in no small part to Mordavia and inspiration we got from it. Hopefully your community follows suit, and by the sounds if it you will have no trouble drawing numbers - we’re only now breaking the 180 player mark for our biggest games, 8 years on from when you were here.


#3

That’s exactly what my compadres are doing with a company they’re running. It’s called LARWorks and it’s designed to do the very things you just described. I’m unsure if it was an original idea they had or if they were inspired by NZLARPs. Regardless, it’s awesome to see the similarities in the communities when we’re so far away geographically.


#4

Hey Matt, nice to hear from you. Great to hear that Mordavia and the conversations we had all those years back have made for a nice jumping-off point for you all. I had a browse through the photos in the LarpWorks group on Facebook, looks like you’re having a fun time!


#5

Woah, that’s really cool. We started a new Facebook page for Mordavia exclusively. That page is more up-to-date with more photos. It’s a closed group but I’m sure that if you ‘friend-ed’ the page (to be honest I personally don’t have a Facebook so I don’t know exactly how it works) one of our moderators would recognize your name and accept you. Yes sir we always have a blast whenever we run an episode of Mordavia.


#6

That’s so awesome to hear! :smiley:


#7

Question: what’s the food typically like at a NZ Larp?


#8

It ranges. Back in the day I remember some games had really budget food - spaghetti and toast - but that wasn’t the majority of games, and it kept us fed and going. Usually what happens is we hire a caterer (often someone connected with the community somehow) who designs a menu and that cost gets put into the budget, and the results have tended to ranged from good to fabulous. Sometimes the less complicated foods end up the best - I recall one Sunday morning breakfast being leftover dessert fruits turned into crumble, and it was the most amazing thing to wake up to! The caterer often brings a full time helper, and we usually cycle crew through to help with prep and players get rostered on each meal to help cleanup. There have been a handful of issues, sometimes things go wrong or caterers pull out or someone comes to the game with a major allergy that they didn’t tell anyone about, but nothing beyond what you might expect.

I know in the really large (4k+ people) games in Germany, by contrast, they bring heaps vendors to the games and people buy food with OOC money while they’re there (or bring their own). I’ve been wondering at what point that would be a reasonable option. For games at our size, probably not, but if the game gets up to several hundred participants than perhaps that might work.


#9

Interesting. I’m currently developing a new LARP that I want to have a very prominent survival atmosphere. One way I plan on doing this is to have no food provided by the game a force players to utilize their camping/foraging skills. Has anything like this been done in NZ and how was it received?


#10

There was a game that was thinking something along these lines, but it never got off the ground. For our steampunk campaign 33AR they have OOC meal because of the IC rationing situation.


#11

Well that leads to my next question. Here in the South the LARP culture is really base. Every boffer LARP that’s come into existence focuses on loot, beating badies, and gaining more power. Our group is trying to shift the current paradigm to a more character focused emotion driven mind frame. Now with that in mind I ask this community: when players are forced to rely on their actual skills to survive in LARP as opposed to stats on a character sheet how do they usually react?


#12

I suspect that depends a lot on gaming culture. We run annual conventions of three hour parlour style games in most of our major cities with pre-written characters and no mechanical character development, and this may have helped create a community who is open to the idea of character rather than mechanical or objective focused game advancement. We have also had a lot of one off or small campaigns focused on character development and story over the years, particularly horror games. Incorporating NPC’s from character backgrounds is also a useful technique for encouraging roleplaying rather than hack’n’slash, and works best with smaller player numbers (20-40) unless you have a very large GM team and a reasonable crew to player ratio.

My suggestion is be upfront about what you are offering. If you want to run a highly immersive, emotional LARP, aim small and build up from there. The more new and interesting things your community gets exposed to and like (or hear other people raving about and awesome photos) the more likely they are to try new and interesting things.

One thing which I think has been hugely successful in NZ is horror games. In a horror game you (should) expect your character to die, go mad or have some other unfortunate ending from the offset. This makes mechanical or power gaming character advancement rather irrelevant, as the tragedy of your characters story is really the highlight of the game.


#13

I think an OOC survivalist approach is interesting, but not especially linked to encouraging more roleplay. When people get hungry or uncomfortable it can actually make them less interested in roleplaying, because they get out of sorts.

Here are some steps we took in Mordavia in NZ to encourage roleplay:

  • Encouraged people to stay in character in the rules.
  • Encourage an attitude that it’s more fun for interesting, dramatic things to happen than for people’s characters to always get what they want. Even character death can be a great opportunity for roleplay.
  • Gave XP for people staying in character. Only a small amount, but it does draw people’s attention to it. It’s a hassle to administrate though and subjective, I don’t recommend it unless you really need a blunt instrument to get things started.
  • De-emphasised powering up in the rules. Simple rules, small power increases. So the larp doesn’t become about “winning” the game by accumulating power and mastering the rules.
  • Didn’t allow basic resources (e.g. treasure) to accumulate in the rules, used a “wealth” mechanic instead. This discourages a game-like attitude to NPCs where they are just resources to be harvested.
  • Encouraged players to create links between their characters in their backstories. Drama needs common ground to build from, people have to have overlapping interests. Can’t just be “we are all here to fight evil”.
  • Encouraged some degree of factionalisation in the players. That way characters have both their own interests and their groups’ interests to consider.
  • Encouraged players to write up backstories that linked them into the world with plenty of hooks, dark secrets, enemies, etc.
  • Created NPCs that knew about the players personal stories and were tied to them.
  • Encouraged our crew to embellish their NPCs into believable characters with their own backstories and interests, not 2 dimensional stereotypes who just serve a purpose for the PCs. Encourage stories linking NPCs together, and into the setting.

Mostly it’s about setting the tone that this is the kind of game you want to run.


#14

If you’re talking about survival as “find your own food and build your own shelter or you’ll be cold and hungry”, I think that that kind of difficulty, as previously mentioned, can interfere with roleplay. It is not fun being genuinely cold and hungry for an extended period of time and it affects mood and willingness to engage with plot… unless the plot has hot drinks and chocolate attached to it, that’ll always work!

If, however, you mean surviving as “your character can only fight as well as you can” we have had “WYSIWYG” games which have very little in the way of rules. If you can accurately fire a nerf gun and you have one to bring, then your character can be a sharpshooter. If you can swing a sword and defend yourself against another sword, great, you can be a fighter. If you’re very charismatic and can talk your way into or out of situations, awesome. But there aren’t any rules that will allow you to say that you’re good at something and people have to roll with it.
They can work very well. They’re simple. About all you have to know is how many times you can get hit with something before you fall down, and the rest is roleplay.

If you’ve got players that open fire before even saying ‘hi’ to your important npcs, make sure that those deaths have real consequences to the story of your game. Make it hurt, and they’ll probably stop doing it. :smiley:
I did exactly that in one game and accidentally created a nemesis that caused me problems for the entire campaign. He came back from the dead, kind of p***ed off that I interrupted his monologue with a hail of gunfire.

I think once you experience the emotionally intense kind of roleplay where your character has to make terrible choices, or suffer loss and experience the consequences of their actions, plain old hack ‘n’ slash just doesn’t cut it anymore. I hope you can get that style off the ground! :slight_smile:


#15

+1 for what Ryan said.

They tend to design characters that play to their strengths. Here in NZ, most fantasy larps don’t have rules that make you a better swordsperson - you can either fight well with melee weapons or you can’t. So the fighter characters tend to be the the better fighters (or else willing to put in some kind of effort to improve). Those that are not naturally good fighters tend to find other roles (e.g. battle magik, support roles such as healing), or they join a party with a backstory that means that the party will protect them even though they aren’t of any particular use in combat. One group I was in had a non-combat lawyer PC.

On of the things about high powerup games is that the players derive status from the power of their PC, which makes it a focus for some/most players. Here we tend to have more gradual development, so status generally comes from being a quality roleplayer - which includes an element of having good costume and gear, but that in turn depends on the overall level of quality in the community. Ours has certainly developed massively since I started larping in the mid 90s.


#16

One of the things that I’ve always found encouraged role playing was to have some game time in the evening that didn’t have any combat encounters scheduled. A time where the players can sit around a camp fire and relax in character; a chance to sing, dance and enjoy some wine and cheese with friends.

I always enjoyed the Mordavia ruleset. The rules tightly reflect the feel of the campaign and most people can grasp them with a quick read through. I think it really is “a larpers larp”.


#17

For new NZ larpers who are wondering what this Mordavia thing is, the original website is archived here (apart from the forum):

nzlarps.org/mordavia


#18

This is some good stuff ya’ll. Thanks everyone for their input. This won’t be the last you’ll hear from me. From the U.S. much love!

Stay Vamped,
Matt Reeks