NELCO 2017 topics

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NELCO is an annual larp conference in New England, run by NEIL (New England Interactive Literature). They’ve just put up the list of topics for their 2017 conference.A few look interesting:

  • GMing for Newbies: about games which are easy for new GM’s to run. In NZ we seem to have a few default choices already (Donna’s games seem popular, as are the ones from Freeform Games. Any others?).
  • Forensic GMing: about the art of interpreting someone else’s incomplete game files to get a runnable game.
  • Flexible Casting in Theater LARPs: about the art of writing characters to get flexible game sizes. There’s a couple of obvious solutions: modular design (as seen in The Bell), or “clip-on characters” (used in my additions to Flight of the Hindenburg); are there any others.

Some of these might eventually end up on LARP Out of Character, and it’ll be interesting to see what their solutions are.

They’ll also be doing a talk about Game Wrap, and presumably launching volume 2?


There are some other techniques I’ve used or seen:
Redundancy in Character Design - multiple characters are trying to investigate a mystery/have information relevant to the mystery - if one is missing, your game will still run OK
Cast on the Day - works well with character clusters or redundancy in the design - you can tell people “at least one of these 3 characters needs to be cast”, or remove superfluous clusters based on the actual player count with no one having time to bond (but it does mean having a costume-light/no player prep game)
Crew - put in some slots for entertaining minor characters; if you have any no shows use your crew members to costume up and provide info/trigger plotlines as needed
Leader of the Pack - write some mini-factions (like 3 or 4 characters) with a leader character to be played by an experienced and generous larper. Put one or two of your newbies in the pack - they’ll be mentored in game by their leader and be carried along by their group goal if they’re feeling a little overwhelmed by their individual plotlines. Also copes well with one or two no-shows, so you can cast someone where there is doubt about their attendance as one of the Pack characters as a placeholder, or just leave a gap in your casting and put any last minute attendees in there.


Redundancy is a good general principle. Just like vital information has to be in multiple places if you want it to come out, having extra people looking (though not necessarily for the same purpose) can ensure that stuff happens and give you some flexibility.

Cast-on-the-day works for some games and not others. You need light or modern costumes, and quick character sheets (or dedicated reading time, as in The Bell). It does give you a huge amount of flexibility however.

Using crew as a small horde or crowd to play uncast characters as needed is useful, and its also recommended by Freeform Games to give some flexibility with their larger scenarios.


Please tell me about Donna’s games and the Freeform games – what makes them popular choices?


Availability helps :slight_smile: But Freeform Games larps are very much aimed at the non-gamer market (they call them “murder mysteries” and target the office party market), so they have very good information on logistics and running the game. They also have accessible themes (pirates, gangsters, westerns), so its one of the default recommendations to people.

Checking, Donna’s stuff (“Graduation Day” and “Down and out in Middenburg”) gets run for new players, not necessarily by new GM’s. And that’s a combination of availability, accessible themes and light content (they’re both fantasy comedies).

Recently I’ve also been recommending “on Display” to new GMs, since its pretty easy for new players and has a low GM workload. I’m waiting to see if it actually gets run again by anyone here though.

(Chimera’s archives are currently offline for a website update, otherwise I’d be trawling for news GM’s running other people’s games to get some more data).