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We've got a local LARP group in my area and we've been struggling with getting a good set of core rules. We've borrowed for a few system, but none of them seem to fit exactly what we want to do. Either the system is too battle-focused or too rules heavy. We're looking for a system that's rules-lite but provides for melee, ranged attacks, and some sort of magic system, but doesn't interfere with the actually playing of roles?

We never picked one system to follow closely, we've also had our own home-brew system. The problem we constantly ran into was that the system either depended too much on melee combat, leaving the magic users weak and useless, or overpowered the magic users, making the melee combantants feel useless. When we worked on trying to balance everything the rules just exploded and got overly complicated, making it no fun for anyone trying to roleplay a character. Therefore we don't want to roll our own, we want to use a more tried and true one.

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@DForck42 Well it's not a system so much as a stakes resolution mechanic that can be used bare or hacked into a larger system, but here it is: Otherkin Dice (uses plain d6s, despite the possible reading of the name to imply otherwise). What's good about it is that it only comes in when you try something that everyone else won't just grant you, and it makes you think about what exactly you're going for, what you're risking for it, and what your priorities are. –  SevenSidedDie Aug 28 '11 at 17:58

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It sounds like you're doing boffer-larp; you might try a different style of LARP entirely. The broad styles of LARP generally boil down to:

  • Boffer LARP - combat handled by use of rebated or simulated weapons
  • Tabletop Derived LARP - Combat handled by game mechanics without acting it out.
  • Social-only LARP - no combat permitted, often no rules mechanics, either.

Boffer LARP is hard to balance between wizards and warriors, in no small part due to the rapid pace of combat, the tendency of wizardly types to be less able physically, and the psychology of people willing to get hit with large objects (even if they are foam). AMTGuard is well accepted as a fairly balanced ruleset; if it doesn't work, it says a lot about your player group...

Several of the no-weapon/no-contact LARPs are derived from tabletop gaming, and are pretty well balanced; the ones I'm familiar with, however, are not classic tolkienian fantasy.

Systems I know work:

  • The Masquerade
  • Live Action L5R
  • Comme Il Fault (Expansion giving LARP mechanics) & Castle Falkenstein (Core TT RPG)

Both CF and Masquerade can be found in PDF on drivethrurpg.com. I believe L5R Live Action can be as well.

All three handle combats as a series of mechanical resolutions, rather than being done in character, thus making balance much easier to obtain.

Social Only LARPS include such things as How To Host A Mystery... and most of the online shared storytelling, such as Storm Fires Weyr.

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Could a group-level solution work? For example, setting up sessions with different goals in mind - splitting the fighting out into fighting sessions, magic out into magic sessions and taking the roleplaying separately? –  blueberryfields Aug 27 '11 at 23:35
@blueberry that would, in LARP terms, be three separate games, not one. It looks like the issue is that some of the players are into the battle portion (which is both wizards and warriors in the rules for Amtgard), but that they are, as is typical of Amtgard, not setting non-combat activities up well. It's a VERY common issue with boffer-larp - the Roleplay is usually "in camp" more than "in action". And, like the SCA, such groups tend to center everything around the combat activities; better groups have some non-combat stuff, too, but combat is the main focus. –  aramis Aug 28 '11 at 7:10
Masquerade is a horribly imbalanced system. The nWoD series is a much better choice from a balance perspective. –  Axle Oct 3 '13 at 15:03

There are two systems that I would propose using.

The NERO LARP game system has been running for some number of years, but I'm not sure of any legal requirements if you are running a non-sanctioned game. It balances fighters and mages fairly well, though there is sometimes the complaint that fighters can fight all day and mages can only engage in so many encounters.

The Alyrnic System is free to use and is fairly short. It does not account for any form of advancement, however. It attempts to balance warrior, rogue, and mage classes for relatively short (<10 minute) combat encounters. This system is loosely based upon both NERO and the Accelerant System, which is described elsewhere, but it aims for an even more succinct rules set.

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The Accelerant System has gained quite a bit of popularity locally. It's being used for Madrigal (a traditional fantasy LARP), Endgame (a post-apocalyptic sci-fi LARP), and Seven Virtues, a game that seems to meet many of your interests. The rules are free to download, and they're worth examining.

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The Accelerant System has been lauded as being very good at both being immersive and as having a small rules set (that still grants plot an world-builders a LOT of freedom). If I recall correctly, the rules themselves take up less than 40 pages. –  corvec Dec 2 '11 at 15:21

Here's a system my local group used. You need xp bands to level up, the higher your current level, the more bands required. You can look and tell how high someone is by looking at their level belt, a yellow strip is a single level, an orange strip is 10 levels, and a red strip is 100 levels (Or other colors if yellow, orange, and red don't suit you. Bronze, Silver, and Gold works) Every level, you gain a skill point that you can use to upgrade a weapon or armor. You can visually tell how powerful someones weapons are by looking at them, if they have a barky look to them, like trees, no points spent, if they're bronzey colored, 1-5 points spent, silver 6-10, gold 11-15, gem, divine, etc. And to tell which specific level it is, it has a secondary color, being white for 1, light gray for 2, gray for 3, dark gray for 4, black for 5. So if someone is swinging around a golden sword with a gray lining or hilt, I can tell its a level 13. Thats the weapons and armor system. Magic is a different topic. For Magic, you have different types of magic, and spending points DOESNT affect spells, it simply allows you to unlock them. And its universal for the players to know the damage and effects of each spell. So keep the amount of spells short so that there wont have to be too much memorizing. And Mana, each spell has a mana cost, and a cast time, for example... Lightning Bolt, has a cast time of 3, and a mana cost of 5, the mage would say "Casting 1, 2, 3. Lightning Bolt!" And then reach for their mana bands and do something to show that the mana bands are used, like tuck them into a belt or something. Thats about it.

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