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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
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@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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This is a basic overview of a LARP that I invented. Over the past three years we have had a total of around 65 people play and so far everyone has loved it.

If you would like a more detailed rule-set, you can contact me at www.ranescalf@rocketmail.com.


Honor

The realm is based on the honor system.

When in combat, you do not call the other person out or you will be disqualified.

Asking a question is never discouraged, however arguing is strictly forbidden — if you believe that a person is cheating, you must approach one of the arbiters and voice your concerns.

There are three arbiters of disputes, and one balancer. If there is a problem or dispute one of the three arbiters can be approached at any time even during a game, and asked to resolve the problem. If the arbiters are unsure how to settle a dispute, the balancer has the last say in how the problem might be handled.

Characters

The realm features a wide variety of characters. Everyone that participates in the realm is able to go however in-depth they want. A dynamic character evolves through the course of the story or novel. A static character does not. A round character is fully developed so that the reader has a good picture of their looks and personality. A flat character, or stock character, is like a filler — somebody who plays a role but has no personality that is pertinent to the story.

Everyone that chooses a character who decides to write out their character, will gain the full benefit of the realm. Everyone that creates a character, will have their character used in all of the different stories that the balancer and the three arbiters come up with.

Everyone has the option of advancing their character even if their character is not the character they're currently using. If, for instance, you're playing as an evil warrior, your primary character that you created is gaining experience as well. So that no matter who you are playing as, you will always be gaining experience for your chosen class.

After you pass a certain level with your character, you gain the ability to become a legendary character. After level 25 but before level 50 you have the option to go on legendary quest, that the balancer and the three arbiters custom make for you.

EXP

Experience is one of the cornerstones of your character. Your character will gain experience as they wander the realm, whether your character is a combat oriented character, Whether your character focuses on interaction with other players, Or whether your character focuses on exploration and scouting, Your character will gain experience for all these things and more.

When you kill an enemy and when you complete a quest, When you give a quest, when you make important decisions that could affect the outcome of the game, all these things will give you experience.

Ultimately all experience is allocated by the balancer, So if the balancer believes that you made difficult decisions and stayed true to your character he might allocate you more experience, if however you behaved rash and foolishly and without rhyme and reason, you may gain less experience.

You're encouraged to create a character, and stick with the basic feel for that character, if you choose to do something, there needs to be a reason and the story behind it.

If for example the holy warrior of light and honor all the sudden, decides to slay an entire town, there had better be a very good reason. If you go about making important decisions randomly, then you might be penalized, all of your choices should come from whatever your character would do in the same situation.

Combat

Combat in the realm is hard, fast, and brutal. If that's what you want.

All combat is based off the three point rule, because all players start at level one with three health.

The three point rule is; limbs no modifier, torso plus one modifier, head plus two modifier.

All weapons start at one damage, and as the different classes gain proficiency with the different weapons, the damage increases.

For instance, a level one barbarian does one damage with a battle axe, a level five barbarian does two damage with a battle axe, and a level 20 barbarian does three damage with a battle axe, so, for instance, you have a level one barbarian who strikes your arm, it will do one damage,
If you have a level five barbarian strike your arm, it will deal two damage,
If you have a level 20 barbarian strike your arm it will deal three damage.
And if a level one barbarian strikes your chest, it deals two damage,
If a level five barbarian strikes your chest, will it deals three damage, and if a level 20 barbarian strikes your chest, it will deal 4 damage.

So your head is your most important body part, your chest is next, and your arms and legs take the least damage, But your head and your torso can not be crippled, while your arms and legs can.

The first strike to an arm or leg is a flesh wound, the second strike to the same arm or leg, is a crippling blow, and the third shot removes the land entirely. The reason for this is to balance powerful characters, with low level characters, because even a powerful character with 15 health can have his wings clipped, so to speak.

Well all magic and weapons works essentially the same way, by applying damage to a specific part of your body, And there is no restrictions for weapons, if the wizard wants to go into combat with a war hammer he is more than able to, but a wizard would only deal one damage with a war hammer for he does not have any heavy weapon proficiency, but if a barbarian wishes to use a essence sphere to hurl back at a Mage, he can throw the sphere, but it will have no magic associate with it.

In the same way, a barbarian who picks up a dagger will only do one damage with it, If the level 20 weapons master picks up the dagger, he will deal two damage with it.

In combat if you feel a blow you are honor bound to call it. The stipulation is that a blow to the head should be light, but a blow to the body should be firm. Therefore, any blows that are considered light or glancing on the body should not be counted, any blows that are firm and direct will always be counted, if it is found out that you are without honor, then you will be ejected from the realm and not allowed to return.

The classes

When you first enter the realm one of the first things you should do, is create a character. The best way to do this is to select a class and a race simultaneously.

Picking a class is an important decision, the characters class not only defines their combat abilities, but also sometimes their role in the realm.

If you pick a class and decide that you no longer wish to play the class, then the class will go into a file ready to be used as a static character class in the future. Whenever you make a secondary character, and you gain experience, you can select which character the experience goes to.

If you have a cross-class character, your experience can be divided between them equally, or you can choose to focus on one class at a time, when you divide your experience between two classes or two characters, you effectively gain experience half as fast.

The weapons

All of our weapons are made to be a balance between three factors,

  1. The weapons must be safe enough to strike with firmly.
  2. The weapons must be a close analog to their real life counterparts.
  3. The weapons must be usable by a wide variety of people.

All weapons are subject to approval by the armorors guild.

The spells

All of the spells and the realm are approached with a common sense attitude, For instance, invisibility is impossible, paralyze is possible.

There are three main types of spells in the realm, active spells, enchantment spells, and thrown spells.

  • Active spells are normally spells that are spoken, such as animate dead, command, and binding.

  • Enchantment spells are spells that are bound to weapons or armor. And include protection from elements, Divine power, and spell turning.

  • Thrown spells are the primarily reusable form of attack for a Mage, you have four basic types, fireballs, electricity, ice, and dark energy. Dark energy is a specific to necromancers.

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This appears to be just the rules of your LARP system. But here, we expect that answers will go further than just saying "do this", by explaining why doing that solves the problem in the question. In particular, could you add some commentary to the answer describing how these rules serve the specific requirements requested in the question? –  SevenSidedDie Oct 15 at 1:53
    
Thanks for contributing to our site, @rane. As SevenSidedDie says, including details of how your LARP system addresses the OP's concerns would really help make this answer solid. –  GMJoe Oct 15 at 3:40

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