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larp critique: NERO

(Alliance and International) by Trogdor

I first began playing NERO back at Camp Wing, Massachusetts, in the summer of '91. I was a goofy kid who had dreams of drumrolling the goblins with twin daggers while somersaulting across the field. Instead, reality proved me to be some wacky kid rolling in the dirt as the monsters looked on incredulously while poking me with their PVC ad infinitum. I played off and on for many a year, making it through the split of Alliance and International barely understanding, and frankly, caring, about the whys and hows. Eventually I was tapped by one of the campaigns in which I played to help write plot.

And to be honest, I've never had it as good since. The campaign for which I wrote was a true class act. We had a regular meeting scheduled every week in which we pitched ideas for the upcoming event, discussed who had overall run of it, what side plots we had going on, the whole shebang. We met in a business meeting room, used overhead projectors, had someone taking down minutes, everything. Modules had to be submitted to the group in writing, with treasure outlay and resources required listed out before hand so that we could plan on it. Things were scheduled on a timeline and everything was simply wired to a T. The first group I ran for was bar none simply the best and most enjoyable experience I ever had the pleasure to work with.

If anything bad could be said about the first group, it would be that they were administrative heavy. They had groups for everyone and everything. Each race had its own marshal, plot staff was about five to seven people, then there was the five-person rules committee, and the six-person player's committee. Beyond that, games were catered to groups, rather than individuals. The way to get plot's attention was to become part of a group, or start your own. My biggest gripe was that they very strictly enforced a rule of "bad guys will get shafted". They didn't want to deal with the OOG headaches of people playing bad guy characters, so they simply meta-gamed from a plot perspective and screwed over anyone trying to play a bad guy.

After a while, I was hit up by another nearby NERO chapter to do some writing. A less formal arrangement, I simply wrote up plotlines with assorted modules, submitted them to the ownership, who then worked them into their existing plotlines as it best fit. Ideal, since much of this occurred after I moved away from the actual area.

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2003 Bryan Gregory
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