Most LARPs rely on a reasonable number of rules – combat system, skill system and so on. Smaller LARPs tend to have more rules than large-scale fest LARPs.
We intentionally kept our rules system very light, to deepen the immersion. We didn’t have a skills system – instead we simply told the players that if they thought they could justify doing something, they could ask a member of staff. For example, if the person who picked up a book of accounts had a background as an accountant or a banker and therefore thought he ought to be able to make sense of them or find anything fraudulent in them, he’d ask a member of staff, and we’d tell him if he could or not. If the doctor – or the nearest equivalent, who was a plastic surgeon – wanted to work out what sort of pills Uncle Godfrey was on, he could ask us.
We included a very simple combat system, but this was mainly to make the players think that they could be hurt, rather than us seeing any real necessity for it.
The Rules for God Rest Ye Merry
Five of the IC house staff are also referees. Please feel free to pull them aside to have a quiet word if you have a question which you think needs some sort of ruling or explanation.
For this event, your referees are:
- Ian Thomas
- Rachel Thomas
- Rich Skyrme
- Dan Macmillan
- Damian Brewis
If you’re unsure who they are, please ask on site and we’ll point them out. Notably, Mr Stokes the Butler (and some other members of the house staff) are not referees – please don’t trouble them with trivialities which might result in blank, but terribly polite, incomprehension.
There aren’t any. If you hit a situation where you think you might need to use a ‘skill’ which you, as a player, don’t have, but you are pretty sure your character should, then find a ref and discuss it. If you can justify using it, then the ref will let you do so. For example, if you’re an IC expert on a subject and find a treatise written by someone else and want to determine its quality, take a referee aside and say ‘I’m an expert on the shellfish of the African Tundra. Is this book on Clams in Ice-Deserts anywhere near the mark?’
That simple. If you can justify having a knowledge or skill, find a ref.
The house itself is full of lovely objects which are near-as-damnit IC. We are also providing props, documents & artifacts as part of the game. To distinguish the two – partly so you don’t go off on completely wild tangents, but mainly so that life is easy for us when we’re packing everything away again – items which are part of our game will have the Northmoor N symbol somewhere on them.
There will be some objects in the house that we are using for the game which we want you to treat as if they’re not there – in LARP terms, as if they had their fingers in the air.
Those objects should be reasonably clearly OOC (it’ll become obvious when you work out what they are), but will also feature a circular blue sticker. Please ignore any object with such a sticker, they don’t exist.
Likewise, if you spot a huddled shape in a corner with a blue glowing light around its person, it’s almost certainly not anything supernatural. Much more likely is that it’s one of the Irish tradesmen having a crafty cigarette. Which, err, is blue. They’re a strange lot.
Doors and Door Locks
Please, please, even if you find a relevant key, don’t lock doors. Partly from a safety point of view, partly because the crew need to move through them. Take it as read that you have failed to find a key that works. This obviously doesn’t apply to bathrooms, you can lock them, but bear in mind that all areas of the house are IC including bathrooms. We promise not to spy on you in them, but bathrooms are not OOC areas.
If you barricade a door, please don’t build a pile of chairs or push a sofa against it – again, crew need access. Tell a ref, and pile up some cushions or something.
All that said, there will be some doors which are IC locked (but not OOC). We’ll hang up a very obvious ‘This Door Is Locked’ sign.
Why on earth would you want to-
-oh, right, family Christmas, we understand. If you really must insist on stabbing Aunt Sophie because she’s failed to pass the canapés for the thirteenth time, or bludgeoning Cousin Howard to death because he’s quite ruined charades with his impression of a drunken camel, then you may well find suitable implements somewhere around the house.
In other words, LARP combat works as normal, but there should be no need for any of your characters to turn up armed. (If you think you’re an exception, talk to us, but come on – family Christmas!) If for whatever reason a fight does break out, then you might have found a suitable safe weapon somewhere in the house. If you haven’t – then don’t fight. Do remember that many of you will never have wielded anything more offensive than a golf club.
All that said, if you personally have a perfect safe weapon prop that you think would be a fabulous thing to find in a 1950s mansion and you don’t mind lending it to the cause, then please bring it along and we’ll install it somewhere appropriate.
If you are short of a grouse or two for the table on Boxing Day, then all you need to do is pick up your rifle or pistol (assuming that it is appropriately loaded), level it at the bird in question and shout BANG! If it’s within your line of sight then you’re bound to have hit. After all, you’ve been taking part in such shoots since the age of five, what what?
It really is that simple. Point and shout BANG! If you are shot at, then you’ve been hit.
Ammo will be available in boxes marked AMMO. One bullet phys-rep will fit any type of gun (but don’t actually put the phys rep in the gun!). Hand the ‘spent’ shell to a ref when you’re done.
The only guns that work will be the ones with a Northmoor N symbol on them. All others can be assumed to be non-functional. And, as with close combat – no-one should have any reason to bring along a gun.
We’ll be using the ‘call’ / ‘response’ form of fisticuffs i.e. if you wish to engage in a bout of fisticuffs, issue a clear challenge: “Right, you bounder, let’s have at it!” and put your fists up. If you hear a clear response of “Marquess of Queensberry rules!” then, and only then, may you partake in consensual fisticuffs with that person. Playfight. We’ll trust you to be adults – keep hands loose and unclenched, don’t grab or tear, no eye-gouging or body slams. And be careful of the furniture and crockery! Obviously, if you feel OOC you don’t want to be involved in such a fight, then don’t respond with the Marquess! With regards to injury from fisticuffs, there’s never any real damage sustained from fisticuffs; when the people involved decide that the fight is over, it is over. If you decide you’ve been knocked out, you’ve been knocked out. Play with it. Overact. Have fun.
Injury, Death and Dying
We’d hope that death would only ever be caused by a surfeit of Christmas pudding, but it’s perfectly possible you might be taken ill. If, say, you were Cousin Howard and the Reverend Beasley had taken up a blunderbuss and levelled it at your midriff and shouted BANG!, then poor Cousin Howard would be Nastily Wounded. It’d take a second shot to make him Mortally Wounded. Surprisingly, it would take exactly the same two attempts were Cousin Howard to be struck on the noggin by a poker.
Once Mortally Wounded, the poor chap might drop dead instantly, or could linger in pain for days. We’d imagine that some of the servant classes would be able to apply cold compresses and brandy and tell you quite how long he might hang on for.
In other words – one hit of any sort will wound you, two hits of any sort will incapacitate you (you can still talk, but can take no active action). Death is at the discretion of a ref, as is any sort of recovery.
The Drop Call
‘Flame’ is a fairly common replacement for ‘fire’ at LARP events. Unfortunately our players got so immersed that they forgot this rule, and shouted fire. Luckily we had a good handle on what was going on in the house. We had one incident of a fire alarm being triggered, but that was because one of the Art Department had to hide from the players in a hurry and chose the kitchen; they had an exterior smoke machine, and that type of smoke triggers fire alarms!
If a ref shouts ‘Drop’ at you, then drop and close your eyes until a ref tells you otherwise.
Time Freeze / Time Out / Time In
We don’t imagine these will be needed much, but we’ll adopt the standard LARP Time Freeze / Time Out / Time In.
We’d hope that we won’t push things past your limit of being able to cope. If you really, really cannot cope with what’s going on – are about to faint or throw up OOC or something – then please use the safe word. The safe word is “Expelliarmus”.
As per LARP standard, should you hear the Man Down call, stop what you’re doing. Should you be injured, or spot someone else who is injured, then please use this call.
In case of you running around shouting about IC fire, please DO NOT use the word Fire; instead use Burning or Flame (or anything equally imaginative). Only shout Fire should there be a real, proper, OOC fire.
Should you hear an air horn, stop everything you are doing and get out to the front of the house – in front of the main doors – by any safe route. This will only happen in exceptional circumstances.
The main first aider for this event will be Rachel Thomas. (Other first aiders will be available.)