Ask Joe V

Over on the NERO Forums, Joe V recently answered some questions about what’s going behind the scenes at NERO. For the NERO players that don’t read the forums, I’ve reposted Joe’s answers below the cut.

Question: what are some of these terms I’ve been reading?

Answer: NERO 2000/N2K – this was an initiative, a project (project nero 2000) that supported the integration of ‘variant rules’ into the nero intl playtest system. It lasted until 2002 but it successfully did the job – all the chapters were using one game system and most were happy with how the rules panned out. Yes, I screwed up from time to time but I was running around the country to Trade Shows, Game Conventions and other promotional venues. Mike Ennis of WAR (ohio) really stepped up to the plate and helped us achieve our one-world one-rules goal.

The NERO Avalon Edition – This is the rewrite to the nero rule book and included a change to the nero game system as a whole. It is nero’s new system that simplifies while expanding and empowering producers and directors. We haven’t worked on this because it wasn’t preferred by the owners in 2003 over an updated and simplified nero rule book. Matt Sims and Matt Pearson did a good job on this but we need to solidify the nero game system and nero rule book before moving to a new game system.

The Live Adventure System – this is synonymous with nero game system.

NERO Rule book 8th Edition Revised – we never called it this to my knowledge but some may be saying such. We have added the playtests and the errrata and eliminated erroneous and/or unneeded skills/spells and replaced them with similar existing skils/spells to make things more unified and easier.

NERO Rule book 9th Edition – this is what we are releasing in the next month or so. We have a good solid system in the 8th edition, but we have simplified it and made it better and easier to use. We added the playtests in as best a form as we can without over burdening our system with combat rules. We corrected the production system (I know you will like this).

It took us until 2004/2005 to get all of the rules that were suggested by the chapters and players into the system as best we could. we stalled in 2006 & 2007 & 2008 becasue of the lawsuit and me surviving financially through it and its aftermath. and now we have some of the people I trust the most working on the system from IL, MA, CT and we are looking at adding 1 or 2 others. We do not need that big of a rules group. We have tried to make the game more realistic, more fantastic, and with simpler rules.

Will this edition fix the bigger issues that we as a LARP are having (fighters swinging more than 10’s, a pack of scholars with 10 columns tossing imprisons at the big bad guy quicker than he can say his role-play statements, rogues swinging more than 10 from behind and more than 10 from the front and with 10 columns, etc. etc.,? No, that is going to be the next set of discussions with the owners. we are taking suggestions via e-mail on how people think we can fix some of these greater challenges.

We are working hard on publishing this nero rule book and seeing how it plays out. We know that it takes time for chapters to get rolling along on a new rule book so we expect the next year to be a good road for seeing how more than 35 chapters running events and 10 on hiatus will make the change.

We expect to put the new set of rules, in its DRAFT Form, for people to read, within the next 2 to 5 weeks – between July 20 and August 05, 2009.
We just got a good set of feedback from Nick Denny of NERO Chicago and after reviewing his thoughts we need to finalize the armor system.
After a 30 to 6 0day review and feedback, we will have the FINAL DRAFT version ready for review. This version will be worded better. After another 2 weeks of feedback receipt from owners and players, we will do our best to release the final text version in November/December.

We have layout specialists and graphic artists working on pictures and graphics and all things artsy, and they are nearly ready to accept the text for our nero rule book 9th edition.

It is my hope to release the final color version via pdf and rule book purchase in December 2009 and for NERO Chapters to be using the new set of rules after April 01, 2010.

Question:  what is currently going on with NERO Mass and NERO International? In light of the post regarding Empire, is NERO Mass also in jeopardy? Are there any other chapters that are on the verge of being removed from NERO?

Answer: Annie Boswell [owner NERO Mass] and I are currently working on resolving our challenges. I have confidence that we shall resolve them quickly.

NERO Mass has always been the best supporter of paying its royalties on time every month. Annie submits her royalties ontime too.

If there are other chapters on the verge of being removed from NERO it is private between us. I have arrangements with owners so they do not have to close thier chapter down. it’s only when we cant get back on track that we need to look at alternatives.

Question: I happen to know a number of chapter owners who have not sent royalties for some time. Will you be terminating all contracts for those with dues outstanding?

Answer: I think perhaps these chapter owners would like you not to share this information with the poublic. I would like you to email me the list of chapters to

Here is the deal with terminating NERO licenses….
I give everyone a whole lot of leniency. At least I have in the past. We all have lives to manage on top of NERO and I like to think that I understand the problems one can have with life more so than most other people. It is only after a whole lot of time goes by that I will move to terminate the license.

Question: We pay more money for our first year’s membership with the understanding that a rulebook will be sent to us. I signed up for my first year’s membership and received no book. My best friend signed up herself and her two daughters for three first year memberships and received no rulebooks. The several people I recruited to play the game, 4 of whom I sat and watched sign up and pay… None of us have received rulebooks, over the course of a couple years. We all had to buy ours separately or stumble around trying to figure out weird rules as we went.
—- Why didn’t any of us get our books?

Answer: I just do not have a good answer for you. I have sent out 1000’s of books from purchases online over the years. I am not perfect by any means but I always send out books to people who email me and say they didnt get one. We have had ‘form’ problems on our server that have to be reset every so often or the notifications do not go out. We have had, in the last 4 years, 3 book makers go oput of business on us. Each time it has become harder and harder to get setup to print our books.

We have just moved to a company that is in Illinois/Iowa area and we are having 1 of our partner companies drop-ship the books for us. Edhellen Armoury will be sending books out soon. We have probalby 10 or so books from the last 2 months that we have to send out too.

We are making a PDF of the rule book for downloading by NERO members in the future though we are still requiring a hard copy of the book go to each member when they first sign up.

If you give me your name and address ( I will send you all the books we owe you and if you want us to reimburse you some money for the books we can do that too.

Question: what is the status of some of the other projects that we (the members and players of NERO) have been promised for years now? The Guide to Tyrra and the Nobles Guide being two specific examples that come to mind.

Answer: The Guide to Tyrra is pretty much done but we are going back to revisit the chapters in-game sections. we just started a google docs site and contacted the owners for their help and feedback and hope to have that within 30 to 60 days too for review. keep in mind it takes a few months to get books from text to graphics and layout and pdf.

The Nobles Guide is being added to the guide to tyrra, and we may have an additiona lone out there that is seperate but i do not think so. I will see if we can put the 3 docs for the nobles guide out early.

The Race Handbooks – we have had people work on these and now its time to put a few of these to the book. The Dwarf Handbook is nicely done. The Dark Elf handbook, and many others are ready.

We are ramping up the completion of these books and are trying to put out 1 book per month next year.

Follow up from Dan: I can clear up that question about the Guide to Tyrra…

I was working on this project a few years ago. I finished the first draft in 2006. (weighing in at about 80k words) Soon after, “real life” happened and the project went dormant. I’ve since volunteered to work on the Guide again, and need some help from the chapters.

Here’s what I’m working on now:

One section of the Guide details the different places on Tyrra you can visit. Ideally, each chapter will have a short section (like, 500-1000 words) which describes the local flavor and sights to see. Back in 2006 I got numerous submissions from chapters, but there were still a lot of blank spots on the map.

About a week ago, I created a mailing list and sent a request to chapter owners that they nominate someone to help inspect / fix up their sections. I want to cooperate with everybody to make sure this section is cool! So far only 5 chapters have responded.  [After this was posted, several chapters caught up and contacted me. Thanks!]

If you’re curious, here’s a sneak peak of a spread from the Guide to Tyrra. Please note that this is not the final layout, it’s just something I threw together so I could present it:…of-Tyrra-p1011
Question – what are the chances of getting an updated listing for the following?

Q-01- Who is on NERO International Staff –
ANSWER01 – We are working on updating the contact info page over the next few weeks. Most people still work for NERO intl but we are working to make sure people are available.

Q-02- Can we get an updated List of NERO Chapters, Owners, and contact information for the logistics of each chapter.
ANSWER02 – The Chapters page on is updated and current with the list of chapters and their contact info. For logistics contact info I would suggest that the chapters get together and put that list together.

Q-03-When will the NERO Events calendar be updated. This one really should be required to be updated by chapters, we’ve been using this player one run (it’s pretty good but many chapters don’t participate)
ANSWER03 – The NERO Chapter Event List has been updated on the site with all of the 2009 dates that chapters have given me and thanks to John Arroyo of NERO Florida, all of the event dates listed on all of the nero chapters websites.

Q-04- NERO Rules Council Members
ANSWER 04 – The rules council no longer exists (it’l be removed from the website today). We have a forum on the website that is for members to ask rules questions – our guys, mostly Mickey G. and David E., monitor that site pretty well and we get answers to questions out in a timely manner (much faster than before). I do not prefer to list the names of people on my rules team. Every time we have in the past put the names or contact info of our rules people into the public eye those people have gotten inundated with mail for changes they should make. Additionally, I get inundated with mail about who is not good for the team and who is good for the team and I am tired of people telling me that my staff member may not be the right choice for my team.

Question: How does the destroy effect on an explosive trap work?
Answer: An Explosive Traps works in this manner….
The armor is destroyed / breached (which means you can refit it if it’s not destroyed).
The explosive damage destroys everything not indestructible.
The explosive deals damage to you.

Mickey G., David E. and/or Nick Denny (rules guys who work the hardest for me) may add or correct me.

Question: What’s the deal with insurance?


  • NERO Intl policies that cover members who attend NERO chapters events has been gone since April 01, 2009. The office notified the chapters with a few days notice only, mostly because I was not available from December 2008 to April 2009, but all of the chapters were able to work together and resolve thier insurance challenges within a week or two – with no chapters negatively affected.
  • Event Insurance and liability insurance is now under the control of each NERO Chapter. If they want Insurance for thier events they will get it.
  • National no longer carries insurance coverage for its members at NERO chapters events because of several reason
  1. The national office has had a tough time of collecting money from its nero chapters to pay for the expenses that membership fees go toward. The chapters either collect the money and never send it along or they just do not bother to verify that attendees have paid thier memberships.
  2. It isn’t fair that 50% of the nero chapters pay national for insurance and the other 50% do not. As I said, it was tough to get all of the chapters to submit the money they should submit. so now the ones that did not pay the nero office will have no insurance and the ones that did pay will still have thier own insurance and it will be managed by them.
  3. The NERO Office no longer wants to be held accountable for 1 of its chapters if they decide to do something crazy like shoot roman candles at its event event attendees.


  • National paid $135,000 in 10 years on insurance and we have spent $25,000 or less in claims. I got tired of taking money out of my pocket to cover the insurance amounts that weren’t being paid by chapters and fighting to get my money back.
  • Everyone who was covered by our insurance has had thier claims processed and in the correct manner.
  • I know of no claims that have not been satisfied. Any information about claioms you think were not satisfied can be e-mailed to me at
  • Membership fees pay for many things, including everything that is needed to support the online database. i.e. web hosting, internet access, domain registrations, search engine submissions, etc.
  • The membership fee prices have been changed on the site, from $30 per year to $15 per year (i will double check). New Members still pay $25.00 for the nero rule book, and $15 for membership, and $4 for shipping.
  • the online database will eventually ask members to pay thier yearly dues via a paypal intercept command that checks the membership field and date.
QUESTION 01 – What is the roll-out process for the 9th edition NERO Rule Book.
QUESTION 02 – What are the changes to the 9th edition NERO Rule Book?

ANSWER 01 – We plan on putting the 1st DRAFT of the NERO Rule Book out for review by the NERO Chapter Owners and NERO Members (via forums) on or about July 25th. This will last about 30 days while we get feedback and apply it. The 2nd DRAFT will be released shortly thereafter, for a 2 week review, and the FINAL DRAFT TEXT with Graphics and Layout will be released in November/December. The FINAL version of the NERO Rule Book 9th Edition will be released in December/January and we hope that Chapters will be able to implement it by April 01, 2010.

The changes are not significant enough to warrant a spirit forge, however, i imagine that all players will be given a chance to spend thier build on a more ‘permanent’ basis and while I cannot see allowing anyone to change thier primary skills we will allow a few skills to be ‘sold back’ and res[ent.

RELEASE DATES can ‘slip’ whenever I get busy doing something else that takes up allot of time, like trying to collect royalties from nero chapters, collaborating with producers on LARP Mockumentary, answering questions from players, finding a new NERO Rule Book publisher (the last 4 are all out of business now), collaborating with design and graphics team, and/or dealing with NERO Chapters that are causing me headaches.

ANSWER 02 – To create the NERO Rule Book 9th Edition we added the majority of the playtests, we trimmed up no-longer-needed rules, and we applied the errata.

QUESTION – Will a change log be available for 9th edition from 8th edition?

ANSWER – Yes. The various teams who have worked on the NERO Rule Book 9th Edition for the last five years have always kept track of the changes they have made. We have a pretty substantial list of the things that have been changed, and we plan on putting the list out along with the book so that people can look and see the changes we made. We’ll be explaining thngs as well in the NERO Rule forums too.

QUESTION – For those who have not yet recieved a rule book should we wait till the new rulebook is out before we ask to receive our first book?

ANSWER – No, we will send you a nero rule book immediately.

QUESTION – Rumors are flying following the Symposium of a large number of chapters in the Southeast either closing or pulling out of NERO to start a new LARP based mostly on the NERO system, and that players could do a one-time transfer of their characters and items into this new LARP. Is there any truth to this, and what is the current health of NERO in the Southeast?

ANSWER – These are some good rumors. I imagine that there were some individuals who would like to see NERO LARP Chapters and National fight among ourselves instead of moving forward, but they will not succeed in their efforts.

The health of NERO is great in the southeast. They are having a challenge deciding on a NERO National representative for thier region but I do not know of other larger issues that may be pulling them apart. NERO SGA is seeing Vince Munro’s return, NERO Atlanta snatched up David Collins to help adminstration, NERO SC just swapped out 1 owner who had too little time for another owner who has more time, NERO West TN is growing due to the effort of Justin Roman, Middle TN is still kicking ass and taking names with thier incredible events, ETN is running with nearly 50 players every event and Buddy and Duby look well and happy, John Arroyo in Florida has reached a momentum and needs to get over the 25 person per event hurdles and get all 60 of his members to the event, Kentucky is running 1 or 2 events per year as they have for the last 3 or 4 years. Things seem real good among the NERO chapters in the SouthEast.

1) I have helped many NERO Chapter owner sell their NERO Chapter when they wanted to depart. People sell their NERO Chapter after about 5 or so years or if something comes along that prohibits them from doing a great job – a baby, a new job, a new wife, etc. Recently, Chapters have requested the ability to take a year or two off rather than struggling through their personal life and their NERO life, and I have been all for it, which is why we see a few chapters not running events. for example, Mike and Sarah Smith of METRO DC took off a year or two with the birth of each of their children. and Charles Smith of NERO West is currently taking a small break due to the birth of his child.

2) We are ok with people no longer being able to run a NERO chapter. We hold no ill will toward anyone who leaves NERO. However, if someone acts in an inappropriate manner or unprofessional toward us during their departure, we will not hesitate to stand up for ourselves.

3) I have spoken to all of the Chapter Owners personally within the last few weeks and unless they are all lying to me, no Chapters in the South East are leaving NERO that I know of – and no other chapters are leaving NERO that I know of. I only know of 1 Chapter out of all of the NERO Chapters that have too much going on in their personal lives to run a NERO Chapter.

4) If any chapters want to depart NERO I will work with them to sell their chapter to someone who wants to run a good game using the NERO Rule Book and entertain NERO Members and provide good customer service.

5) If any NERO Chapters want to depart NERO I will expect them to be 100% professional and adhere to their agreement with me not to compete with NERO by running any other LARP for 2 years.

6) I will vigorously defend my intellectual property from being stolen by individuals or companies, especially if a former nero chapter owner takes the nero rule book and creates their own rules from it and violates our non-compete agreement.

QUESTION – If National memberships and fees haven’t gone away completely, and at some point be required through the National online database:

Question 1) What is the timeline on migrating all chapters to the National database and membership structure (since there are some chapters still using the Filemaker DB or their own online DBs, and many of those collect “chapter membership fees/dues”)?

ANSWER 01 A – We are trying to get every chapter onto the national database as soon as possible. It will be a requirement to utilize the online database though we are OK with chapters keeping track of their attendees in their own database AS WELL. We are all very busy though and these things take time to move to.

ANSWER 01 B – It is OK for local Chapters to collect local membership fees to pay for things such as insurance and logistics and other things they deem necesary to maintain thier business administrative faculties.The chapters are working with National to make sure that we do not charge NERO Members too much money on either of our ends.

Question 02) What sort of auditing will be done to ensure that members who still have current National memberships (paid either directly or through a chapter) will have that accurately represented in the online database?

ANSWER 02 – We will all work together to make sure this information is correct. Most people who pay via paypal have a receipt to forward thier chapter or the national online admin.

Question 03) Is there an effort underway to improve the online database and make information such as membership status/expiration date available readily available to players themselves?

ANSWER 03 – Yes there is. Bill Taylor and Jeff Gibson are currently working on making the online database much better. All of the information that should be available in the newly improved database will be there including when your membership expires with national.

QUESTION – You keep saying “we” when you speak about NERO International. What sort of entity is NERO International? Is it a corporation, an LLC, or just yourself with a business license?
ANSWER – I say we when I speak about NERO National, NERO’s Staff and/or ME, and NERO chapters and/or NERO National and/or Me.
ANSWER – There are several companies involved in the WE of NERO National, including an S-Corp, a DBA, a Business License, and an LLC. Different companies hold the IP and different companies license the IP to NERO Chapters.

QUESTION – Additionally business matters, such as failing to inform NERO International licensees about insurance policy lapses, should not go unattended because you are personally unavailable for months or even a few days. What sort of entity is there in place to run business matters when you are unavailable?

ANSWER – I appreciate your viewpoint and opinion on the matter. NERO National is a small entity with no or few paid employees, and therefore most business matters are run by Me, Joseph Valenti, on a day to day basis. This is just 1 more good reason why NERO national separated itself from the NERO chapters by having them manage their own insurance coverage.

Question – what firm previously provided your insurance?

ANSWER – we had our insurance policy with Capitol Specialty.

  1. #1 by Daniel Burke on July 22, 2009 - 8:06 pm

    One of the questions I’ve been pondering lately in terms of insurance is: Can NERO operate without insurance? Would the presence of waivers at the start of the event stating that in the event of injury the sole responsibility lay with the player, not the game or the campground, to handle the costs and results of that injury?

    Would people be willing to accept this within the NERO culture?

    I can think of (and have participated in) two other similar organizations who operate in such a fashion and have for the same 20 year period and longer as NERO. So as a method, it can work…but would it work for NERO?

    The followup question being, could it work with the available camp grounds as NERO does present itself as a multi day event rather than a series of one day events.

  2. #2 by Mickey on July 24, 2009 - 9:16 pm

    Waivers like that, depending on state, range from being entirely ineffective to stop a lawsuit all the way up to being mostly ineffective so I don’t think it’d wind up working.

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