Archive for category Warning

Addressing Cheating

People cheat at LARPs. Usually they’re not even aware of it – in the heat of combat, players often forget whether they had a spell shield up, or how many hit points they have. Sometimes players get hit a bunch of times and just estimate how much damage was done. It’s easy to overcast spells if you have a lot memorized. Isolated incidents like these don’t hurt the game that much.

The word “cheating” may be a bit strong for this kind of unintentional error. We think of a cheater as someone who is willfully breaking the rules. When addresing these kinds of problems, be calm, don’t get in the player’s face, and don’t make a big deal in front of others. Doing so is unprofessional and rude. Take the player aside and let them know what happened – for all you know, it might have been an accident. Assume positive intent! You’ve let them know that you’re watching. They should now be aware of the problem and adjust their behavior.¬†After the issue has been addressed, shut up about it.

Avoid escalating the discussion into an argument. Keep your cool – you might be wrong too. Hey, it’s possible that the player was casting all those extra spells from scrolls and you just didn’t see it. You don’t want to come off as an authoritarian jerk. Yelling at people will repel players from your game and make you seem like a high school gym teacher. Resist the power trip!

When cheating starts to get out of hand, it is time to try a different approach. All players are concerned with their reputation. The social stigma of cheating is often much worse than any discipline levied by a LARP staff. In a friendly way, let the player know that others have been gossiping. “I just want you to know – people are starting to talk about you like you’re the guy who does’t take his hits.” You’re not accusing him of anything, you’re just letting him know what the rumors are.

More often than not, this will correct the behavior in question without entering the bitter cycle of accusation, defense, debate, and escalation.

If you need to address cheating in a more straight-forward way, do it calmly and diplomatically. Establish a consensus with other staff members to reduce the risk of the conflict becoming personal.

If a cheater has been warned and continues to cheat, you could remove them from the fight by taking away their skills for an hour.

Sending monsters to target cheaters does not address the problem. It is levying an in-game punishment for an out-of-game behavior.

Banning or kicking out a player should be saved as a last resort. These methods and should only be used if that player’s presence is causing others to leave or avoid the game. Measures like these are heavy-handed and usually unnecessary.

When addressing cheating, keep in mind the goal – to ensure fair play and an enjoyable game for everybody.

Make sure that the player in question knows that they are wanted at the game. Often, after being accused of cheating, the player will feel that the staff is out to get them, and will never return. Your goal isn’t to remove cheaters from the game, but to bring them back to fair play with everybody else.



Using Status Effects

Carrier attacks and status effects can be used to complicate a battle and increase a monster’s threat level. But be careful not to overuse them.

When NPCs are armed with carrier attacks and status-effect abilities, it drains certain player resources. Be careful not to overtax specific resources by sending out too many of the same status effects. Be aware of which skills the players are using up to resolve the damage they’ve taken.

For example, charm, sleep, and fear effects are all cured by Awaken spells. If you’ve been sending out willow-the-wisps with charm spells and creatures with sleep carriers all day, think twice before sending out more creatures with fear carriers.

Carrier attacks become very frustrating when you’re hit by them too often, or when you must simply endure the effect because a cure isn’t available. If nobody’s willing to unparalyze you, you might up spending 10 minutes as a statue every time someone hits you. That’s not a very fun way to spend a fight.

As a rule of thumb, no more than a third of the monsters in a group should have take-out carrier attacks. Those monsters with carrier attacks should do lower damage than the other monsters, making armor and protective spells useful defenses.

When using monsters that deliver status effects, set up tactics they will use to maximize the effect. For example, giant spiders which web their opponents might be paired up with archers who pelt helpless targets with arrows. A PC that is diseased and feared is only walking away from the fight and is therefore very vulnerable to rogues. Disarm + fear is a nasty combo as well, as it sends an unarmed character running across the battlefield.

Be especially reserved in using spell strikes and massive damage, as there are few ways for players to avoid these attacks. Being targeted by them is frustrating because the monster doesn’t need to land a fair hit for the attack to work.

Massive damage, a type of damage which cannot be blocked by weapons, was originally meant for traps but has been used increasingly frequently as a monster ability. In order ot deliver it with a trap, you generally need a large impressive prop to justify why you can’t block the blow.

Massive damage delivered by weapon lacks this atmosphere and therefore should be uncommon at best. When it is employed by a creature, that creature should have props, roleplay, or costume which communicates the creature’s size and strength. Maybe when they deliver a massive swing they must roleplay a slow, powerful swing, giving players time to dive out of the way.

When using massive damage, keep in mind that you’re not really fighting fairly, and this can be no fun for your opponents if you use your ability too liberally.