New England Role Playing Organization


New England Role Playing Organization

NERO is an acronym for "New England Role playing Organization". It is the name of two fantasy LARPs, which were once one but split in 1998 over a legal dispute which has resurged as of 2006.

History of the New England Role Playing Organization

The first gatherings that would later become NERO were held by Ford Ivey in rural Massachusetts, under the names "Weekend in the Woods" and "Weekend Warriors" in 1986 after he was inspired by European LARPs. Over about two years, along with around two dozen friends, they refined their rules and learned more about running LARP games amongst themselves, until in March 1988 they began to work on a new concept in LARPing. Instead of each game being a separate game, with separate characters and each game having a single linear plot-line, they began to work on a LARP with a single game world and consistent characters and many overlapping and long-term plot lines that would require as little oversight from a game master as possible and most players could be player characters instead of non-player characters.

In fall of 1989 they changed their name to the New England Role playing Organization and began to operate a larger fantasy LARP event. The first event in April 1989 had an attendance of around 150, mostly drawn by advertising in Ivey's store. It slowly grew over the next three years to be a very popular role playing game in the Massachusetts area. By 1991, attendance at events was between 300 and 500, and the organization boasted over 1,300 members with paid membership dues. Talks began concerning the possibility of creating franchised local versions of NERO.

In September 1991, Dragon Magazine published an article about NERO, which elicited broader-than-local interest from the role playing community. Suddenly, NERO was a nationally-known game. Players came to NERO from around the United States and from Canada. Attendance at events rose rapidly in response to the article, and 700+ players per event were not unknown.

Many players who came to NERO from afar wanted to play this game back home, without traveling across the entire country for every game. Likewise, some players from the Massachusetts area moved to different areas of the country, desiring to have a local version of the game. Within months, new "Chapters" were licensed by the home NERO game to use their rules system, name, and setting. Over the next few years, dozens of new NERO chapters would be founded across the United States and Canada, while the original NERO changed its name to "NERO Massachusetts" to make it distinct from other new chapters, and the administrative function of the game became known as "NERO National". It would later come to be known as "NERO International" when Canadian chapters were formed.

In 1998, NERO split into two factions; NERO International which was the original organization, and the NERO Alliance founded by Mike Ventrella. The schism arose over a legal dispute involving licensing of the NERO name and rules. After this, the two organizations proceeded as separate entities, with virtually no interaction outside of the courts. Both NERO International and NERO Alliance experienced continual growth in membership throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The NERO Game

While the two NERO organizations use separate rule systems, they both were developed from the same common ruleset used when they were the same organization. NERO is a boffer style larp that uses simulated combat with padded weapons. Players represent individual characters in a fantasy world with a specific set of abilities that defines what their characters can do, especially in combat.

The races, skills, and classes used in the game are largely typical of the fantasy genre. Some spell names and effects, such as Cure Light Wounds and Magic Missile are borrowed directly from Dungeons and Dragons. There are some unique fantasy races and other setting elements unique to the game, such as the Biata, who are a race of telepathic birdlike humans who shun many forms of magic as well as cultural races such as Gypsies and Barbarians.

Magic in the NERO game generally falls into one of two categories: battle magic and formal magic. Battle Magic is "typical" magic used to heal injured characters, attack in battle, or perform minor utility and roleplaying functions in the game. Formal Magic is the roleplaying of elaborate rituals under clearly defined rules that are used to create magically enchanted items, perform special effects related to the game plot such as magical travel, or the creation of powerful magical sites that are integral to the game.

Schism between NERO International and NERO Alliance

The dispute that lead to the separation between NERO International and NERO Alliance arose between Joseph Valenti, who bought the NERO Trademark and rules-set from Ford Ivey, the initial creator of NERO, in 1998, and Michael Ventrella, a staff-member of NERO for many years, and owner a NERO franchise (of NY) since 1993. Michael Ventrella separated from what later became NERO International over a dispute about proximity of chapters. The authorship and ownership of the trademark and rules have yet to be resolved almost ten years later, but the dispute has little effect on players of either organization.

At this time, NERO Alliance games and NERO International games are in no way affiliated, use different rulebooks, rules and policies: all Alliance campaigns share a single rule set, while International games may have "play tests" or rules variations. NERO International also licenses LARP Affiliates. A LARP Affiliate is a person, group, or company that is licensed to use the NERO International rules to create a new LARP rule set and has access to all NERO International support. Any NERO Alliance character is playable in any other campaign. Both organizations license their rules to member chapters of their organizations and vouch for the quality of their games.

As of July 28, 2008, NERO International has 50 Licensees running in the Tyrran Game World, 1 Wildlands Campaign, 1 Blood Lines Campaign and 1 Fables of Fenora Campaign running across North America. NERO Alliance has 11 active campaigns at this time.

As of July 12, 2007 NERO Alliance has been renamed the Alliance LARP.

Influence

NERO Seattle, a NERO Alliance chapter, was featured in the 2007 documentary Monster Camp.

As an early LARP, it indirectly influenced the phenomena, particularly in the US. While NERO was preceded by Amtgard, Dagorhir, and several other LARPS, NERO has become a flagship example of a role-play centric instead of a physical combat centric system. Many game systems, including Legends, Mythical Journeys, SOLAR, Realms and the Accelerant system (as seen in Madrigal), cite NERO among their influence, though many are reactions to perceived weaknesses of the NERO system.

External links

* [http://www.nerolarp.com Nero International]
* [http://www.alliancelarp.com/ Alliance LARP (formerly NERO Alliance)]
* [http://www.larping.net/Nero/lawsuit/ The Court Documents on the Law Suits Between NERO International and Alliance LARP]
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0970948/ Monster Camp: the Movie]

References

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