Herofest - Larp
Letting Off Steam- Event Review
Firstly, I hope I'm not jumping the gun here by posting a review as my first post. I've been to numerous different LARP systems but it never occurred to me to review one before - but I certainly think this event deserves some praise.
Letting Off Steam is a Steampunk, fest-style LARP set in the 1880s on Mars. Combat is a mixture of standard melee weapons, nerf weaponry, and gadget powers. It's held at Candleston Campsite in South Wales. The event was time-in from 6pm on Friday until early Sunday morning, although (as with Herofest events), people turned up on Thursday to socialise and didn't end up leaving until midday Sunday. Despite the floods in Wales that week, we had decent weather and conditions were good throughout.
Die Eiserner Mann (Episode 1) was the system's debut event and so obviously there were many things which were new to everybody - but despite this, it is probably the best event I've ever been to.
The general thrust of the plot was fairly standard - an over-arching storyline which each faction had to work out, work towards, and then come together for a final big battle - plus numerous side-quests on the way. To summarise, a giant mining robot had gone haywire and we had to retrieve a number of control devices from infected miners to have a chance of stopping it. Along the way we found various technology, archaeology and other mysterious artifacts - as well as meeting some cryptic and eventually violent cultists who we are pretty sure will be back!
However, the excellent twist was the "Grand Contest", which was a strategic,
long-term diplomatic game. Each faction had numerous votes which they could
place to try to win control of 7 different mines. Winning different mines
gave resources, additional votes, and/or "seats" on the mine. Whoever had a
majority of seats on each mine at the end of the 7 rounds won a large lump
sum of that mine's resources.
This added a whole new layer of involvement and intrigue to the game - whenever you weren't shooting cultists or running away from automatons, you were swapping information, planning espionage or perhaps bribing somebody to vote differently. It could be an enjoyable board game in its own right but interspersed between "regular" LARPing activities, it kept everybody well occupied, involved, and interacting. Technically each faction member had a vote which they were to cast - so it ensured that your faction was all involved and not just a dictatorship.
Other novel features included auctioning off land on which you could build various things - as well as impromptu resource auctions. I've LARPed with Nerf indoors before (LARP) - but outside is a totally different game! It took a few skirmishes before both the players and monsters got familiar with the limitations and quirks of using foam darts in the wind - but after that it worked like clockwork (no pun intended).
- The quality of roleplaying, costumes, props, accents and remaining IC was the highest I have ever seen (with the exception of my own terrible, terrible German accent). Even the bar staff were properly involved and helped balance the game.
- Catering was available and was excellent - including nice touches like an afternoon tea with scones, and a full roast banquet on the Saturday - and self caterers weren't excluded but given their own table so as to make an "event" out of it.
- Candleston has excellent facilities (hot showers!!) and a vast, varied, interesting site including deep forest, sand dunes, gorse lands, and various structures.
- Factions were encouraged to work with (and against) each other in various scenarios which ensured no long-lasting grudges and a general undercurrent of semi-trusting diplomacy (things were always interesting!)
- It's a low-hit PvP system which very much encouraged more realistic combat and will not put off newcomers in the future by leaving them underpowered.
- The Grand Contest is a superb non-combat addition which offers a great deal more depth than a "regular" LARP
- It achieved a good balance of combat, social interaction, roleplaying and diplomacy.
Less good things
- Nerf guns are not usually felt through clothing - so you had to visually spot when you were hit - although this wasn't too hard. The guns, once painted up, are more prone to jamming but I suppose that's about right for the era?
- No under-16s allowed. I realise this might be a turn-off for some but a bonus to others. If you want a family-friend fest (with an excellent kid's faction/separate plot) then there's always Herofest 3x per year also at Candleston.
- As it's a new system, the rules are a work-in-progress and need more work to be balanced - although they were happy to hear our feedback and will be making improvements based on what we have said (yes, they listened to us!)
- There weren't enough people. This is easily solved by coming along yourself!
Booking details for Herofest LARP/LRP are here »
For more information, or to post your completed booking, contact Paul Matthews at Herofest LARP, Unit 42A/6, Morelands Trading Estate, Bristol Road, Gloucester, GL15RZ. Alternatively email us for information or details on how to make a Herofest Steampunk booking at: firstname.lastname@example.org.