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The Wizard's Desk

The Wizard's desk is a blog space where our staff and creative leads offer their insight and experience on engaging with DrachenFest US! We're excited to share what we can, so pull up a seat!

Changes to Large Monsters in 2024

When we face an oversized monster at a larp, it awakens some inborn prehistoric fear of things bigger than us. Large monsters are awesome - literally, they inspire awe! We love the oversized costumes people bring to DrachenFest battles. And we want to encourage more people to join the fun. But in order to do that, we need to make a better, safer space for them.

In 2023, some of the people inside those costumes were subject to rough play. And most monster lifespans were very short. This needs a fix from two angles: the rules surrounding large monsters, and the way people approach them.

First, we want to acknowledge that players don’t generally fight unsafely due to malice. Most of the time, they’ve lost control of themselves because they’re very excited and immersed. Giant monsters are both immersive and exciting! Furthermore, when someone’s in a mask, it’s easy to forget: there’s a real person in there. There is no need to “swing for the fences”, and the monster’s head is not a valid target. Those who forget this can expect swift action from Referees. But we also need you to look out for each other - when it gets intense, especially around monsters, keep each other cool.

Let’s talk about the changes we’re making to the Large Monster rules. Consider this a “playtest”, a draft we’ll update after we see it in play and get feedback.

The Large Monster “handler” is no longer a target

Their job is to count hits and watch out for unsafe situations. Managing this while also vulnerable to opponents and trying to stay alive was too distracting. The monster handler will now wear a Noncombatant indicator (an orange sash, provided by the monster’s creator), and must stay by the monster’s side at all times. (they cannot be captured or moved around at swordpoint like other noncombatants)

Monsters must be big

A body suit and a mask are no longer enough to be a Large Monster - after all, many regular DrachenFest characters wear a mask or body suit. We want to reduce confusion around which characters will send you flying when they hit you. Moving forward, all monsters, even those under 7 feet tall, must be visually distinct from regular combatants--Large Monsters all need some external frame to enhance their size and change their silhouette. If you're unsure if your build qualifies, ask our chatbox!

Monster Hunting

When you imagine a colossal monstrosity, you assume people will be running from it. In larps, it tends to be the opposite. The player inside the costume is at a handicap, their movement and vision is inhibited. And people with long weapons (the only ones who could damage large monsters) attack from a relatively safe position, handily maneuvering out of the monster’s reach. Last year, many monsters only made it a few steps into battle before they were overwhelmed. We have to flip this script.

Starting in 2024, monsters will be immune to arrows, normal weapons, and Orbs of Power. Don't hit them. (They’ll still take heavy damage from War Machines and other Monsters) 

We will introduce a new option for spellcasters, a spell called Smite Monster. Similar to Magic Armor, Smite Monster allows you to spend a minute fastening a blue rune-marked strip of fabric to the grip of a one handed melee weapon. Its next swing can injure a large monster. A caster can only maintain one at a time, the enchantment will last for five minutes, and is spent the first time anyone swings the weapon (whether it hits a monster or not). Multiple enchantments do not “stack” on the same weapon. The monster’s handler will need to see the blue indicator in order for the hit to count, so play it up!

We believe this will change the tempo of the battle against large monsters. No one can individually go “toe to toe” with them. Defeating a monster will need coordination of magical and martial power. Of course, their most dangerous natural enemies – War Machines, and other Large Monsters – are still out there. 

Shields? Broken

Monster attacks no longer "go through" shields--they break 'em. A defender can hold off a monster for a moment or two, but at significant cost. If someone needs to get close to a monster in order to Smite it, a shield may be very helpful!

Monster Brawls

When Large Monsters engage each other, they become locked into a duel to the death. The duel is resolved like a brawl - by default, the monsters clash over and over, dealing 1 hp of damage on each clash. However they roleplay their battle, the "fair" resolution is that the monster with more hp remains standing at the end. Like any brawl, it can be interrupted--but Monsters hate it when people infere... and sometimes unite to kill distractions.

harder to hurt, but Lower HP

Since monsters are so much harder to damage, should their hit points (10 per tier) be lower? Yeah, finding 40 Smite Monster spells is a bit much, so we’re cutting monster HP in half (to 5 per tier). War machine shots deal 5 damage to monsters. Higher tier monsters may take some time to defeat…

And if monsters end up being too powerful? (That’s not the worst thing to have at a fantasy larp, right?) We’ll listen to your post-event feedback and recalibrate in future years. 

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This seems to roshambo monsters into the war machine and combatant mix. Monsters > Combatants > War Machines > Monsters

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