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Advice on Having Fun and being Successful in your endeavors

Most new NERO players are not new to gaming but are new to live role-playing. The two are similar but with one major difference: In a live role-playing game, you must take the initiative to be successful.

In a tabletop game with a game master guiding you, you usually are given options. The game begins when the game master starts the adventure. If things slow down or the players can't figure out what to do, the game master will throw in clues or a fight or something to keep things interesting. And the game master is always there to make sure the players aren't bored. In NERO, there is no game master. You have to find the adventure yourself. If you can't figure out what to do, no one is going to come along and whisper clues in your ear. Just like in real life, if you get involved and take an initiative, you will go much farther than if you just sit around and wonder why nothing interesting ever happens to you.

Believe us, there is plenty to do on a NERO weekend, and a lot of fun out there just waiting for you - but you must find it!

Above all, remember that this is acting where the audience is also the cast; the more everyone puts into it, the more fun there is. For some people, this means finding a group of staunch allies to hang out with in the hope of becoming rich and famous; for others, it means becoming the best individual in town at something so others will seek you out. Imagination is the magic behind it all, and it's one of the many things that gets stronger with use.

Now then, some generalized advice about how you can get the most out of NERO:


Create a believable character with an extensive background

Unfortunately, many NERO players have very sparse character histories that look something like this: "I'm the bastard son/daughter of Baron So-and-So and I want to regain the land/item/title that is rightfully mine." Period. (Amazingly, a large percentage of the player population is made up of bastard sons and daughters of some noble somewhere. There must be an unbelievable amount of hanky panky going on.)

A detailed character history is very important for getting the most out of your NERO game. If you wish for the Plot Committee to throw things your way, be sure to put in something they can use. Go ahead, put in that long lost brother, old enemy, biggest fear, or greatest goal. And be sure to give us their names - otherwise, how will you know we're sending out your arch-enemy if you don't even know what his/her/its name is?

A detailed history which names nothing for Plot to sink its teeth into is good for your own role-playing purposes but will not give you any personal unexpected twists.

Further, sometimes the Plot Committee has a plot that they want to throw at the players and they need a few good "targets." They will often go through character histories and find interesting ones and then "reward" the players with (ahem) some fun.

What it boils down to is this: If you want to advance and get the most you possibly can out of NERO, you absolutely have to submit a character history!

Once written, your character history should be submitted to the local Plot Committee. This should be your true history, and it may even contain information that you the player may know but your character does not!

You should also prepare a version of your character history that your character would tell others. (Obviously, the story you tell might be full of lies; you may not want the truth to be known by everyone.) It should be presented to listeners in character at a NERO event. You can write it out if your character can read and write.

You might also want to go to the Astrologers' Guild and have a chart cast for your character. In order to do this, they will need to know the date, place, and time of your character's birth (if known).

If you are unsure what kind of character you want to be, you might try the next option:


Be a monster or ten!

No amount of advice can guarantee that your first try as a PC will end you up with exactly what you want. Try being an NPC to learn more about the game first. If you NPC, you might end up as a zombie janitor, a sorcerer's apprentice, a bodyguard to a noble mage, a death rogue, a winemaker, a veterinarian, an ogre, a mercenary spy, a spider, or even a statue. You can't be a zombie or a spider PC but every role you play will give you experience in spellcasting, fighting, disarming and setting traps, or solid generic role-playing.

Now you go to your first big weekend event as your character. What to do?


Set reasonable goals for your character

Some new players come into the game imagining themselves as Conan the Invincible, beating down all the evil monsters, becoming the toast of the town, and winning the affections of commoner and noble alike. Others think they will be the world's greatest assassin, sneaking through the woods, stealing from everyone, and becoming rich and powerful. When due to their lack of experience they fail to accomplish these things in their first weekend, these players then get upset. "This isn't any fun!" they think. In order to get power in NERO, you have to be patient. No one starts off the game as a nobody and ends up three days later being appointed a knight or becoming the head of the thieves' guild. It doesn't work that way.

The NERO game gives every character the potential to make a name for themselves. It is not a guarantee. You have to start off small and earn your rewards. All those powerful characters you see in the game started off the same way you did.

You can get a lot of gratification from playing NERO as long as you set reasonable expectations from the start. Vow to pass all tests to become a member of a guild. Aim to impress someone important and be hired as part of his or her entourage. Start an adventuring group and make a name for yourself through your costumes and role-playing skills. Strive to put together all of the pieces of the weekend plot and impress the nobles with the information you have gathered. Make sure that your character knows the consequences of your actions first. Find out what you can and cannot get away with, or you're liable to run afoul of the local laws or step on the wrong toes. If you just walk on in and start your own Thieves' Guild, it's certainly not going to make the current Guild very happy with you.

Most importantly, have the right attitude when doing these things. Introducing yourself as "the greatest fighter on the planet" or otherwise pumping up your ego will only alienate others, make enemies, and hurt you badly in the long run. Be humble and prove yourself through your actions. . .and then when you are powerful and mighty later, you can honestly brag about your skills.


Learn the local food chain

Probably the most embarrassing way to get into deep trouble is to insult, attack, or trust the wrong person. If you're new in town, act like a tourist. Stay at the fringes of things until you have a feel for who the important people are and who you want to collect as friends and allies.

Find a mentor. There are many veteran players who are willing to advise new players, from telling them how to avoid being poisoned to telling them where to go for training in various skills. You can often tell who these people are by the large number of people they greet and are greeted by as they wander through town. Anybody who does not look foul tempered or Terribly Important is usually willing to answer questions about the latest gossip, grudges and adventures. A good place to start would be to check out the local guilds.

Don't be afraid to ask questions! Most people are willing to answer. There is a common misconception that all the nobility want nothing to do with the new folk in town, but you may be surprised at how well you are received. Everyone is always looking for new allies and sources of information, and if they are too busy to help, they just might recommend someone who can. In general, you should make powerful friends. They will be useful.


Look for adventure

Adventures rarely just come up and bite you on the nose (although goblins may do so). There are no neon signs saying "Adventure Here!" You have to look for them.

Some are easier to find than others. If you hang around the tavern a lot, sooner or later someone might come in looking for mercenaries to help on a quest. Joining a guild, the Royal Army, the Town Guard, or a noble team is a good way to immediately get involved in lots of interesting plots.

Another way to find adventures is to walk through the woods. Monsters are known to camp out in the woods, and often you can even find hidden caves worth exploring or other strange goings-on. Don't just hang around town waiting for them to come to you!

Pay attention to rumors. Some chapters will even give you a sheet at check-in filled with rumors. Others will have NPCs in the tavern whispering rumors. (Some have both.) The rumors may say things about other players (gathered from their character histories), about political intrigue, about monster abilities, or the local history. These rumors are not all true! There may also be rumors about things happening at that event which could lead to an adventure or perhaps even give you a clue as to how to get past a certain encounter in a module.

For example, once a Rumor Sheet had the statement: "Wizard Glick has been seen walking around town carrying a large sponge very protectively." A module that weekend took place in Wizard Glick's home. In the module, a note found told the players that to get through a certain door, they needed a "skeleton key." The sponge found in a washroom in the module was the "key" needed (since a sponge is essentially a skeleton). Players who remembered the rumor about how important the sponge was to Wizard Glick had a head start in figuring out this puzzle, and realized that the sponge was more than a mere atmospheric prop. (And yes, that was an extremely hard puzzle. No, they're not usually that hard, but on the other hand, don't expect to be spoon-fed in NERO.)

Rumors on Rumor Sheets are also "split up" onto more than one sheet so that no one person gets all the information. This requires you to role-play with other players to find out what you need. For example, if we want you to learn that Cerik the vampire lives in a cave on the edge of town and that a strange old hermit vampire hunter named Phil has information about the cave's whereabouts, this information is going to be placed in many different rumors spread out on many different Rumor Sheets. You will see "There is a vampire living in a cave near town," "A crazed hermit lives in the woods," "The hermit knows all about vampires," "The hermit's name is Phil," "Cerik the Vampire hates Phil," and so on, each on a separate Rumor Sheet. In order to find all the information you need to go on this particular adventure, you will have to talk to as many people as you can to see what rumors they have heard.

Other clues and rumors will be dropped into game in in-game ways, and will often be aimed at new adventurers. NERO tries whenever possible to always have a few modules for beginning players since the more experienced players already know how to get involved in the NERO plot. NERO will drop these clues to allow new players to get involved, but all too often these "clues" end up in the hands of experienced players anyway because the new players do not seize the opportunity.

For example, one time the Plot Committee had a messenger deliver a treasure map to the wrong group (on purpose) after first plowing through a second group and dying while in their view. The second group looked up for a minute and then kept on walking. Despite the Plot Committee's help, the inexperienced group handed over the adventure to an experienced one instead of trying to do the adventure themselves.

Another time, an NPC came up to a group of players and began engaging them in a game of cards. Meanwhile, a poor street waif (who was the real start to the adventure) literally had to fall over the players to get their attention. Because the group was so distracted by the card playing NPC, they paid no attention to the waif, who then found another group to go on the adventure. Remember that anything and everything you experience may be important!

Take the initiative; do it yourself! Only one person can make you a hero and that's you. The more you know, the more you can get out of NERO. This leads us to the next point.

t information

The person who first said "knowledge is power" wasn't kidding. Consider information as a type of treasure to be obtained, for in NERO it is as valuable as gold. It could make the difference between life and death. Characters have died in the past because they didn't prepare well enough by asking the right people the right questions.

Be smart about it. Too often, new players walk up to the tavernkeeper or a guild leader and say "Know of any adventure hereabouts?" - which if you think about it is a pretty silly question. "There's adventure everywhere around here!" is the usual answer. Instead, ask if they have any work they need done or if they know anyone who does. Ask if anything unusual has been happening lately. Take a news item you have heard about or a piece of gossip and start a conversation. Most importantly, offer something in return. Nothing is free!

There are lots of people in-game who can give you all sorts of help. It is surprising how infrequently people take advantage of information easily available. Often NPCs will be given important plot clues but told not to give them out unless the players specifically ask. Other times information will be "sold" by other NPCs. Even more importantly, other players may have information that you need but you don't realize it because you never talked to them about it. Be prepared to pay for important information, either with money or with information of your own.

Along these same lines, don't hog the information you have! Unlike regular treasure, you can give away information and still possess it. Not sharing information has hurt many players. Often major plot events for the weekend require the putting together of clues obtained in various modules, each obtained by different groups. Sometimes the groups think that sharing the information means that they will not get to go on the penultimate module they theorize will end the weekend event and so they don't talk to anyone about what they discovered. Whenever that happens, the weekend plot goes unsolved, and everybody loses.

To reiterate: The best way to get lots of important information is to talk to everyone you meet, especially if it is someone new. "Hail, fellow! What brings you to our fine town?" is a good way to get the ball rolling. If it seems that the nobility seem to be at the center of many plots, it is mostly because they actively greet every new person they see and they find out everything that is going on around town. This also explains why gypsies are usually also involved, being the outgoing folk they are.

Again, keep in mind that players can also start their own rumors. Some of these will drive you nuts and others will save your life. There have been characters who were left alone when they first came to town because they were rumored to be an agent of a very powerful Lord who would take revenge if they were harmed. Other players let rumors spread that they had no need to go about heavily armed or armored for unspecified reasons. In both cases, the players started their own rumors and stayed alive because of them.

The more you know about the people and the world in which the game takes place, the better you will be able to quickly understand what information is important and what isn't. Read your in-game history and pay attention to any updates you may learn through newsletters, Rumor Sheets, and in-game by talking to others.

Remember, everything you read or hear isn't necessarily true! There is no such thing as an unbiased history. Like histories in the real world, our in-game histories have been written by people with viewpoints which may skew perceptions of various events. Further, there may be facts of which the writer is not aware. There are bound to be biases and mistakes. Don't believe everything you read!

Keep notes of your adventures and the information you obtain in them; you never know, they may be important some day. Players who keep notes are already step ahead each time a new game begins. When Lola the dwarf comes to town, the smart player can check his or her notes and know that Lola appeared in town a year and a half ago, was looking for her long lost brother, had the key to the Mystic Orb, was the cause of the riots or 594, and had the first line of a riddle that would lead to great wealth. Re member that in NERO, plots do not start and end at an event but run constantly, and the player who has the information can take advantage of it.

Get as much information as you can as often as possible. The largest cause of boredom among new players is not assuming that everything they see and hear is potentially important. (Remember the story of the card player and the waif!) Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also got her involved in lots of adventures along the way!

Don't assume everyone is your enemy

Be suspicious and careful, yes, but realize that sometimes more can be accomplished through cooperation. Often groups have failed because they distrusted everyone.

Here's an example: A group of adventurers found a deaf girl tied up and being held hostage by goblins. They killed the goblins, and then took the girl along but refused to untie her. As it turned out, she was the only one who could get through a magical barrier that caused great damage due to sound. Because the group treated her so badly, she refused to help and the group could not complete its quest. Remember, if you screw up, no one is going to come along and make things all better. You lost, and later, another group that won't screw up will take the treasure and the credit. You'll just have to do better next time.

Sometimes in modules key encounters are placed at a crossroads. If you treat the NPC at the encounter unfairly, then the NPC may tell you the wrong path to take or may not tell you the information you need.

Use common sense here! Not every evil thing should (or can) be killed outright. Sometimes a powerful being is sent into town merely to frighten you. Maybe it is there to provide you with information, or maybe it's just there for your role-playing fun. And not every plot can be solved with a sword.

Always remember your quest. Perhaps you may have to treat an evil person nicely so that you may get the information you need. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and put up with the obnoxious shoe salesman you'd like to kill because he knows which path to take. And remember that the person you harm or kill may just resurrect with full memory and come back for revenge (Yes, NPCs can resurrect too!).

On the other hand, there is no such thing as paranoia! There really are lots of nasties out there trying to get you - as well as some of the townsfolk. The first thing to remember is to trust only the people you know. The second is that a target leaving the battlefield at high speed is harder to hit than one charging straight at a group of 20th level death knights. Until you can be sure of having a decent chance of survival, running is a valuable tactic. Not every NERO battle is necessarily winnable.

Organize your time

Don't spend all weekend out in the woods hunting monsters. It's a lot of fun and a good source for treasure, but let's face it, while you're out there, you have no idea what is going on in the rest of town. Don't misunderstand us - if that's how you have fun in NERO, then go right ahead! The most important thing is to have fun. If you measure success for your character as earning money and going on lots of modules, then go that route, but if you judge success by whether your character gains status in the in-game society, then you'll have to get involved. You'll have to talk to people in town, figure out what the weekend plot is about and who the important characters are, and what you can do to get yourself involved in it. You have to be there and force your way in. Don't later complain that the plot didn't involve you when you weren't there to get involved in it!

Similarly, don't equate long-term success in the game only with gaining money and XP. The two do not necessarily go hand in hand. If you spend all your time hunting for monsters out in the woods, you will never make the contacts in town you need to make in order to get that fame and fortune you desire.

Start a Group

Don't wait for a group to ask you to join, start your own! A good sized group should contain around ten people so that there will always be about six ready for any module that happens to show up.

Get a good mixture of character classes. Don't wait until the middle of an adventure to suddenly discover that you need a thief in order to get into a certain room. An unbalanced party has been the downfall of many an adventuring group.

You do not need approval of any marshal to start a group (but you should let the Plot Committee know for future events).

Once you've established a group, don't fight among yourselves. Pick a leader. The leader should not be a dictator, but instead listen to all suggestions and pick the wisest action. Having a leader is most important in stressful situations. There is no time to call a committee meeting to decide whether to retreat from a battle. The group should delegate the authority for snap decision making to one person, and then follow that person's orders. If it turned out that person was wrong or made a mistake, that can be dealt with later.

Most parties that fail on modules do so because of poor leadership. If the group wishes to be successful, it must have someone to give them direction. Nobody likes to be bossed around, but some carefully worded instructions in a friendly tone of voice can carry a lot of weight.

A player who insists on doing things their own way and who runs off on their own will usually die because of it. You need to put aside differences in order to accomplish your goals. If you're constantly running off or arguing with your group, it won't be long before no one will invite you to join them and no one will help you out.

This is not to say that you should sacrifice your individuality or your personal role-playing quirks. It simply means that you've got to remember that you are not the only one involved. If you go wandering off in the middle of a module, you not only risk serious harm to yourself but also to the success of your group as a whole.

Have a battle strategy for your group. Any plan for fighting should include protecting your healers and mages. The plan that seems to work best for most groups is a sort of fighting wedge, where two fighters protect the mage behind them who can then cast spells over them. Healers should stay in the rear and throw healing spells at the party's backs. Necromancers should be up front throwing damage causing spells with the mage (unless there are witnesses around!). Come up with your own strategies and then practice!

If you don't have your own group with which to adventure, you can also align yourself with an already existing group. Or have your group align itself with another group. The nobles sometimes need adventurers to act as spies or messengers so that they won't get caught doing the dirty work. The Mages' Guild is always looking for apprentices. The Royal Army may be looking for recruits. The tavern almost always needs guards, entertainers, and servers. All of these ways will lead to adventure and if not, at least you'll get paid!

Write your own plots

Believe it or not, most of what the Plot Committee does is coordinate. Some things you will encounter on a weekend are completely plot inventions, but quite a few actions are started by players. The Plot Committee has been there to distribute threatening letters, provide an NPC for a specific "discovery," or otherwise react to suggestions from players, and players are always surprised when they discover that an interesting plot twist was created by another player in-game! So make your own plots - use your imagination!

Here are some suggestions of ways to get yourself known in town, involved in plots, and earning game money:

Sell out-of-game items. For example, you can make some chainmail and sell it for real money and game money. Or perhaps you have some old junk jewelry you want to donate to NERO and sell as game jewelry for game money. If allowed by the campsite, you may be able to sell food (or at least baked goods).

Sell in-game items such as potions, scrolls, alchemical solutions, and armor repair. You can sell NERO weapons and armor for real money and game money.

Sell a service. Start a bodyguard's guild. Open a massage parlor and sell backrubs. How about a funeral parlor? There's always a need for someone in town to gather information and become the Town Sage.

Start a competitive guild. There is no reason why you can't start a second armorsmith shop or alchemy guild or thieves' guild. How about an Adventurers' Guild run as an employment agency where you can find adventures for other players (for a fee of course!)?

Start a school. Every player needs other players to teach them skills they need. Maybe you can train people in real skills as well as game skills. It is one thing to teach someone the skill in-game Pick Locks but it is another thing entirely to teach them out-of-game how to do it!

Blackmail somebody. We'll leave this idea to your own devices.

Become a "Robin Hood" stealing from the rich (Hey, compared to peasants, all adventurers are rich.). You can decide later whether to give it to the poor.

Use your imagination! There's plenty of ways to get involved!

To be honest, it is hard to really pre-plan what you will be doing in the future because the plot can go racing off in all sorts of unpredictable ways (just like in real life), and the key is to remember that if something more interesting comes along, don't be tied to your idea of what you want to do.

Have your own adventures

Get your group together on non-NERO weekends and run your own adventures for practice. If you want to write an adventure module for your own group to have, that's fine - but it cannot affect regular plot. In other words, your character can go on an adventure where he gets 15 magic swords, becomes 33rd level, and rules the world, but when he shows up on the next NERO adventure, none of it has happened. ("Gee, it was all a dream!") Go ahead, use our rules, we don't mind (as long as you don't charge admission).

Your own in-game "modules" (for informational purposes only) can be performed without NERO's approval and can be allowed in-game as affecting plot. For example, if your group arranges a meeting with another group to discuss an alliance, then that is perfectly allowable and encouraged.

Don't whine!

If you are an active player, chances are some other player will eventually want to kill/capture/arrest you. The "good guys" and the "bad guys" are always at odds, and both sides have had their share of successes and failures.

If you decide to play the world's sneakiest assassin, understand that there will be other players out to stop you. If you are the most honorable knight, there will be dishonorable people out to put you in your place. Don't take it personally and don't get upset if they get you. You'll just have to try harder next time.

Don't cheat!

If you fight unfairly, refuse to count damage points against you, or argue constantly over every spell, then two things could happen: (1) Everyone else will say "Well, if he's not counting the damage I'm doing to him, then I won't count the damage he is doing to me," and then no one is having any fun and (2) you will be reported to a marshal who may bring disciplinary action against you. We have kicked out cheaters in the past; don't think it won't happen to you.


Remember that the "R" in NERO stands for "role-playing."

Bashing something/someone may be good exercise but it may not always be the best way to get ahead in the world. Not every problem can be solved by beating it into the ground.

If you are the world's best fighter but you don't care a bit about making a believable character, acting appropriately to situations, or even wearing a decent costume, you will never get very far in status in any NERO group.

Staying in character is the key. Don't make references to out-of-game situations. Don't say "I just bought my second proficiency," say "I have been training and can now do twice as much damage as I once could." If someone asks your level (an out-of-game question since levels are not in-game), respond by saying something like "Well, I can now cast 5th level spells, is that what you are asking?" If you want to get ahead in NERO, you have to become your character.

This point can't be overemphasized. New players who put some time and effort into their costumes, try to constantly stay in character, and put a serious concern into role-playing will find that it won't be long until the old-timers will notice, perhaps hire them for a quest, take them on as bodyguards, or otherwise get them involved. Then before they know it, they are in the thick of things. This is not an exaggeration; ask any experienced player.


If it needs help doing, help do it!

There are many NERO committees doing the work needed to make each event a memorable one. Every person on these committees is there by virtue of being a dedicated volunteer who has shown the needed abilities. Look around you at a weekend: the committees are all around you, sharing the hassles and the fun. The only difference is that they get tired before they miss a night's sleep.

The idea is simple: NERO is as much fun as it is (and as cheap as it is compared with other such groups) because it depends on the work of volunteers.

Help set up an event or clean up after one. Hammer a few nails or paint something for the Props Committee. Write and run a module or a weekend. Train to become a marshal. You will meet dedicated NERO members this way, and many of them will form an opi nion of you that will carry into in-game situations. Besides, the usual method of handling tedious preparation work is to bring up old adventuring stories - exactly the thing you need to get the best advice!

Whether you start a legendary adventuring group, do brilliant work designing and making props, or become a first-rate writer of modules and weekends, you are what makes NERO as great as it is. . . so do it!

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