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The NERO® LARP History

NERO International Holding Co., Inc.
P.O. Box 543
Rye, NY 10580-0543
(914) 930 - 8376
E-mail Us
Last Updated 02/15/2007

The NERO® LARP, founded in 1988 by Ford Ivey, is the premier fantasy live action roleplaying game in the United States and Canada today. With over 45 NERO® Chapters that are committed to providing an enjoyable atmosphere to both youths and adults, the NERO LARP has no match. Those aged under 18 may require parental companions or signatures, and the details vary depending upon the NERO Chapter. The Game emphasizes player character interaction in a well-developed and consistent game world.

Blending the elements of classical fantasy fiction such as Lord of the Rings, and the melodrama of Renaissance fairs, NERO attempts to recreate the Days of Legend and Fantasy as we would like them to be, not as they actually were. The NERO LARP game provides players with an opportunity to experience the thrill of a medieval style adventure firsthand, like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, bringing to life a diverse array of characters in a live action role-playing environment..

The NERO Game Systems and its supplements detail how to operate a live action roleplaying game; track members, build player characters, regulate game play, register for events, update characters, award volunteers, etc.. It also allows members to play their character from one fantasy realm to another yet in a single world environment, while using the treasure gained at one chapter in the other nearby chapters. NERO Game Systems tap into the fantasy tradition of King Arthur, Robin Hood, Tolkein and Renaissance fairs, providing its customers with the opportunity to participate in the plot, in person, in most cases throughout an entire weekend.

NERO® live action role playing was launched in 1988 by Ford Ivey in the Boston Massachusetts area. Ford owned a gaming store and had been operating single day adventures and weekend long events for his customers since 1987 under the auspices of Legends Unlimited, which attracted over 100 players per event. The game was called ‘Weekend in the Woods.’

Ford gathered a group of his players together to help create an in-game town where the staff would play the parts of the core townsfolk and the players would be the adventurers, role-playing with each other and staff, using swords and sorcery to combat adversaries. Ford spent considerable time and energy in building the business to generous proportions and in creating the rules and the in-game world for the local chapters to use.

In the fall of 1991 an article about NERO was published in Dragon Magazine which captured the notice of thousands of gamers. NERO Massachusetts enjoyed attendance by 500 to 700 players for three years thereafter, operating 10-12 weekend long events each year. Ken Courtney and several of his friends in the Pittsburgh PA area saw the article. They attended an event in Massachusetts that October and concluded that this experience should be brought to the Pittsburgh area. They held a very cold event in February of 1992, attracting 22 local adventurers. Thus the Pittsburgh Roleplaying Organization live action role-playing chapter was formed. PRO has staged 10-12 weekend events every year in PA since then, with over 100 people in attendance.

Many more new chapters were started in the years to come, with more than 15 chapters by 1998. For a Complete list of all 40+ NERO LARP Chapters in the U.S. and Canada, visit

After 10 years of owning the local NERO MASS live action roleplaying chapter and operating the parent company, Ford and Maureen Ivey decided to retire from NERO ®, selling the parent company to Joseph Valenti on August 3, 1998.

Since his inception as Owner, Joseph Valenti has been advertising in Realms of Fantasy, Dragon, Dungeon, and Renaissance magazines and has also been promoting Chapter attendance at local RP Conventions. NERO ® has had representation at dozens of conventions each year including Arisia in MA, RuneCon in CT, ICON in Long Island New York, GenCon in Indianapolis, DragonCon in Atlanta, TexCon in Texas, Origins in Ohio, SITCon at Stevens Institute in NJ, Carnage on the Mountain in MA and many others.

Now on its 16th Year with over 44 chapters, NERO LARP Chapters have never been more committed to customer service and providing an entertaining and enjoyable role-playing atmosphere. Players can build depth for their character over a period of time, and enjoy the comfort of traveling to a nearby chapter and playing that same character with all of their possessions.

At the heart of the NERO business are the staff and the event actors and actresses that make it all happen. The Local chapters have between 5 and 30 Staff members, and similar event actors/actresses, all dedicated to making your game experience fun! Join staff at your local chapter.

At the heart of the Game are the Rules that detail what live action roleplaying is all about, how the game mechanics (Combat, Spells, etc.) work, how players interact with each other, and the general idea of the in-game society. The NERO ® Rule Book © contains all the information that a new player needs to know for their first event to be a really great one. The NERO Rule Book © 8th Edition has been in print since March 1, 2000 and is used worldwide by more than 10,000 members. Interested parties may Join NERO or obtain a NERO Rule Book © by contacting the  NERO LARP National  Office via EMAIL or telephone at (914) 309 - 7718..

At the heart of the role-play are the Plot Lines that the local Plot members conceive and operate. Each chapter has its own distinct history, plots, and NPC backgrounds. A variety of storylines are available to every player, and with chapters nearby players can enjoy an even wider venue. National volunteers keep national oriented plot active by attending local chapter’s events and role-playing with the attendees. National and Local Plot writers work together to maintain a consistent single world atmosphere.

The storyline of our game is continuous and ever changing, due partly to the choices of imaginative players. Since the same character is played from event to event, players have the unique opportunity to develop their character over time and define their goals and aspirations. The NERO LARP system encourages its players to submit Character Histories and character fact sheets for plot personnel to use in order to provide personalized enjoyment to each member.

Members play their character and solve mysteries throughout the event, from short plot lines lasting a few hours to long plot lines lasting multiple days, months or even years. Staff interacts with the players providing clues and hints to the differing plots. The players then interact with each other passing the clues and hints among themselves to solve the mystery and/or defeat the adversary.

In many game systems, only those with real out of game skills succeed. However, the NERO LARP is a fantasy game allowing people of all sorts of skill and athletic ability to "be all that they can’t be" using the NERO Rule Book. Players test their skills against mythical creatures such as Goblins, Trolls, and Ogres, using swords and sorcery. There is no stopping the game; not for dinner, sleeping, or anything short of an emergency. Adventuring goes on around you at all times, and sometimes something as simple as traveling from your cabin to the tavern may become a matter of life and death.

Combat is simulated using ‘boffer’ weapons made out of graphite rods, pipe insulation, open cell foam, and duct tape. Each type of weapon is assigned an amount of damage that it does. In addition, each person will have a certain number of "hit points" based on their current skill level, the type of armor worn, and any magical spell protective. Just prior to an attack, a player will speak the amount of damage the swing inflicts (i.e., ‘two normal’ for a short sword) to their opponent. If you are struck, you subtract the amount by which you have been hit from your hit points as well as your armor points. When you reach zero, you fall unconscious and hope there is someone nearby with a healing spell.

Magical spells are represented by small cloth bags about the size of a film canister filled with birdseed or a small sponge golf ball. To cast a spell a player speaks the spell incantation (such as "I call forth a magic missile" or "I call upon the earth to cure light wounds"), and throws the packet at their target. If the phrase is stated correctly and the bean bag hits it’s the target, the spell works. If you stutter the phrase too much or say an incorrect word, or miss with the spell packet, the spell fails.

Using the NERO Rule Book, players ‘buy’ skills with the experience points their character has earned while attending NERO sponsored LARP events, thus improving their character over time. These skills allow players to improve their character’s abilities. Since each player picks their characters skills based upon personal preferences, each character is unique. Skills include magical spells, weapon skills, magical potion, scroll, and alchemy creation, trap disarming, and various weapon skills.

Character Experience is earned by attending role-play oriented events, with a base number of XP automatically given for each event based on a character’s skill level. Experience beyond that amount is represented by game money which can be earned through a variety of methods including the selling of scrolls, potions or alchemy made, entertaining at the tavern for tips, or perhaps hiring yourself out as a bodyguard.

Member, Character, and Event tracking is done via the NERO LARP Member Database, accessible to all NERO LARP Members and to all NERO Chapters. All Game information is kept in a series of Databases written in Filemaker PRO. A total of 15 databases are provided to each chapter to maintain , Equipment (Weapons, Armor, Potions, Scrolls, etc.), Formal Magic Components, Magic Items,  Non-player Characters, Basic Monster statistics (Goblin, Troll, Ogre, etc.) and advanced Monster statistics.

NERO LARP Chapters operate many types of events, from quick adventures to weekend. The full weekend events occur from Friday night at 8pm to Sunday at 2pm. The single day events occur in a faire like atmosphere, and give our members a chance to come learn about our game, and do a bit of role playing. Adventure modules last for about 2 hours and are usually run on Saturday and/or Sunday.

To contact NERO about becoming a member, purchasing a NERO Rule Book © or possibly opening a NERO LARP Chapter in your area, e-mail Joseph Valenti, or call (914) 309 - 7718

 Go Here to find the NERO Chapter nearest you!

All content copyright Joseph Valenti 1986 to 2019, all rights reserved. Tel. 914.309.7718.  e-mail