What is Forest of Doors?
Forest of Doors is a live combat, live action roleplaying game, or “Boffer LARP.”
A LARP-for those of you unfamiliar with the hobby-is like a “tabletop” roleplaying game in some respects, for in both you play a character with their own unique perspective, background, and statistics. Unlike tabletop roleplaying games, however, you actually act out your character’s actions, movements, and dialogue, within a LARP. Personal skill is far more important in this kind of game as a result. Making a good impression on someone is not left to a dice roll; your own personal magnetism decides the situation directly.
Our game, like all live-combat LARPS, takes the “Action” part of “Live-Action” seriously; we use padded weapons to safely simulate actual combat. There is something primal and affecting about facing off against actual monstrous opponents in the dead of night, knowing that your own skill and nerve is what will decide the outcome; few other styles of roleplaying offer immersion this intense and immediate!
Forest of Doors usually runs as a full-weekend event, with one event nearly every month, which means that people end up being in character for very long periods of time. Our game is held at state parks where players can sleep in cabins, tents, or barracks, depending on the nature of the event site itself. Of course, like all boffer LARPs, FoD uses padded weapons and spell packets. The weapons are usually made of lightweight PVC pipe surrounded by protective foam to cushion any blows, and we have specific design requirements to ensure their safety. Magic hurled against foes in combat is represented by cloth packets filled with birdseed, and each packet carries some in-game effect when it hits the enemy.
Forest of Doors has been designed for both new players and veteran LARPers. In fact, easing new players into the LARP genre was one of our stated goals in beginning this project. We go out of our way to make sure that every player gets story related to their character, whether it is a 4-year character nearing retirement or a first time character fresh from your imagination.
For Those Who are Already Familiar with ‘Boffer’ Live Action Roleplaying Games-
Forest of Doors is something new. We like to think of ourselves as a new generation of LARP, dispensing with some time honored traditions while retaining the core that everyone knows and loves. The boffer weapons are still there. The spell packets are still the same. We still have field battles and feasts. It’s going to be familiar, but we do challenge a few long held assumptions. We will keep you guessing.
We diverge from traditional thinking in some respects. A good example would be our magic system. We don’t use pools of mana that reset daily, nor do we use “fire and forget” spell slots. There are no levels or circles of magic. In fact, each spell is roughly as powerful (or useful) as any other spell; the power of magic is entirely determined by the skill of the caster. Characters cast magic by receiving “charges” of magical potential. Charges can be obtained through several ways, but the most common form is through practicing rituals. Each school of magic has its own set of rituals that dictate how and when a character receives a charge. For instance, the fairy magic school (known as Woodsong and Moonsecret) contains rituals that yield charges after the character sleeps for 15 minutes, takes a stroll through the grass, or plays 3 tricks on one person. On the other hand, the magic of the Dark Mountains (known as the Dooms of Light and Shadow) gives people charges for writing descriptions of recent dreams, meditating in thick shadow, or concentrating on their multiplied reflections.
Each spell costs a single charge, but the power of a spell depends on the skill, experience, and mental acuity of the caster. Some spells have multiple “activations” per charge spent, so a single charge can often yield many instances of a single effect. For instance, the Desert of Brass’s damage spell, Heart Seeking Shards, allows a caster to throw several packets that each do 1 damage to the target’s torso; the number of packets the caster gets depends upon how powerful a caster they are.
Another hallmark of our magic system is that there are no duplicate spells. This was very difficult to write since we have 12 spells for each of the 7 worlds, meaning 84 unique spells and 84 unique rituals. Because of this—and the way spells are learned (see Magic)—nearly any character can come into the game with their own unique spell knowledge.
Besides magic, Forest of Doors is a bit unique in that we have what is, fundamentally, an attribute system. All characters are granted three Traits (out of nine) at character creation that give them innate abilities. This means that starting characters, even if they possess no skills (they will, incidentally), will still have several useful capabilities under their belt. Strong characters can perform feats of strength once per day and use heavy equipment; Agile characters can dodge an attack once per day and use offhand weaponry; Charismatic characters are able to charm their way out of difficulties and are especially good at social skills; Attuned characters have the ability to detect magic automatically, and they can resist a magical effect once per day…and the list goes on. Characters can increase their three traits to higher levels, and they may even purchase a single additional trait, though it is limited to level 1.
In addition to the abilities granted by Traits, we allow every character to use nearly every weapon in the game. If a character is fighting and has their weapon broken by some effect, they can stop and pick up any weapon around them if they want and wield it against their attackers. Note, however, that characters who purchase skills for weapons receive abilities that make them much more capable combatants than unskilled novices.
As far as background settings are concerned, we offer a lot of potential choice, each one either a completely original setting, or a classic fantasy trope given a fresh look. We offer the traditional feudal European-style world (Realm of Castles) for those who want the high romance, politics, and easy-to-find-costuming of traditional knights-and-dragons style fantasy. We have the Desert of Brass, which takes as its inspiration mythical Arabia. We also have settings which are quite strange, such as the alien and mystical world of Undersea, or the bizarre, steampunk-inspired Goblin City, which is an underground world of stone, flame, and iron. The Empire of Perfect Unity explores the themes of a fantastic version of ancient imperial China, with an emphasis on order and harmony.
We want to present a game that is deeply personal in intricate ways. Our ritual system, the actions of our NPCs, and the attention to character history and background will make this one of the most personal games around. We as game masters thrive on small moments of personal roleplaying. Have no fear, though; FoD is not all high-emotion and talky drama: we also love action! Boffer LARPing is a high action genre, and we intend to exploit that to its fullest. Ultimately, like every game, we just want to have a good time with our players.