Getting Started with the IFGS

What is the IFGS?

The International Fantasy Gaming Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing quality Live Action Role-Playing events to its members.  More information can be found at the main IFGS website: www.ifgs.org.

What does an IFGS event look like?

IFGS games are set in a medieval era with a heavy dose of high fantasy including magic and monsters.   This involves organizing a small team, normally 4-8 members, which typically travel through a set series of “encounters”, much like a traditional table top Role-Playing Game.  Aside from combat, there is a substantial amount of story, role-playing, and puzzle solving over the course of a day’s adventure!    Most games will last at least four to six hours and can be as long as the entire weekend, though events specifically for new players might last only two or three.

A Weapons Practice is simply a chance to get together and do some padded weapon fighting.  There is no story or role-playing in a Fighter Practice, but it’s a good way to learn the rules and get comfortable with the basics.

You might also get an opportunity to play in a “Bar Game” or “Room Game”.  These games take place in a single location, often an Inn or Tavern.  These are games that are often an in-game way for characters to meet, interact, and usually buy magic items.  Some are very, very full of action, but most are just a great way to hang out as your character, meet other characters, and make in-game friendships that can last your character’s whole life.  They can be a low-pressure way to get started, but may not be the most exciting introduction to IFGS.

Other event types also exist, but these are the three most common and easiest for you to get started.

How do I get started?

First, express your interest!  The IFGS Denver Boulder Facebook page is a great place to introduce yourself and ask questions.

From there, start simple; attend either a Weapons Practice or a game.  To play in a game, you will generally have to be chosen for a team.  Unless you say you want to play, the organizers and team leaders will not know you are available. If you have a full team of your own you want to play with, you may generally all play together, if you have only yourself or a couple people to play with, then you’ll be put with others in order to form a full complement of players.  Either way, you’ll need to let the organizers know.

No matter what, if you need information, or just someone friendly to walk you through stuff, you can always contact our Public Relations chairperson via our contact page.

How much do I need to read before my first game?

You need to know a few things, but not everything!  The most important thing you need to do prior to your first event is to contact the Game Producer and get involved, either as a Player or NPC.  Aside from that, there is a quick start rules set which will teach you the basics of combat.  Between knowing the abilities for the class you will be playing, and the combat basics, you’ll be able to participate.  Game world history and in depth rules will be helpful later, but are not necessary to get going!

We have a number of resources you can check out:

What about weapons and armor?

There are usually plenty of weapons available to borrow for your first event, so don’t worry about trying to bring any to your first game.  The existing player base has an extensive collection as a group, but it’s important that you tell the event organizers what weapons you want to have in advance so they can make arrangements to have those weapons available for you.  Armor is abstract in game; in fact, real armor can damage weapons and so is discouraged.

If you want to make or buy your own weapons for your first game, make sure you find out what the safety standards are.  There are occasionally weapon-making workshops to help you as well.

Padded Weapons?

Padded weapons, including swords, axes, maces and shields are a major component in all IFGS events.  You will be hit and have ample opportunity to hit others, but don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt!  There are some pretty stringent safety standards for weapons, as well as for safe fighting.

Here is a great tutorial on building your first sword.  It was written by Tom Matthews who is an IFGSer but also runs a Summer Larping camp in Boulder, CO (http://www.swordcamp.com/)

What’s an NPC/PC?

An NPC (Non-Player Character) is created by the writers of a game – usually just for a specific game (though some NPC role are recurring across different games) and will portray everything from monsters that ambush the PCs on the road, to holders of information that help a player to succeed in their quest, to everyday people who engage in nothing more than conversation.  The Producer of a game will assign you a specific NPC role and coach you in how to portray that character in order to fit into the overall vision of the game.  NPCs are critical for a successful event and the people who take on that role are in high demand!

A PC (Player Character) on the other hand is a character that you create on your own in order to play in different games in order to grow the character in levels and magical power.  The background of your Player Character will carry on between games and will become more well known as they continue to play.  The character that you create is entirely up to you!  You decide the name and class of your character; you decide the personality traits that determine how your character should react during a game.  As a PC, you participate as the game unfolds around you, and you are figuring out how to “win” the game.

Many people prefer to play an NPC before they ever PC, in order to get a handle on the rules, and get used to the way everything works in a low-pressure, scripted, environment.  As a PC, you must be careful so as not to be killed in a game and there is also the added pressure of trying to figure out the purpose of the quest in order to succeed.  An NPC is given their role and a specific objective that usually requires less familiarity with the IFGS system.

How do I build a character?

There are many character options, but the main thing you need to do is pick your character class.  Pick one that you find most appealing to role-play since that’s what you’ll be doing the most of!  The character classes have very diverse abilities, so you’ll have to do some reading if you want to compare them all.  You’ll also need to choose a character name and think about what weapons you want to use!  Your character may also want an alignment (which are generally the same as they are in D&D) and, if your character is a cleric, you’ll need to choose a deity or higher power.  If you are a knight, you will have to choose an Order, and determine what your Codes are.

What’s a Loremaster?

Think Team Leader.  The Loremaster is the person who organizes their group and relates that information the event organizer.  They’ll be in charge of making sure that all their people show up at their assigned start time and that everyone knows the basics of the game scenario.  They are also in charge of recruiting for their team.  Once you are on a team, your Loremaster (or LM) will be in charge of answering all your questions and getting you anything you might need to play.

What’s a Game Master?

Every group is assigned a Game Master before the event.  The GM is responsible for guiding their group from encounter to encounter, facilitating rules questions, and explaining the “fantasy” of the game.  Everything that is not physically represented in game, be it sweeping vistas or the sounds of wild animals, is presented by the GM.  Some GMs will also take on the task of record keeping for the team.

What do I wear?

This depends on whether you are involved as an NPC or a Player!  If you are a Non-Player Character, usually the Game Producer will give you some idea as to what to wear.  Typically, the Producer will ask you to wear dark or neutral colored clothing that is comfortable and easy to move in and then will provide some additional costuming (i.e., a tabard) that can be worn over your clothing.

As a player though, wear your best fantasy or medieval garb that fits your character’s persona.  No one expects you to invest a fortune in garb for your first event though!  A quick trip to the thrift store might turn up a couple treasures, and even a blousy shirt makes a fine start to a costume.  Make sure you wear something that is going to be comfortable for a few hours outdoors and practical for hiking around first and foremost.

Whether an NPC or PC, make sure that you are wearing good, sturdy shoes or boots!  It’s easy to get in trouble wearing pretty footwear that blisters your feet.

What else should I bring?

Did we mention a good comfortable pair of shoes that are appropriate for the game location?

Most games happen outside, in summer, and last over 5 hours, there are some supplies you should bring with you.  Some of these are: Sunscreen, snacks, water, and a bag or pouch.  Other things, depending on the game-site or time: insect repellent, flashlight, and rain gear.

Where do I sign up?

Check the events calendar for the next event and contact the event organizer; referred to as the Game Producer!  Let them know how many people plan on attending with you.  If you are wanting to PC, also let the Game Producer know your character names and classes and what weapons you’ll need to borrow if you are still new and have not made your own yet.  They’ll put you in touch with the Loremasters and/or a Game Master who will ultimately let you know what time your group starts.

What’s it cost?

The PC fee for a game is based entirely on the cost to run the event.  IFGS is an all volunteer organization; nobody makes money on a game and a game does not try to make a profit.

Full games will run anywhere from $15 for an afternoon to $80 for an entire weekend.  NPCs will have a much lower fee for a game, generally $5 to $10.

What is “membership”?

You might hear people talking about an “IFGS membership” and wonder what it is.  It’s nothing you have to worry about yet, because you don’t have to be a member to play in your first few games.  However, eventually you will be asked to pay for a membership.  This is a $10 yearly fee which covers IFGS wide insurance.  You will get an IFGS number (which will be used to track all your experience and stuff) and a membership card.  You’ll be able to vote if you want to (in both local and national – called “Society”- elections) and you will be insured while in IFGS events.

What is “AAP” and what is “Seven – Oh”?

You may hear people talking about whether a game is running under “AAP” or “Seven-Oh”.  Seven-Oh (actually “IFGS 7.0”) is the official standard rules system.  AAP is an experimental rules-set designed to give more options to players while simplifying combat and combat-math.  AAP is available for download without charge from the “Files” tab of the IFGS Denver Boulder Facebook page.  7.0 rulebooks must be purchased and there are usually plenty for purchase at games for about $25.

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