Sword develpoments

After testing our previous sword intensively and learning all we can from it, it is once again time to create the next prototype in the series (this will be the 4th development sword so far).  The new sword is currently being created, but in the meantime, we have been writing new, and more sophisticated animations based on feedback from the community.

Below is a video cycling through the different animations that the sword needs.

We are using the 3rd sword to run the animations in the video, but the new firmware will be used for the 4th development sword  (still in production, but hopefully we will be demoing it at the LARP awards next month in Leicester).

Progressively more technical thoughts (sorry, I can’t help it)

Flame animations are notoriously difficult, especially with only a single row of LEDs, and our attempts in the past have been less than impressive.  However this time we have taken heavy inspiration (and some code) from a very well written example from the FASTLED library written by Focalintent.  If you are trying your hand in this area, and using Arduino compatible systems, i thoroughly recommend this library.

Unfortunately the animation timings are incompatible with how the code was originally designed, in particular the sampling rate we are using for the accelerometer, so we will need a complete code re-write to incorporate it.  We will continue to refine the animations too, but are quite pleased with the principles of how it works, and how it transitions between modes smoothly.

As always constructive comments are always welcome 🙂


Unplanned Inspiration

During what is turning out to be our busiest time so far, I have spent most of the last week developing and creating something not in our plan at all..


Because I was inspired to.  It started all innocuously enough.. saw a link to a steampunk monocle, thought “thats cool we can probably do something with this” so ordered one, expecting it to go into a box and wait till I got bored in the future…

It arrived, and while I was working on our “Aether” protocol, it was sitting next to me.. soon enough I was writing code wearing it, and then I had put an LED ring into it, and then was working out where to attach a servo… and then the soldering iron, heat gun, glue gun and a big bag of bits came out.. and all thoughts of wireless communication were put to one side.

Creating it felt right and effortless, it just flowed*, and when this happens, you know that it is worth your time, as for the time put in, the results will be well worth it.  Even if we never build another.

I finished painting it last night, and had the first pass of decent code loaded on.  I need to work on the animations (this seems to always be the thing I put off till last), but I am pleased with how it looks.

Pressing a button causes the front loop to come down for 10 seconds and the animation colour to change (i’ll play with animations more later).  Twisting a knob (potentiometer) on one side changes the brightness of the LEDs.


*except for the point where I drilled partway through a random part of the LED ring by accident and spent several hours repairing it.

The Relentless Advance of Technology

Roughly 7 years ago, Stephen and I looked into the possibility of creating a Larping world where all the gameplay mechanics were hidden away and managed by actual devices, running programs and interfacing with small PCs (this was 4 years before the Raspberry Pi came out), driving real world encounters entirely using programmable components, all linked up in a network and able to influence the world around them (dispense clues / answers, unlock doors, turn lights on/off etc).

In the end we had to shelve it because the technology just wasn’t there to do what we wanted to with the budget that was available to us.

what all LARPtronics projects start off looking like.. but what will they become?

what all LARPtronics projects start off looking like.. but what will they become?

In the last 18 months technology has reached a point where it is so small, cheap and low power, it has the possibility to become ubiquitous.  Most people will point to their smart phones as a prime example, and while this is true.. there is so much more out there, hidden away where you can’t see it.  In addition to appliances, there is a whole world opening up to us:  sensors for all occasions, Smart textiles, flexible circuit boards, conductive thread, capacitive touch fabrics, fabrics that glow or change colours when a current is applied,  high resistive circuits formed by people (and/or bananas).. the list goes on and on.

I no longer need a torch to see my stuff in the dark.. my kit glows.

I no longer need a torch to see my stuff in the dark of my tent.. my kit glows.  This is just the beginning 🙂

A Technology wave called “the internet of things” is rising, and it is on the crest of this that we aim to ride.  In summary it is a vast network of devices all representing real world objects, all being able to communicate with each other appropriately to perform context sensitive functions (IE: a tap is most interested in things like how close to overflowing the sink is, whether the plug is open, and the temperature of the water, but less likely to be interested in football scores, or what’s on TV).

How does this relate to LARP?  Not all of it directly (unless you are running bananaLARP <48 views, only 2 by me btw>, in which case, please keep away), but many of these technologies can have a direct impact in sustaining the suspension of disbelief required in LARP.

For the main part, any simple task that is currently performed by a ref or represented by a system call is fair game for being replaced with a bit of tech.   From simple light/dark spells or discern/sensing abilities to ritual effects or enchantments, all are possible.  Possibly the most exciting aspects of this are the things that previously could not be achieved through refs or system calls, so do not exist in the worlds of LARP at all, but could be made possible through the creative use of technology.

Experimenting with what we have is a critical part in working out what is possible

Experimenting with what we have is a critical part in working out what is possible

But first we must understand the limitations of these technologies, and explore this new world. Some of the things I wanted to do in 2007 will forever remain impossible, some I know are now possible (just look at what we are putting together – they couldn’t have been built 5 years ago outside of a lab), but more excitingly, many things will be possible that I have never dreamed could be so.

Exciting times 🙂


Daring to Dream a little bigger


Larping has always been a crew intensive hobby.

Those that partake know that it would not work at all without the reams and reams of volunteers who donate their time to make the experience as good as it can be.  While a lot of this usually goes in the form of “playing something big and hitty” for the players to fight, there is also a hidden cost of all the time spent where refs are required to babysit an encounter because of a specific event/mechanic that may or may not occur.  A ref’s time is highly valuable while an event is running, and would often be better spent pushing story and flavour, setting the scene, and responding to the latest crazy actions of some of the players.


The end result is often a pragmatic one, there are types of encounter that either do not get run in big systems, or get run in very limited ways.  While a clever ref / story can run without the players ever realising that there are significant limitations, is it not a good thing to dream a little bigger?

Why can I not have a door/chest that is magically sealed and will not open unless the correct unlocking spell is used on it? (without a ref)


There are interactions with the world which can be set up and then left, forgotten until it is time to pack everything away.  Over the course of an event each one of these may trigger multiple times for different groups, and drive plot, fear, or whatever is needed into the game without any ref presence required.

Why can I not have in character traps set waiting for players to stumble into? (without a ref next to it in a high vis jacket giving the game away)


These are common in the world of online gaming, but entirely absent from the world of LARP.

Why can I not have the ability to sense magical effects or specific beings without having to find a ref to tell me?


It is our vision to make this and more a reality through the clever use of technology,  trickery, a fair bit of smoke and possibly the odd mirror 🙂


Come in to the Light

How can we use technology to enhance the worlds of LARP?

Doing so without proving distracting through a seamless integration is key.

Creating a wholly immersive experience, technology that enhances and adds to the experience in a natural way,  removing the need for complex rules or combat calls.

Is this even possible?

We are sure it is.
light effects

We are going to demonstrate it.