What is Forest of Doors?


Forest of Doors is a live action roleplaying game (LARP). A LARP-for those of you unfamiliar with the style-is like a “tabletop” roleplaying game in that, 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. Many LARPs use various systems to describe combat without actual physical contact, in a manner somewhat similar to tabletop games. However, ‘bofferLARPs, take the “Action” part of “Live-Action” even further, for they use padded weapons to simulate actual combat. Safety is the primary concern in such LARPs, and each has their own specialized rules to make the contest fair. It is much less like actual fighting and more like a specialized sport. 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.

Live-combat LARPs have some other unique attributes that tend to set them aside from other LARPs, in that they commonly demand that players actually dress in costume. In fantasy LARPs this usually means wearing historical, period, or outright fantasy costume. Boffer LARPs usually run for a full day or overnight, which means that people end up being in character for anywhere from 8 to 36 hours at a time. Often, boffer LARPs are held at state parks where players can sleep in cabins, tents, or barracks. This means that the game is self-contained without any outside interference from local people (who could possibly be spooked by such things). Of course, boffer LARPs all use padded weapons and spell packets. The weapons are usually made of lightweight plastic pipe surrounded by protective foam to cushion any blows (there are very specific design requirements). Combat does not hurt as a result and is as safe, if not safer, than little league baseball. Magic hurled against foes in combat are represented by cloth packets filled with birdseed, and each packet carries some in-game effect when it hits the enemy. Although, admittedly, the weapons do not look like real life weapons and we aren’t playing a historically accurate game, this generally does not disrupt the actual immersion once you get in character. It is sort of hard to be distracted by how puffy your weapon looks when you are being ambushed by slavering hordes of monsters.

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 6-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. It will keep you guessing time and again.

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”: magical potential contained within the magician. Charges can be obtained through numerous manners, but the most common form is 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 barefoot stroll through the grass, or plays 3 tricks on one person.  On the other hand, the fearful 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 a prism.

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 cater 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. That’s 84 unique spells and 84 unique rituals.  Because of this--and the way spells are learned (see Magic, Ch. 7) 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 passive and active abilities. This means that starting characters, even if they possess no skills (they will, incidentally), will still have a few useful capabilities under their belt. Strong characters can deal extra damage 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; finally, Attuned characters have the ability to detect magic automatically, and they can manifest a magical Charge once per day.  Characters can increase their three traits to higher levels, and they may even purchase a single additional trait, which is limited to level 1.

In addition to the capabilities granted by Traits, we allow every character to use nearly every weapon in the game. If a character is fighting and has his weapon destroyed 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 are offering a lot of character choices, each one either original or classics given a fresh look. We have staples of fantasy LARPing for those who want that, each with fresh twists. 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 fantastic themes of ancient imperial China, with an emphasis on order and harmony.

Forest of Doors is a really good game for people who have been LARPing a while.. 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. We love that stuff! It’s not all highly cerebral character acting though; 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. That’s what it is all about at the end of the day.