Physical challenges - how have you seen them done?

James Trotta

Diversity Committee
I think we should have more physical challenges. For part of the player base it gives them a chance to shine outside of combat (although it may be that the same players who shine in combat can also shine in other physical challenges). Plus physical activity is good. It's one of the things we (I think this we includes a lot of larpers) like about larping.

The first one I saw was at the old Brooklyn mod site. There were some crates on the concrete floor that represented stones. Players had to jump from stone to stone to get to the other side. If they fell something bad happened. I remember the crates sliding along the floor making this challenge pretty dangerous. I was surprised I didn't see anyone crack their head on the concrete.

In the old MD chapter I remember some sort of maze thing. There were traps in there and we couldn't see anything. Somehow the only person who set off a trap was the marshal who set the traps. It was total luck.

In Ashbury they have a tournament that has involved races.

In MD there was a race through the woods with a twist, since the NPCs hired some players to hang out in the woods and try to take down the racers. That was especially fun I thought.

Another one I saw in Ashbury involved a few NPCs who came along and wanted to wrestle the PCs. I'd have enjoyed an actual competition, which would have broken a few rules I guess. It turned into a WWE style thing with the NPCs losing every time. I got the feeling they were just giving away treasure and it was more of a RP challenge - could you act like a WWE person? It wasn't much of a physical challenge, but that's fine because RP treasure is cool too.

I remember a few modules that involved crawling through tunnels. I don't know if that's a real challenge but it's something different.

What physical challenges have you seen and how well did they work?

norman b

We had a building collapse on characters (not really). The PC's trapped sat evenly spaced out along the pavilion. The rescuing PC's then had to move 3 benches, one at a time to each character to represent moving debris. They had to do it all within 5 minutes or else someone would rez. Once a character moved one bench, he had to rest for 10-30 seconds. Golems were allowed to move them by themselves with a 3 count between. All other benches had to have 2 PC's on it to move it. It was a lot of fun.


Nine Towers has had a series of mods that the playerbase has affectionately referred to as "Jumpy Mod(s)," which are amazing and wonderful. They have incorporated jumping between marked squares with Consequences for missing, positioning oneself to avoid clockwork NPC statues in order to reach an objective, protecting and advancing a Jenga tower in the midst of combat, and other things of that nature. Much fun!


Nine Towers has had a series of mods that the playerbase has affectionately referred to as "Jumpy Mod(s)," which are amazing and wonderful. They have incorporated jumping between marked squares with Consequences for missing, positioning oneself to avoid clockwork NPC statues in order to reach an objective, protecting and advancing a Jenga tower in the midst of combat, and other things of that nature. Much fun!
We had something like this at a Seattle event that I attended as Cael. The ground was hot lava (no really!) and we had to jump from safe rock to safe rock while being attacked by fire elementals. This was especially entertaining to everyone watching since I managed to pull it off while wearing plate.


We've done a lot of physical puzzles in another larp called IFGS that I played for a while. One thing we found useful is old bicycle tires painted brown or gray as jumpy stones. They don't slide out from under your feet when you jump on them.


To this list I would add the puzzle mod, in that your character stats do not matter. I have see jumpy stones of many kinds with many consequences. I did a module once where the PC's had to hot potato a number of balloons which were filled with certain items across said jumpy stones with monsters trying to get at the Balloons. I did a mod with a blacksmith puzzle where the bulk of it was circle locked in a one person circle of power with the key to the box they came for being the piece you get loose and monsters re-spawning until the box was opened. I like doing modules where the hills were used and in game where players had to literally pick up and move wooden boxes with stuff however quickly as they could. I did a red rover mod where the NPC's were trying to just get past them to an exit point. I have seen tests of aim where you needed to land one of each type of elemental spell on a target to advance, I have seen tunnels, and I have seen web string filled rooms (with and without spiders).

Really the challenges are limited only by what you can imagine representing. Most of them present challenges to standard in the field "safe" combat. But that does not mean you cannot be creative.

The best part is that it allow you to scale a module and introduce a challenge without having to cry about how many magic items such and such person has.

Joe Siegel


I like physical puzzle mods, but at the same time, we have a NO STUNTS policy for pretty good reasons. I've broken a foot playing this game, had one of my groupmates tear all the skin off one of his toes, seen several other similar minor injuries over the years.

Kzoo, at one point, did a whole mod that was an Indiana Jones style series of death traps, repped by a maze built of tables covered in tarps to work as 'walls', with NPCs using various claws and props, swinging on a given route and rhythm so the players could time their movements, to represent the 'traps'. It was very fun!

Chicago did a similar thing in June, with a mod that included a swamp that drained everyone who touched it, so we ended up playing 'the ground is lava' to get someone to a node that needed to be cast into to destroy it. Also very fun!


There was a pretty hilarious time watching someone try to do the laser field dance and belly crawl through a cabin that was strung with strands of cobwebs.

I'm a little wary of challenges that rely entirely on your personal physical abilities, without any way for your character to help, because I'm a wet blanket who doesn't always play wet blankets, and I like my characters to be able to do things I can't.


We use foam floor mats. Players either have to hop to each one, or weave through them blindfolded and guided by another player etc. There are tons of those kinds of ideas if you google 'Team building exercises".
I've seen plenty of jumping stones challenges with various consequences. We've also had several "Don't touch the strings" challenges where rebar spikes were driven into the ground and had strings woven in and out and between them- the PCs had to duck, crawl, and wriggle through the mesh of strings to get to the other side. Sometimes they were immediate webs on contact, sometimes they were deaths, could be anything. They were a lot of fun.

My favorite physical challenge (well, physical for some of us! :p ) actually happened recently. We (the ENTIRE player base. This was a mod that was used to open game) were trying to get into a Dwarven town through an abandoned mining shaft/tunnel. There was an alternate route through a puzzle locked door for people who didn't want to participate in the physical challenge.

Okay, so, we all show up to the entrance to the shaft. There's a (real) disassembled large cart there, along with instructions. We had to assemble the cart (took an embarrassingly long amount of time) and then ride the cart into the mine. One of the PCs is OOG very, very strong so he went OOG to drag us all through the mine on the cart.
Sir Krieger and I got into the cart (the cart could fit two people with a little squish) and our friend with a headband on got at the front and hauled the thing all the way across the field (which was surprisingly terrifying and bumpy, the field was pretty squishy) and through into the tavern area where tables had been set up like a maze with NPCs in troll masks standing on the tables. The NPCs rained arrows and weapon blows down on us as we trundled past- it was amazing.

Since there were a good ~30 PCs who decided to take the cart the poor guy hauling us had to run all of us through in 2s. He was looking pretty tuckered by the end of this prodigious feat, but brushed off our concern by telling us it was cool because he "hadn't had a chance to go to the gym today, so this was a good replacement." :eek:
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Physical challenges, and puzzles, are my most favorite and most disliked aspect to the game. What makes them awesome is what makes them terrible (and vice versa): as Joe mentioned - your character stats don't matter.

For low level characters, this can mean being able to meaningfully contribute to the challenge. For high level characters, this can mean being utterly useless despite having "been around the block". It is generally a challenge for the players, rather than the characters. You can always play dumber/less agile/weaker than you are, but there's nothing in the system that allows you to play more <those things> than you are.

James Trotta

Diversity Committee
I agree with people who say that physical challenges can be unfun - especially if there's one you can't do or don't feel safe doing or whatever. Not every physical challenge will appeal to every player character. That's fine.

I think that when plot puts out safe physical challenges, someone always enjoys them, usually a bunch of people. They seem like an excellent change of pace. I wouldn't want to spend 3 days running through the woods, but a quick race with players trying to chop the racers down? 1 NPC entertained 10-15 players for half an hour. Players got to play at intrigue a little bit (I remember making a deal with the alchemist to throw his gasses at the other racers). Hopefully the players who wanted nothing to do with the race in the woods had something to do as well. There were certainly enough NPCs left to make something happen.


I think the focus should be on Plot ensuring that all players will have challenges that appeal to them as players. Meaning that instead of having a series of physical challenges for a group of players who might not all be interested, that you might need to have an alternative way to contribute that the other players would enjoy.

Don't want to do the obstacle course? Cool, there's this puzzle that needs solving while the other guys are doing the course. Also not good at puzzles? That's cool...there's going to be a small wave of monsters who are going to attack the puzzle solvers, or try to get into the obstacle course. Deal with those guys!

I don't think physical challenges are necessarily good or bad, I feel one-dimensional mods could leave some players feeling excluded, and -that's- bad.


I like 'environmental' things. Jumpy puzzles, string mazes, balance beam things or lock puzzles. Its FUN, and FUN is what our product here is. Do you remember the 7th mod where you went and killed goblins, or do you remember the mod where you had to walk across a grid made of the tops of walls of force while fighting flying constructs with dispels? How about the multi part trap mod that was so devious that your team had to go back and find a 2nd person with legerdemain to rescue you?

Is being an 18 year old runner an advantage in those? Oh hell yes it is. Is being old and fat and slow a disadvantage on those? Yep. Im terribad at some of these physical challanges now.

But our system dosnt provide any abilities (beyond resist ____ in a few circumstances) to combat them. I keep the 'Role Play' part of LARP in mind a lot, but this falls under the "Live Action" side of things.
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I while back, at my chapter, we did a dodgeball game, with the twist that you had to say "I call forth a dodgeball!" when you threw it, and everyone's abilities/transforms were suppressed. We also had an actual archery tournament with a boffer arrow, which a brand new player (a little girl, too ) ended up winning.


I am very athletic, yet I like it when physical challenges have a nuance that allows the 'be all you can't be' nature of the game to shine. Like you get a do-over for one missed step from expending a Dodge or Craftsman (Brawler) whatever. Even a little middle-ground goes a long way to meeting my preference.