An Out-of-Game guide written by founding member Ron Leota
To begin, this is not an “official” staff post, this is a series of advice from my perspective. To give a little history, I’ve been playing Oz since game one and have been fortunate enough to attend all the events. I hope you find this little guide helpful. All games differ in tone, pacing, staff expectation, etc. and I think learning to mesh with those things is vital to a successful first game.
The tone of Oz is unlike any I’ve played in the NW. You’re just as likely to join in an afternoon tea party, as you are to find dismembered bodies littering the tree in front of your home. Wild tone shifts are really part of the fun of Oz. Therefore, I often recommend the film, “Return to Oz” to those who are joining the game, as I feel that film matches our tone fairly well. Often the source material can contradict itself in places, so it’s not perfect and leaves a lot to the imagination.
Oz has a very mixed aesthetic. Storm riders from Earth dress in clothing appropriate for the 1800s (as they are required to be from that century). There’s a mix of high-fantasy, low fantasy, Victorian, and steampunk amongst native Ozians. Check the Colors page for more information about the colors worn by the various regions, if you’re playing someone from Oz, as that’s often important to incorporate into your costume. Oz is probably the most colorful game I’ve ever played, costuming-wise.
Oz is a small game set in a small town. The atmosphere is rather laid back with intervals of chaos and screaming. This pacing is intentional and not for everyone. Those looking for an action-packed experience often find Oz too slow for their tastes. That’s not to say nothing ever happens. As someone who’s played a combat character since the beginning, I get my workout every game. I really want to emphasize the slower pace though, as it helps create the feel of a small town out on the frontier.
Oz and the current player base are good about making our own fun and rolling with the punches. I think this is the core of our community. If you’re finding yourself bored at Oz, try NPCing, playing an alternate character, or just stirring up shenanigans with the other players. Want to see an event like a talent show, concert, dance, etc.? Then put one on. Unlike some play styles, Oz is very much player run in many regards. That’s not to say that staff doesn’t work their butts off to create larger world plots, but many of the small day-to-day events are created by the players. This is not the kind of game where plot is fed to you, which I know can be a system shock for players from more environment-heavy games.
Sometimes people will attempt to interact with the game in ways that the rules don’t cover. While you aren’t required to participate, it’s more fun if you roll with the punches. A good example of this is if a player offers you a drink that is stated to be hallucinogenic in game, it’s more fun to play that up than to state, “no tag, no system”.
Rolling with the punches is a huge thing with Oz. First and foremost, we want to tell a good story and sometimes that means fudging canon ever so slightly, letting a costuming thing slide, or not calling an exhausted NPC for using improper wording in a spell incantation. This only works if we’re a community without rules lawyers. There are plenty of huge systems out there where folks can get into the rules nitty-gritty, but Oz isn’t one of those games.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t follow the mechanical rules of the game, just to be open and understanding about small mistakes and not destroying a scene by breaking character to call out a rules issue. Some games are big on calling out error in the moment, which (in my opinion) tends to be embarrassing for the player and scene-breaking. If there’s something that bothers you, please take it up with staff at an appropriate time “off-screen” or with the player privately. Again, please call out massive cheaters, but little slips here and there aren’t worth breaking the immersion for everyone in the scene to address that “Bob forgot to put his immortal ears on this morning”.
The golden rule is to help everyone have a good time, OOG, and to never abuse the honor system for personal gain.
Oz allows players to take on multiple PCs in a single weekend. This helps make the world feel much bigger and full of life. This fairly unique system can be a lot of fun for those looking to branch out and try something new. That said, there’s nothing wrong with playing the same character for the whole event, as that’s what many people are used to. If you have the energy, I would suggest taking an NPC shift, to help our small crew populate combat and NPC lead scenes. This can give you a lot of IG perks and be a great way to try something new.
Another thing I love about this system, is that it allows people to tell stories they want. Want to run a combat based encounter with you and your friends? You can do that but I’d check with plot to see when the best time is to do that, even though it’s not required. I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with the rules on multiple characters before trying the system out but it’s pretty simple.
I think it's worth noting that Oz is a work in progress. All larps are to some degree or another, but Oz is in a growing phase. The great part of this is that there's room for new people to come in and set their stamp on the game in a way that not possible in larger, more established games. Players can come in, claim buildings, or start In-Game politics to really make the game their own.
Since Horizon’s Stronghold is a pretty established place, you’re probably coming into town as a newcomer of some kind. This is great and allows you to experience the setting. When you initially arrive at site, it’s a good idea to get the lay of the land OOG and to speak with a staff member on what buildings are currently assigned.
You’re welcome to bunk in any empty building or inquire with a business owner about a bed. For example, Dolly’s Tea House often has empty beds available for newcomers. This isn’t a game you should just throw your stuff anywhere when you arrive, so please check with someone to find the right accomodations for you. Also, if you have special needs, please contact staff.
If your character wants to inquire about their own building, they’ll need to speak with the town bureaucrat to get the papers started and to learn about what’s expected of the character (taxes, etc.) Please note, you should only apply for a building if you plan to play Oz long term and attend regularly, as vacant buildings are handed out if there’s no one actively claiming them.
The town’s economy is mostly handled by the merchant characters. You’ll get a certain amount of starting cash and then must seek other means to make money. This can be done by selling goods at market, joining a guild that provides a paycheck, becoming a deputy, or running for a town position. If you’re playing a merchant, it’s a good idea to seek out someone from that guild for assistance.
Group membership is a big part of Oz. Once you’re in game, it’s a good idea to learn about the various groups and eventually sign-up for one. This will give you additional information at the start of each game and often provides you a revenue stream.
Along with the guilds, you’ll also have the option of joining Scarecrow’s Army, Ozma's Army, or the Civil Authority (under Azkedellia). Each of these is run by one of the 3 leaders of Oz (King Scarecrow, Ozma, and Azkedellia). The guilds fall under the purview of these rulers, however, they’re often autonomously run. The Civil Authority maintains the only nationally recognized police force, The Tin Men, who (officially) work with local law enforcement to protect Oz. If you want more info, check out the Ruling Guilds and Armies pages.
I can’t stress enough that it’s a good idea to get character guided. Along with some sweet XP, they can point you in the right direction for many of your specific questions and help you fit the canon of the game.
We hope you've found this helpful and we really look forward to meeting you at Oz. Welcome to the Land Over the Rainbow.