Here's an example of a typical NERO weekend as experienced by a new player (You!):
Once you have your character established, you check in for a NERO event. You are given a small amount of starting money some paper tags representing your starting equipment and a character card which lists your current skills and other pertinent information. You will get a new card for every event in order to keep this information accurate and up to date. This allows you, other characters, and the game marshals to keep track of your abilities should any disputes arise.
You also have to get your weapon checked. Even players who attend every event must get their weapons checked each time. If your weapon is approved, you are given a safety tag that is attached to your weapon.
If you do not have one already, you are given a cabin assignment. Once you have finished checking in to the event, you put on a white headband (signifying that you are out-of-game) and carry your bedding and other equipment to your room. You are then ready to get into your costume.
One thing you notice is that everyone in the NERO game wears a costume. The type of clothes you wear can also help with your Armor Points. The more armor you wear and the better made it is the more points of protection you will have.
The time that game begins will vary based on the chapter and the length of the event, but all weekend and longer events typically start between 9 pm and 11 pm Friday night. Prior to the start of game will be opening ceremonies where the weekend coordinators go over the chapter's policies, camp rules, and any plot information that would be known by all characters.
It's Friday night and the town is buzzing. Guilds are having meetings, adventuring groups are planning strategy, the elves are having a ceremony, and the tavern is packed. Rumors of a zombie attack are floating about and the political situation doesn't look too secure. Life could be easier—but it could also be boring. You adjust your boots, make sure your dagger is handy, and start walking at a leisurely pace over to the tavern, but only get a few steps before something jumps out at you. It's a goblin! You can tell by the ugly green face.
Goblins and other monsters are some of the Non-Player Characters (NPCs) in NERO. Members who want to play monsters get special benefits for that event but must do what the chapter hosting the event tells them.
The goblin advances and swings his sword. You pull out your trusty dagger.
Weapons in NERO are soft "boffer" weapons. They are basically PVC piping covered with foam rubber, with very soft ends; other weapons might be made of soft latex. Injuries are very rare occurrences at NERO events—a game of little league baseball is more dangerous than a NERO combat. Players in NERO buy their equipment and weapons though we also provide instructions for making them.
A dagger only does one point of damage while a long sword (which the goblin has) does two. The goblin knows this and smiles (or at least you think he does behind his goblin mask). What the goblin doesn't know is that one of the skills you bought with your Build Points is a Critical Attack which allows you to do an extra point of damage.
The battle begins. Each of you calls out what damage you are doing so the other player can keep track. "Two Normal!" yells the goblin.
"Two Normal!" you reply, using your Critical Attack in the hopes of finishing off the goblin before he finishes you! The goblin lunges at your chest, but you jump aside just at the last moment! As he passes by, you jab at his back with your dagger. "Ow!" screams the goblin. "Dat hurt! Me no like you!" You grin and swing out again, just to tease and torment the creature. He advances. "Me now teach you lesson!" With a lightning quick thrust, he swings at your chest. You try to block with your dagger, but fail to bring your weapon up in time to block the attack... Your now ruined shirt tells you that it might be a good idea to be a bit more careful with this foe. You make a mental note to find someone to teach you how to fight with a long sword as soon as possible.
You now have both taken two points of damage. Since you've never fought a goblin before, you don't know how many total points he has. Will the next hit bring him down?
"Give up, smelly human?"
"Never!" you reply, jumping in and taking the foul creature by surprise. His yelp of pain as your dagger slices his chest is very satisfying. . .but he's still up! Perhaps running away might be a good option.
The goblin senses your apprehension and follows with a flurry of attacks. You are able to block most of them, but one lands its target, cutting through your torn shirt and releasing a spray of blood. The goblin laughs triumphantly.
That does it! This really sparks your anger and you lunge in like a mad man, hacking away at the green-skinned creature. This is more than he can take, and he falls to the ground.
You stand there breathing heavily for a minute, and then you lean over him and search him.
"I search you," you say. He hands you three copper pieces and a strange locked box he had on him.
Now that the fight is over you must mark (by removing tags or marking your character skill sheet) that you've used a critical attack, and that you have taken four points of damage. You only have four Body Points left! Better find some healing before your next encounter.
If you die either in battle or by execution, your character can then be resurrected. See the section of the rule book dealing with Death for more information on what happens when your character dies.
You walk into the bustling tavern. Some local bards are playing quietly in a corner. As you look around the tavern you are surprised to see the local Baron himself, sitting with the Magistrate and the Sheriff! They seem to arguing over something and it must be important given how many other people are sitting nearby trying to pretend they're not listening.
You find a spot and sit. The gypsy tavern keeper dances over to you and brings you a drink for a silver piece.
A woman sits nearby and pulls out a book and begins reading, by the glow of her hands, you can tell that she is a spell caster. You walk over.
"Good evening," you say. "Might you be a healer?"
"Yes I am," she replies. "I am Arcadia. Are you in need of help?"
You tell her about your encounter with the goblin and ask if she can spare a Cure Light Wounds spell. She states that such a spell would cost three silver pieces.
"I only have two," you reply, showing her your meager wealth.
She glances at you and sighs. "Very well," she says. "I have to make a living, but I took an oath to help those in need. I will cure you, but you will owe me a favor in the future!"
"Agreed," you reply, handing her the coins. She calls up her power and touches your shoulder.
"I call upon the earth to cure light wounds five" she says. A burst of warmth fills your body and you can feel the wound healing itself.
You then have to adjust tags or mark your character skill sheet to reflect the fact that you have been healed and your missing body points have been restored.
A warrior in chain mail then comes up to both of you. With her are a venerable mage and a rather shifty-looking individual.
"Pardon me," she states, "but we were just wondering if you've heard anything about a goblin treasure map. We'd be willing to pay for information that proves to be true." You try not to show any reaction as she speaks about a rumor she had heard involving a map kept in a small box. Better find out more about these people before making any commitments.
You introduce yourself and they do as well, and you all spend some time discussing your pasts and talking about other rumors and bits of decide information you have heard. You finally decide that they can be trusted and you suggest that you all go someplace where no one can overhear.
You travel to the mage's cabin where you show the box to the shifty-eyed person, who turns out to be a "locksmith." He smiles at the challenge and pulls out his tools.
In the world of NERO, real locks are used. Buying the required Pick Locks skill does not guarantee success; it only allows you to make the attempt at picking the lock. Likewise, boxes are really trapped with electronic buzzers or other noisemakers. To check for traps you must actually check the object for traps by carefully examining the object without accidentally setting off a trap you have not yet detected. Once you know a trap is present, you can then try to disarm or bypass the trap if you have the skill Disarm/Arm Trap.
Depending on the state where a chapter is located, it may be against the law for you to possess any tools designed to pick a lock. In this case, the local chapter will use the Alternate Pick Locks rule, as described in the entry for the Pick Locks skill.
The rogue picks the lock. Inside the box he finds a strange amulet, some coins, and a map written in a strange language!
Tomorrow you will go to the Merchants' Guild to have your amulet appraised for its value. You will also go to the Mages' Guild and have it checked to see if it's magic! However, you and your new companions spend most of the night decoding the map. Outside, you can hear the sounds of battle as a lich has called forth his undead to destroy as much of the town as possible. You decide that the knights can handle it and wisely stay inside.
After you decode the map, you find the small note at the bottom which says "See a marshal when you're ready to go on this adventure." You decide to rest for the night and start in the morning and you head to bed with visions of treasure and future adventures in your head!
This is one way that a group may get into a weekend adventure module. Some modules are repeating in that more than one group can go through at different times, while others are one time only. The one time only modules may be major affairs, and can affect the whole storyline, or they may be modules that simply cannot be repeated (saving a coastal town from a ghost ship). You can see that a NERO adventure is like no other—the possibilities are endless for creative players.
Welcome to NERO, your imagination has found a home!