What is it?
NERO International is a Live action role-playing game (or LARP) played in the United States and Canada. NERO stands for "New England Roleplaying Organization", but this is actually somewhat of a misnomer, as the game has expanded beyond its original New England roots. Founded in 1988, It is a "boffer" style LARP that uses simulated combat with padded weapons.
At a NERO game, players gather at campsites on weekends that local chapters designate as events. Most chapters run an average of six to ten events a year. A group of staff members write the plot and story for the event, while a cast of volunteer NPCs play the roles of monsters and townspeople, helping to sustain the illusion that the campsite in the woods is actually a medieval-fantasy town. The heroes of the event (or PCs), play the part of adventurers, nobility, and various ne'er-do-wells that are spending the weekend in the town. Every chapter of NERO operates in the same game world, Tyrra, on the same in-game continent, Avalon.
Players of an event pay $40 - $80 (depending on the cost of living in that part of the country) to play their characters at a typical weekend event (one-day events are sometimes held, as well as the occasional four, seven, or even the nine-day event). Through battle with fantasy monsters, and by solving puzzles and other challenges, characters earn treasure in the form of gold and silver coins (actually brass and aluminum tokens minted for the game), magical components, or enchanted items. Characters also earn experience points for surviving the weekend, which they can use to buy more skills and become more powerful.
How is it different?
NERO is a fantasy Larp that places a huge emphasis on Role-Playing and the story and less about combat. NERO plot lines (the story) is driven by characters. Characters in NERO much like Dungeons and Dragons advance in levels and skills.
Off shoot LARPS
Some early chapters of NERO later quit the organization to create their own LARP, often with only minor modifications to the game. The SOLAR LARP in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the most successful offshoot larps, originally being NERO Southeast. LIONE Rampant also became a popular LARP in New England.