Author Topic: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask  (Read 9424 times)

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Offline Daxx

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Photos by My reflection, used sans permission.

FAQ:
Feel free to ask more questions, I'm happy to answer them.

What is LARP?
LARP stands for Live Action Role Play. It is sometimes shortened to LRP or FLRP (Fantasy). LARP is a game where players imagine themselves as characters in a game-world (often fantasy). Imagine Dungeons and Dragons, or World of Warcraft, where instead of rolling dice or tapping at a keyboard, you run around and literally act out your character's actions yourself.

Who plays LARP?
I've met people from all sorts of walks of life. Mostly they tend to be alternative people, as LARP is not usually considered cool by mainstream society. But there are people from all age ranges (most people tend to be in their 20s and 30s), and all genders (gender balance may vary. LARP is still largely male-dominated, but many games have lots of female players).

Isn't LARP really nerdy?
Yes. I'm not going to lie, looking at it from an objective perspective it can be incredibly geeky. But no more so than sitting at a computer grinding your Lv.50 Beastman Shaman, or sitting at a desk painting little models of Space Marines, or rolling dice at a tabletop game in your friend's basement.

What sorts of things do you do in LARP?
Well, more or less anything you can think of. Some LARP games involve sneaking through the woods and beating the crap out of orcs with your greatsword. Some LARP games involve playing a regency noble straight out of Jane Austin, wooing potential spouses whilst eating cake and drinking tea. Some LARP games involve crawling in the mud at the feet of your god, hoping he won't reduce you to a pair of smoking sandals. Some LARP games involve being trapped in a room for six hours whilst progressively horrible things happen to you and those around you. Some LARP games involve politicking your way into rulership of a great nation and staying just abreast of all the intrigue and assassination attempts. There really is scope for almost anything.

That doesn't sound like the LARP I've heard of. I thought it was just throwing beanbags at people and shouting "lightning bolt" whilst hitting people with tubes covered in duct tape.
That sort of LARP also exists, though mostly as local games in the USA. The international variation in LARP can be quite large. Scandinavian and Russian LARP tends to be very immersive and high quality, often eschewing rubber swords and the like completely. UK LARP tries to strike a balance between immersiveness and fun. US LARP tends to be more about hitting your mates with sticks and having a laugh, and sod the silly costumes. This doesn't hold true for all LARP in these places, but they're common trends.

What sort of setting is it? Fantasy, or what?
Settings vary from Tolkeinesque high fantasy through to historical settings, through to sci-fi, through horror and many others. Anything from the grim dark future of the 41st millenium (Warhammer 40k for the uninitiated) to the time of greek and roman myth, to a post-apocalyptic wasteland, to completely alternate universes altogether. Not all LARP involves fantasy; orcs, elves and magic may be common but aren't the be-all and end-all of LARP.

Is LARP different to historical reenactment? I've seen you post pictures of you dressed as a viking. Is that LARP?
That was historical reenactment. The two are subtly different; in LARP you are roleplaying your character as part of a game. Reenactment tends to focus on recreating history as it was, without there being an underlying game to be played. They do of course have many similarities (the costumes, often the fighting - though reenactment fighting tends to be for display purposes), and in the US the line is blurred even further by groups like the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). In general the two are seperate though there may be some overlap.

I want to try this out. How do I get started?
If you're in the UK, PM me and I can try to give you some advice. If you're outside the UK I suggest looking up your local games/comic shop and asking if they know of anything nearby that you can get involved in. The internet is also useful.

Have you seen Role Models?
Yes.
Is it accurate?
Sort of. :P

Show me some more pictures.
Sure. All the photos in this post are from Odyssey, a system run by Profound Decisions in the UK.

« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 02:40:55 pm by Daxx »



Offline Plank of Wood

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2010, 08:51:53 am »
This comes to mind:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93KaSCAiIWw" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93KaSCAiIWw</a>



the real saviour of this forum

Offline Eagle

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2010, 09:26:22 am »
That is one angry Celtic woman.



EDIT: Well, apparently, I accidentally LARPed, but it was more the kind of beat the crap out of each other with rubber sticks and declare victors.
I am bloody FASHIONABLE eagle!1!

Offline Pixxel

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2010, 11:02:14 am »
When I was younger we used to go out in the forest and fight eachother with sticks. Does that sort of count?
If you stop and think about it, Your life's longer as an old guy than a kid. Scary o.o

Offline Rysworld

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2010, 11:17:25 am »
You have a forest near where you used to live?

:o

Offline martyk

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2010, 11:54:48 am »
Why do you find this so absurd Ry?  This may surprise you, but not everyone lives in urban centers.
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Offline Brandonazz

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2010, 12:03:11 pm »
Hey, I've done stuff with the SCA!

They're good people.

Offline Daxx

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2010, 12:07:05 pm »
Hey, I've done stuff with the SCA!

They're good people.

Oh yeah, I don't mean to knock them. They're just a lot looser with history than we are across the pond.

Offline Brandonazz

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2010, 12:14:08 pm »
Oh certainly. They've broken up North America into a series of fictitious kingdoms that are jostling for hegemony. Down here is Trimaris, as Florida is surrounded by water on three sides.

An awful lot of the people at SCA functions are big on crafting. Calligraphy, clothing, pouches, staves, that sort of thing.

Offline PatMan33

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2010, 12:17:56 pm »
Dear Daxx,

Will LARPing make me gay like Brandon?

Love and kisses,
PatMan33

Offline Daxx

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2010, 12:35:27 pm »
Dear Daxx,

Will LARPing make me gay like Brandon?

Love and kisses,
PatMan33

Patman33,

Yes.

All the best,
-Daxx

Offline PatMan33

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2010, 12:37:32 pm »
Awesome.

Offline Clarke

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2010, 01:06:29 pm »
Down here is Trimaris, as Florida is surrounded by water on three sides.
Hah! Apparently I'm now a citizen of the Shire of Bentonshire. I'm tempted to join just to do battle with those from a competing county.

Offline LadyM

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2010, 02:05:36 pm »
Great write up Daxx, you answered any questions I would have about it.

Can people who don't want to participate just observe or does the group prefer not to have an audience?

Offline Daxx

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Re: LARP: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2010, 02:38:47 pm »
Can people who don't want to participate just observe or does the group prefer not to have an audience?

Most of the games I've been to have been on closed sites so that members of the public can't just wander in and disrupt things. I suppose it might be possible to observe, but most games would prefer you to play. LARP doesn't tend to lend itself that well to observation; often the interaction between characters is private or infrequent so whilst it would be fun to have a soap-opera style overview of what's going on to all the characters it doesn't really work out like that. Imagine trying to observe people going about their daily lives, and you can see the sorts of difficulties that you might get into.

On the other hand, especially at festival events, it is possible to play a very passive character who doesn't get very involved. This is more practical at some events than others - an event I attended recently (Odyssey, at which the pictures above were taken) had a large arena where fights were scheduled, so it would be possible to watch those. However at other events the "action" happens on its own terms, on its own schedule. You'd have to be a part of it to see it*. You can be a tourist and wander around talking to people and watching, but the most fun happens when you get stuck in.

*This is actually a problem when it comes to photography. Photographers tend to be crew whose job it is to remain as inconspicuous as they can whilst taking pictures. Frequently they miss large parts of important action because they just can't get near it without disrupting what is going on.