What is LARP?

April 14, 2011
By LA4Life

Apocalarp - behind-the-scenes

What Is LARP?

It’s all about the story and having fun. It’s a game.

L.A.R.P. or L.R.P. (Live Action Roleplay) is essentially playing a character in a story-driven game. LARP games require the players and their characters to interact with what "Defined Plot" they are given by the plot team and eachother. The players generally have no prior knowledge of, and often little preparation, for what is initially presented to them. However, LARP games are not "improv or impromptu theatre" – meaning that in LARP, unlike theatre, there is no "out-of-game" defined, required, or played-to audience. In a LARP game, you (the player), along with the plot team (the storytellers), set goals for your character within a world designed to entertain and challenge your character.

Realms of Conflict LARP
Realms of Conflict LARP – barbarians

LARP games can be of any variety of settings: Modern, Futuristic, Historical, Militaristic, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and so forth. These
settings can run
on factual, fictional, or alternate Histories and Futures of the world(s) they
are based in.

Grand Avenue Murder Mysteries
Grand Avenue Murder Mysteries – group

Murder Mystery Dinners are another example of more well-known LARP games. You can also stumble upon the nearly-game-less sort of LARPing that goes on at Historical Re-enactment Events. Other more commonly found types of LARP events are those associated with live combat and paintball. Fantasy settings are currently the most popular and diverse.

Xatrian Crux LARP
Wyl’Talon Elves "Red Earth Riders" of Xatrian Crux LARP

LARP allows someone to become someone else for awhile. By doing so,
there are many things that can be learned, which one might not be able to
in their regular daily life.
You can learn the various outcomes of certain actions. You can learn how to change
the world, your played character, and yourself. You can do something you may
never get the chance to do and learn from in your daily life, for fear of
rejection or failure. As a LARP character, you can see the results, learn from them,
and change them if you do not like them. You can learn that some things you can take back
and some you can’t…and you can also see what you can repair. Learn from your mistakes, whether
your character survives or not. And return to your real world daily life when
the game is over with a better arsenal of worldly skills and comprehension.

Eidolon LARP
Eidolon LARP – fighter practice

LARP communities are made up of creative and aspiring individuals who
seek to better themselves and find enjoyment in a hobby that allows them so
many benefits.
Combat training, picnics, acting technique classes, costuming classes, music
and dance education, fundraisers for well-known charities, CPR Certification,
and more, are just some of the activities that many LARP groups regularly
Skills that one can gain include: puzzle and problem solving, memorization,
vocal development, musical advancement, team building, physical development
(hand-eye coordination, balance, exercise), leadership, self-motivation and
initiative, social skills, creative thinking, and quick thinking.

Firefly LARP
Firefly LARP – party

Live Combat versus Theatre Style games:

Live Combat games use safe versions of weaponry such as Nerf guns (like with Apocalarp) and Foam swords (like with NERO) in battle scenarios. Each game has a different expressed/expected level of physical impact (combat impact intensity). Moderate-touch is the most widely used (most fantasy-immersive games). Heavy or Full-contact are second (most combat oriented fantasy-inspired games). Most Live Combat games offer "non-combative" roles to those who have physical disabilities. Moderate-touch games will also generally required players to ask other players whether or not they will accept physical roleplay (physically touching someone outside of combat) prior to doing so in game.

Theatre Style games use other methods of representing combat, such as "weapon cards" (which note the weapon type and strength) and are used to determine a combat winner via comparison with their opponents weapon cards. Most widely used is the good ol’ fashion "rocks, paper, scissors" in conjunction with descriptive cards with the character’s abilities. White Wolf LARP games use Theatre Style combat.

Meridian LARP
Meridian Fest LARP - in-game

LARP Concerns: LARPs that we support are noted for their safety, respect
to others and their beliefs, respect to the environment, creative thinking,
support of the individual and importance of helping one to nurture themselves
in their own way – providing options and understanding. Most of the LARP owners
and players out there even offer out-of-game, friendly counseling, voluntarily,
to their players, with the belief that everyone needs to know that they have
a good friend both in-game and in the real world.

"You can only hope to understand those who you personally choose to investigate
in life." – Adrianne Grady

Darth Vader vs Rick
Darth Vader vs Rick at GenCon

A true life cool story:
A very kind-hearted and talented man was
not so confident or well-spoken when he would attempt to speak to females.
But after working hard in a "PC" (player character) role with skills far stronger than his own, he was able to
improve his abilities in these areas and apply them, as he’d wanted, in real life.
Another example came from a
friend of mine who shared that someone he knew gave up drugs when he found
LARP. He found the friends, challenges, and activities to be far more rewarding. These true stories show how supportive the
LARP community can be and how it can really help someone become better at being themselves – and have fun doing it.
We hope that you will find enjoyment in LARPing and continue to LARP with
~ Sincerely,  Adrianne Grady ~

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