Live Action Role Playing, or acting out characters in a fantasy world in real time as if you were those characters in their life, was a far away concept to me before recently. I imagined people dressing up as wizards or using foam swords to hit each other.
Recently I tried a couple of LARPs and was blown away by the whole LARP-ing experience. Spending a long afternoon with friends and pretending to be humans being chased around by enemies, I found out the joys of LARP-ing.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, LARPing is a form of RPG or role playing games where characters walk around and talk to each other as if they were characters in that world or realm. It’s a similar experience to DnD (Dungeons and Dragons) and Pathfinder where you tell the GM what you do and then they tell you what happens.
I should also note that I played on a homebrew system (one created by an individual rather than a pregenerated system by a company) so your experience may differ a bit from mine as each system has different mechanics. I hope to write about pregenerated systems soon!
You really get into it
Similar to the way that you go to a different country to be immersed in the language, being inside a LARP is kind of like being immersed in a world unto itself. Being in a LARP means being able to imagine everything going on as it is happening in front of you. The “Gamemaster” or “moderator” in a LARP will point to a specific place where an enemy is approaching and the players get to imagine that enemy standing in front of them.
Imagination to the Limits and beyond
Because people feel so immersed in a fantastical world, and yet we are stuck in our world, there’s a bit of improvisation that goes on. But when people can move and indicate their actions, it can be fun to imagine what happens. When you play a tabletop RPG (so named because you sit around a table), it can create a distance between you and your character. When you play a LARP, you are that character. You can look, act, talk, and walk like your character. This can bring a lot of flavor and fun to the role playing experience.
A great way to get to know people
Especially since we were encountering enemies or challenges with your fellow teammates, I really bonded with the people I was LARP-ing with. At the end of 3 or 4 or 5 hours of colluding with or conspiring against, I felt a sort of kinship between me and my fellow players.
I loved LARP-ing and I heartily recommend it for anyone who is interested in collective storytelling or roleplaying games. Meeting new people and imagining a new and fantastical world right in front of me was one of the most worthwhile pieces of my time this year.