What’s a LARP all about anyway?

Hello all, my name is Dav and I’d like to talk to you about LARP. Live Action RolePlay is a broad term we use to describe any number of different types of games, but they all share a common element – the players become the characters in a literal sense and play out their game together. LARP can be about the combat or it can be about the interpersonal relationships of the characters and very often is about both. The game you’re playing might be a one shot at a convention or a part of an ongoing world telling its own story through player actions and GM’s plot ideas.

The first time you play a LARP you will probably feel more than a little bit self conscious and kinda silly, especially if you’re used to playing tabletop RPGs where you can happily describe what you’d like your character to do. Most games will have a games master of some description and the bigger events will have several so that the various clusters of players will always have someone on hand to supervise any plot critical actions or tell them the results of their investigations etc.

Here in Ireland we have some brilliant teams of people running games of all shapes and sizes that fall under the umbrella of LARP. The IGA’s own Academy of Eblana game probably fits the description of what most people think of in their heads when they hear the word LARP – it’s a high fantasy setting, there are swords and spells and world changing events at stake. Players love going that extra mile to invest in costume and make-up – greenskin Orcs with tusks and Elves with pointed ears are the norm on the battlefield. It’s a weekend long event too, so camping is the most convenient option for a lot of players and the game offers the opportunity to pitch your tent in character

But there are many other styles of LARP that run regularly at the games conventions all around the country. Higher Powers is a comic book/super heroes inspired game that’s been running since 2012. Each game, or issue advances the story of a world that has come to terms with the emergence of “parahumans” and what that means for the global socio-political landscape. Factions of players band together to face each crisis – sometimes it’s a cataclysmic event or sometimes it’s other players!

Several of the Airsoft sites around Ireland have incorporated elements of LARP into some of their special events and what they call MilSim (military simulation) with the players taking on specific roles within their teams (e.g. medics, radio, etc). They don’t always insist on people being “in character” in the way a LARP would, but these events are a lot of fun and serve as a nice break for people who enjoy Airsoft but who’re looking for something just a little bit different.

As for me, I am involved with Team Midway and we currently run a Sci-Fi Space Opera LARP called Gilgamesh at the various games conventions around the country. Our players are the crew of an exploratory and colonisation vessel and they have found themselves in another galaxy surrounded by new friends and foes alike trying to find their way home. Players can be a part of the Bridge crew, Engineering, Science, or Fighter Pilots (or anything else they can think of that fits with the theme) – we have mechanics for space combat and the Gilgamesh will often find itself being shot at by hostile forces where it will need to scramble its fighters to provide effective cover and keep them safe. We also have Nerf guns for our combat and who doesn’t love Nerf guns?

So, if you’re thinking about it and aren’t sure, all I can say is that you will get as much out of a LARP as you put in, so throw yourself into it and be careful where you land when it throws back! The few options I’ve mentioned above only represent a small slice of the sorts of LARP you can get involved in here in Ireland and indeed across the continent. Before you know it you could find yourself seriously contemplating €800 on a full set of plate armour.