All About LARP: Live-Action Role-Play
- By Jenna Maxwell
Live-Action Role-Playing, or LARPing, is a real-life form of character-based role-playing games. Participants play the roles of established characters, then act out scenarios, battles, and scenes based upon various settings. Players assume their character's role and do their best to demonstrate behavior and actions. LARPing involves more than wearing costumes or playing with re-created weaponry. For those who participate in LARPing, the activity is a time for group collaboration, participation, and lots of fun. LARPing is a wonderful way for participants to enjoy the fun and excitement of living in different worlds for a short period. There are activities, games, and events for participants of various skill levels.
LARP games have their origins in traditional role-playing games and date back to the late 1970s. Due to this, many LARPing games use the same rules as found in their non-live-action counterparts. Many organizations create their own LARP games and may determine their own rules of play. The rules determine what weapons are used in the game and govern the types of interactions players are allowed to have.
Players must understand the game rules before participating. As LARPing is a community-based effort, it is important that each player understand and abide by the game rules. While some players may disagree with the rules, it is important to realize that the rules are what ensure that all players compete in a fair atmosphere. Players' attitudes toward the rules can determine how much they enjoy the experience. It is also important to realize that there are some role-playing games and events that do not use rules. Players must ensure that they know the rules (or the lack thereof) before committing to a game and are certain they can abide by them.
Costuming and weaponry play an important role in the games. Many participants spend a great deal of time and money ensuring that they have authentic replications of a character's wardrobe and their weapons. LARPing games and events vary in theme and may span different eras. Popular LARP genres include fantasy, medieval, science fiction, aliens, political, horror, werewolf, vampire, and zombie. Choosing appropriate costumes and weapons is an integral aspect of play. By making certain the costumes and weaponry are authentic, players can enjoy a more realistic game. Many LARP weapons are crafted from latex and painted to give a realistic look. Common weapons used in LARPing include daggers, swords, knives, helmets, guns, war hammers, and shields. Costumes are available for all ages and include women's, men's, and children's outfits, sometimes including suits of armor. While some games may not require all participants to wear costumes, players often find that suiting up helps them stay in character.
(created without a pattern). Photo courtesy of Niclas.
Players will focus on different aspects of the game and may choose to create and develop their own characters. Some games let participants determine their physical attributes, strengths, skills, and abilities. It is imperative for LARPers to understand their character's strengths and weaknesses. Each player's character must complete a quest or finish a pre-written storyline. Role-playing games vary in length, with some as short as several hours while others may last several days at a time.
As LARPing is a group activity, it is important that players ensure that they are committed to play an entire game. Characters' actions are often intertwined with those of other players' characters. Leaving in the middle of a game can cause other players to encounter difficulties. Likewise, it is very important that those who sign up for live-action role-playing games ensure that they can be there and be on time. Organizers rely on sign-up information when planning role-playing games and events. Players who cannot attend after signing up need to contact the organizers as quickly as possible.
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