Year of the LARP

This year, I played my first few LARP (Live Action Role Playing) games. When I mention the word LARP, most people think of a bunch of people running around the woods dressed up as barbarians attacking each other with swords. Only one of those things is true.

Yes, there is much running around of woods, but it’s Sci-Fi so we dress up as soldiers and scientists and have laser guns. Writing that out loud doesn’t make it sound any cooler. Does it?

I’ve been meaning to try it for a while, but the dates never worked out for me. However, most of my group was going to a weekend LARP on St Patrick’s Day weekend, and I jumped at the opportunity to go. Not that I had anything else planned that weekend…

I had the choice of playing a soldier or a scientist, and I ended up going as the latter. It was my first game, and I thought that if I ended up with a gun I would probably shoot myself. I created my character, checked it over with the game runner, and off I went.

You know you are having a fun time when you spend the first couple of hours in game getting knocked out by gas, then having an alien put a sword to your head (then accidently hitting you on the head with it), followed by getting stuck in a bramble bush because you took a wrong turn when running for your life.

I’m the sort of person who likes to throw themselves into something new, which worked out really well in this instance. You see, they gave me a prop, an old portable sensor kit with some probes and I got to scan stuff. As the other main scientist character dropped out at the last minute, I ended up doing most of their role as well. This made me a key character in the game, as in my off scanning time I had to build devices and do some research. It was great.

Unsurprisingly, I ended up really enjoying myself. It was the perfect storm. I had plenty to do, the storyline was brilliant, and I got to play with things. I did make a fool of myself at least once, but did I mention that at the end of the game I got to dive to the ground as the structure behind me was exploding.

I wouldn’t say that I was hooked, but I really wanted to LARP again. It wouldn’t be until the August Bank Holiday weekend when I would play next. For me, it seems to be easier to clear out a whole weekend rather than just a Sunday. Don’t ask me why. Again, it was a weekend, but rather than one game, it was a set of shorter games over the two and a bit days.

I still really enjoyed myself, even though the games were mostly more ad hoc. I got to save the team 23.5 seconds before we were all killed by a virus. Ok, the planet we were on was blown up two minutes later, but that was 96.5 seconds more of life than we would have had otherwise.

I also got to spend a whole game bickering with my ship’s pilot because, in the air he might float like a leaf, but he lands like a brick. As the engineer I end up fixing dents in the landing gear. I even got run through (look a sword again) by our new dark lord and master. Of course my best moment was during the Battle Royale game.

Battle Royale is a fancy way of saying that the last person standing wins. As you could guess, I’m not brilliant with ye olde laser guns, and I had a queue of people threatening me in the break before the game. I decided to go completely Over The Top.

As the game started, and all of the other players ran into the tree line, I just stood there shouting abuse at them. I didn’t go as far as a chicken dance (I’ve got to leave something for next year), but I did do a rather large amount of shouting. Somehow I wasn’t the first player eliminated, mainly as everyone else thought that running away from the mad man was a sound plan. I even managed to eliminate someone else. I still finished in the bottom half, but I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

And that brings me to my point. I really enjoyed LARPing this year because it gave me the opportunity to let my hair down and enjoy myself. It wasn’t all about shooting things, which isn’t my thing, but there were puzzles and opportunities to throw yourself into the situation. Those are the parts I really loved.

I found that the more I stayed in game, the more fun I had. A boring thing to do is be on perimeter duty whilst others are in a village talking to the NPCs (Non Player Characters). You can easily meta game knowing nothing is going to happen because everyone is in the village. However, if you sweep and react to every sound, you can play around a wee bit and not be so bored.

It is all about engagement. That’s the great thing about the people who run the games, and those who play NPCs, they make it so easy to get caught up in the games. We even played one game where everyone was a player and it worked. Simply because, everyone got involved. That says something about the people I played with this year.

The thing is I haven’t even mentioned the monthly games. I did get to the last one which was really good, even though I had no idea what I was doing storyline wise. I think that this post is getting too long already, so I’m stopping here.

Just know that I’m going to be playing more next year. All I just need to figure out, is how I can do less other things on a Sunday.

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