The Lazy Guide to Larping

This weekend we have a guest post from Alex Roberts!

When you think of live-action roleplaying, you might think of foam-padded weapons, vampire politics, or an evening of mystery with elaborate costumes. Those are well-known and popular styles of larp for a reason – they’re a ton of fun! I encourage you to learn more about established forms of larp, and track down a local event!

But what if, like me, you find a long-running game with elaborate setup more intimidating than exciting? Campaign larps can have hundreds of pages of rules (and years of backstory) to absorb. Combat larpers will happily lend you a sword for your first game, but eventually you’ll want to craft your own weapons and garb. Even a parlour game can require background reading and some costuming effort. That’s just to attend – running such events is a significant undertaking. The great rewards of such play often require a heavy investment.

Luckily, there’s another way to dip your toes into the wide world of larp. It’s easy to pick up, costs almost nothing, and you can run it in your very own home. We call it American Freeform.

What Tabletop Can Learn from LARPing

In last week’s article, I laid out a (very) basic introduction to LARPing for veteran tabletop gamers. Now I want to talk about the lessons I’ve learned from running LARPs that I find especially applicable to tabletop game-running. I’m coming almost exclusively from campaign-style boffer LARPing; if you want to discuss lessons learned from other LARPs, is known to host guest writers from time to time.

By default, campaign-style boffer LARPing loots from tabletop games anything that isn’t nailed down and can’t be pried loose. Designers and game-runners should always be looking for ideas they can repurpose, and tabletop gaming is a deep well. It’s time to turn that flow of application back around. The areas I want to tackle today are villain presence and challenge variation.

LARPing: an Intro for Tabletop Gamers

In addition to being a twenty-two-year veteran of tabletop gaming, I’ve also been involved in live-action roleplaying for… hmm, looks like nineteen years next month. Like roleplaying games of every kind, LARPing is getting ever greater coverage in the media, and every year the tone shifts a little more away from “look at these freaks” to “this looks like fun,” (for God’s sake, gaming has gone theatrical – never mind that the playwright is an old friend of mine) so the purpose of this article is to present several different styles of live-action roleplaying, specifically to experienced tabletop gamers. It’s (probably) the first article in a series.