Newbie LARPer Needing Direction

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Discussion on various aspects of freeforms and LARPs from writing to playing in them.

Newbie LARPer Needing Direction

Postby rickvanman » 1:34pm on 17 Aug 17

I've recently stumbled upon the culture of LARP and have fallen in love with the whole escapism concept of spending time living as an alternative character. Seems like a lot of fun.
Is there a genre of LARP that doesn't necessarily involve having to get tied in with the complexities of the gameplay or the battles?
I've read people talking about the atmosphere that is created at LARP weekend camps as being magical, and like stepping back in time, with everyone staying in character, especially at night with everything being illuminated with fires and candlelight, folks drinking mead and singing folk songs.
So I'm wondering if there is a genere of LARP that only focuses on the kind-of "lving re-enactment" side of things, where folks just hang-out in character without having to go into battle all the time of go on gaming quests?
Appreciate any pointers, even if it's just the right keywords to narrow down my search.
PS: I'm in North Wilts area if there are any like-minded folks wanting to discuss
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Re: Newbie LARPer Needing Direction

Postby Elina » 3:42pm on 17 Aug 17

Hi there!

There are many many different types of larps, depending on the genre, theme, size and playstyle. It is almost impossible to give an exhaustive list, but if you are starting, here are some pointers on what generally is available and where to look further.

Boffer larp (usually fantasy)
Boffer larp is the style of larp which involves running around in the woods and hitting each other with rubber swords. Most of the times the genre is fantasy (although it can also be post-apocalyptic or other styles). It may or may not have magic. Usually (as it is set in a wooded area) it involves camping and rudimentary facilities. These larps are often campaign larps (ie with plots that carry on from one game to another). Usually you create your own character with guidance from the referees.

Most of the times these larps have battle but that does not mean that you need to fight. Many people play other characters, from healers, to diplomants and merchants etc. If you are thinking of drinking mead by the fire, singing sea shanties till the morning, then you are probably thinking boffer larps.

One of the biggest systems is called Empire and has several thousand players. There are many other systems, including a small system in Essex called Seaxe and Sorcery, with about 50-80 players. Alternatively, Death Unto Darkness is a boffer larp 40K Warhammer system. ... bkv7tnru?0

Laser-tag larps
These are larps that use laser-tags weapons as a combat resolution mechanic. They are usually one-off larps or small campaign larps with just a few episodes and a pre-written story arc.

Typical genres would be Firefly, Supernatural, Aliens, Laundry Files etc.

Chamber larps / Freeforms
Chamber larps (as known in the US) or Freeforms (as known in the UK) are larps that take place indoors in real life, in a convention centre, hotel ballroom, pub or home etc. They can be big about 100-200 players or small 5-10 players and anything in between. They are more about the relationships between the characters and battle is usually resolved by mechanics, such as rock paper scissors or skills, rather than an actual battle. The duration of the games ranges between a whole weekend and a few hours.

The topics and genres can range wildly from WW2 film noir action (Cafe Casablanca), to comedies based on TV series (such as James Bond, Best of the Wurst from Allo Allo, MASH and others), to urban fantasy like Dresden files, historical-esque like King's Musketeers and Railways and Respectability etc.

UK Freeforms are often pre-scripted, so the characters are pre-written and cast by the GM team according to the players' wishes. The games have often a PvP element and there are very few NPCs to provide the opposition.

There is a four day convention near Christchurch every November called Consequences. Players sign up for games which usually run for four hours and there are three gaming slots each day. This gives an opportunity to try many different styles and genres.

Nordic larps

Nordic larp is a style of chamber larp. The definition of a nordic larp is not always clear but nordic style larps put more weight on immersion (ie making the larpers feel that they are "really there"), collaboration (ie a "play to support / play to lift / play to lose" culture) and artistic vision (with many larps intended as more than entertainment, making political or artistic statements).

Often nordic larps are about difficult real life issues (but not always) and usually they do not have complicated rules / mechanics.

In the UK, there is a convention called the Smoke at the beginning of January in London: ... -festival/

And of course abroad:

Vampire the Masquerade / Camarilla larps

I do not know much about this scene but there are lots of local Vampire larps. They are usually run as chamber larps.

Blockbuster larps

These are larps which are usually held in a stunning location, like a battleship or a castle, a Manor house etc. They have high production values, try to have 360 immersion (ie everything that you see and feel is in period and you do not need to imagine a throne in the room, but there is actually a throne and often also a throne room). These are usually weekend affairs, attract an international audience and run in many countries. They are also usually much more expensive than your basic facilities camping larp, but not much more than a weekend abroad.

Examples include:

College of Wizardry (Harry Potter style) (Poland)

Fairweather Manor (Downton Abbey) (Poland)

Conscience (Westworld) (Spain)

Convention of Thorns (Vampire the Masquerade) (Poland)


My suggestion is to have a rummage online and search different facebook groups, communities and websites. Then depending on what takes your fancy, your budget, willingness to travel, to camp etc, choose a few events and go along. Larpers are usually a friendly bunch and welcome newcomers.

All the best!
Will travel for beer and games!
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Re: Newbie LARPer Needing Direction

Postby MartinP » 4:34pm on 17 Aug 17

To back up what Elina said about Consequences, if you think you might be interested in freeform LARP you should give it a try if you can. I was there last year as a visitor, and all the players looked to be having a brilliant time.
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Re: Newbie LARPer Needing Direction

Postby nclarke » 4:41pm on 17 Aug 17

I thought I'd already posted a response here but... From your post you seem to be looking for a living history type reenactment rather than a larp as defined by other posters here. You probably need to think of other search terms to find something like that.
Regia Anglorum does Anglo Saxon living history and there are a number of living history groups - has a list organised by period that you should check out.
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