How I Learnt To Stop Worrying And Love LRP
By Ed Fortune ( http://www.pagga.com)
When I first heard that people live roleplayed, I was, like many gamers, slightly disturbed by the idea. Run around in a forest? With foam padded stick and silly hat on? It all sounded a bit too much like Morris Dancing to me1
It was Vampire: The Masquerade2, which lured me into LARP (a wonderfully silly acronym for a hobby that hardly takes itself seriously). Sitting around in a student hall ogling Goths pretending to be monsters, sounded like a decent alternative to sitting around a student bar ogling students pretending to be sober.
After six hours of plotting, scheming and at one point, running away, I was hooked. It still took me a while to get into the more popular fantasy gaming side of the hobby, but I just had see what happens when your stereotypical 20-stone gamer can't get away with the Conan character he usually plays.
What happens, as it turns out, is they roleplay3. The UK scene is blessed with a diverse range of games, and it may take a while to find one that is your cup of tea. For every system that is about running around the woods with swords twatting Orcs, there's a game where your every word, deed and action can affect the ongoing story4
As a hobby, LARP has a few advantages over table-top-gaming. For a start, it's easier to explain to your employer. Most people have heard of 'murder mystery weekends', and a lot of people fancy themselves as an actor, and will nod sagely as you explain the difficulties of carrying off the role of a 12th century peasant. On the rare occasions that I've encountered the general public while gaming, they've been more intrigued than anything else, and there's an irony in an orienteerer, wearing a day-glo orange jumpsuit, asking me why I'm dressed as Robin Hood.
The economics are different as well. It costs, on average, about £30 for a three-day event, plus the cost of costume, props etc. This means that people can actually make a living from running games, and allows the hobby to grow. If you can't afford it and still want to play, the organisers are always looking for people to NPC5
LRPing is as diverse as the hobby that spawned it, slightly less weird to public perceptions, and potentially a good way of recruiting fresh blood into the world of gaming.
1 Note to those not lucky enough to be British: Morris Dancing is a lovely rural activity that involves dressing up in bright costume, prancing about a bit and hitting each other with bell covered sticks. Nothing at all like live roleplay.
2 To be fair, it was a system that used number bidding as opposed to paper-scissors-rock.
3 Or drink. A lot of the larger fantasy systems have a number of players who spend most of the game looking for plot in the tavern. This is probably because certain fantasy cliches are hard to shake, and everybody knows that a good adventure starts in the bar.
4 There are shed-loads of games to enjoy in the UK. If you fancy modern day conspiracy, try www.boogiemangames.co.uk, for Sci-Fi try www.naiadentertainment.co.uk, and for fantasy try www.omegalrp.co.uk. For general info, goto www.pagga.com.
5 NPCing is called monstering. I later learnt that this was also a bizarre sexual practise as well. Not that LRPers have a thing for leather armour or anything.
Text copyright © 2003 Ed Fortune