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Voros

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I know Black Leaf Black Leaf is an active Larper and I'm becoming intrigued from afar with just how elaborate modern Larping has become so I thought we should have a thread dedicated to this offspring (or is it precursor?) to TTRPGS.

Tell us of any memorable Larps from the past or any upcoming Larps that you're going to attend and/or intend to attend.

Most recently I found out they did a Larp based on the STALKER video game (which was inspired by the Strugasky Bros. book and Tarkovsky film) on the site of an Ex Soviet rocket base!

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Black Leaf

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My big thing at the moment is a series of one shots for the Student Naitonals Roleplaying and Wargaming Championships over here. I can't say too much about them (in case players stumble across the forum) but we're doing a Gothic Fairytale, an anime high school and a hoover convention/60's Cold War thriller.
 

Black Leaf

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In terms of an overview of the UK LARP scene.

The big fest LARPs over here in the UK are Empire (highly immersive with a slight reputation for costume nazis, Lorien Trust (a reputation for being where you go if you want to get drunk in a field with some rp on the side) and Curious Pastimes (somewhere in the middle of the two extremes).

The big name in White Wolf LARP is Isles of Darkness, an unofficial split from the Camarilla. (I'm not even sure if Cam UK exists any more except on paper).

Outside of the big guys there's a myriad of independent white wolf games, club rubber sword systems, people running theatre style and even the odd Nordic inspired LARP.

If you want to check out some other LARPs from round the world the Big Purple wiki has a lot. Really though, much like tabletop, you'll only really get what it's all about by finding a game to play. (I would invite you to one of mine but it's a bit of a commute)
 

Voros

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Interesting, my impression is that Larps are bigger and more popular in the UK, Russia and Europe but that may just be because I have paid zero attention previously.
 

Vincent Takeda

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I'm in my early 40s and I've got a buddy from high school who to this day has risen quite high in the ranks of the SCA, but there are some pretty passionate members who would argue that the SCA is not, indeed, larping. I will grant they are for more immersive than simply period battle and crafting, thats for sure. Last time I was personally involved in a larp it was with Amtguard in Boulder, CO in what we affectionately called 'chicken taco park'
 

Voros

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Was that a medieval fantasy larp Vincent?

Jon Peterson has found a lot of overlap between SCA and early D&D RPGers, in many ways SCA pre-figured RPGs by many years.
 
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Vincent Takeda

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Amtguard was definitely medieval fantasy. Spells and magic weapons abound in amtguard. SCA accurately reflects its name by being exactly that... A society. They aren't so much playing characters as they are existing as avatars of themselves out of time. Social structures and study and practice of old world craftsmanship occupy at least as great an amount of time in the hobby as the battles and lists. As far as I am aware there is no 'magic' in the SCA whatsoever. The SCA website has a link that outlines the various 'kingdoms' of the SCA around the world, and if memory serves, colorado appears to have changed names since last I looked. I seem to remember us being the high mountain clan, though perhaps that is a smaller organization within the kingdom that colorado now occupies. Hierarchy is quite a big deal in the SCA.
 
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Spinachcat

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I've played elaborate costume LARPS with sets designed for the setting and/or locations specifically chosen for the ambiance, and I've also played LARPS in regular clothes in a room. Both have been fun, and the fun quality has mostly been about the players.

I have not done a full weekend immersion LARP yet, but it's on my to-do list if I find a good crew. More than likely, I'd probably be a GM.

While I enjoy LARPing, my most fun has been as a LARP GM and I prefer to make those as 3D as possible. I want costumes (at least bits), and the sights and sounds to be immersive. For me, my fav LARPS have been half-haunted house mixed with a whodunit mystery.

I did SCA (and "live steel") back in high school and college, but I was there for the fighting and got bored by the politics. I have not done Amtguard, but I have heard lots of really fun "war stories" from players.
 

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I haven't LARPed in years, too much reliance on physical skill for me.

We had a friend who wanted to try out LARPing, so was asked to act as an NPC so he could see what it was like. Ken was a burly, 6 plus footer with a bushy biker's beard and was dressed as a gargoyle and asked to wait behind a bend until someone came along. After 5 minutes, a 16 years old kid came walking around the bend and Ken jumped out at him, snarling and growling. Panicked, the kid whacked him in the face with his padded shield, promptly breaking Ken's nose.

Another friend, Tom, did a LARP soon after Ken's experience. This actually had some stuff inside a real cave, so there he was walking through a cave, just like when playing RQ or D&D, when an NPC dressed in a black trousers, black cloak and a black ninja-style mask, stepped out from a shadowed alcove just behind Tom and said something to him. The dropped, broken torch and stream of expletives aside, Tom didn't realise he could jump as high in the air and was, apparently, glad he was wearing brown trousers.

Funnily enough, neither did any LARPing after that.
 
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Doc Sammy

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I used to LARP extensively for years starting when I was 16 until I was 20, and even then I will still LARP on and off to this day. I generally prefer theatrical LARP to boffer LARP and most of my experience and interest in LARP is within White Wolf's World of Darkness.

It's a shame By Night Studios has the license to WoD LARP products with their shoddy metaplot-ridden new rules and settings. I'd love to GM my own LARP on my own terms right here in Roanoke, but I can't find enough players (I need at least four or five not counting myself).
 

Black Leaf

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In honour of the resurrection of this thread this came to my attention recently

- http://www.grandtribunal.org/2017/UK_LARP_history

A timeline of the development of UK LARP. It's incomplete and probably always will be but it's still really interesting.

First known rubber sword/dungeon crawl LARP in the UK is 1982.

First theatre style LARP seems to have been 1988.

So the first in particular seems to have come pretty soon after D&D gained attention over here. Which makes sense; "let's play D&D but act it out" is a pretty obvious idea.
 

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As a teen I remember having to explain repeatedly to people that we didn’t act things out or wear costumes when playing a ttrpg. I think that it was ‘all in our imagination’ struck a lot of people as even weirder.

This video of the Treasure Trap LARP from the BBC Blue Peter program is from 1983 so very early in that UK history.

 
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Black Leaf

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As a teen I remember having to explain repeatedly to people that we didn’t act things out or wear costumes when playing a ttrpg. I think that it was ‘all in our imagination’ struck a lot of people as even weirder.

In the UK we also had a whole tradition of English eccentricity to tap into which helped protect us from negative judgement.

Yes, LARP was seen as a bit weird. But probably no more so than model railway enthusiasts, people who keep racing pigeons or morris dancers.
 

TheophilusCarter

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As a teen I remember having to explain repeatedly to people that we didn’t act things out or wear costumes when playing a ttrpg. I think that it was ‘all in our imagination’ struck a lot of people as even weirder.
I still have to do this. I have students who love video game RPGs who think that TTRPGs (god, that I even have to qualify "RPGs" with "TT" ... ugh ... ) are "too nerdy," and it's usually that they're imagining that the GM wears a wizard's hat, and the players are all required to talk in funny voices ...
 

Picaroon Jack

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I think I saw a Scion larp on Drivethru. I could have dreamed it, though. LOL
 

robertsconley

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I played and ran NERO LARP events for over a decade. From 1999 to 2003 owned a NERO chapter in NW PA. NERO is a boffer LARP using a point based class system. Spells were cast with an incantation and use of a bird seed pellet. Melee was with foam weapons calling out a set amount of damage. As you level (more or less every 10 points was a "level"). You could buy special abilities like critical hits, dodges, skills, additional spell slots.

This video is from a few years after my time but taken at the Pittsburgh NERO chapter. From 1992 to 2003 it will effectively my main type of roleplaying activity. Just before I got married in the late 90s I was attending two or three events a month as player. As a form of entertainment it fairly inexpensive way to get around the northeast and midwest United States. Mostly because Event Fee covered staying in a cabin on site. A bit on the rustic side but you only had to put it up with it for the weekend.

Running events well I can talk all day about that. Beyond just thinking of stuff to run, you had to juggle logistic, be a people manager and so on. However NERO had a tried and true format that was easy to pick up if you cared. Ford Ivey the person who founded and developed NERO in its early years really nailed it as far getting a LARP event going in a straightforward way. His business skills were shit but that a different story.

The current iteration of NERO has their rule book out for free to download.

The downside? The off stage drama, the fucking drama. The root of it was poor leadership at the national level. Which resulted in conflict over what direction NERO ought to go. At it height NERO was comprised of dozens of local owned chapters. And just about everybody did their own thing including myself. There was some national standards so players can with their character can chapter hop but the spirit of unity for NERO as a whole was always on shaky ground.

Then in later years NERO was bought by a shady operator and the shitstorm just got worse. While I was there he took over NERO, I got out a decade before it got really bad.

The picture below is me as my character Endless Star. I played a warrior mage and roleplayed as a paladin. I earned a knighthood as a player and eventually used the character as the ruling Duke of the duchy that was the setting of my chapter. I would not repeat the latter decision if I had to do it over again. It worked well for a time but NERO allows PvP conflict. As a result fair out of game adjudication is vital to a smooth running chapter. You can't be perceived fair in-game and out of game at the same time. I should have not done it as I was the chapter head and owner.

On the other hand running LARP events was the most complex satisfying thing I did in the hobby until I started publishing my material. A lot of people had a good time at my events both as players and behind the scene as event staff.


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Picaroon Jack

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I stumbled upon the Weekend Warrior annual event organized by Fell & Fair. They say they are not a LARP but:

While it has many similarities such as being in costume, medieval combat and players acting out roles, Weekend Warrior is not a LARP, it is an immersive experience. Our goal is to craft an engaging story and sweep the player up in it, but it is not “every player for themselves”. If it were a video game, Weekend Warrior would be a story campaign, not an open world game. You start at point A and you will end up at point B or C. How we get there will depend on player action and success or failure is will result from your actions. The only question is, are you up to the task?

They definitely have a nice aesthetic going on.
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Rangers


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The Hearthguard

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The Sea Lords

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The Kingsmen

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For combat, they appear to use (or have in the past) Darkon's Skip Lipman's C.O.M.B.A.T. System (Complete Obligatory Melee Battle And Tactics).
 
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Black Leaf

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They say they are not a LARP but:
"We're not Goths, we're industrialists".

That is the least convincing "not a LARP" claim I've seen for some time. What I suspect it probably means is that they're a) aiming for higher production values and hence a higher ticket price and b) trying to break from the "tennis balls for fireballs and stick jocks" stereotype of a lot of US LARP.

To be clear, I'm all in favour of them following the venerable tradition of coming up with a new name to dissociate themselves from those horrible LARPers over there. Although I'm afraid their "immersive experience" has some way to do before it can match the glorious pretentiousness of "interactive literature".
 

Picaroon Jack

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"We're not Goths, we're industrialists".

That is the least convincing "not a LARP" claim I've seen for some time. What I suspect it probably means is that they're a) aiming for higher production values and hence a higher ticket price and b) trying to break from the "tennis balls for fireballs and stick jocks" stereotype of a lot of US LARP.

To be clear, I'm all in favour of them following the venerable tradition of coming up with a new name to dissociate themselves from those horrible LARPers over there. Although I'm afraid their "immersive experience" has some way to do before it can match the glorious pretentiousness of "interactive literature".
Good point, it looks non-magic based altogether. I almost think it is closer to Skyrim reenacting, but if it is live action and roleplaying, well. . .

I see they did a kickstarter pulling in $74,702 for their first major event. Which explains the production value. They also appear to have retconned all association with Skip Lipman and do not use boffer gear, but the foam/latex stuff.
 

Black Leaf

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I don't mean this in a snobby way, but it feels like what they're trying to do is bring high end European style LARP (or British style LRP because we're special and that) to the US. I agree their weapon and costume standards are good (and that's apparently their primary business) but it feels like "would fit in fine with Empire" rather than "notably better than Empire" to me. Their big hire business is an interesting innovation though.

Empire LARP.jpg
 

Ravenswing

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Yeah, this is pure snobbery talking, the same way a game I used to play insisted that it was a "TORG!" (text-oriented roleplaying game) instead of a MUD or MMORPG, because, well, one has to be unique and phat and kewl, doncha know. So they have European standards for gear. (Those European LARPers who don't hesitate, after all, to use the term "LARP" to describe what they do.)
 

Black Leaf

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Yeah, this is pure snobbery talking, the same way a game I used to play insisted that it was a "TORG!" (text-oriented roleplaying game) instead of a MUD or MMORPG, because, well, one has to be unique and phat and kewl, doncha know. So they have European standards for gear. (Those European LARPers who don't hesitate, after all, to use the term "LARP" to describe what they do.)
We use "LRP" sometimes, but that one's an old grog thing; the term predates "LARP". (And I'm pretty sure that's UK exclusive).
 

Sosthenes

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My inner wimp is coming through a bit when I think about boffer-like events using the rather hard Calimacil weapons. On the other hand, renting clothes already worn by LARPers might be the bigger risk.

It's a neat new entry for the LARP spectrum, though. The bigger German events already have NPC factions where you could get package deals for armor and weapons, and one of them has an "audition" system where you have to check whether your visuals are up to par for a faction. This just takes this to 11.
 

Black Leaf

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My inner wimp is coming through a bit when I think about boffer-like events using the rather hard Calimacil weapons. On the other hand, renting clothes already worn by LARPers might be the bigger risk.
Honestly, they seem to know their stuff on safety and Calimacil is fine if people aren't going for full contact by default. I've seen more injuries from sprained ankles and heatstroke. (In terms of combat gear, wooden shields are by far the most risky for accidents despite them not being used as a weapon).
It's a neat new entry for the LARP spectrum, though. The bigger German events already have NPC factions where you could get package deals for armor and weapons, and one of them has an "audition" system where you have to check whether your visuals are up to par for a faction. This just takes this to 11.

Yeah, this is definitely a good attempt to offer something different in the US market and judging by the fact they've been running a few years it seems to be working. It wouldn't be an event for me, solely because it seems combat focused to the exclusion of everything else (or at least that's the impression I get from the website), but I can see it being great for the right players.
 

Black Leaf

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Just a random thought I had.

As COVID starts to fade, I think that LARP may ironically benefit from D&D's current popularity more than tabletop RPGs. Primary reasoning:

D&D's popularity is largely going to stay confined to D&D as is always the case. The simple fact with LARP is that, throughout its existence, there's never been a game with that overwhelming presence. (MET came near but even there it only really took over the parlour scene for a bit and didn't make real inroads into the rubber sword crowd). In the UK, most people would probably agree on which the big three fest events are, but there's no way you can get any consensus behind that. Let alone with club LARP which is even more fragmented.

COVID has left people desperate for face to face interaction with their hobbies, even more so outside and active.

LARP was on a steady upwards trajectory before COVID so it also has the base of core players there to attract the newbies.

The stigma regarding LARP disappeared years ago, at least in Europe. (Ironically, I think it managed it before tabletop. Even the tabloids have run positive articles. Being the tabloids, the higher proportion of photogenic young women obviously did the hobby no harm).

We're much much less reliant on influencers and there isn't a big name like Critical Role. There are LARP influencers but I can't think of one with the power to make or break a LARP. While shows like Critical Role or Yoggscast can benefit RPGs (I'm not an absolute Luddite about this issue like some), I don't trust anyone with the power that Critical Role in particular have in RPGs currently when it comes to new players.
 

Picaroon Jack

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Black Leaf Black Leaf and robertsconley robertsconley I have a technical question you two may or may not know, but for aluminum chainmail, can it be weathered with painting techniques versus the bizarre chemical baths everyone keeps talking about?

It's just so shiny.
 

AsenRG

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We use "LRP" sometimes, but that one's an old grog thing; the term predates "LARP". (And I'm pretty sure that's UK exclusive).
Just to let you know, it used to be used interchangeably for a while in the first decade of this century in Bulgaria. Lately, though, LARP seems to have won out, probably because it's easier to pronounce as a word:thumbsup:.
 

robertsconley

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Black Leaf Black Leaf and robertsconley robertsconley I have a technical question you two may or may not know, but for aluminum chainmail, can it be weathered with painting techniques versus the bizarre chemical baths everyone keeps talking about?

It's just so shiny.
I had a friend make chainmail and he always used Galvanized wire not aluminum to make them. So I don't know anything about washes to weather aluminum. I specialized in making coats of places. Would cut out rectangles averaging 3" by 5" using a plasma cutting machine and rivet them onto the back of a sheet of leather cut into a shaped tabard.

Way easier to make than chainmail, and far greater protective value.

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Brock Savage

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As a teen I remember having to explain repeatedly to people that we didn’t act things out or wear costumes when playing a ttrpg. I think that it was ‘all in our imagination’ struck a lot of people as even weirder.
We literally had this conversation with my sister-in-law recently. Bunny and I had to explain we don't sit around the table wearing period clothing and talking in funny voices but she seemed to think it was even weirder that we used our imagination.
And here is my kit so far for the event in October. Since these pics, I've painted the shield black and I've ditched the gorget and attached the pauldrons to the gambeson.

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That looks great! I wish there was something that like around here. Bunny and I would be totally down.
 

Picaroon Jack

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We literally had this conversation with my sister-in-law recently. Bunny and I had to explain we don't sit around the table wearing period clothing and talking in funny voices but she seemed to think it was even weirder that we used our imagination.

That looks great! I wish there was something that like around here. Bunny and I would be totally down.
This is in South Carolina, but I think there is one similar to it in Indiana called the Reckoning. Both have a pretty strict dress code and it's based on story line versus free-range adventuring.
 

Picaroon Jack

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Picaroon Jack, where did you get the chainmail? It appears to open in front, which is unusual
It does, it buckles on like a jacket. I got it on eBay a few years ago from this VENDOR. There are tons chainmail/armor vendors from India and Pakistan on eBay. I sometimes wonder if it is the same company with 20 accounts.
 
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