LARPing, or Live Action Role Playing, is a popular form of interactive entertainment that allows participants to immerse themselves in a fictional world and take on the role of a character. But exactly how does LARPing work?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the mechanics of LARPing and how it all comes together to create a unique and engaging experience.
Storytelling and Plot
Story and plot play a crucial role in LARP events. They provide the framework for the game world, the characters, and the gameplay mechanics.
The event organizers plan the story and the scenarios that the players will encounter during gameplay. The goal is to create a compelling world that the players can explore and interact with. The event organizers are responsible for establishing the environment, NPCs, and other aspects of the game that player characters can interact with.
When event organizers create a story and plot for the game, they have to keep several important aspects in mind:
The story and plot set the tone and establish the setting, history, and culture of the game world. This helps players to understand the context of their actions and decisions during gameplay.
The event organizers must create a detailed world setting, time period, and culture to make the environment seem realistic and believable. The experience must also be consistent and well developed so that the player characters can act within that world.
Story and plot help to establish the characters and their motivations. The characters are often part of a larger story or plot, and their actions and decisions affect the outcome of that story or plot. This helps to create a sense of purpose and direction for the players’ characters.
A LARP will also include NPCs, or non-player characters, that are created by the event organizers. These characters need to have detailed backstories, motivations, and purposes so that the players will be able to understand the story and progress accordingly.
Goals and Progression
The event organizers must use storytelling tools to provide a sense of progression for the game. The events of the game are often tied to the larger story or plot, and as the players progress through the game, they are moving the story or plot forward. This helps to create a sense of accomplishment and excitement for the players.
Without goals and progression, the LARP becomes a boring experience without a purpose. Players need to know what to do to move the story forward.
Event organizers use storytelling to create memorable experiences for the players. A well-crafted story or plot can be immersive and engaging, leaving players with a sense of excitement and satisfaction after the game is over.
There are different types of LARPing events, from one-shots to campaigns that span several events or even months.
LARPing gameplay mechanics are similar to those of tabletop roleplaying games, but with a live-action twist. Players interact with each other in character, engage in combat, solve puzzles, and negotiate with non-player characters (NPCs).
The rules and safety measures are designed to ensure that the game is fair and safe for all participants. This can involve the use of foam weapons, safety goggles, and other protective gear.
Event organizers establish rules and safety protocols that provide a structure for how players interact with each other, the game world, and the story or plot.
Although the gameplay mechanics are set by the event organizer and therefore vary from LARP to LARP, here are some common mechanics:
Combat is a common gameplay mechanic in many LARPs. It can involve using foam weapons or other safe props to simulate combat between characters. The rules for combat can vary depending on the LARP, but they typically involve a system of hit points, damage, and armor.
These rules may be familiar to anyone who has played Dungeons and Dragons or other tabletop RPGs.
Many LARPs include magic as a gameplay mechanic. Magic can involve spells that players can cast to affect the game world or other characters. The rules for magic can vary depending on the LARP, but they typically involve a system of incantations, gestures, and spell components.
Without strict rules and mechanics for magic users, players can quickly ruin an entire LARP sequence. I’ve run LARPs with 5-year-old Harry Potter fans who insist on using Avada Kedavra on all the NPCs. It’s not fun.
Skills & Abilities
LARPs often have a system of skills and abilities that players can choose for their characters. These skills and abilities can include combat skills, magic spells, crafting skills, and other special abilities.
The rules for skills and abilities can vary depending on the LARP, but they typically involve a system of points or levels. Again, this may feel similar to anyone with D&D experience.
Quests & Missions
LARPs often involve quests or missions that players can undertake. These quests or missions can be part of the larger story or plot, and they can involve tasks such as retrieving an item, defeating a monster, or solving a puzzle.
For example, in our Forests of Lindon LARP, the players had to retrieve something from the forest, solve cyphers, and battle a spider in order to complete the storyline.
NPCs are characters in the game world that are controlled by the game organizers. They can be allies, enemies, or neutral characters, and they can provide opportunities for players to interact with the game world and move the story or plot forward.
Generally, you cannot have story without some level of NPC involvement. The NPC characters can issue quests and missions, answer questions, provide clues, and provide on-the-ground, in-character enforcement of rules and security measures.
Some LARPs have an economy system that allows players to trade goods or services with each other. This can include currency, bartering, or other forms of exchange.
Don’t overlook the importance of a good economy! Many beginning LARPers, especially children, love to trade and barter.
Overall, gameplay mechanics in LARPs are designed to provide a structure for gameplay and to create a sense of immersion in the game world. They can vary depending on the LARP, and they are often designed to be flexible and adaptable to different play styles and preferences.
One of the first steps in LARPing is creating a character. Players can create their own character or choose from pre-made options, depending on the game or event. Your event organizer can provide more guidance on how this is done.
Character creation involves choosing a backstory, skills, abilities, and even a costume. The character’s attributes and abilities can affect how they interact with the world and other characters during gameplay.
Learn Your LARP
First, players need to decide which LARP they want to participate in. This can involve researching different LARPs and their settings, themes, and gameplay mechanics.
Once a player has chosen a LARP, they will need to review the character creation guidelines provided by the event organizers. These guidelines will outline the rules and limitations for character creation.
The more you know about the LARP you will be participating in, the better character you can create. After all, you want to make sure that your character fits the setting and circumstances of the event.
Selecting Race & Class
In many LARPs, players can choose from different races and classes for their character. These choices will affect the character’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Some common races in LARPs include:
- Humans: Humans are a common race in many LARP settings, and they are often the most flexible in terms of their abilities and skills.
- Elves: Elves are often portrayed as graceful and agile, with a connection to nature and magic. They may have abilities such as archery or healing magic.
- Dwarves: Dwarves are typically portrayed as strong and hardy, with a focus on mining, blacksmithing, and other crafts. They may have abilities related to combat or crafting.
- Orcs: Orcs are often portrayed as savage and brutal warriors, with a focus on physical strength and combat abilities.
Some common classes in LARPs include:
- Wizards: Wizards are powerful spellcasters, with a focus on magical abilities such as elemental spells or healing magic.
- Rogues: Rogues are skilled in sneaking and thievery, with a focus on agility and cunning.
- Warriors: Warriors are skilled in combat and often specialize in a specific weapon or fighting style.
- Paladins: Paladins are warriors with a strong moral code and a focus on healing and protecting others.
- Necromancers: Necromancers are powerful mages who can raise and control the dead.
- Vampires: Vampires are often portrayed as powerful and seductive creatures with abilities such as increased strength and healing.
The races and classes available to you will depend on the LARP that you are participating in.
Establish a Backstory
Players will need to develop a backstory for their character. This can involve creating a history, personality traits, and motivations for the character. The backstory will inform the character’s actions and decisions during gameplay.
After all, when you think about how you act in your everyday life, you can probably tie a lot of your attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and actions to past experiences. The same should be true for your character.
Skills & Abilities
Players will need to choose skills and abilities for their character. These can include combat skills, magic spells, and other special abilities. The skills and abilities chosen will affect the character’s capabilities during gameplay.
Usually, the skills and abilities available to you will be established by your LARP organizer.
Players are usually expected to create a costume for their character. The costume should reflect the character’s race, class, and personality.
Costumes can range from simple to elaborate, depending on the player’s preferences and budget. Even a simple pair of elf ears from Amazon can make a big impact!
Attend a Workshop
Many of the larger, professional LARP events offer character workshops where players can get help creating their character. These workshops may include guidance on backstory development, skill selection, and costume creation.
If you have the option to attend a character workshop, I highly recommend it. It can make the process of character creation much easier.
Overall, creating a character for a LARP can be a fun and creative process. It allows players to fully immerse themselves in the game world and take on the role of a unique and interesting character.
Interaction with Others
LARPing involves interacting with other players in character. This can include combat, negotiations, and roleplaying. Players can form alliances and work together to achieve a common goal, or they can compete against each other to be the last one standing.
There are different circumstances within a LARP that will require interaction, including:
- Role-playing: Players create and embody their characters, interacting with other players and NPCs in character and responding to the game’s storyline and world.
- Combat: Combat is a common element in many LARPs, with players engaging in battles with other players or NPCs. Combat interactions can be resolved using a variety of rules and mechanics, depending on the specific LARP.
- Quests and missions: LARPs often involve quests and missions that players can complete for rewards or to advance the game’s storyline. These quests and missions require interaction with NPCs, other players, and the game world.
- Social interaction: LARPs also provide opportunities for players to socialize and interact with one another outside of the game’s storyline. This can include activities such as sharing meals or participating in other social events.
Communication and collaboration with other players are important in LARPing, as it can affect the outcome of the game.
All interactions should be handled according to the established game mechanics and should be consistent with the characters that the players have created.
LARPing is a complex and immersive form of entertainment that requires creativity, teamwork, and dedication. From creating a character to engaging in combat and negotiating with NPCs, LARPing offers a unique and engaging experience that is unlike any other. Whether you’re a seasoned LARPer or new to the hobby, there’s always something new to discover and enjoy.