I was recently at a larp run as a stag party..
Now larpers putting events together to celebrate events isn’t too unusual. What made this one different is that none of the players were larpers; yet they had requested that a larp be put together for them.
So I was attending as crew and I personally had nothing to do with the stag party. I was there to help run a bespoke event. That was true for every larper there.
In fact a veritable who’s who of larp suppliers had been assembled for this.
I’ll try and explain how all of this worked and came together.
Wyvernstales History and Stories had been contacted to include about 16 participants in a larp event. As preparations developed this evolved into a bespoke event just for the stag party attendees. It turned out that this was far better than including the party in an existing game.
Tailoring everything to the participants created a friendly and intimate atmosphere that allowed guards to be dropped and concerns about not fitting into be removed. All the players could simply be themselves.
The reason for wanting a larp was it turned out quite simple and also a familiar story. The stag, his best man and a number of the others were all board game and D&D players. They were aware of larp as a thing but had never tried it. When the time came to organise a memorable stag event the idea of larp was posited and turned out to be the thing they did. This also means that not everyone had a gaming background. They really had no idea what to expect (beyond drinking).
The players had no larp experience and so a very reduced set of rules were employed. Essentially enough to keep the players safe in combat. The players were given pre-generated characters complete with agendas, secrets and guides for how to play the character.
The setting was more medieval than fantasy, the story line focused on players interacting with duplicitous characters whilst trying to hide their own somewhat dubious pasts.
Of course the past has the habit of catching up with you; when you least expect it…
Essentially it was a group of people invited to meet up with a manorial lord only to find out that things were not as hoped. There were clues to find (and this group was great at that), characters to interact with, games to gamble on and of course mead to drink.
In addition to the main plot training had been laid on. The players were taught to fight with swords and to fire bows. A few of them were quite the natural Robin Hoods! Others revelled in picking up a sword or axe and being told to hit someone! Combat really opened things out for this group as they discovered that larp fighting is fun! They also discovered that it can be tiring too!
It wasn’t long before the realisation dawned that if they could do it, they could try it and that barriers and limitations were down. In effect they discovered that being in the larp was permission to play. This grew as the event progressed. They never took anything too far, they were always looking to make sure things were not being spoiled but they were also revelling in the all the options that were opening up in the game. They had learned that thing that every larper knows. Play is fun and its made all the better by letting your imagination go out for a run!
The game was simple. It did not constrain the players. Also time in and time out were dependent on their need. As was supporting what they wanted to do.
A surprise for me was being asked to help start of a mystery game where the poor stag had to undertake a series of challenges in order to unveil a murder. It ran for a set time and I have the utmost respect for the players and stag alike. I won’t say what happened, I will give applause. In other words just because a larp had been ordered didn’t mean that other things can be done to suit the needs of the players.
The aim was fun and we succeeded.
So here are few things that were a result of this weekend.
Larps biggest problem is not being understood. On this weekend both gamers and non-gamers had a very good time. Once someone realises that larp is fun and that they have permission to play then amazing things happen. To grow larp needs to help get that message out.
Gaming culture has an impact on how a game is played. Non larpers placed in a larp do not behave like larpers. The extent of this is normally masked as most games contain old and new players; with the effect of moderating behaviour. Put all non larpers together and suddenly larp tropes are gone and a new dynamic is established.
A number of the players realised that they had opened the doors on a whole new world and they were fascinated. There were some fantastic conversations as a result. Experiencing is far better than any amount of show and tell.
A bespoke larp for people not used to the hobby can be a fantastic thing. It creates an atmosphere all of its own and it is something to be revelled in. Ask me to do another of these and I’ll be there in a heart beat.
Thank you to everyone – for letting me work on and experienced such a great weekend.