Creating a LARP is a fantastic experience. If you start a LARP you will have an incredible experience. If all goes well it will be incredibly rewarding.
This is the first of a series of articles that talks about all the points you need to cover when putting together a brand new, never seen before LARP.
I’m going to put a focus on building a LARP designed for ongoing play. Whilst I love one-shot LARPs, I feel that building out from single to ongoing use will be of greater value to more people.
Who is this for?
The over-riding hope is that this will help out those who want to start a LARP for the very first time. Additionally, by looking into what it takes to put a LARP together there is some hope that a wider audience of players and organisers will find something of value in this project.
Let’s get started by drawing up a list of things that need to be covered. We’ll then explore each of these in separate articles.
Creating A LARP – The To-Do List
- What kind of LARP Experience do you want to create?
- What style of play do you want?
- Is this to be a high or low immersion game?
- Will the focus be on combat, or something else?
- What do you hope players will get out of it
- World Building
- Create the base story and lore
- How to help players understand what the people and factions are like
- What do the players know about the world events that have shaped their characters?
- The Rules
- Figuring out how complex the rules need to be. Does the LARP even need rules?
- Character creation – How are characters built?
- Documenting the safety procedures for the LARP.
- Policies and protections. Outside of game rules and safety where does the LARP stand on the protection of its players, diversity, disability and handling prejudicial behaviour?
- The Practicals
- What will accommodations be?
- How will first aid be handled?
- How will the players and crew be fed?
- What kind of site is required?
- Booking a site
- Arranging Costume and Props
- How are you going to document the event?
- Arranging Ticket Sales
- Getting the Word Out
- Using Social Media
- Getting a website
- Using Conventions and Fairs
- Advertising at other LARPs.
It May Look Like a Lot But
Don’t let this put you off. It is a lot of work. But good planning and team-work will ease the load. We’ll include tips on making things manageable as we go along.
This is a big and ambitious series. But not so big that including the thoughts of larp designers wouldn’t help. If you have things to say about creating a LARP please pass them on to us for inclusion. We’ll make sure you get full recognition.
The first issue of this page missed entirely the important section on asking "What Kind of Experience?" I’d like to thank Hannah Lipsky for pointing this out. Here is what she eloquently had to say:
I would add an entire first section to that checklist about "what kind of experience do you want to create?" That’s something you need to know before you design the setting or the rules.
Do you want a competitive game or a game where play-to-lose is the dominant philosophy? Do you want a game that challenges people’s preconceptions or a comfortably familiar setting with some details changed? Do you want a boffer game with a lot of combat, a parlor game that’s entirely social, or somewhere in between? How valuable is immersion to you?
You need to answer all those questions and more before you can start the others. Because if you value immersion very highly, you can’t create a setting full of invisible ghosts since it’s impossible to portray invisibility without some kind of out of game mechanic. If you want a parlor game that’s entirely social, that expands what kind of sites are available to you. If you want a game that is very focused on dramatic stories, you’re more likely to have permadeath in your rules than if you want a game that’s very focused on big line battles. Etc
I’d also like to thank Sjors Van Rijswijck for pointing that that we need to mention who this for.
We start with thinking about the game experience