The LARP Experience

Is what you actually deliver to your players. Understanding this helps in understanding what needs to be done when creating a LARP. Knowing what your players will experience when larping helps with mythos, location, costuming and all aspects of LARP creation. Here we look at some of the options to consider.

The Types of LARP

There are many possible variations on what a LARP could be. These are some common LARP type. Note these are not genres. Instead, these are ways of running and presenting a LARP

Before getting into the list its important to remember that these definitions are loose and do vary country to country.

Fest:

A literal festival of larping. Typically a large number of players. Players are often organised into factions. Much of the drama comes from the interplay between factions. Due to a large number of players, the accommodation in a fest LARP is usually camping

Boffer:

The focus here is combat via boffer weapons. (link to enter the boffer LARP)[Here’s an older definition that we have]. Boffer weapons have a significant amount of padding. More so than many other LARP safe weapons.

Nordic:

All participants are players. The focus is on atmosphere and immersive roleplay. All players have a joint responsibility towards the success of the event. Complex rules are typically replaced by game mechanics to resolve a situation without losing the feel of the LARP.

Freeform:

LARPs that don’t rely on a complex ruleset. These often have a small number of players. It’s usual for a freeform LARP to have a repeatable scenario, that makes reruns possible. The accent is not on combat. It is normally on character and story.

Parlour:

These are often small larps. A good many parlour LARPS can be played in a restricted space, such as one or two rooms. Combat is likely to be a consequence of actions taken and not an aim in of the game itself.

BlockBuster:

The aim is big. Not on the number of players but production standards. Blockbuster players expect a very high quality of location, props and costume. This often goes hand in hand with very high immersion play and a commitment from the players to make the LARP a great experience.

Traditional LARP:

It’s a LARP with combat. There’s also roleplay and immersion. There can be specialist game mechanics. Rules can be anything from one page long to a series of tomes. For many people, this is what a LARP is. If larping was a space opera then a traditional LARP would be the human race.

The LARPing Spectrum

All LARPs are made from component elements. All of which exist on a spectrum of "quality" or "completeness" that runs from low to high. The list looks a bit like this

  • Combat: how much fighting?
  • Immersion: how deeply are you in character?
  • Length: How long is the LARP?
  • Time in Character: Are you always in character, or are there periods when play is suspended.
  • Costume: What are the costuming standards?
  • Location: How good are the facilities and how close to the reality of the game is the location?
  • Makeup and Special Effects: How far will you go with these?

It doesn’t matter for example if your LARP is low combat or high combat. What matters is that your players understand what they are signing up for and that the setting and plot of your LARP reflect this.

Every decision made here impacts on your choice on the finished game. If a location that looks like the LARPs location is not available to you; then it is impossible to run a LARP designed and advertised as having that.

If you want to write a setting that is accessible to new players then you need to figure out to organise costuming. High costuming standards can put off those who want to try out LARP (at this point they want to try the game rather than buy equipment).

The aim then is to figure out what the LARP Experience will be. So that you can solve any issues this brings. It can impact your world setting, plot, and practical elements such as location and accommodation.

The Big Picture

Getting the LARP Experience right means that all other elements slot neatly into place. You know the goals beyond writing mythos and plot. Players know their aims and everyone understands what to expect on the day.

The Creating a LARP Series

This is part 2 of a series of articles If you want to read part 1 then click here.

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