Tank Larp sounds like an excuse to gratuitously add military vehicles to a larp. It does indeed add tanks and APC’s to larp. But it is done in a way that works with the plot, the world and the players.
Adding tanks is also very cool.
Making Tanks Larp Safe
Lets hit that big elephant in the room fast. How do you make a tank, Larp Safe? Tanks, after all, are not known for cuddliness. They’re known for crushing and destroying things.
Fortunately, this was not attempted with an insane amount of foam and gaffa tape. Although that would have been funny.
Instead, the focus was on missions. APCs would roll up to take players away on various missions. The tank training and battle part of the game was similarly a mission away from camp.
Safety precautions were taken to avoid player squishing. This included APCs having spotters, and tanks operating areas being carefully designated and non-pedestrian.
The Tanks Were real?
A lot of people believed that Tank Larp could not possibly use tanks. They did.
The Armoured Personnel Carrier
Players were ferried around in an APC. Her name was Connie. She was an FV432. THe FV432 is part of the FV430 series of armoured vehicles. Initially designed in the 1960s, but with updated and modified versions still in use today.
The tanks were actually FV432’s fitted with a 30mm cannon. These vehicles look like and act like light tanks.
In fact, take a look at a British 1970’s Scorpion tank and you’ll find something that looks a lot like the vehicles used in tank larp.
With a 30mm cannon and full turret, these could be classified as light tanks.
Structure of the LARP
I have to mention this it was unconventional but massively fitted in with the idea that the players were part of a larger war.
Time to expand.
In-Tank Larp the players are soldiers in a what is effectively a World War with one major neutral party. They are part of fast response teams that make use of newly invented tanks and armoured personnel carriers.
In a world has transitioned from medieval to a technology roughly analogous to WW1 in a far shorter time period than ours.
In our WW1 we have anachronisms like horses and sword carrying officers. In their version of things – swords and shields are in use alongside bolt action rifles.
It’s important to say this so that what follows makes sense.
The three days tank larp is played over (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) equate to 3 months of time in the game world.
Each day of the larp a newspaper would come out containing news about the game world. Sometimes mentioning the campaign’s players fought in.
The players could send out military orders and requisitions.
Time not on a mission was the players spending time in their base camp. This was pure role-play.
Impact on immersion
You might think that this putting of gameplay into a form of compressed time would mess up the immersion. It didn’t. Immersion was really high.
All the players worked with it beautifully and if anything being part of a larger world helped the players get into it. The break up between missions and camp time gave a breather where role-play thrived.
A lot of though went intoestablishing the world, it looks and feel really paid off here. Players quickly took on what it meant to be a soldier from their in game country,
Immersion levels were palpable.
Were there problems.
There were some, often focussed on the learning curve of understanding how the game world worked and how that intersected with mechanics
Here’s an example. The players sent out military orders. The natural assumption was that these would be exactly carried out. This didn’t always happen.
Well, the commanders receiving the orders were being roleplayed behind the scenes. This led to order interpretation and local knowledge leading to adjustments in what happened.
It feels to me like a good approximation of the chaos of war. But that is something that needs to be made clear.
The good news was that the game team spoke to players, listened and learned a lot. So I’m going to bet fewer issues next time.
It’s a mark of a good larp that the organisers work with the players. This happened and that is great
Also, it’s particularly important here as the game has an unconventional structure.
Would I recommend Tank Larp
In a heartbeat!
Event 2 has been announced and I am going to be there!