This episode we did a little shift in format and returned to our four presenters talking to each other. As a result this very nearly became our gibberish episode.
We’d planned a considered discussion on the perils of playing a self isolating character that did not want to talk to anyone. Somehow this turned into a very Welsh Darth Vader (see excerpt below)
This pretty much did set the tone for the rest of tone.
However we managed to rant – don’t larp if you don’t want to talk. But then countered that with reasons why someone might want to be to quiet.
Rant number 2 was all about the overuse of magical healing
We frothed about the past considerably.
We talked about some of the differences between role playing at fest larps and smaller more intimate games. I think we all get a little bit more out of the roleplaying at smaller events but there is a lot to be said for the scale of a fest larp.
I’m keeping these notes short. This show quickly became a stream of consciousness and laughter. It doesn’t segment that well. I hope you enjoy it and let us know what you think.
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We asked the LARPBook Community for photographs of events that occurred in the first part of 2017. They responded wonderfully – thank you – all of you. So here is a collection of galleries from the UK and USA that gives you a glimpse into what LARP looks like – the Spring collection
Gisido Larp from Ohio gave us free access to their pictures, They’re a very active group and although I’m not sure exactly which event these are from – I still think you’ll enjoy them.
Altered Reality LARP plays out of Oxfordshire in the UK. Their third event “Those Left Behind” was played in April. It’s a post-apoc game so a lot of these feature the survivors camp.
This collection comes from Susan Hathaway with images from the Fear of The Dark event – “Beltane”. The game was played out in scenic Mid Wales and set the thirteenth century.
If its cowboy action you want then Beth Dooner took these from the thirteenth “The Good, the Bad & the Dead” They are a UK group. Mostly playing out of Deadwood – in Sussex.
So that’s four different games over two different continents. I think we’ll keep doing this kind of gallery – and with luck get a glimpse of more games in more places in the future.
At a recent LARP (Fear of The Dark – Beltane) a interesting question was asked by a very experienced larper. It was about the roles women play in larps.
That question was – why do more women seem to play NPC roles in games as opposed to player roles?
It was a question based purely on personal experience but it raised an interesting point. Is there a difference in how women choose their roles in a larp as opposed to men?
So we decided the interview the originator of the question (Susan Hathaway), together with the writer and referee of Beltane (Emma-Leigh Knight).
It turned into an interesting conversation and of course we also wandered of topic a few times..
A few weekends ago I travelled northwards to the new Fear of The Dark site to play in their first event for a number of years. That event was Beltane and I’ll be talking about it here
First though it seems appropriate to confess an interest and perhaps tell a little bit of the Fear of The Dark (FoTD) back story. FoTD is a small Welsh larping group that have been around for about 25 years. I had my first larping experience with them. Since then I’ve been a player, crew, writer and referee with the group. In other words I’ve been pretty involved and that does leave me with a desire for Fear of The Dark to do more.
FoTD games all have a number of distinguishing features. They are very real world. If you can stabbed, shot, stapled, chopped, minced, munched or maimed in any kind of way then the repercussions on your character will be serious. No sudden magical healing. This also extends to the setting – modern day games are set in the here and now. These can riff off the news right up until the start of the event. Historical events take on aspects of actual history. Even explorations into Science Fiction and Fantasy are all designed to have that real cutting edge.
These are also freeform larps. In that there are no complex rule or character generation systems. You simply have to come up with a story for your character and play that character. The sense of the real will take over the rest.
In a sense these games have a Nordic feel as they are all about pushing the meta and rules to one side that the player can ride an emotional experience.
Beltane was the first game since 2012 and it was to be the start of a series of games of which 4 are planned. Note that when I say series I mean one after another. I do not mean that the stories are linked. Campaign style play is incredibly rare in Fear of The Dark. Most events are one off stories. If you are lucky the larp may get a rerun. In the main though these are all stand alone larps. It does mean that FoTD are back from their hiatus.
Avoiding spoilers here’s the backstory. Its the year 1268. Only 5 years before Edward 1st invades Wales and the construction of Caerphilly Castle by Gilbert de Clare has just started. It is a difficult time for Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. In mid Wales maybe a days travel from the English border a band of gypsies aim to host a Beltane festival. For various reasons people start to gather at a nearby inn. Events start to unfold. Now I cannot say which people arrive at the tavern as true to FoTD style those characters are created by the characters independently of each other. On this run it included nobles,spies, gypsies, spies and thieves. An odd mixing of medieval society.
So events unfolded. Slowly at first. Inexorably tensions and suspicions started to rise. In the early hours of the morning apparitions ‘convinced’ 3 of the inns guests to venture outside – ill equipped I should say as the players reacted fully in character and went out without shoes or boots. By the morning time everyone had their own ideas, but it was time for the start of the Beltane festival. A festival that did not go well for any of the players
At this point I have to stop as I am either going to give away spoilers or continue to sound like a B movie voice over.
Lets put it into context. There was a lot of trepidation in this event. Quite a bit of I am scared of that. A fair degree of I am fighting against that and more than enough creepiness. Beltane had two runs. I was on the second and there a couple of scenes that I will not forget for a while. Perhaps the most memorable being one in which trust between evil and church as being negotiated.
Was it Good?
For me this was a good event. The new site for FoTD games worked well. The game felt right and the handover to a second generation of writers and refs felt somewhat special. I can’t wait for my next outing with Fear of The Dark.
If you would like to learn more about Fear of The Dark here is their website: https://www.fearofthedark.co.uk/
Last year we covered the 20th anniversay of Curious Pastimes. We weren’t the only ones doing this. Another of the regular documentors that go to their events is Slender Pictures. They took a whole lot of video.
One of the outcomes is a series of excellent short documentaries about Curious Pastimes and the people who larp in the UK. These were first released between the end of March and end of April 2017. We’ve had look at these and feel that they are an interesting resource. So in the spirit of sharing and distribution, here is that series. I hope you enjoy this collection.
We recently posted a list of questions and tips that focused on gathering useful practical information when going on a larp. The sort of things you may need to know if its your first time with a particular group / event or venue. It was also intended for people coming to the hobby for the first time.
We also put out the question to the Facebook groups UK LRP and Larpers BFF – how would you extend or improve this list.?
We got back from wonderful answers (some tips and some questions to ask), which are quoted here. Before you read these I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone who responded. Your questions and tips were all first rate. Where I know of a relevant website for the respondents I’ve added it to give you a little more context.
Gareth Farrant (Kit Goblins)
Weather… larping pluss rain can be horrid.. pack spare kit just in case you get wet and good boots. Sealskin socks are awesome, dry feet can make the difference between a good event and never wanting to return
You’ve mentioned water but it’s probably worth mentioning salt too. And sun cream.
Also worth adding washing facilities to the things to ask about
Also, have a look at this
There are some potentially useful items on there, including an article about foot care.
Lizzie Stark (lizziestark.com)
-photo policies, including policies on how images will be disseminated via social media
-harassment and other safety policies, including who to go to in case something goes wrong, where the off game space is, and what behavior is explicitly not tolerated. Who are the safety contacts? When are they on duty? How can I reach an organizer in an emergency? Who should I contact if I think a known broken stair or even, (lord forbid) someone who has assaulted me or a friend is attending this event? What are your policies for booting people?
-First aid–where the kit is and whether you are responsible for bringing your own. Is this site free from medical care? If I have a life-threatening food or environmental allergy, who can I tell, just in case?
-accessibility. Is the site wheelchair accessible? If I have a disability and want to know whether I can be accommodated, who should I reach out to?
And re: sleeping space: how are spaces assigned? Can I select my roommates? Are there single-gender sleeping options available?
Matthew Web (Incognita Limited)
“Who’s In Charge” as well. Might make a point that just because a player likes to talk with authority doesn’t mean they have any. Not that that ever happens…
On my personal list of practicalities is quite high the question of “how do I get there and where exactly should I report to whom” followed closely by “when do I need to be there, when it is good if I am there, when it is must I am there – and what is the course of events before game starts and how do I find out game started”
Easy but sometimes missing is “do I have a number on a contact person from the org team” and sometimes I ask “is there anything special I should know and/or bring that I might be missing?” (Aka the question on unknown unknowns)
Something I find odd to come up as often as it does- transportation! where is the game? when was the last time you checked it wasn’t changed? how are you getting there? is there public transportation? at what time? how much gear are you taking with you? do you have a ride? did you make sure the ride is for both getting there and going back home? how are you getting all the stuff you brought with you off the site at the end of the game?
Also, I might be repeating Lizzie here, but medication. you have to have it on you at all times. we had diabetics with empty insulin syringes who didn’t know how to refill them, allergenic people without their medicine on their person. people with chronic pain who leave their medicine at the camp site and break down half a mile away, or forget it at home 50 miles away.
we usually have at least one trained medical doctor on call at all big games, but even then having them treat something that could be avoided is putting a lot of pressure on the organisers, and is literally life threatening.
I hope you find these useful.
If you’re going to your first larp this Summer, or perhaps trying out something new for the first time then there are certain questions that you may need to ask. This post is for the new larper or a the new to a larp player. Its a list of things that need to clarified before going to a larp event.
The amount of information that larp organisers publish about their events varies enormously. Everyone will tell you the time, the place, the cost and the genre. Some will publish a lot more, but if you feel you want to know more than is published, then here are some questions and tips that will help you prepare for the event.
Where Am I Sleeping?
Let’s kick off with a big one. You need to know where you will be laying your head. Typically (and I am UK biased here) accommodation will be along the lines of
- Camping (You Provide the tent and camping gear)
- Sleeping Rough in Character (You really need to ask what you need to be bring)
- In a bedroom (You may need to ask about how many (if any) will be sharing)
- In a dormitory (Definitely sharing)
- Shared Space – Bring Your Own Bed
Camping can be in character ( tent style depends on genre) or out of character (anything goes). You need to know which as this affects your choice of tent.
Sleeping rough means makeshift shelters, and possibly outdoors. This means you really need to clarify what the expectations are from the organisers at your time of booking.
Bedroom is nice. It may even be ensuite. You may need to share and mixed sharing can also happen. So clarify this if you possibly feel uncomfortable with shared rooms or sharing with someone of the opposite sex. Also do you need bedding.
Dormitories – you’re talking about limited personal space and maybe mixed occupancy. So again check. Again you should check about bedding.
If its bring your own bed – do just that. Get a comfortable camp bed of some kind.
The Tip: When in doubt pack a sleeping bag.
Food – What am I eating?
At a larp eating is very important. Your routines are going to change. You may be a lot more physically active than usual. You may be getting less sleep than usual. You may be colder or warmer than usual. You will need to eat.
The amount of catering a larp provides will vary enormously. Some games do incredible in character catering. Others let you fend for yourself. You should confirm which meals will be provided. You should also find out if snacks are available on site.Its also worth finding out if meals are at the start and end of the day. If this is the case what happens in the middle?
Its never a bad move to pack some non-perishable snacks. Don’t go hungry. Assume you will need food.
The Tip: Putting snacks in your larp bag is rarely a bad move.
Drink – Avoid Dehydrating
Two parts to this one. Alcohol and hydration. Lets start with the booze.
Alcohol is really simple as it depends on knowing the what the attitude to alcohol is like at that larp. Is it normal to drink? Is drinking banned for safety reasons? Is a little alcohol OK and a lot not so? All of these can only be resolved by asking the organisers. Very often you’ll be able to guess as the attitude to alcohol in larps tends to reflect where you are. For example most UK larps allow for drinking as a normal part of the experience; but being falling over drunk is seen as being not desirable. However regardless of what’s permitted remember that you will be taking part in an emotional and possibly physical experience. How does alcohol affect you? Remember to be true to your limitations. If drinking in such circumstances is not a good idea for you then do not drink regardless of what others say.
The next part if simply hydration. You will need to most likely drink more than usual. Especially in an outdoors Summer larp. I’ve seen a lot people fall over from simply not drinking enough water. So if possible carry water. If possible take a moment and have drink of something. Being thirsty is a bad thing. It can become dangerous if you dehydrate. There’s not much to ask here as just about all larpers are aware of this risk. But you may need to ask what is a suitable in character water container.
The Tip: Do not become dehydrated.
When Am I in Game?
If you are in game you are meant to be in costume and portraying your character. You’ll need to know what time of night you can stop playing? When in the morning you are in character? Or is the whole experience from start to finish in character? Are there areas of the site that are out game? Like out of character camping or a chill room if you need to step back for a moment. There’s nothing worse than going for an out of character breakfast and then finding that everyone is already in character.
So ask the question – when and where should I be playing my character?
The Tip: When in Doubt Assume in character
What Should My Costume be like?
Really important if this is your first larp and to be honest given the modern trend for high costume standards this question never goes away. Fortunately you may not have to ask a question at all. If the game is well established there is a good chance of there being plenty of photographs online that you can take a look. Avail yourself of the larps website and any Facebook groups they may have. You will learn a lot.
Some larps may have costume standards embedded in their rules / guide books. Take a look at these.
Finally ask the question of the organisers or other players. You will almost certainly get some good answers. Don’t buy or acquire costume before you know what you need. That way can lead to a lot of wasted money. If its your first larp also ask about borrowing or renting costume. Looking good will help you enjoy the larp but there is little fun in spending a lot of money and only then discovering that you do not like.
The Tip: Ask how to look cool – but don’t blow the budget until you are sure about it.
These are all practical questions common to anyone going to a larp. If you are new to larping you should try and get these cleared up. Never be afraid to ask questions of larpers. The larp community by and large is full of helpful, friendly and thoughtful people. The kind of people who want to work with someone to better take part in their game. Always ask questions. They will not be laughed at.
LARPBook interviews Danny Gomez of First Person Xperience. We talked about RED. A new post apocalypse experience that is launching on the 11th of May 2017.
Here’s the link to RED
RED sounds like it’s a combination of theatre and larp. It’s built so that can enter it with no real preparation but still have an immersive and unique experience. It sounds like a lot of work has gone into making it self customising. Much in a same way that a larp adjusts to the actions of its players. Its also clear that its not an Escape Room. Escape Rooms are fundamentally puzzles, whilst this seems to more story based. So it has a start and an outcome. The outcome depends on player actions. So again more larp like than some other mainstream offerings.
It straddles the world between mainstream and larp. Great fun for a group of friends who know nothing about larp. Great fun for larpers who could really get into it. Possibly both playing at the same time. Each run has a 75 minute duration which makes incorporating into a day out quite easy.
If you’re interested in going – then book quick as we have a promo code
The code is
It’ll get you a free upgrade to next tier of ticket above the one your purchase. The code is limited to the first 100.
If you go – we’d love to hear of your experience in RED. LARPBook is very keen on hearing how this runs.