My axe raised, shield before me, chainmail strapped on tight; I stride into the fray. I see my friend across the battlefield, roaring as they charge towards me. In a few minutes, one of us will be dead. This will be fun!
How did I get here? A few years back my housemates persuaded me to dress like a fool and pretend to be someone else. I played a one-day event where I was a bow-and-arrow wielding rogue in the morning, and then a variety of monsters in the afternoon. Live action roleplay (LARP, or LRP) is something you try once and either never do again, or changes your life forever. I was hooked.
I mostly play fantasy games set in worlds with swords, magic and monsters. But there are LARPs of all flavours; sci-fi, superheroes, horror, Victorian, cowboy, post-apocalypse. There’s even games set in familiar worlds like Firefly, Aliens (and Predator), and Harry Potter. There are political games full of deception; games stacked with battle after battle; dramatic events that revolve around roleplay. Rules vary too, from Dungeons and Dragons levels of complexity, to no-rules systems where narrative runs the show.
What they have in common is a sense of community. You build stories collaborating with your fellow LARPers, facilitated by referees and game organisers. You create fun experiences together, even if your characters hate each other. During events you dedicate yourself to their destruction – but afterwards you rave about how you enjoyed all the opportunities for fun that your encounters provided.
Everyone gets something different from it, too. Some enjoy escapism and hitting people with foam weapons. Some process personal issues through their characters. Some make costumes, armour and weapons to look absolutely badass. Some collect the best equipment money can buy. It creates opportunities for all manner of fun and creativity.
So next time I’m on holiday, know that I’ll be in another world, fighting the forces of evil (or joining them). I’ll have a (foam) blade at my side – and I have spares if you want to join in. I definitely won’t be checking my email.
If you want to find out more about what I get up to in my time off, check out https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire
Photo copyyright of Steph Morris. Please support their work through Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/trinkety