LARP Events

An Introduction To Role Playing Games That Led To A Passion

An Introduction To Role Playing Games That Led To A Passion

It was springtime, the air was warm and the smiles were plentiful. I was innocently passing by when, suddenly, I was struck with intense excitement. There, resting casually in the shade of the massive old Oak tree was the lone, neon pink, foam spear. I approached cautiously, looking around to see if it belonged to someone nearby. There was no way that someone could have abandoned this beautiful work of art. I reached for the weapon and began to admire the fine craftsmanship of its maker. Such care and attention to detail was taken in crafting this impressive tool. As I held it in my hands, I felt a surge of energy pass through me. This toy was just begging to be played with, I could not help but oblige. I swung the spear to my left, then back to my right, took a step forward to jab, then did a 360-degree spin. A hypnotizing magic came over me as the spear and I danced gracefully through the field. My heart was swelling as I gazed lovingly upon my foam partner, breathing life into her with each motion. I had completely lost my awareness of my surroundings and was lifted into a blissful realm where nothing else mattered but swooshing sounds of my spear cutting through the fabric of my reality.

“Saaarah! Saraaah! Sarah! Put that down! It’s not yours,” my friend called to me from across the park. As I floated down from my euphoria, I felt a little embarrassed but mostly just dizzy. I respectfully placed the spear back in it’s original resting place in the shade of the Oak tree. As I walked away, I looked back heavy-hearted but knowing that I was forever changed. I must learn who made this wonderful play weapon so that they may show me how to make one for my own role playing games.

That was two years ago, I was 23 years old. And that neon pink foam spear belonged to non other than Shaggy, the creative mind behind Epic Adventurez and Epic Toys. At my first Capture the Flag game in Clark Park in West Philadelphia I was really nervous. “Are they going to accept me,” I thought. “I am too old for this? Am I going to look stupid?” I approached the field and in the distance I could see a young man, about my age, confidently wielding his sword in combat with his imaginary partner. I was hypnotized by his movements, like a choreographed dance, it was beautiful to watch. He spotted me then and ran over to introduce himself.

“Hello! My name is Stephen,” he said, slightly out of breath. He was about my height, average build with long wavy brown hair way past his shoulders, and magnetic eyes that held such magic they literally sparkled. With one welcoming hug and reassuring smile from Stephen my fears began to melt away and I felt more at ease. He started going over all the rules of all the different games they played.

“The greatest honor is to die well,” he said. He explained that if you are hit by someone’s weapon that you are to “die well” by making your death as theatrical as possible, to have fun with it. This encourages accountability on the field as well as respect for your opponents. Also, when you return to the game after your death you are to yell, “I’m alive!” This not only lets your opponents know you have returned to the game, but serves as an empowering mantra to remind one that they are indeed alive and present in the moment. Another important rule is the “Reality Check.” Sort of like a safe word, you should yell, “Reality check!” to pause the role playing games immediately if someone is scared or hurt or needs a break. I could see very clearly that just as he had put so much care and attention to detail into that pink spear that had brought me here, that Shaggy had also put just as much thought and love into designing this game. They were not just giving these kids something to do on a Saturday afternoon, but they were providing them with a strong community and instilling in them the important morals and principles it takes to be a good person in our society. I was very impressed, and absolutely hooked.

Two shadows approached the field then. It was the first player to show up that day, beside myself. A spunky young girl, no older than ten, and her Dad who carried a cane and sported an impressive beard. Stephen introduced me to the pair and the girl was excited to have a new student whom she could share her abundance of knowledge with. She told me she was especially excited that I was a girl and explained that there was only one other girl who came to Capture-The-Flag regularly. Then, taking my hand, she dragged me out onto the battlefield and began to explain the rules of the role playing games. I listened intently.

“Now we duel,” she exclaimed! With that, she took her battle stance and held her sword out in front of her. I followed suit. “Three, two, one, fight!” she counted down, and with one full swing she sliced open my torso with her blade. I looked down in horror and scrambled to keep my guts from spilling out onto the field but my efforts were futile and I collapsed with a thud at my opponents feet, who was laughing menacingly in my defeat.

“Again, again!” she demanded. This continued for sometime and needless to say I began to get the hang of the whole “die well” thing. Soon enough more children began showing up and I was surprised at the large range in age of the players. There were little dudes, maybe six or seven years old, as well as adolescents and even a few teenagers. What was even more surprising is that they all played together without any problems. When I asked Stephen whether or not he worried about the older kids being too rough with the younger players, he quickly shook his head and explained that most of the older players had been playing since they were small and so that they understood the responsibility of setting a good example for young players as well as holding their blows and not using too much strength when going up against a smaller opponent. The game began and went on for some time as we waged war on our enemies and devised strategies on how to best take the other teams flag while ensuring that our flag remained defended. Passersby from the local farmers market would often stop to enjoy our accidental guerrilla theater. Before I knew it, parents began gathering at the edge of the field and one by one the players were collected from battle and taken home for super. The game came to and end and then suddenly, as if coming out from under a spell, I realized how exhausted I was from running back and fourth across the park for the last few hours. I helped Stephen gather up the swords for the next role playing games and checked the field for any matter that may have been accidentally dropped or forgotten.

On my walk home, I reflected upon the events of the afternoon, the friends I had made, the things I had learned. I felt rejuvenated. The little girl inside me who had often felt odd and out of place was overcome with appreciation and joy for this new found family. I had been searching for a community like this one. One that accepted me fully, that I could express my creativity and silliness with, one that I could nurture and care for, and that would love me in return. I wiped away a tear that had escaped through the corner of my eye. I knew that I had found something special and I could not wait until I could return home to the battlefield to discover more, not only about the game but about myself.

Word On Role Playing Games By Sarah Seymour

I Love Role Playing Games

I Love Role Playing Games

LARP Birthday Party where you make foam weapons at the party.

LARP Birthday Party

On Saturday, October 18th, there was a party held in Rittenhouse Park in Philadelphia, PA.  This was a LARPing themed birthday party run by Epic Toys.  Captain Shaggy put together this LARP birthday party for kids between the age of 8 to 13.

Shaggy and Zeut in Epic Toys Shirts

Shaggy and Zeut in Epic Toys Shirts

We start in West Philadelphia where we packed up all the supplies including foam and knives and glue.  Sarah was managing the event for all the kids.  She would organize the kids and teach them the rules.  Make sure that every body involved understood.  You could find her here, Sarah Seymour

Sarah with the kids in the park

Sarah Teaching the kids

The event started with the kids designing their own swords.  Then over the course of the party, the Foam Forge, will make each person a weapon that they designed.  It gives the kids a creative outlet and investment in the product that they get to take home.  This could ta

System Danmarc was an experiment in Nordic LARP in a future world.

Larp Larp Larp: The History Of The Epic Nordic LARP

Nordic LARP

Nordic LARP

There are these two psychological studies which always seem to pop up together in conversation, probably because of their cynical repercussions. They’ve been immortalized in the pop psych history, and you’ve probably heard of them. They’re the Yale Milgram Study, which examined the power of instruction making students believe they were electrically shocking fellow students by pushing a button, and the Stanford Prison Experiment, which had undergrads play the roles of prisoner and prison guard, and watched them quickly fall into mutual loathing and even physical abuse – despite the fact that everyone knew it was a game.

In a way, System Danmarc, a 350-person socio-political Nordic LARP experiment, could be compared to studies like these. It could also be compared to Burning Man and other social reconstruction experiments which, through the realignment of expectations, situations and freedoms, put the creation of a certain kind of society into the hands of that society’s inhabitants.

System Danmarc was an experiment in which the dystopian, future-world “C Sector” was built out of windowless containers – like storage units – in a penned-off Copenhagen city square. Supported by a fabricated, unbalanced, undemocratic economy, players lived in the sector for 52 hours, sleeping eight to 16 per cramped container, but also going out and partying or working.

At a pre-LARP workshop, players chose roles within the incredibly impoverished but still stratified sector. They could be wealthy butchers/craftsmen, boxers attempting to become famous and escape, the metropolitan rulers, punks, or even “hyperslummers,” an extreme role for which players were coached by ex-junkies in how to live in the streets.

Drugs, beer, live concerts, and partying made it fun, but it also gave reigns to the more brutal, lawless sides of the players, and resulted in fights. The hyperslummers were abused, even urinated upon while they slept. The project ended with all players being brought together to watch a documentary about the lives of homeless people in contemporary Copenhagen.

The end goal was to allow players a fun situation straddling two disparate worlds and then later to bring to their attention the brutality of worlds which already exist, like this, parallel to their own.

In this situation, we see the wider impact Nordic LARP can create, truly tackling the exploratory aspects of theater, social experiment, and even social activism.

A writer and a huntsman from the Danish LARP "Agerbørn - The Crossroads"

A writer and a huntsman from the Danish LARP “Agerbørn – The Crossroads”

WHO LARPS NOW: CLAUSTROPHILIA

WHO LARPS NOW: CLAUSTROPHILIA

CLAUSTROPHILIA is the love of confined spaces. It’s also the name of a new, super popular adventure game for Eastern European tourists.

Think Saw crossed with The DaVinci Code. I didn’t see or read the latter, and I only watched the first of the eighteen Saws (the one with the Princess Bride guy), but I do know that this combination of creepy, no-exit style confinement crossed with puzzles that tingle with Egyptian antiquity and Arabic mystique references the popular draw of both, without actually threatening any of the participants’ lives.

And for older gamers, since hardly anyone’s ever successfully completed the tasks, think live action Myst.

In Claustrophilia (or ParaPark or TRAP or any number of successful businesses doing the same thing right now), a group of two to five players are (effectively) locked into a room in one of Budapest’s many run-down, bombed-out, dilapidated buildings and are locked in. They have a series of tasks they must perform in order to escape, or else their time’s up and they are let out as losers.

And it’s become hugely popular, particularly with tourists.

Maybe less surprising are the zombie survival events recently getting good press in England. Zed Events hires college students to chase you through malls, mansions, or even on weekend-long horror camping trips, while you fight them off with airsoft guns.

I mean, everybody loves zombies now.

But what’s really happening here? Regular, everyday people are LARPing. They may not be putting on costumes or inventing elaborate characters, but this kind of play is no different, and satisfies the same desire. The Zed games include cinematic, overarching plots, designed to satisfy a certain kind of gaming need.

As an increasingly digitalized age formalizes and abstracts our interpersonal interactions, sucking the vitality out of our daily lives, more and more people seek the unpredictable and the fantastic. But this kind of game is more than a fantasy; it is also a catalyst for camaraderie, a basic human need which isn’t satisfied in cubicles, bars and Facebook feeds.

More people are playing Claustrophilia and the people that play are looking for experiences that are more immersive, more interactive, and more unpredictable than Scrabble or Call of Duty.

I will be taking between 10 and 40 inner-city youth out LARPing

English: Amtgard fighters prepare to storm Cas...

English: Amtgard fighters prepare to storm Castle Discord. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) inner-city youth out LARPing

This summer, I will be taking between 10 and 40 inner-city youth out LARPing once a week for around 2.5 hours a session. What can I do to make the experience more entertaining for them?

Basically, I work for a Youth organization and I have a decent amount of kids who LARP with me. Most of our stuff is pretty basic and fun, but I fear they are getting a bit bored as attendance has dropped a bit over the past couple months.

To combat this, I enlisted the help of a second staff, and we will now be going to a neary by park to play once a week. The park is cool, it has some tree coverage and old stone pathways and a little bridge. I figured the change of location would peek the interest of our players, but I want to be able to give them one hell of an awesome summer experience!

The weapons we have are mostly level 1 Boffer swords, the kinds made from pool noodles, tape, and PVC cores. They work well for the kids since they are pretty soft. But we don’t have much variety.

What are some ideas I can do to make the story more interesting or the game more engaging?

Phys-rep everything. Put your monsters in full makeup and costumes. Build a dungeon maze with tomato stakes or PVC pipe and black plastic tarp (or some other cheap mazey-making material) and make it as real as you possibly can.

Nothing makes the immersion of larping as fun as it can be like easing suspension of disbelief.

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[–]shash1 3 points 4 days ago

Small sessions, low level equipment. Hmm here’s something

Play some bloodbowl. That is – find a suitable opening, mark a small playfield. Get/make a “ball”. Rules are simple – basic combat ones. Ball related ones – on every round ball it tossed in the middle of the field by the referee. The ball can only be carried by hand in an empty hand. Passing by throwing is allowed. Scoring is only done via a touchdown.

There ya go. thank me later.

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[–]TonightsWhiteKnight[S] 1 point 4 days ago

AWESOME! So, if I understand, you could still lop of the other teams limbs or kill them in the middle of the game while they are running the ball?

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[–]shash1 3 points 4 days ago

Well duh… thats why its called bloodbowl.

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[–]Salaris 1 point 3 days ago

This is a good idea. There are some more formalized versions of this game out there, such as “Jugging” in Amtgard.

http://www.amtgard.ca/files/jugging.pdf

You can make changes to suit your needs, of course.

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[–]brumguvnor 3 points 4 days ago

Circle of treachery!

Everyone stands in a circle and you can kill anyone you like; you can form alliances, gang up on people, turn round and backstab your partner: anything goes: last man standing wins!

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[–]Lady_LARPer 2 points 4 days ago

If you’re going the short fun games route there’s always gladiator or kill your killer.

Gladiator is where you get all the participants to stand in a circle with all the weapons in a big pile in the middle. When the ref calls go everyone rushes in and grabs whatever weapon they can (if they can). Normally this is more dramatic with a wider array of weapons but lvl 1 boffers work too. Players can’t go past the original circle where they started and the last one standing wins 🙂 Really what makes the game is the ref calling out the action, and deciding the fate of the last battles victim like an actually gladiator match. That and the players who fall early continue to cheer on the remaining players.

Kill your killer is pretty much dodgeball rules. When you get killed you stand out, and can only re enter the game when the person who killed you gets killed by another active player. Simple rules, simple game, amazing fun. Last man standing wins.

Hope this helps, and good on you for introducing Larp to the next generation!

Post script fun fact; I fell in love with my soon to be husband during a game of gladiator. 🙂

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[–]Valkeron 2 points 4 days ago

Shinobi hunt is always fun if you have a nice wooded area. split the group in half, or 1/3-2/3 the 1/3 being the shinobi, and send the shinobi out into the woods, the samurai count to 50 and the shinobi hide, standard killing rules apply and the shinobi get a backstab if they remain undetected. It’s like super intense team hide and seek.

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[–]elosodiablo 2 points 4 days ago

I was going to mention Jugging, but Bloodbowl got mentioned and is probably way easier to teach and the kids will probably relate to it more.

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[–]hyperspacedisco 2 points 4 days ago

How many experienced larpers have you got helping you? Do you do much in the way of RPing? Maybe increasing immersion might help keeping them interested?