Sparklepires Need Not Apply: How I Ended Up Falling to the LARP Side

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Down for the Count by poopbear

I refused to get involved with LARP for a long time. Despite diving eagerly into tabletop RPGs when I first got the opportunity, I always saw LARP as just a little too nerdy for me. “I’m better than that,” I would think smugly (but never maliciously) to myself as I watched the foam swords fly.

It was during university that I finally succumbed.

The first LARP (technically LRP if you’re going to be pedantic as there was not a foam sword in sight) I ever tried was a single session of a Mind’s Eye Theatre Mage: The Awakening game when I was visiting my then-boyfriend. The organisers kindly let me draw up a character at short notice, a mute trickster whose crowning achievement during the session was supernaturally terrifying the lead singer of a band (comprised entirely of mages, of course) in order to stop them from playing. They were using Guitar Hero instruments as props; it was kind of badass.

I never returned to that particular game (largely due to distance involved), and it was at least a couple of years before I decided to take the plunge again.

This time there were foam swords (albeit in a contemporary setting), so I could no longer tenuously consider myself one of the cool kids. Written and run by a friend from my university’s tabletop gaming (and other, similarly nerdly pursuits) society, it pitted (and indeed still pits) the mage player characters against a variety of mystical threats. I spent my time switching between both PC and NPC roles, and despite my general lack of combat skills (if only I hadn’t stopped fencing) I really enjoyed myself.

The imminent end of my studentdom - and thus the start of Real Life - was fast approaching. The latter led to my good friend and GM of the long-running Vampire: The Requiem game I took part in moving away to London, the various other RPG groups I ran or took part in falling by the wayside due to time constraints.

The aforementioned friend and I had previously spoken of running the Mind’s Eye Theatre version of Vampire: The Requiem together, first somewhat jokingly. Then actual plotting began. NPCs were devised. Anvils were polished. Our tentative attempts at interest assessment were met with surprising enthusiasm (or perhaps not so surprising; everybody loves Vampire, right?). My powers of obsessive compulsion were harnessed for organisational purposes. Eventually we even had a date and a venue, and then there was no turning back.

Everyone who came to the first session said that they enjoyed themselves, so assuming they were telling the truth we probably did an alright job. Indeed, all of them without other conflicting commitments came back, and considering everyone’s general lack of money, LARPing was arguably more fun than attempting to play the latest video game releases on a cheap desktop computer (not that I would know; mine’s not cheap, just old, damn it!). Perhaps one of our favourite compliments following our first session was being told that it was incredibly difficult to tell who was a PC and who was an NPC.

We are now a few sessions down the line (and still receiving similarly positive player feedback), and while I am well aware that, as with any RPG, it’s unlikely to all be plain sailing, I hope to continue to write more closely about specific aspects of our LARP-related hijinks (time permitting, however; Real Life has a habit of eating that up all too readily).

For now, however, I will offer the following words of warning in closing:

You know those throwaway NPCs you spend hardly any effort on and put in solely to kill some time, expecting the players deal with and/or brutally murder them within half an hour?

They will find a way to make them permanent, plot-related NPCs who you end up playing for the remainder of the session.

I love you guys.

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About ECMSquared

MA student and copywriter with an incurable video game addiction. Also likes tabletop RPGs, films, comic books, anime, blogging and writing short stories. More crazed ramblings can be found on Twitter.