LARP – In a Nutshell

Live Action Role Play or LARP is often dismissed as an exclusive domain of the geeks. The sight of adults charging into battle with latex swords may not be everybody’s cup of tea. But, there’s more to LARP than meets the eye. Here’s a stab at explaining the term.

In essence, a player assumes a character and meets other characters in some form of a set. They try to execute a plot created by the Game Master (GM) who usually is in charge of organizing the event. In the game, these player-characters interact with other non-player characters (NPCs) or game staff who give valuable input (puzzles, combat information, etc).

LARP tells a story, typically fantasy but it could be other genres as well. And there is no audience; the players are the audience. Also, LARP takes place in real time. For instance, if a player is reminiscing about a poignant moment in his life, he may take several minutes to reflect; there is no pressure to finish a scene in a compressed time-frame. The game is different from movies or television in that there are numerous plots happening simultaneously. Additionally, dialogues are improvised. The plots are either open-ended or have scripted endings and it’s up to the players how to get there. LARP events can range from a few hours to several-day fests. For fests, the number of participants can go up to thousands and there are German festivals that have around 7,000 players.Consider LARP amateur theater with off-the-cuff scripts and no pressure of the audience or critics. It’s fun even if it can be somewhat expensive – LARP weapons and LARP armor don’t come cheap. All said and done, LARP perhaps does not deserve the derision it sometimes gets. The game is a nice escape from the real world and working professionals actively take part in it.

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