LARPing 101: What Is It and How Do You Get Started?

LARPing gives you the chance to play pretend as an adult. Find out what LARPing entails and how you can participate!
LARPing 101: What Is It and How Do You Get Started?

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When you picture LARPing, you probably think of a group of people running around in wizard and knight costumes. You might even think the activity is considered highly "geeky."

Despite the nerdy stereotype surrounding LARP, it's actually a ton of fun to get involved with. Don't judge it until you try it! Here's a rundown of LARPing and why you should consider participating in it for the first time.

What Is LARPing?

LARPing stands for "live-action roleplaying."

You're probably used to hearing the abbreviation RPG (role-playing game) used in reference to the video games you play. Unsurprisingly, LARPing works in the same way.

The only difference is that LARPing involves playing a game in real life, not on a screen.

LARPing has all the elements of a video game. You assume the role of a character, reside in a fictional setting, and work to achieve a goal with other players. The gamemasters determine the rules and premise of the entire game before it begins, and may even step in to get the game back on track.

While the gamemasters sit back after they create the game, you can participate as a character or as an NPC (non-playable character) while you navigate the fictional world.

The characters actively take part in the game. If you choose the role of a character, you may receive a pamphlet that describes outlines your goals and abilities. Characters can also acquire skills as the session goes on.

On the other hand, NPCs don't have a main role in the story. They play roles like shopkeepers, bartenders, or chefs, and they may give the other characters information about the setting.

They mostly exist just to set the mood of the story. If you're new to LARPing, you might want to play as an NPC first to get a feel for the gameplay.

Keep in mind that dressing and acting the your character is part of the fun. It's important to stay in character during the event, or you'll risk missing out on the fun, and you may even ruin the experience for others.

Types of LARP Events

LARPs come in several different forms. Some might last only a few hours, while others might require you to stay at a campsite for an entire weekend. It all depends on the story of the game, and how long it takes to complete it.

These are the main type of games, and what to expect.

Classic LARP

You'll find that most LARP events follow typical role-playing rules, and take place at a campground. While some games allow players to create their own characters, others hand out roles at random.

When the game begins, you'll learn more about the setting and plot through the NPCs or gamemaster. One plot might have a zombie attacking a village, while you and other players have to figure out how to fight against it.

In the case of battles, you'll use boffers, which are padded weapons that don't hurt when they hit you. Players also might use magic as a weapon as well, but the manner in which it's used differs in every event.

Theatrical LARP

With theatrical LARP, you don't necessarily have to have a large outdoor space. After the storyteller explains a specific scene, the players have to choose how to react. There's no physical combat—most battles get decided with rock-paper-scissors or by the roll of dice.

Combat-Based LARP

Combat-based events typically involve two or more sides fighting against each other. It resembles a war reenactment, except LARP uses a fictional story.

When the groups rush in to fight each other, they'll battle each other with boffers. The game usually ends when only one person remains on the battlefield, or when one team has clearly won.

Finding LARP Groups Near You

LARPing doesn't only consist of medieval-themed events. If knights and elves aren't your thing, you can always try to find an event that involves something like zombies or vampires.

There are even LARPs that immerse you in the world of your favorite movie or book. You can find some LARPs with Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones at the focus of the game.

To find local LARPs near you, check out LARPfinder and enter your location. If you don't find any groups nearby, you can also head to Meetup and search for any local LARPs.

Larping Isn't Just for Geeks

The stigma that comes along with LARPing is totally unfair. The tremendous amount of effort put into costumes, storylines, and characters make the game worthwhile.

LARPing also allows you to play pretend as an adult, and lets you meet new people in the process. Check out our article on ways to meet new geeky friends: