To the outside world the word ‘larp’ may seem like it means something very specific. Many regions have one primary larp which comes to define the entire concept for that region. These days many new players are finding games online, but still retain the notion that there is only one kind of LARP. Here’s a guide for new players who are looking to get in, but don’t know what the different kinds of larp are and which they should be looking for.
In 1990 finding a larp was a fairly difficult thing. You had to know the right kind of people, and they had to agree to take you. In some places you could get lucky and have 1 or 2 larps to choose from. Generally your first introduction was a physical one.
These days, like everything else, anyone interested can find larp via social media. You can study it intently before ever setting foot on the field. Learning about larp via the internet means that many first introductions are not physical, larp is starting to have a ‘last mile‘ problem. R/larp gets a lot of requests for “How do I get started larping?”
If you live in a larp rich part of the world, great! Living near a large metropolitan area gives plenty of larps to choose from. The simple answer is to look up a game system near you, and find out when they hold events. Now is a great time to join a larp as there is tons of interest in the topic.
|Check sites like Larping.org for groups near you.|
First you need to get an idea of what kind of rules system you want to use. You must choose where to start from the larger scope of what larp is. There are many styles of larp, all of which are popular in different parts of the world. Once you start looking at the New England area, something magic happens. New England has, or has access to, all the different kinds of larp.
Lots of people begin with combat larps. The vast majority of which are Role Play heavy, mechanics based systems like NERO. These are generally Hit Point based system. Some others prefer Role Play heavy Hit Location systems such as Realms of Wonder. Many folks are a bit uninterested in the role play aspect, and want to focus more on the martial art of combat. They attend Battle Games like Dagorhir.
If combat is your think check out the rules of the SCA for context and history as most U.S. larps are based in some way on the SCA. Just don’t call them a larp. Reading the rules of existing systems will help you decide what kind of game system you want. Next you need to learn how to play the game you’ve chosen.
Before practicing you might need to learn how to make weapons or at least know what the common weapons are. Always consult the game systems rules for weapon construction. There are no shortage of videos for weapon construction. And here’s my step by step guide in pictures. Check which materials on this list you have available, then find the corresponding guides online to build your weapons. Make plenty of extras. Teaching someone else is the best way to learn something yourself so find some willing friends. While getting the gear for at least one character, it’s time to learn the game.
Attend a practice. Pick one of the game systems that makes sense to you and contact them to find out if there are any local practices you can attend. Not every larp has regular practice. You may need to start your own. Practice is especially important for combat larps, and practicing frequently is the best way to get better. I suggest beginning with one practice a month. If interest builds or other players want to do more then add a second practice each month. Ideally practicing once a week is the goal. This is really easy when in your teens and 20’s, but gets much harder when working and starting a family. Don’t miss out on those years of good health and vigor. Get those practices in while you can!
While regularly holding practicing you also want to be contacting event holders and finding out what’s expected of a new player before going to your first event. Spend some time and effort to meet at least the minimum requirements of the game, but don’t worry about exceeding the minimum. Garb builds up over years.
Finding the perfect system takes time. So be open to working through the rules systems and find the one that you all enjoy. Then keep holding practice. At first focus on the basic safety and combat rules. Over time add some additional game mechanics such as spells and magic. Practice should be on going and concurrent with attending events. Practice should be a time to learn new skills, practice existing ones, and can be as fun as events themselves. If practice feels like a chore, you’re not doing it right. If you are having fun in all aspects of the game (prep, practice, and eventing) you know you’re doing it right!
Now I haven’t attended my first event since 1998. So I may not be the best source of answers on what attending that first time felt like. What I can remember is being night blind and tender foot, but despite that it was amazing. So footwear is super important and train your eyes before going out into the woods for the first time. I ate a lot of carrots, but that’s more old wives tale then science.
If you have any specific questions about being new to larp you can ask me directly by tweeting @jspringfied211. Feel free to leave a comment, especially if there is something I can do to help you get started larping!