Tuesday, 10 February 2009

What is LARPing?

Let's go back to the beginning: This site is about trying to set up a Live Action Roleplaying Game, or LARP, set in the Fading Suns universe.

And what is LARP? LARP is an extension of the RPG hobby, which is a pastime that's one-part narrative (you are there to tell/experience a story as though inside a TV show) and one-part game (you are there to achieve goals as if you were playing a computer or board game).

Wikipedia has a decent enough article on the hobby, but to be clear, RPGs are games where the player takes on the role of a character in a fictional setting. This setting can be anything from popular film or books (such as Star Wars, or Conan) or completely new (such as the sci-fi horror of CthulhuTech or high-fantasy samurai action of Legend of the Five Rings).

(A table-top game)
Players have a sheet describing their character in mechanistic terms (for example skills graded by a numerical value as they are in the UK educational system) defining their strengths and weaknesses. These interact with each other using dice as a random element to determine the success or failure of anything from computer research to action scenes. Players sit around a table and speak for their characters as though in a radio play, providing both dialogue and emotion.

LARP games carry many of the same elements, but ditch the dice mechanics and radio play element in favour of a full-on TV play. Players don't just voice their characters, they dress and emote in body language as their characters; they do not sit around a table, but rather move in one or more locations dressed in the same way as movie sets are dressed up, to create the environment. Instead of rolling dice or describing actions, they act them out; reading real books, crossing swords (or firing prop guns) and more.

Characters are described in simple terms so people don't keep having to pull out their sheets. Because LARP is about a physical setting it uses props and set dressing, rather than description, to create a sense of reality.
(A Fading Suns LARP)
There are two broad forms of LARP: boffer, where players have active adventures, even fighting using safe weapons. There are also social LARPs, where emphasis is instead placed upon social interaction - politicking and scheming, often within inside locations. There are other forms, but this is the broad split.

Fading Suns is a social game; the emphasis is upon playing the Great Game between the Noble Houses, Church and Guilds, with combat mostly being relegated to the social ritual of duelling.

A player creates a character, makes their outfit and appropriate equipment and then turns up. In the game they talk to other characters, looking to advance their own (and their faction's) goals, while also interacting with plot set up by the person running the game. Between games they direct their assets against competitors, looking to inprove their position and sabotage their enemies' goals.

And that, broadly speaking, is LARP. Feel free to ask questions.

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