Last time, I started talking about what a LARP is. This time, I want to talk about what got me hooked in the first place. Whenever you start a new hobby, there has to be something that draws you in. Typically, and this goes especially for me, I discover things through my various friends and family who introduce me to things I may have never tried otherwise. My love of Kingdom Hearts (Thought is was dumb at first), attending anime and gaming conventions, watching esports; all of that came from a friend saying “Hey, you should totally check this out.” The same can be said for my first LARP.
A little over 10 years ago, after I left high school, I used to hang out at a comic shop. I made a bunch of friends there, and started playing tabletop rpgs for the first time. After a while, I started noticing that several of my friends would not show up on certain days. On the days I did see them, I asked why they were not around as often. They told me that they had discovered a few LARPs based on one of their favorite tabletop games. They enjoyed it so much that one such friend who tended to run a lot of tabletops had decided to run one of his own. He and the others encouraged me to check it out.
I should probably mention what type of LARP they were playing. The games my friends usually went to were non-contact games based on the long-running World of Darkness setting. For the unfamiliar, it is a rpg setting that is set in a modern day world, except supernatural creatures like Vampires and Werewolves actually exist. Its kind of a Modern Horror game. A few video games based on the property were made too, including a now canceled MMO from the company that makes EVE Online. My friends played a lot of Vampire focused games, where the games focus heavily on political and social maneuvering between their undead characters.
The game my friend invited me to was set in the same universe. It was a game for Hunter: The Reckoning, where normal humans are imbued with supernatural power so they can fight the Vampires and Wraiths that stalk the night, protecting the rest of humanity from their dark designs. My friend was aware of my unfamiliarity with WoD games and LARPs, so he felt that this particular game would be a good way to introduce me. I was able to make a character who was someone who just got his powers and needed to learn everything from scratch. He ended up finding other people with similar powers, and started learning the ropes. And thanks to the modern setting, I didn’t need any special props or costume pieces to get started.
After making a character ahead of time. I went to my friend’s place for my first game. Most of the other players, some I had never met before, already had established story plot and character relationships. This led me to my first hurdle: interaction. It’s something I have trouble with in real life, so getting this fictional character going from scratch seemed like a mountain of a task. Fortunatley, the other players were very helpful, talking with me and helping me stay in character, especially when the almost ridiculous combat scenes would start (the game resolved fights using Rock-Paper-Scissors. Still weird watching a great scene play out only for it pause thanks to a RPS game).
As the night wore on, I started to see why my friends had gotten so hooked on it. When playing a character in a live action setting, you can get lost in the moment,. Becoming that character, adopting their mannerisms, their expressions, their voice. When you see two characters in a good scene, it is almost like watching a movie or a play. Except you get to take part in it. My character began to meet others like him, join in a mission to learn more about the monsters he now faces, figure out who to trust. And we both made some new friends in the process.
I would continue to play the game once a month until the person running it could no longer do so. But I had a ton of fun while it lasted. And doing so would introduce me to a few other games that other friends started up, games I would never have given a second thought about had it not been for that first one. And I couldn’t wait to play them.
This is a small series on my experience with LARPs. If you have anything questions or comments please leave them below.