Friday, 10 December 2010

LARP: a sitter-at-the-table's guide

After writing about 1800 words on working Doctor Who LARPs over that way I figured I should talk more generically.

I don't LARP.


I remain a curious observer of this subset of gaming. I can see how it can be amazing, and how my criteria for that would be met very, very rarely.

I know one of the GMs in our big local Vampire LARP (she played Milli in The Watch House) but I haven't looked in.

I'm not really interested in LARPs as ongoing things, but rather as one-off events, pieces of gaming theatre, with spectacle as part of the sell. The first LARP I ever attended, a Vampire game before the first LARP ruleset came out, had weeks to prepare, a great location, an invited cast of players looking their best and more. It was great, I still talk about it almost twenty years later, and it utterly spoiled me on Vampire LARPs. So much so that I went to The Grand Masquerade and didn't play in any.

I get how they work, the ongoing dance of political and social conflicts with the occasional ten o' clock monster, but doing it specifically live on a weekly or fortnightly basis doesn't appeal to me personally. And I say this as someone who was nearly the Prince in a startup VtM game.

Boffer LARPs don't appeal either, because ouch.

My sole experience as a LARP GM was a game riffing on The X Files because we had a good location for it (dark autumnal woods and soulless modern buildings) and a zero-budget production would work with the genre rather than wrecking it. It was an interesting experience, but sixteen years later I haven't given serious thought to repeating the exercise.

It doesn't help that freeform games need potentially dozens of pregen PCs, and I often have a hard enough time making six for a tabletop con game. And they all need plots, unlike in ongoing games where they tend to create their own trouble. Which is why, despite having a fantastic location for it at Teviot House, I never did a Buffy LARP in the last eight years of active involvement in Conpulsion. That, and it should really be a boffer, and see above re ouch.

Of course, if I had the money, the time and the crazy to do something on this scale, I'd be tempted...

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