York Science Fiction and Fantasy Society

Live Action Roleplay

What is LARP?

LARP stands for Live Action Roleplay. You know the sort of roleplay where you sit around a table rolling dice, describing what your character does? This isn't that. In LARP, you act as your character would, and interact with other people who are also "in character". This may well involve wearing costumes and possibly armour, and whacking people with latex swords, though LARP comes in many flavours, with different settings, varying degrees of whacking-people-with-swords. It's sort of almost nearly like a cross between re-enactment and improvisational theatre (but shh, don't tell them we said that), with - usually - a generous helping of fantasy. "Cross-country pantomime", to give one of the more amusing definitions I've heard.

You might occasionally see it without the A - LRP. I've seen this used interchangably with "LARP", but where the A is taken out for a reason it's generally to differentiate the kind where you get out there and bash people with foam weapons (LARP) from the kind with no acted-out combat (LRP).

Is LARP for me?

Does the idea of donning fantasy garb and telling your character's story through your words and actions in an immersive roleplaying environment intrigue you? Do you like the idea of being someone else for an evening, participating in an interactive and ongoing story that you can help shape and influence? Just really got a hankering to run around hitting people with a latex sword? You might want to give LARP a go. It can't hurt to give it a try, and you may - like me - find yourself feeling like you've discovered the best thing since sliced bread.

There are LARPs to suit all tastes, ranging from non-combat to full-on outdoor adventures, from pseudo-medieval fantasy to modern day and beyond.

What will I need?

Besides a little imagination, not much. If you want to come along and try the campus LARP, we don't expect you to have stunning kit from day one - we ask that you avoid wearing clearly branded clothing, jeans, or trainers if possible (as far as footwear goes, a sturdy pair of boots is highly recommended), but the roleplaying is the important bit. A poke around in the many charity shops of York may yield bits and pieces surprisingly suitable for LARP and for very little money. If you decide that LARP is definitely for you, and you're willing to spend a little more, there is usually a trader selling LARP kit in the Spring convention, and lots of people trading at LARP events during the summer. With regards to weapons, the society has a few that people can use.

LARP kit may be bought online, but it is highly recommended that you don't buy LARP weapons off the internet - you should be sure that what you are buying is safe and of good quality before spending your money on it (and hitting people with it). Weapons will be available at conventions and events as mentioned above, and if you prod a more experienced LARPer, they will probably be happy to give you an opinion on something you like the look of.

It may be worth mentioning that there are LRPs (and probably LARPs, but the ones I'm mentioning here aren't the bashy kind) set in the modern day, such as the White Wolf games (Changeling, Werewolf, Vampire). They're a whole different kettle of fish to the more combat-oriented pseudo-medival LARPs, but it goes without saying that modern clothing is fine for them.