Live-action roleplaying, or LARP, is a fun and immersive hobby that allows you to step into the shoes of a fictional character.
LARPing combines improvisational acting, costuming, storytelling, and game mechanics in a collaborative setting. If you’ve ever wanted to experience your favorite fantasy or sci-fi universe firsthand, LARPing is for you!
This beginner’s guide will provide an overview of LARPing and tips to help you get started.
What is LARP (Live Action Role Playing)?
LARP stands for live-action roleplaying. It is a form of a roleplaying game where players physically portray their characters. LARPing involves acting out fictional events in a shared physical space.
Participants create original characters and interact with other players while staying true to their character’s motivations and personalities. Costumes, props, combat choreography, and narrative progression help bring the story to life. Unlike tabletop RPGs, LARPs emphasize in-character theatrical performance and shared storytelling.
LARPing creates an immersive social gaming experience. It allows players to step into imaginative worlds and fully embody their characters. From high fantasy realms with elves and orcs to cyberpunk dystopias, LARP settings are only limited by participants’ creativity. Many LARPs incorporate genre elements from science fiction, steampunk, medieval, post-apocalyptic, and more.
The Evolution of LARP
Live-action roleplaying has origins dating back decades, with influences from tabletop war gaming, Renaissance faires, costume parties, and improvisational acting. LARPing grew across the world through grassroots community storytelling. Understanding the history helps us appreciate how far the hobby has come.
Miniatures Wargaming Lays the Groundwork
In the 1950s and 60s, miniature war games surged in popularity. Players simulated battlefield combat by moving model soldiers and rolling dice. These games inspired some players to take on battlefield roles themselves, acting out fights for greater immersion. This desire to embody characters helped inspire what would become LARPing.
From Counterculture Movement to Organized Hobby
LARPing coalesced into a distinct activity in the 1970s, arising from the free-spirited counterculture movement. Early LARPs emphasized collective storytelling and creativity over competition. As the hobby spread, rule systems were developed to structure gameplay. Conventions united players worldwide.
Roleplayers Expand Their Identities
Early LARPers were predominantly male, reflecting tabletop gaming demographics. As the hobby evolved, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color found LARPing to provide a safe space for identity exploration. The community grew more inclusive of diverse stories and personas.
Mainstream Attention Spike Popularity
Films, literature, and TV shows like Role Models, Knights of Badassdom, and Critical Role exposed LARPing to mainstream audiences. Participation boomed in the 2010s as fantasy and gaming hobbies went mainstream. LARPing shed its obscure niche status.
LARPing Goes Global
Today LARPing is a worldwide hobby with hundreds of thousands of participants. Styles and rules vary across continents, reflecting diverse cultures. Common elements like costuming, roleplay, storytelling, and combat unite international LARPers through a shared passion.
Now LARPing looks to the future. Wherever the community takes the hobby, its roots in creative expression and inclusive play will remain at its core. The story continues as new players like you join the adventure.
The Benefits of LARP
LARPing offers many benefits beyond fun and entertainment. Here are some of the major advantages of participating in live-action roleplaying:
- Community – LARPs bring people together, facilitating friendships and social bonding. Many lifelong relationships are formed through LARPing.
- Confidence – Portraying a character helps build self-confidence and public speaking skills. LARPing can help you overcome shyness or social anxiety.
- Creativity – Creating a character, costuming, prop making, and collaborative storytelling foster creative thinking and artistic expression.
- Problem-Solving – Navigating character interactions and game challenges requires strategy, teamwork, and quick thinking. LARPing builds valuable teamwork abilities.
- Fitness – Many LARPs incorporate physical activity like combat into gameplay, providing a fun way to be more active.
- Stress Relief – Embodying a fictional persona allows you to take a break from real-world stresses. LARPing can reduce stress through immersive play.
- Escapism – Exploring fantastical settings and storylines provides a refreshing escape from everyday life. You can be whoever you want in a LARP.
So whether you want to meet new people, build confidence, get creative, problem solve, get fit, relieve stress, or escape reality, LARPing offers an incredibly fun way to achieve those goals. The benefits are endless!
How to Get Started with LARP as Beginners?
LARPing is open to anyone who wants to participate, regardless of acting skill or experience. All you need is an open mind, collaborative spirit, and willingness to have fun! Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Find a Local LARP Group
Getting involved with an established LARP group is the best way for beginners to learn. Search for LARP groups in your area on sites like Meetup.com. You can also look for local gaming stores that host or sponsor LARPs. Joining an existing group allows you to learn the game’s rules and culture and connect with experienced players.
2. Create a Character Concept
Once you find a LARP, think about the type of character you want to play. Consider their name, physical appearance, background, personality, goals, abilities, and faction affiliations within the game world. The setting and rules will guide your options. Developing a backstory and motivations will aid your roleplaying.
3. Choose a Costume and Props
Costuming helps bring your character to life while setting the mood. Coordinate with your game organizers on costume guidelines and available props. Thrift stores and DIY projects make costuming affordable. Focus on simple, comfortable basics you can build upon later. Props like spell books, potion bottles, or weapons add nice touches.
4. Learn the Rules
Each LARP operates under its own gameplay rules and mechanics. Common elements involve character sheets, defined abilities, combat systems, magic, improvisational acting challenges, and methods for gaining experience or “leveling up”. Review the rules ahead of time so you understand gameplay. Ask the organizers if you have any questions.
5. Observe Your First Event
See if you can attend a LARP session as a non-player observer before your first event. Viewing gameplay helps you understand pacing, tone, rules, roleplaying styles, and the overall flow before jumping in. Take note of what looks fun versus overwhelming. Ask players questions afterward.
6. Attend Your First Event in Character
Time to dive in! Use your observations to focus on the key elements – stay in character, follow the rules, and support the story. Don’t worry if you make mistakes or are unsure what to do next. Lean on fellow players and gamemasters for guidance. Immerse yourself in the storytelling and enjoy your LARPing journey!
What You Need to Get Started with LARP for Beginners?
LARPing requires some basic equipment to have a fun and successful first experience:
LARPs typically have a required basic costume representing your character. Work with the game organizers to create something appropriate from items you own or inexpensive thrift store finds. Focus on comfort and ease of movement.
Choose comfortable shoes you can walk, run, and stand in for long periods. Many LARPs take place outdoors, so prepare for the terrain and weather.
Props like weapons, spellbooks, wands, potion vials, tools, or cultural signifiers round out your costume and gameplay options. Borrow items from other players at first.
Water and Snacks
LARPing is physical activity, so bring plenty of water and small snacks to stay energized.
A backpack or shoulder bag holds your essentials while keeping your hands free.
Foam boffer-style weapons are common in LARPs and represent your combat abilities. Coordinate with the game organizers if you need a starter weapon.
Review the rules before attending and bring any required character sheets or game materials.
Come ready to embrace the storytelling experience and collaborate creatively with your fellow players. Your passion makes the LARP magical.
As long as you have the basic costume, a willingness to play, and an open mind, you’ll be set to start LARPing. The player community looks forward to welcoming new members to share in the fun!
Helpful Tips for LARP as Beginners
Here are some handy tips to make your first LARPs more enjoyable:
- Arrive early to get settled, change, and ask questions before the start time.
- Walk the play area to get familiar with the terrain and boundaries.
- Drink water before and during gameplay to stay hydrated.
- Use sunscreen and bug spray when playing outdoors.
- Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly.
- Read your character sheet and game rules multiple times.
- Practice wielding any boffer weapons so they feel comfortable.
- Talk to veterans to learn the backstory, setting details, and their experiences.
- Buddy up with fellow new players so you can learn together.
- Ask the gamemaster or referees if you are unsure how to handle a situation.
- Don’t be afraid to roleplay! Embrace your inner thespian.
- Focus on the storytelling process rather than “winning”.
- Avoid bringing expensive real jewelry or electronics to avoid damage.
- Know the game location and schedule in case you get separated from the group.
- Bring a bag with snacks, water, extra layers, and essentials.
- Listen, collaborate, think creatively, and have fun with your fellow players!
Different Types of LARPs
LARPs come in many formats and styles. Here are some of the most common types of live-action roleplaying games:
High fantasy settings filled with magic, mythical races, and medieval elements are the most common type of LARP. These Tolkienesque realms allow you to be elves, wizards, warriors, and more. Popular examples include NERO LARP, Realms of Atreia, Amtgard, and Dagorhir.
Sci-fi LARPs incorporate elements from science-fiction universes with technology, starships, aliens, and futuristic settings. Settings range from post-apocalyptic wastelands to cyberpunk dystopias. Examples include Svaha LARP, Terminus, and Intercon.
These LARPs recreate specific eras and events from real human history, focusing on accuracy and realism. Players take on the roles of figures from places like ancient Rome, colonial America, or WWII eras.
For those who love thrills and scares, horror LARPs incorporate supernatural or terrifying elements from genres like gothic, paranormal, zombie, vampire, and Lovecraftian mythos. Some example games are End of the Line and Dread.
The aftermath of a cataclysmic disaster offers the ultimate blank slate for world-building. Players in these LARPs are survivors who must navigate dangerous new landscapes. Popular examples are Wasteland Weekend and Aftermath.
Steampunk merges Victorian steam-powered technology with science fiction in alternate history worlds. Participants don period costumes while wielding ray guns and piloting airships. Victory by Any Means is a great example.
These live-action “whodunits” involve investigating crimes, solving puzzles, and roleplaying intriguing characters to uncover the truth and achieve victory conditions. Popular games include Murder Mysteries and How to Host a Murder.
The variety of LARP genres ensures you can find a game tailored to any fictional universe you love!
Creating Your First LARP Character as Beginners
Your character is your avatar in the LARP world, so take time designing them. Here’s how to bring your roleplaying persona to life:
1. Align with the Setting
As beginners, study the LARP world and timeline. Is it fantasy, historical, sci-fi? Align your character with appropriate factions, professions, cultures, and backstories that fit the milieu.
2. Define Their Traits
Determine your character’s race, gender identity, age bracket, appearance, demeanor, and personality. Are they driven by emotions, intellect, or instincts? Outgoing or reserved? Strengths and flaws? Political alignments? Goals and motivations?
3. Choose Abilities and Skills
LARP systems often use defined skills and abilities for combat, magic, arts, trade skills, knowledge, and social interactions. Distribute points, rankings, or capabilities that suit your character’s talents and role in the world.
4. Establish Backstory
Detail your character’s personal history before the LARP timeline through writing or collaborative story-building. What life events shaped them? Build connections with other players by integrating your backgrounds.
5. Pick a Costume and Props
Your character’s look reflects their story. Coordinate costumes and accessories with other players to establish relationships and factions before gameplay starts. Props add flair.
6. Practice Roleplaying
Test out portraying your character through acting exercises. Practice speaking in their voice, adopting their body language, and improvising reactions to imagined scenarios to get comfortable with their personality.
7. Embody Your Persona
At the LARP event, immerse yourself in character by living their reality! Make choices based on their motivations and forge connections with others through roleplay, not your real-world persona.
The joy of LARPing is storytelling. Investing in your character’s narrative and relationships, you’ll craft epic stories with your fellow players.
Common LARP Mistakes to Avoid for Beginners
As beginners, LARP can be awkward for the first time, but veteran players appreciate enthusiasm over skill. Avoid these common newbie mistakes:
- Overplanning – While some preparation is great, avoid overly scripting interactions or forcing the story in a certain direction. Let events unfold organically through collaborative storytelling.
- Rulemongering – Don’t stress the intricacies of game rules. Focus on the narrative flow and character interactions. Ask referees for clarification when needed.
- Costume Malfunctions – Test out costumes ahead of time to avoid wardrobe issues. Prioritize clothing that is comfortable and functional over ornate outfits that limit your ability to participate.
- Modern Talk – Stay immersed in character by avoiding modern phrases, pop culture references, or casual chatter about real life. Keep the illusion of the fantasy world intact.
- Min-Maxing – Don’t choose abilities just to “power game”. Instead, pick skills that lend depth to your character and support the story. Focus on creativity over competition.
- Overacting – While LARPing has a theatrical component, resist the urge to chew the scenery. Keep your performance grounded and collaborative to maintain immersion.
- Not Speaking Up – Don’t be afraid to assert your character’s voice! Take the initiative to engage in plot lines and conversations to help the story progress.
- Hogging Spotlight – Avoid drawing all attention to yourself. Share the stage and support fellow players’ character moments. LARPing succeeds through the community.
Making mistakes just shows your enthusiasm for inhabiting your character and supporting the story! Learning from stumbles will make you a great LARPer.
Why You Should Join This Rewarding Hobby?
LARP offers an incredibly fun, social, and creatively fulfilling hobby if you approach it with an open mind. Here are great reasons to give it a try:
- Be Yourself – Take on an alter ego and express yourself in new ways. LARPing provides a judgment-free space for creativity and experimentation.
- Tell Epic Stories – Help shape an emerging narrative through collaborative story-building and improvisation. Lead the adventure!
- Wear Fun Costumes – Live out your fashion fantasies by mixing genres, periods, and influences. Cosplay your dreams!
- Travel to New Worlds – Explore mystical realms, futuristic technology, and historic eras firsthand. Break out of this world.
- Learn New Skills – From combat choreography to crafting, LARPing fosters practical talents and artistic handiwork. Level up abilities!
- Make New Friends – The LARP community bonds over creativity and passion for roleplaying. Find your group!
- Get Exercise – Increase activity levels through combat, quests, and outdoor adventures. Fitness is built into the game.
- Problem Solve – Navigate in-character obstacles and strategize solutions through roleplaying. Improvisation is key.
- Relieve Stress – Escape day-to-day pressures by immersing in cathartic storylines and challenges. Release your worries.
- Have a Blast! – LARPing builds unforgettable memories of triumph, laughter, and camaraderie. The adventures stay with you.
LARP connections and stories last a lifetime. Why not write yourself into the story? There’s no better time than now to embrace this fulfilling hobby. Begin your quest, and let the adventures unfold!
Helpful Resources for Beginner LARPers
Here are some great online resources to help you learn more about LARP for beginners and connect with the community:
LARP Forums – Connect with LARPers worldwide to ask questions, find groups and events, and share stories.
LARP Subreddit – Discussions and media related to all aspects of live-action roleplaying.
LARPNoobs Podcast – Insightful interviews with LARP organizers, theorists, designers, and players.
LARPing.org YouTube – Helpful tutorials on making LARP costumes, props, armor, and weapons on a budget.
Now gear up, create a character, and start your live-action roleplaying journey! The LARP community welcomes you.
How to Find a Local LARP Event for Beginners?
To start your journey into live-action roleplaying as beginners, you’ll need to find a local LARP event. Here are some ideas:
- Ask at gaming stores – Local tabletop and hobby shops often know what LARPs are happening nearby.
- Check meetup.com – Search for LARPing on this site, which lists local interest groups.
- Search Google – Try “[your area] LARP” or “live action roleplaying near me” to find groups.
- Look for announcements – Gaming conventions and events will promote upcoming LARPs.
- Browse social media – LARPing groups are active on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms.
- Attend fighter practices – Many LARP battle groups have open weekly practices.
- Watch community calendars – Websites like LARP.com have schedules.
- Attend a fair or festival – Renaissance faires sometimes have trial LARPs.
- Contact schools – Universities may have student-run LARP clubs.
Ask any LARPers you encounter about how to get involved with local groups. Most are excited to welcome fresh blood. With some searching, you should be able to find a LARP event happening near you where you can test the waters.
LARP is a fun, immersive, beginner-friendly, and rewarding hobby that lets you bring your favorite games and genres to life.
It provides an unparalleled roleplaying experience and builds lasting bonds within a creative community. With the right mindset and preparation, anyone can have an amazing time as a beginner.
Just find a local group, make a great character, gather some basic costuming and gear, and have an open mind. If you give it a chance while embracing the spirit of collaborative storytelling and imagination, you’re bound to love it! Soon you’ll be hooked on the magic of immersing yourself in fictional realms.
FAQs about LARP for Beginners
Can you LARP by yourself?
While LARPing is typically a group activity, it is possible to LARP by yourself. You can create your character, develop your storyline, and engage in solo adventures. However, it’s important to note that LARPing is often more enjoyable and immersive when played with others.
Is there an age limit for LARP?
Most LARPs have a minimum age requirement, typically around 13-16 years old, depending on the game and the level of complexity. However, some LARPs may have a lower or no age limit, so it’s best to check with the game organizers or staff before participating.
Do people still do LARPing?
Yes, LARPing is still a popular activity, especially in the United States, Europe, and Australia. There are many active LARP communities and events, and the hobby continues to grow and evolve with new technologies and game mechanics.
Are there rules for LARP for beginners?
LARP has a set of rules that players must follow to ensure safety and fair gameplay. These rules can vary depending on the game and genre, but they typically include guidelines for combat, magic, character creation, and in-game behavior. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the rules before participating in a LARP.
Can a child do LARP as well?
Yes, children can participate in LARPing, but it’s important to ensure that the game is age-appropriate and safe for them. Some LARPs are designed specifically for children and young adults, while others may have a minimum age requirement. It’s best to check with the game organizers or staff to determine if a particular LARP is suitable for your child.
Why is LARPing so expensive?
LARPing can be an expensive hobby due to the cost of costumes, props, weapons, and travel to events. Additionally, some LARPs may require a fee to participate, which can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars, depending on the length and complexity of the event. However, many LARPers find the experience and social connections they make to be worth the cost.