â€śIâ€™ll tell you one thing about this communityâ€¦ Iâ€™ll never be left on the side of the road, and I will never go hungry.â€ť
Captain Kim Kokoman lives in theÂ Philippines but spends most of February and March roleplaying as captain of the Skallywag pirate ship at the Renaissance Festival in Arizona to make a yearâ€™s worth of doubloons. #moneyinpiratespeak
The captain is currently immersed in the imaginary world of live-action role play (LARP).
The LARP lifestyle offers players a chance to escape their everyday to a fantasy land where knights, princesses, gladiators, fairies, goblins, pirates, healers, lions, and more live out the genre-inspired dramas of their dreams.
Iâ€™m not going to get into all the geeky details in this article, but itâ€™s such a fascinating lifestyle that we thought you might find the basics of LARPing super interesting.
Benefits of Living the LARP Lifestyle
The LARP lifestyle is one with many benefits, according to Captain K.
Itâ€™s all of these things, and more:
- A place for creative expression.
- A safe space for emotions.
- A place people can explore who they are.
- Somewhere to experience real-life conflict in a fantasy setting.
- An activity that enhances empathy as the players step into anotherâ€™s shoes.
- A chance to make and maintain friendships.
- A chance to win at the game.
- A way to act out fantasies.
- A workout.
It takes a team of creatives to get a LARP game up and running.
- The dramatists/creators/storytellers create the narrative of the story.
- The gamemasters set up rules and locations, and handle logistics of the game.
- The players take on their chosen or assigned roles and walk, talk, and dress the part. Some take part in the battling, others do not.
- The crew is somewhat behind the scenes maintaining the grounds and ‘doing the heavy lifting’. They are sometimes stand-ins when a crowd is necessary, much like some non-player characters.
The Costumes and Character Creation
People find different ways to escape from their everyday lives. Some head to the lake to live off the grid for a few. Others head to the bar to tie one on with friends.
LARPers dress up in elaborate costumes and head to an outdoor location to congregate and play pretend with their like-minded social circle; sometimes for one day, sometimes for a weekend, even sometimes for longer.
For some, itâ€™s all in the details. Creating the costume can be the most exciting and rewarding part of role playing, for others itâ€™s all about the theatrics.
LARPers must memorize the rules of the game, learn accents, and know the background of the imaginary character theyÂ choose or are assigned to play.
They must learn songs or talents and put together their entire persona before heading off to the location of the games.
While most of the imagery Iâ€™ve seen points to medieval-inspired games, other historical eras and mythological worlds are represented, too.
LARPs can be set in dystopian societies, steampunk settings, Star Wars, vampire, fantasy novel, movie settings, and more. There is no limit to a creatorâ€™s imagination.
While there are some who scoff at LARPers, the community stands together, proud.
One player likens it to playing paintball:
“You’re given a story to follow, a weapon, and then you go and act out that story. And no-one really laughs at people who play paintball,” explains Sir Valten (Mike Young) to The Scotsman newspaper.
Much like our friend Captain K explained, LARPers share a common bond and create an inclusive community where everyone is accepted and supported. It is typically a safe space where issues are confronted and resolved in a loving way.
Of course, there are non-functional communities out there, but the general consensus is that living the LARP lifestyle is the best life for them, and they can’t imagine how they ever lived without it.
Table-top role playing games like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons get real as more people are discovering the LARP lifestyle.