This week, I bought three LARP books: one Samurai, one Fantasy, and one sort of academic exploration on the subject.
In high school, I played Amtgard or something like it, after college, I played a lot of World of Darkness Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Changeling, and Hunter LARP. So, I decided I wanted a little refresher before attempting to break down the events of the Starcruiser through a Live-Action-Role-Playing lens.
Things some, if not all, LARPs manage to do;
Advertise their event’s description, time, date, pricing information
Collect user contact information
Collect money and sell tickets, register participants
Store game lore, event records, and character information in a Wiki-style website
Store game rules on a game-specific website, there are many free LARP rules available under different licenses
Represent in-game abilities with Cards or Hand Gestures
Represent in-game Equipment with Cards or Physical Props
Use or encourage costumes to increase immersion
Use ambient music and/or sound effects to increase immersion
Use ambient lighting and set dressing to increase immersion, this happens more with permanent installations
Use actors as Non-Player Characters to impart information, missions, direction, clues, narrative, and conflict
Use props (handwritten or typed letters, telegrams, diaries) to impart information, clues, narrative
Use in-character messages (emails, texts) and websites to impart information, clues, narrative
Use QR codes to represent props (physical or informational), Galaxy’s Edge and the Starcruiser integrated this capability into their Datapad, though the inventory system doesn’t really reflect physical objects in that they are present for some customization or narrative purposes, but can’t be traded to another player for instance.
Not Exactly LARP, but let’s take some cues from Renn Faire acting; back at the Faire, we had two keywords that meant what I’m saying was in-world, and what I’m saying is for the real world. In faith, and in sooth for in character (IC) and out of character (OoC), respectively. While the Starcruiser actors are trained to spot someone who wants to play or who wants to be left alone, the passengers are not. I read a post by a fellow passenger who was sitting at the bar minding their own business in costume with props, and people would not stop trying to role-play with them despite being told to leave them alone. So maybe we need something to let folks know that you aren’t playing right now, and conversely, ‘please talk to me I’m shy’ just some shorthand or a visual cue to leave someone alone, or take them along on your adventures.
A LARPer in Germany says they have decorated spaces, and they host a Holonet with a digital banking system, virtual ID cards, galaxy map, bounty hunter postings, and advertisements. They’re supposed to have a radio with talk shows, news, and commercials with expectations to do more in the future. Their ID cards and credsticks use NFC, and most players are modding cell phone cases and switching their phone sounds and graphics to more in-universe equivalents.
A Washington state LARP has events where players buy tickets to pay for a place to stay on-site and covers their other overhead; there’s an optional meal plan. and a fridge for players to use. There are in-game credits, and some gear you can get for your character. I think you buy the gear (virtually?) with credits and then its up to the player to scrounge up a prop to go with it. Players can volunteer to play NPCs under the direction of the game staff to help out with other Player’s quests, and that volunteer earns in-game credits for their character. They allow Nerf guns to be used onsite for outdoor combat resolution, there are specifics about what kind of Nerf guns can be used, and they can’t be heavily modified, but in-world colors are preferred. Indoor combat uses parlor game mechanics defined in their rulebook, which is hosted on their website.
While the folks behind True Dungeon do not consider their experience to be a LARP, it’s close enough I feel like there is a lot we can learn from it. One of the neat lessons learned from their setup is having Game Masters in each room instead of one traveling with each group so that adjudications in each room would be the same instead of having party-to-party variation, a phenomenon known in organized TTRPG play as table variation.
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