LARP Frequently Asked Questions

What is LARP?

LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing. That's what most LARPers will agree on. It is interactive improvisation, between people who are each playing a persona. After that, ask ten different LARPers what they think LARP is, and you may get twelve or thirteen different answers!

That's because there are all sorts of games and players. LARP is not solely medieval fantasy games, or dark games filled with vampires, or mysteries where everyone tries to find out who did it, or games where people wear armor and beat on each other with padded weapons, or...

LARP is all of these, and more.

There are some things in common amongst all of these games. Everyone at the game comes in character. You play a role, like the Russian ambassador to Germany, the drummer from the band Toxic Waste, or the doctor on board a luxury starliner. (The image on the right is from a break in a game called On the Rocks. I'm the new American goddess of drugs and intoxicants; she was a wonderful character to explore!) For the duration of the game, you dress, speak, act and live the part. You've got an agenda for the game — usually a list of things that your character wants to accomplish. Some tasks are easy, some things are hard. Some players may be working towards the same goals as you, while others may be working against you.

There's no script. You improvise all your lines. You don't operate in a vacuum, because you have a character description, a background history of who you're trying to be. In this case, I was Rayen, the Shopkeeper, falsely accused of sedition in the dystopian and amazing Flowers that Grow from Cracks in the Pavement.

You're also not alone. Games can be small, with only a few characters, or they can be large, with upwards of sixty or seventy players. There are even larger events out there; I've taught Alchemy at New World Magischola and College of Wizardry at Czocha Castle in Poland. My games range from two players to forty.

I've played in games that lasted just a few minutes, games that ran four, six, or eight hours, and games that last an entire weekend. I've also played in chronicle games, where the games may have several sessions over a three to eight month span. There are other chronicle games that continue without a planned end.

While it sounds complicated, there are games out there that are short, simple and easy for beginners to learn.

Most importantly, a good LARP can be an amazing experience, incredibly fun to play.

What kind of games do you write?

I started out writing murder mystery games. However, as I've played more games, I've tried my hand at writing games of different styles. All of these games are listed on the Written page. It's grown into quite the eclectic mix of genres and styles.

This, for example, is from Dustpan: the LARP It's about all of those things you might find under your couch. There's the Lego™ piece, one of the Dust Bunnies, a kernel of rice, and many, many more odd characters.

I urge you to poke at the sites for the LARPs I've written, so that you can see the madness that often consumes my brain. It's fun writing really interesting and different characters. It's even more fun to get your friends to costume for those strange characters and then play them in front of you. It's amazing how some of these figments of my imagination are turned into reality as I get to watch.

What kind of games do you play?

All kinds. You name it, I've tried it. There isn't a game I haven't learned something from. Corner me some time and I'll talk your ear off about some of the amazing experiences I've had. Tell me about your game. If I can find a way to work it into my schedule, I may just play.

Where do you play these games?

Wherever I can. People run games in private homes, in hotel function spaces, and in campgrounds. The best place to find out about games is probably at Intercon. That's where you can find a lot of great people who are willing to tell and show you all about LARP.

Why do you play these games?

That would take hours to explain. I have had some stunning experiences in character with some phenomenal role-players. I've met a lot of wonderful people. Mostly, I do this because I have a great deal of fun.

Can I play in one of your games?

Of course! My games are always open to new players, beginner or experienced. I usually run them at conventions, like Intercon, Summer LARPin', then RPI Bubbles, or even Consequences in the UK. I do run my games outside of conventions, when there's a demand. A lot of people know me and the quality of the games I run, so there's usually a long list of people who want to play in them.

How much does it cost to play in one of your games?

I don't normally charge anything to run my games. However, I frequently run my games at conventions or for organizations that charge people for attendance, typically to pay for function space. If I choose to rent a space for running a game, which I've considered, I would have to ask players to cover that cost.

Understand that running my games is not cheap. I go through a lot of paper, printer ink, and other production supplies. I'm a regular at Staples, and some of the staff there know me. I like to use a lot of physical props and backdrops for scenery, which means my Amazon history and recommendations can get very weird. Nevertheless, I do not ask for anything to cover my expenses. LARP is very much a labor of love for me.

Can I buy one of your games?

In the past, when LARPs were much rarer, I sold some of my games, notably Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll and The Treaty of Berlin. I have not done so for some time, mostly because it's gotten much easier to find one of my LARPs at a convention. I have been known to let others run games I've been involved in writing. You can always ask.

New England Interactive Literature (NEIL) has a LARP Library where you can download interesting and tested LARPs to run for your friends, including a couple of mine.

Can you write me a game for a birthday, anniversary, party, or company function?

Sorry, but no.

Writing one of these games is a major effort. I produce one oof these a year in my best times. It takes inspiration and a lot of perspiration. The Idol Hands of Death is more than 400 pages of materials — and that's small compared to Across the Sea of Stars! While some of my games are significantly smaller, they all take a lot of effort to create.

Can I help write one of your games?

Yes. There are possibilities:

  1. Prior to the pandemic, I ran an annual "Build Your Own Game" Workshop during the summer at NELCO. These workshops are weekend-long efforts that write a LARP from scratch. This is the easiest way to learn about LARP writing and to write with me. I encourage new writers to join the effort — we've written several interesting games in workshops past.

    I would consider running a one-time weekend-long workshop for an interested group of new writers.

  2. Others occasionally run these kinds of seminars and events. I've participated in Peaky and Peaky Midwest LARP writing weekends in the past. It's a lot of fun building a new game from scratch, from a shared idea and vision.

  3. I'm open to having someone write with me, but you have to convince me you can produce. I love collaborative efforts, but, if you're working on one of my games specifically, you have to be willing to work in the framework of my artistic imagination and respect my experience in writing LARPs. That hasn't always happened.

You can always ask.

Will you help write one of my games?

No. I may offer advice, but if I'm writing, I need to have creative input.

Are there other LARP sites of interest?

Quite a few, now. If you type "LARP" into Google, you'll get millions of hits. The problem is that the majority of these sites talk mostly about medieval fantasy live-combat based "boffer" LARPs. Those can be fun; I've enjoyed a few — but I'm an easily-injured, older klutz with no desire to accidentally hurt someone else (or me). Thus, I greatly prefer "theater-style" LARPs. These are the kinds of LARPs I write. My suggestion — start with Intercon and go from there.

How did you get started in this?

There are many guilty parties involved in my LARP career.