Larping…Real life adventures!

By: Philippe Gamache, Bobby Grégoire and Annie Desjardins

The researchers recently announced the discovery of a new planet on which seem to exile hundreds of young and not so young every Friday night … to come back on earth only on Sunday! Welcome to the LARP ZONE! To ensure your safety during the flight, we ask you to detach your belts, remove your clothes and dig in the costume box. Leave doors and windows open, pull out your head and shout loudly. And above all, bring plenty of stuff to eat and drink!

LARP (Live Action Role Play) have existed for more than twenty years. The full-size designation, however, does not clearly reveal the nature of the activity. Some groups, such as l’Atelier du Loisir, prefer to call the Interactive Theater (IT).

LARP are role-playing games where players assume the identity of their fictional character. They are undoubtedly inspired by role play games (Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, Vampires, etc.). Often LARP are the exact transmutation of the concepts of a role-play where the paper and pencil are replaced by role interpretation, foam weapon, costumes and sets. The players put on costumes, take up weapons and go “fighting the bad guys” in the fields rather than in their heads. But let us not parody too much: the adept of LARP finds his thrill in the fight, he draws his quintessence in the bonds that the characters develop with each other.



Depending on the LARP type, interactions may or may not be defined by a set of rules and regulations. One person will know that his character can handle the sword he has just discovered in a box, another that his character has the right to use a computer, that he can become invisible, and so on. In combat situations, foam weapons do the job, while certain powers can be simulated by various artifices; But in general, the rules are very simplified compared to classic role-playing games.

This style of play has advantages and disadvantages. It is certainly more pleasant to progress in a real setting where all the senses are solicited. But it is quite obvious that the simulation has certain limitations imposed by reality (one cannot really kill or fly thanks to a spell), which must then be palliated by the imagination. This is one of the reasons why larping demands more fair play and honesty from every players than any table game.

It is possible to classify LARP in certain categories. How many categories and types are there? Well, you see, there are as many as the imagination can invent! However, for simplicity, we will group them in five distinct categories of moods, which we present to you in order of importance in Quebec.

The most frequent are * fantastic *. These are characterized by a touch of magic and / or the presence of mythical creatures evolving in imaginary worlds, no matter the time or context … it is not uncommon to meet magicians or simply Merlin And Gandalf talking to each other! Often, these LARP are inspired by Arthurian and Scandinavian legends or other popular tales and short stories, such as the saga of the famous John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, to name but a few. We can then subdividethem into subcategories as medieval fantastic, tolkiennian, tales and legends, Arthurian and many others.



Then, we find the * Historical *. These exist in large numbers in Quebec. In our view, they are organisms that provide a plausible experience, albeit an artificial one, but which respects the historical limits and constraints, as well as the contexts of the periods evoked. The whole can be considered historical LARP as long as it remains the very precise reconstruction of a historical event. Indeed, this facet of larping is interesting because it allows the interactive exploration of a given period of our history, western as well as oriental or even African. Again, it is often imagination that guides players and organizers, but with the specifications of the targeted time. We then encounter as subcategories the Second World War, New France, the Renaissance, the Middle Ages! The Dark Age, the Roman period and other geographical and historical contexts.

Next come * Mysteries LARP *. These are best known to the general public in the format of ” murders and mysteries ” evenings . Then come * Horrors LARP *, which also enjoy great popularity in Quebec. The latter address the themes of death, creatures of the night, cruelty, and some will do everything to make you goose bumps, while others will focus more on manipulating people or on diplomacy. They explore different facets of fear and its attraction on men. It is not uncommon to meet vampires, werewolves, undead, voodoo shamans, space invaders, inter-dimensional beings or a panoply of dark creatures that inhabit the Romanian or Amazonian legends, or whatever your macabre brain can invent as stories and creatures. Often these LARP are inspired by table games of the same kind. In fact, we only have to mention the name of the company “White Wolf” and the list is long. The most known subcategories of horror are of course the Vampires, the Call of Cthulhu (pronounce to the English “Kuh-thool-hoo” and those based on Werewolf.

The last major category is the so-called Futuristic * or science fiction nature. They are characterized by a probable interpretation of the future of man and his environment by transposing it into an immensely wide and diversified universe by inventions and extraterrestrial races inhabiting these worlds. You can meet holograms, robots, Klingons, Martians and many other creatures. In short, just dig up your old favorite science fiction classics. The most common subcategories are: Star Trek, Star Wars, Cosmos 1999, Battlestar Galactica, Babylone 5 and many others.




In conclusion, larping is an amalgam of outdoors, creativity and socialization that allows everyone to enjoy it.

Article originally published in Oriflamme magazine, Vol. # 13, June 2004

1.88 K