This one’s about Larping. Live Action Roleplay. It’s about overweight Elf Lords, foam swords and running around in forests. It’s also about how, with a few people, two or three game rules, rudimentary acting skills and an imagination run wild, you can create an exciting story and experience about whatever the hell you bloody well want.
So a couple of months ago I decided to play my first Larp. I totally embraced my preconceptions about it, and expected a collection of typical nerds as exemplified by this worldwide idea of what Larp is:
But I was pleasantly surprised. It was more like a group of model train enthusiasts, amateur actors, and the type of people who can’t decide whether to stay in to play video games or to go out for a pint, and settling on doing both at the same time.
It was called “War Stories”, written by Taisia Kann. We each played German and Austrian world war two veterans, forty to sixty years after the war, who came together under different circumstances every “Act” (with 5 years in between each one) to talk about their past. The postmortem with feedback can be found here, in Dutch. Oh, and this one in English.
In a rented room at a local church, with coffee and biscuits, we got a short introduction to the setting, the game rules, and the chance to create our characters. I was Albert, simple car mechanic, and personnel truck driver during the war. During the course of two or three hours, we played the game. It was something like improvisational theatre, but with a hefty amount of experimental play: What happens if I try to get on that guy’s nerves? It could be fun to see how this character reacts to me revealing his secret, why not do it?
I enjoyed it very much. I didn’t dare to stick my neck out. I’m not super confident about my acting skills and preferred to react passively or enjoy the story, but I loved the game.
A couple of weeks ago I played another Larp. A war-related one as well, it was called “Service”, and was based around a situation where military draft becomes a reality once more. The 15 players were draftees, soon to become soldiers, or perhaps the cooks for the soldiers. However, one of them can go home and not have to serve. How will the players decide who is worthy enough to stay at home and not have to (most likely) die at the front? It was a really energetic larp, with some very interesting yet minimalistic game rules.