What is LARP?
Live Action Roleplaying
I like to describe live action roleplaying (LARP) as playing a huge game of pretend with your friends at a scout camp over the weekend. Though the technical term via Wikipedia reads like this:
A live action role-playing game (LARP) is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically portray their characters. The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by real-world environments while interacting with each other in character. The outcome of player actions may be mediated by game rules or determined by consensus among players. Event arrangers called gamemasters (GMs) decide the setting and rules to be used and facilitate play.
In this context Emily and I (Val) are the gamemasters, arranging exciting and fun settings for your own original characters to make trouble in. We make the rules and set parameters and you bring the game to life as you make friends, defeat enemies and generally have a good time doing whatever you feel your character would do.
LARP in New Zealand
You may have seen LARPS run in other countries on YouTube or other sites, it's a hobby that's big all over the world. Here in Auckland most games are rather structured. Where in other countries games are often freeform where you create a character and just show up, here in New Zealand there is usually a plot for your character to discover.
The games we create at Takahe Games are typically one-off weekend events, but other games can be campaigns containing several weekend games and possibly even single day or evening games as well. Another type is called a 'Parlor LARP' in which the game happens over a day or a couple of hours and often is in a single room and has a complete story over that time. We specialize in one-off weekend games, that means the entire game is played in a single weekend and has an ending.
Most New Zealand games are advertised and organised via Facebook. A great place to start is the NZLarps Facebook page or the NZLarps webpage, but please note not all games in New Zealand are run by NZLarps. There are many independent games running, like the ones here at Takahe Games, but a lot of those independents might be advertised or mentioned on the NZLarps Facebook page.
What To Expect
Over The Weekend
Friday evening is usually spent setting up bunks, catching up with friends you might not have seen in a while and getting into character before the game starts. There will be a quick brief in the main hall, going over rules, health and safety and any other important announcements. Once all of these have been completed game in is usually called. This is a chance for you to get to know your fellow players in-character. Also just a reminder that any actions taken during the game in-character should not be taken personally out-of-character.
Like any good story, LARPs typically hit beats. Friday night is like a warm up, it sets some of the expectations of what's to come (an introduction to the story). Saturday is the real bulk of the story. The day tends to give you hints of what's to come, rising up to the crescendo on Saturday night which is usually a big event. Often there are set times for in-character and story plots to be coming into the mix, for example your GMs (gamemasters) may stop putting out pieces of the story from about 10pm and from there you are free to be in or out-of-character.
Sunday is usually story conclusion, tying up all the loose threads and finishing up the tale everyone has created together. The game will often conclude before lunch and after lunch there will be a debrief and pack down. This is when everyone who participated packs their own things, then helps clean up the camp (like sweeping out and mopping bunks, cleaning the toilets and showers, making sure any camp equipment is put away and stored properly). There should be a sign up sheet so everyone is accountable for a job, and your job needs to be checked and approved by a GM before leaving site.
Of course every game is different and this is just a rough outline.
Combat in any game is completely optional and not all games will include combat.
Only approved weapons can be used in combat scenes and we highly recommend attending the Auckland LARP Combat Practice, held in Cornwall Park most Sunday mornings, to have a go prior to the game if you've never used a sword or other weapon. This training really helps you learn to pull blows, get used to being hit and how to not hurt yourself or others.
Most Takahe Games events will be little-to-no combat or will have a relatively high RP to them (ie: cast a spell and the other person should respond via roleplay as if they have been hit by your spell).
Any games with heavy combat will explicitly be stated in the games' event page.
What is LARP?
Players are responsible for their own costuming unless otherwise stated (for example, Braewelth, School of Magic comes with a t-shirt for you to wear over the game). It is expected that the player make their best effort to fit in with the world setting. What we mean by this is having period accurate clothing, such as medieval style dress if it's high fantasy, worn out modern clothing if it's post-apocalyptical or wings, horns and glitter if it's a supernatural game. You're creating an immersive world with all the other players, nothing breaks that emersion like having a completely inappropriate outfit for the setting. If you're struggling, feel free to contact a GM for that game and have a discussion about it. Alternatively you can have a look at our low-cost costume rental page.
Crew on the other hand have no costume requirements apart from 'Crew Blacks'. Crew blacks consist of a set of black clothing to wear under any costume pieces you might be asked to wear. Black shoes are preferred, but the comfort and wellbeing of the crew member is most important and rules aren't as strict for footwear. All costume pieces will be provided for crew, though we encourage you to bring any special pieces you might like to wear, assuming they fit the setting.
Getting There and What to Bring
Getting there is the sole responsibility of all participants. If you are struggling, we recommend posting on the Facebook event page asking if anyone might be able to give you a ride. Part of the reason for all our games being ages 18+ is we expect participants to organise themselves, this includes responsibly packing their own gear and making sure they have a way to and from the game. If you are really unsure how to get there and no one has responded on the event page, please let a GM know several days before the game to see if they can help find someone to give you a ride to the game, but please note it is your responsibility and they are not obligated to make transport happen for you.
As for what to bring, please have look at our handy LARP Kit Checklist. It is essential that you make sure to pack enough bedding and clothing. Most LARPs are held at scout camps with thin bunk mattresses, if this will bother you we recommend you bring extra bedding to help pad the thin mattresses (like a single size bambillo/mattress topper, or an extra blanket/sleeping bag). We also recommend bringing a heavy layer for the evenings, even in the summer, as camps can get very cold at night.
Ready to give it a try? Check out one of our current games