LARP 101 #1: Choosing Your Adventure
Updated: Apr 7
Welcome, heroes, to the first installment of our LARP 101 series, tearing back the curtain from the wide world of Live Action Role Play and all of its variants. Before we dig deeper into costumes, characters, those Crayola colored swords, and everything else involved in enjoying your first LARP experience, we need to focus on step one: choosing the LARP that's right for you. Where do we begin? The answer may surprise you...
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
While this may not be the very first thing you think of when choosing the right LARP for you... it really should be. The physical world that you will be adventuring within has a direct correlation with not only how much fun you can have but how comfortable you can be. Let's put it this way: you wouldn't wear boots to the beach or flip-flops in the mud. Before you choose the right adventure for you, consider what kind of world you want to (literally) be in. There are infinite possibilities, from indoors to outdoors, natural or manmade, comfortable, strenuous, you name it. What kind of environment interests you?
Location is essential to LARP, as environmental factors like weather, temperature, and biome will absolutely affect your play. You don’t want to be bundled up in thick, woolen padding under your leathers out in the middle of the desert-- you’d overheat in minutes! Besides, Vikings generally don’t show up in the Wild West. Here are a few things to consider while choosing your LARP adventure:
1. Where am I located and how far am I willing to travel?
This is the first thing anyone should ask themselves before going on an adventure. Maybe you’d like to stay close to your home, family, doctors, or work. Maybe you’re just used to the local climate, and you’ve only got the right gear for it specifically. Or, maybe you’re looking for an epic escape from your daily life, and you want to get as far away from normal as possible. Whatever your reasoning, this is probably the most important question to ask yourself regarding location.
2. What sort of setting am I looking for?
Different locations will most often offer different settings. As mentioned above, a Wild West themed LARP is likely going to be out in a hot climate, like the desert. A Nordic or Viking themed one is probably going to be in a forested area, perhaps on the sea coast or near a mountainous area. A modern, science-fiction LARP might be closer to an urban center. Consider what settings you might enjoy, and what sort of costuming and equipment you’d have to bring.
3. What local hazards might I be looking at? What climate am I used to?
Safety is paramount to any sort of fun, so before you hop in the car or a plane, make sure you know what the local conditions are. Sure, to local people some of it would be a no-brainer, but you aren’t necessarily a local. In hot areas, watch for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and hydrate yourself. In cold areas, bundle up and make sure you’ve got good traction on your shoes. What does the wildlife look like? Are you going to be in bear territory, or should you shake out your boots for scorpions? It’s always good to inform yourself so you can focus on the fun parts! (We promise there are no scorpions at our camps.)
Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have a good idea of the LARP you’re looking for. Now, all you have to do is choose your adventure, and get to planning and packing.
Our camp is currently running at the Historic Publick House Inn in Sturbridge MA. We are thrilled with the amount of green our heroes can run around in, the accommodations of this historic and gorgeous building, and the hints of magic our counselors have added into the nooks and crannies of the rooms, woods, and everywhere in between. We have everything we need at the Publick House to bring our stories to life in a truly fantastic way.
SCA, ACS, HEMA & LARP
Yep, that's some real alphabet soup. Don't worry, we can spell it all out for you!
SCA is the Society for Creative Anachronism. They are dedicated to the research and recreation of historical cultures, specifically pre-seventeenth-century cultures. Celebrations of Renaissance and Medieval cultures include dance, music, art, fashion, combat, and feasts. Their focus is on preservation over entertainment, differentiating itself from more traditional LARPs as a more historically accurate and intellectual experience.
ACS stands for Armored Combat Sports. This is the experience that's going to knock you off of your feet... most likely with a good hefty swing of a sword. Participants enter battle, either one on one or in massive group battles, dressed head to toe in armor and carrying medieval weaponry. The fandom has spread rapidly all over the world, from Poland to China to here in the US. All around the world, people are going nuts over heavy combat.
HEMA is the study of Historical European Martial Arts. While most folks imagine ninjas or samurai when they hear the phrase "martial arts," the art of combat still fully applies to European and Medieval combat as well. By becoming a student of HEMA you too can become a master in your own right.
LARP, the one we all know, is Live Action Role Playing. The acronym is somewhat of a blanket phrase for all real-time events in which participants act as characters in-game. This does not necessarily need to be fantasy-themed, although that is the most common and popular theme for a LARP event. Costumes, props, personas, and a perceived world all add to the magic that is roleplaying.
A good way of explaining LARP is describing it as a video game translated to real life. Most people know and enjoy video games, so it helps to create that connection. After that, you may add in the improv aspect. Who doesn’t want to pretend to be the main character of their own personal epic? Then you can start rambling about all the cool costuming LARPers have, and by that point, most people who are interested will be hooked. And if that doesn’t get them, ask them if they’d like to run around and hit each other with foam swords. It’s definitely good exercise, as well as pure fun!
Our LARPs range everywhere from time-traveling Chronokeepers to full-blown zombie apocalypses, to the fantasy adventures we're known for. What theme would you want to explore in-game?
BRINGING IT HOME: THE STORY SCHOOL
LARP can be a ton of fun for all ages. Unfortunately, however, there’s not a lot of LARPs out there that are kid-friendly. Most of them, for the sake of safety-- and to circumvent the legalities of working with children-- will require players to be 18 or older. So what’s a kid to do?
Your answer lies in this very website. The Story School is a great place to start for any kid looking to join a LARP. Our camps, classes, and events stand out from the rest for a number of reasons, the biggest being the inclusion of STEM. STEM is an educational approach that focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math. It seems counterintuitive to incorporate the basic building blocks of real-life into a fantasy world however our counselors do it seamlessly and with astonishing ease. Chemistry becomes potion-making, physics becomes swordplay, and so on and so forth.
Along with STEM education, we also incorporate historical and cultural education into our adventures. I’d bet you haven’t done a deep dive into the mythos of the Sumerians in school. What about Native American tribal histories and culture? Have you learned anything about Japanese kami? School only can fit so much into the curriculum, but when you can take part in the story itself, learning gets a lot more interesting, and a lot more fun.
Our LARP camps and classes have another focus that makes us unique in both the worlds of roleplaying and education. When our young heroes arrive for the adventure they are excited not just to have fun and escape into a fantasy world filled with magic but to grow as heroes in the outside world. Our adventures give heroes the autonomy to choose their own paths in-game, deal with the consequences behind the safety of their character, and can take those lessons home with them once the world has been saved. Our heroes can experiment without punishment with their own morality, building them up into true heroes in the real world. We are hero makers. What kind of hero will you be?
Interested in learning more about our camps, classes, and weekly events? Contact us today and one of our hero makers will find the perfect adventure for you. Huzzah!