April 2017


Editor’s Note: The article below is an interview of sorts. I asked David Ashby a bunch of questions and this is how he answered them. It may not look like an interview; it is.

Underworld LARP is an 18+ horror fantasy game.  We’ve been running for almost 20 years now, but we’ve incorporated and been running seriously as a business for the last 7 years.  Our games are full weekend events and we specialize in full immersion “hardcore” role-play.  We strive to break the mould on what a larper is considered to be by the mainstream media.  We’ve been coined the “Rock Stars” of LARP by more than one media outlet here in Toronto, which sounds cool, but is a bit odd given the fact that we’re all running around the woods dressed as elves and hitting each other with plumbing supplies. We’re averaging about 150 to 200 players per game during our summer seasons and we have chapters running in Toronto, Edmonton and London Ontario.  I’ve personally been an owner for the last 7 years, before that I was a player.  Edward Watt, my business partner has been here since day one.

I’m happy to say we are successful in Canada and I think, honestly, it’s a result of old-fashion hard work.  We’ve structured our game to make it very appealing and easy for new players to find their place and we created a safe supportive community that acts as a second family to a lot of players. Hell, sometimes a first family.  We have our ups and downs like every larp but we do the best we can with the tools we have and it’s worked for us so far.  Having incredible players helps a lot.  We keep things from getting stagnate by continually upping the bar.  Aside from the grey hairs and little sleep, this year we managed to safely hoist a Banshee Queen 15 feet into the air on guide wires then zip her across our field while she rained down death upon our terrified players.  On our Halloween event, which tends to be our flagship event, we built at 20 foot giant undead, that 80 players took on, in an epic battle that would rival many action movies.  I don’t know what we’re going to do next year but we’ll just keep on going and changing things up to stay relevant.

Underworld on Dragons Den

Recently we were approached by one of the scouts for Dragon’s Den, to do a “spectacle” pitch on their show.  They refer to a spectacle pitch as one that is heavy in theatrics, fills the stage, etc.  The fact that we were scouted, rather than having to apply like most folks, was pretty complimentary.  We were given a month to come up with a pitch, organize our best 15 players, build our rock golem and get our books in order.  It was incredibly stressful but we pulled it off.  We were asking for $60,000 in exchange for 25% of the company.  That money would be used to secure a deposit on a plot of land that we could build our own facility on.    We’ve grown to such a size, that we’re almost capped out on what our currently rental site can accommodate.  If you own a larp, you know the pain of finding sites for games of our size (or bigger). That aside, we also have dreams of building an entire, fully immersive, medieval village for our players to game on. Since the show aired we’ve had a number of secondary investors contact us, we’ve had offers to start Underword LARP chapters in the US and Japan and we’ve just had an incredible amount of positive response from new players, friends, family. It really got our name out there.  We’ve been organizing new player socials for weeks.

A lot of people ask us if we’re happy with how the episode went.  Honestly, we never really expected to get a Dragon investor.  Of course we wanted one, but we knew that LARP in Canada is just starting to break into mainstream.  We knew we would be hard pressed to convince billionaires to throw their money at us, when we only had 7 minutes to explain what larping is and how it has become profitable.  We were aiming for the free publicity, exposure for LARPing in general, and hoping our pitch was taken seriously.  We got the best possible no.  If a 10 out of 10 was a Dragon investment, we scored a 9.   We have absolutely no complaints.

We knew we would be hard pressed to convince billionaires to throw their money at us, when we only had 7 minutes to explain what larping is and how it has become profitable.

Since the episode aired we knew we would be getting a lot of attention from the non-gamer community and the public eye.  We still want to fulfil our dream of having an owned and dedicated site to play on, so we started listening to secondary investors, as well as rolling out our own crowd funding project.  We established a GoFundMe page in an effort to help raise capitol, so we can accomplish our dreams without Dragon support.   We’re happy to say we’re 1/3 of our way there and we’re grateful to any and all that can donate or have already donated.  I’ve been asked in the past why the larping community, as a whole, should support us in our goals.  Rewards for donating aside, I don’t have a solid reason outside of just supporting the community.  Six years ago Edward and I decided to take a percentage of our profits from every game and create a Player in Need fund (PiN).  If a player falls on hard times, loses their job, or can’t afford food, we give them money.  This comes out of our pocket for the most part, although other players can donate,  and since we’ve established it we’ve helped dozens and dozens of people.  We’ve sadly had a couple players pass away unexpectedly over the last couple years and we scraped together just over $2000 for the families they left behind.  Underworld LARP regularly donates to charity and we’ve planning on hosting a blood drive in the spring.  We don’t just take care of our own, we help other games the best we can. Last year a tornado ripped through the site of one of our competitors, ending their season early.  We donated what we could to see them rebuild and get back into the game.  There is no moral obligation to do this, other than to be kind and supportive.  We want to support LARP, we want to see people happy in their hobby, and we want our community to grow.  We don’t give selflessly so that it’ll come around.  It’s great if it does, but that’s not the point.  We will always pay it forward.  That is what a strong community does. We don’t give selflessly so that it’ll come around.  It’s great if it does, but that’s not the point.  We will always pay it forward.  That is what a strong community does.  We are larpers.  We have been the underdogs in the gaming/nerd community for as long as I can remember.  That’s changed a bit as LARP becomes a little more mainstream but we can’t forget our roots.  We have always had each others backs and we want to keep it that way.  Underworld is dedicated to helping the community with their dreams, if you can help us too, great!

If all goes well we’re hoping that within 5 years we’ll not only have a dedicated site but also a fully functional, medieval village.  I have visions of cabins, showers, a fully stocked Tavern and Inn.  We have plans and designs for archer towers, corn fields turned mazes, a beautifully constructed and organized NPC and props cabin.  Aside from our dreams of land, we’re also expanding our chapter base.  We currently have games running in Toronto, Edmonton and London, but we’re in talks with Ottawa, Texas and even Japan.  We want to focus on finding clever hard working individuals that are interested in starting up Underworld Chapters throughout Canada and the US.  We brag no licence or start up fees and have a ton of amazing support from a wicked community of hardcore Underworld gamers.  We’re dedicated and willing to put in the work to see these dreams come true.

Thanks to David and the crew at Underworld Larp for their gracious participation in this interview.

If you want to support them or contact them info is below:

Support their GoFundMe

For all the information about their events, locations and game click here.

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Jan 30, 2015

101 Photo 4

We recently got a chance to interview Kristin Brumley about her webseries project – Basic Aventuring 101! If you haven’t had a chance to check out their video, you can see it here.

Here is what she had to say:

Can you tell us a little bit about the series?

Basic Adventuring 101 is a comedic fictional webseries about LARPers, following one adventuring party as they experience one weekend of LARP shenanigans.

101 Photo 2

How did you get the idea for 101? What made you decide to film 101?

I’d always wanted to create a webseries, quite honestly. One night driving in the car I simply realized that there wasn’t anything stopping me from doing it except my belief that I couldn’t. That isn’t to say it’s not a lot of work, but the biggest challenge will always be overcoming your own doubts.

The fact that it is a webseries about LARPers stemmed from the fact that I’ve been disappointed with LARP in the general media. I’m an avid LARPer and a huge supporter of the hobby, and it occurred to me that not only could I strive toward my dream of being a webseries producer, but something really good could come out of it too! I wanted to create something positive about LARPers, representing what I felt the hobby to be from our perspective.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, and those involved in the project? How did you all meet?

I’m a Marketing Specialist by trade. Social media, websites, graphic design…that’s my day job. My real passion lies in video production, however, and I’m both a producer and vlogger in my spare time. As a LARPer, I’ve created a vlog series called Stay in Character (which is, of course, hosted by the lovely people at Larping.org!). I’m predominantly a fantasy LARPer, although I enjoy a good steampunk or post-apocalyptic LARP when I get the chance.

I have a big cast and crew involved. Great people. Great friends. Only a handful of them were people that I really knew going into the project and the rest were acquaintances or friends-of-friends (or happy random happenstances).

What’s you and your team’s experience with larping?

The writer, Liz Stong, and I both LARP a lot. In fact, I’m the one who got Liz interested in LARPing in the first place. Eric Kociecki (“Brian”), Saker Alexander (“Will”), Rob & Maria DeHoff (Fight Choreographers), and Zach Knox (Behind-the-Scenes Director) were also LARPers that we pulled into the project and that we had played with regularly in the past. We also had a lot of people involved who had never LARPed in their life! Haha. That was actually a great dynamic to have, because it meant that we were introducing a lot of new people to the hobby.

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Why do you like larping?

Many, many reasons. I love sword fighting. I love costumes. I love role play. I love being around friends. Above all I love the opportunity to be anything I want to be in a supportive environment.

What made you decide to use two different sets of costuming and props show the difference between “in game” and “out of game”?

First of all, there’s comedy in that contrast. It stems from reality in that to make a LARP work, you have to use your imagination and your creative skills. We all know that we’re not in a magical realm with elves and dwarves when we play a game, but for a few days we imagine that we exist in one.

We wanted to demonstrate this phenomenon by drawing the viewer into the fantasy world before breaking the “magic” and revealing the man behind the curtain. We wanted people to think, “Wow! This is epic! This is real!” before breaking the illusion at the same time the characters are having their immersion broken in the game. You, the viewer, are in their shoes.

What is your goal with the project?

I want to create a series that LARPers are proud of–and that they are a part of. The fact that we get our funding from our viewers (and predominantly LARPers) means a lot to us. I’d like to keep the power in the LARPers hands as much as possible.

How can someone who wants to help get involved?

We are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money for Season 1. Contributions are extremely appreciated (and we’ve got a lot of great LARP rewards, including game vouchers available), but sharing the pilot and the kickstarter with your friends is also important.


Additionally, we are looking for a costumer and a few more acting roles for Season 1. If you are interested, please email kristin@basicadventuring101.com!

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May 28, 2014

AFK – The Webseries launched their kickstarter recently and we were able to get an interview with the director, writer, costume designer and editor of the series, Peter Haynes! Here is what he had to say:

AFK Cast

Q:    Tell us about AFK – The Webseries and what the story is about! Who are the main characters and what are their roles?

 ‘AFK’ is a look at what would happen to a group of modern gamers if they were suddenly forced to really inhabit the world they spend so long in virtually – a world away from modern conveniences and technology, where they have to live off the land. A world with no rules, no game masters, and no multiple lives….only the survival of the fittest, fastest, strongest and most cunning. Basically, AFK is ‘Lord of the Rings’ meets ‘Battle Royale’.

 Being in the bodies of their MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) characters, some of the cast are also genderswapped, and have to deal with all the issues that go with that.

 The main characters are Maybel the girl gamer in the body of a male Gnome, and Steven the warrior, a guy who finds himself in the body of a scantily clad and impractically armored female warrior. There is also Brendon the wizard, a 15 year old suddenly trapped in an adult form, and V’rugga the orc, actually an 8 year old who just wanted to play the biggest, meanest looking character. Lastly there is also Jack the rogue, a somewhat arrogant power gamer, and finally their leader, Q.

 Q seems very comfortable in her new form, and one of the series’ most compelling mysteries will be discovering her background, and whether or not she is even female.


Q:    How did you come up with the concept for this webseries and each of the character concepts?

I used to play a lot of World of Warcraft, and many of these characters are archetypes of other gamers who inhabited that world. Jack is the classic hardcore power gamer, always striving to have the best gear and the highest damage. Maybel is a female gamer who plays a male character because she gets tired of guys hitting on her. Steven is a very casual player, who doesn’t actually know the game very well. I wondered how these very different personalities would or could work together if they were thrown into this new and very high-stakes environment.

Q: What lead you to select each of the people that are playing the character roles? Production Still - Kick to the Gut

I pretty much got my dream cast for these roles. Mia Pistorious is totally believable as Q the leader, and is a highly physical actress. She basically learned how to swordfight in a totally convincing manner in just over two weeks. Calum Gittins, playing Jack, was a hardcore gamer, and so totally gets the mindset. Dallas Barnett, who plays V’rugga has often been typecast as a tough guy/bad guy, so I thought it would be fun to put him in the mind of an 8 year old boy, which he enjoyed immensely. All of the actors bring something unique to each of their roles, and they clicked together really well in the short time we had to shoot the trailer.

AFK - On Set

 Q:    Have you larped before? If so, what do you like about it? 

I have, and I have to say one of my favorite aspects of larping is the costuming.  The amount of work and detail and dedication that some people put into a costume that may only be used for a weekend always amazes me.

Q: For the main female character in particular – have you ever larped before? If so, what do you like about it?

Mia Pistorious (Actress who plays Q): I’ve never larped before or known much about it but became fascinated by the idea while working on the AFK project with people who Larp. As an actress I think of larping as another form of acting and think it would be a great experience to be fully immersed in such a process.

Q:    Peter, why did you choose to make the main character a larper?

AFK - BattleBecause it struck me that a larper, also being a reenactor, would have a unique set of skills to survive in this new world. She knows how to fight with a sword, she’s also done SCA combat, she knows archery, she’s camped in medieval camps and lived a bit rough. In the real world, the ‘cool kids’, like Jack the powergamer, might look down their noses at her choice of hobbies, but here, they’re pretty much dependent on her for survival. I think it’s a nice turnaround.

It’s also a kind of thanks to the local NZ larping community, who have helped this project become a reality in a big way not only by lending time, costumes and resources, but also training. Mia was trained in sword fighting by Vanya Essin, a local larper and display fighter, and it all shows on screen. I fully intend to keep the larping community involved should this project go ahead.


Q:    What is your goal with the series? Are you trying to get any point across or is it just for fun?

We want it to be fun, and enjoyable to watch, but I also wanted to explore how far we’ve become removed from the AFK - Lookin Coolreality of the experiences that we like to immerse ourselves in a computer game like World of Warcraft. In reality, living off the land is hard. Hunting is hard. Sleeping rough is hard. Not knowing where your next meal is coming from is hard. These guys will have to really pull it together and rediscover some pretty ancient skills just to survive the first week.

Q:    Where did the filming for the trailer take place?

The trailer was filmed entirely in Auckland, New Zealand, and 90% on Mt. Wellington, which is in the middle of one of our busiest suburbs. A small volcanic cone, the mountain has a surprising amount of beautiful scenery in a very small area, and is remarkably quiet. Of course, if we do go ahead, then we’ll range further afield, and we even hope to get some support from tourism NZ to shoot in some of the national parks for a truly epic look


AFK - Moutain Scene

Q:    What are ways someone can help get the project off the ground?

The ways people can help this project are many and varied. They can share our trailer on Youtube or our Kickstarter Campaign.

They can like’our Facebook Page, and invite others to like it as well.

And finally, they can just spread the word. If they have a gaming blog, then give us a plug. If they frequent a MMORPG forum, start a thread about us. Post a link about us on Reddit. We never know which one is going to be the magic link that will make us go viral, so every little bit counts.

Thank you so much for the interview, Peter, and good luck with the project!

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Apr 15, 2014

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