The best way to start a LARP is simply to do it. Grab a few buddies, choose a location, agree upon the ruleset and go.
You need to make some decisions based upon the game you want to play in regards to your location: How much are you willing to suppress modern details? And how much action do you want to have? Obviously, the less you need to suppress modern details, the better. Immersion is a powerful tool in any LARP, and the better the illusion the better the experience. Good costuming, props and no visible signs of any modern stuff can make for a quite powerful experience, but it’s better to consider it a goal than to consider it a requirement. Many first-time LARPs are barely deeper than tabletop roleplaying experience – but that’s OK too. Jumping from blankets & boffers to period accurate & Calimacil is visually quite large, but can be over a hundred times more expensive. Start on a level which is comfortable to you and your buddies.
A location can be any of the following:
- A park
- Convention grounds
- Really anywhere
Preparing your gear
Obviously, you’ll need to prepare your gear. Which will vary depending on the type of LARP which you run. An indoor LARP based on character interaction (which you can do in your basement) can have different requirements than the LARP where you run in woods. Depending on your location, you should sit down and make a list of everything you know you will need. Not necessarily what you want. Keep it simple.
Crafting your world
As an organizer, you’re supposed to provide two things: the game itself (the GM part) and the logistics (transportation, food, water, toilets, trash disposal etc). If five people come to play at your house for your LARP, you probably don’t need to worry much about logistics. If you’re organizing a camping weekend for several dozens of people, you will need to cover logistics. As a game master, you’ll be expected to provide your players with content. There’s plenty of rpg and larp theory about what makes good content, but in short you should provide your players with a good story that they can influence, some challenges, ways to build their characters, and some new experiences.
Create a story. Create a world. Give it some meaning. And make it fun for your players. If you’re doing your first LARP, it can be something really simple (but do try to keep it consistent and logical), it will be fun for your players – first LARPs are always remembered fondly.
How you can organize a LARP:
- give each character a set of goals, or a personal quest
- make a timetable of the events to happen
- try causing in-character conflict between the players
- try unifying the players against the common cause
- any combination of the above
- anything else that would make players react
Almost everything is a fair game. You can make a game NPC heavy or purely player-run. Really. How you write a story is up to you, as long as it works for you and your players. Don’t over-prepare, don’t over-think. Perfection is the goal, not the requirement, especially if you’re a new group starting from scratch. The most important part is just to run it. Whether it lasts an hour or a weekend. Because once you run your first game, you’ll have just started your first LARP.
Get your friends together. Start a LARP.