Today’s post comes from Dean, over at www.larpfinder.com. He shares with us the story of his first larping experience near London, England. Though, he’s since moved away from an active LARP, he’s still quite the larping advocate.
A number of years ago a friend of mine, who was the coolest role-player and war gamer I knew, asked me if I wanted to go larping. Having never heard of this I asked him a bit more about larp. From his description, which was “D&D in a field with all the actual armour and weapons”, it sounded like the weirdest thing in the world, and being the amazingly outgoing and risk taking guy I am, I declined.
A few years later after losing touch and then reconnecting, he asked me again. This time I felt a little braver and a little bit more curious, so I accepted. One wet and cold March day I helped him pack up his car with some wonderfully cool weapons, armour and camping kit. We drove about two hundred miles south, to a little wooded and hilly Scout camp, somewhere south of the M25 motorway.
We arrived late in the evening due to a few unforeseen circumstances. As we pitched our tents it was getting dark. My introductions to my fellow larping companions were in the light of an open fire.
I sat in front of the fire, on a log, beer in hand. I watched curiously dressed people with strangely coloured and shaped faces, peering out at me through the half light of the fire and haze of the beer. To say I was nervous and a little uncomfortable is an understatement.
There were bizarre and otherworldly noises coming from the forest, sounds of distant battle and the screams of the fallen. It felt very much like I’d fallen into a strange fantasy world.
As I crawled into my tent that night, I cursed my friend for bringing me to this hellhole of wetness, darkness and fear. Then I learned my first rule of a larping weekend: ALWAYS check your tent before you leave! I hadn’t used my tent for a few years. The last time was at a music festival, which had been wet and muddy. The tent hadn’t been aired or cleaned properly since. I spent the night in a very mouldy tent.
So my first night in the woods was pretty awful.
The next morning, the clouds lifted somewhat and sunlight was streaming through the forest, making it look like the England of old. The England of fiefdoms, lieges, and knights. A place where mythology meets reality. As I looked around the camp I saw and talked to all the crazy creatures of the night before. Though this early in the morning it was without their masks and face paint, without their armour and costumes. I suddenly realized that these were just normal people; accountants, shop assistants, students, and other normal folks, all having a laugh in a forest.
The first day was a day of magic and bloodshed. Numerous groups of orcs and other monsters were besieging us as we valiantly fought to save the day! The entire weekend was a small-scale event for the Gryphon faction, around 40 people (players, monsters and refs), and they had a plot that tied into the bigger LARP events of the system, Lorien Trust.
The fact that I had never been to a LARP event before and only had a rudimentary (if that) grasp of the rules system, didn’t stop me from joining in. In fact the other players encouraged and helped me in everything I did. I still can’t get over the fact that the players, monster players and referees were and are such wonderful people. They all were trying to help the noobs like me, and other players, to have a great weekend.
I was even given a space in someone else’s tent that night so that I didn’t have to sleep in mould. I had only met that person that day!
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been to enough larp events since then to know that my first larp experience is seen through rose tinted glasses. Just like anything else in life, there are plenty of idiots who try purposefully to ruin a days larp. However, the majority of people at a larp are not in it for selfish gain. Larpers regularly stamp down on bad behaviour in its myriad form, so that the majority attending the larp gets to enjoy themselves unhindered.
After that first day, I was hooked. I had found a community, a place where I can be who or whatever I wanted to be, yet still had to work at it. I discovered a new hobby within my new hobby, leatherworking, and a bunch of friends scattered around the country.
I would suggest to anyone who has a passing interest in LARP or role-playing games in general to look up your local or national games and give it a go, you never know, you may get hooked like me.