After my first LARP, a World of Darkness Hunter game, I began to see the appeal of Live Action Role Playing. I had a lot of fun becoming my character, watching him grow, and interacting with other characters. After a while, I began looking into other games going on in the area.
Most games I found through my friends were World of Darkness Vampire games. While familiar with the setting thanks to Hunter (both games are actually set in the same world) I wasn’t familiar enough to be comfortable making the jump to playing a Vampire. Some of the players from those games, however, would start up new games of their own. And these games carried vastly different settings than the modern day game I started with.
The first game I tried following Hunter was a game set in the Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) setting. For those unfamiliar, L5R is an Asian inspired setting with elements ancient Japan and China, though with a heavier emphasis on Samurai culture. Many of us jumped on the game simply because it meant we would get to play samurai. Really, that was all the reasoning I needed. The game lasted for years, with the politics of the Imperial Court and the epic battles between samurai warriors playing out over its run. While the game had its ups and downs, I enjoyed it a lot.
I played a few different characters during its run, thanks to my samurai characters running into fights that got them killed, yet gained them honor and glory for their sacrifice. One was a leader of a clan who argued constantly with his brother (played by a friend of mine) over the direction the clan should take. Another was a duelist who sought to become stronger than all others, losing his life while attempting to defend the Emperor. They were great characters who had amazing moments over their lifetimes.
As much fun as that game was, I wanted more. It was shortly after L5R started that I heard from a friend that he was starting a game of his own. Inspired by the L5R campaign, he decided to start a game based on an old RPG from the same company: 7th Sea. 7th Sea, at its core, is all about swashbuckling adventures. The setting itself is filled with references to old stories and historical settings, with a little bit of magic and the supernatural thrown in. Think of a world where the golden age of piracy, the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution, the Italian Renaissance, and the age of Vikings are all happening at the same time. It really isn’t as crazy as it sounds.
While a vast departure from what I had played before, it allowed for characters and stories that were not possible in the previous games I had played. From an Inquisitor with dark plans, to a gentleman theif with a heart of gold, to a mercenary running from his past, I got to play some interesting and fun characters during its run. That game still goes on today, and is part of my regular monthly routine.
That game in particular led to one of my favorite moments playing one of my characters. One day, I was really late to that month’s session of 7th Sea thanks to my job. So late, in fact, that I made it there with only about 15 minutes until the endd of game. Intending to just hang out until the end so that I could go grab some food with everyone afterward, I had no intention of getting into character and playing. Just then, one of my friends noticed my arrival and urged me to get into the game. At his request, I did. This led to a 10 minute scene where I rallied half of the game together to help bring down what my character perceived was a massive threat to the world (it really wasn’t, but that’s what made the scene so great). I had more fun in those 10 minutes than I had in most games. I have friends who still talk about that character to this day.
I had the opportunity to experience fantastic worlds with some great friends, and love it when new games pop up so I can try them out. I still play multiple LARPs now, and still can’t wait for every new session. The ability to act out life in different places and interacting with varied characters is a wonderful experience.
If you’ve never tried it, I highly suggest doing so. There are multiple LARPs going on throughout the year, all over the world. Most are more than willing to help new players learn and play in their worlds. It’s an experience like no other. And I love it.