Despite the widespread popularity of such events, the neckbeard community at large typically regards LARPing as the least cool of all RPG-related pastimes, reasoning that although they might spend large amounts of their time shouting excitedly about dice rolls in a dark basement, at least they're not running around in a forest in their underpants. LARPers are frequent targets of fa/tg/uys' scorn, despite the evident superiority brought on by wearing real chain mail and hitting people with weapons that actually do hurt.
That said, the LARP and RPG communities aren't entirely separate. At its core, many LARPs are basically what you get when an amateur theater group decides to act out their game of Dungeons & Dragons instead of picturing it all in their head. White Wolf and its World of Darkness games are particularly strongly associated with LARPing, to the point they literally named their system "Storyteller" because they argued that the games worked best with some level of LARPing instead of relying purely on theater of the mind.
Some LARP rules simply dictate two things: How many times you can hit before you're dead and what you can or cannot do (use weapons, spells, write/read) - leaving everything else up to chance, the whims of the GMs (if there is any) and the player.
Other go at it using more complex systems with game rules that determine how characters can affect each other and the setting. These rules may define characters' capabilities, how those capabilities can change over time, what can be done with various items in the setting, and what characters can do during the downtime between LARP events.
It is always important to remember that because referees or GMs are often not available to mediate all character actions, players are relied upon to be honest in their application of the rules. There are also LARPs that do without rules, instead relying on players to use their common sense or feel for dramatic appropriateness to cooperatively decide what the outcome of their actions will be. This can often be tricky to do with LARPs that have children playing along.
Common Basic Rules
Just as there are numerous different pen & paper rule sets, then the systems and rules that can be applied in LARPs are near infinite. Also depending on the kind of theme for the LARP and the age group of the players, then some things may or may not be such a good idea...
LARPs with physical combat rules, for when using foam/latex weapons, airsoft guns, laser tag guns and similar, to represent weapons, and are often known as boffer or live combat LARPs. Sometimes relatively harmless versions of real weapons such as blunt metal swords or firearms loaded with blanks or modified fireworks are used as representations. In LARPs with physical combat the physical skills of the player play an important aspect, since if you cant figure out how to hit the other guy with your padded stick, then you're fucked no matter how awesome your character is.
On the other hand, symbolic rules involve momentarily pausing role-play in order to determine the outcome of an action, for example by rolling dice, playing rock-paper-scissors or comparing character attributes. In symbolic combat systems weapons may be represented by cards or physical replicas. Sometimes realistic weapon props and physical contact between players are not allowed. It should be noted that this kind of combat is very handy if playing out in public, where non-players might mistake vampire-LARPers or similar players for something slightly more illegal. In short: it doesn't matter how realistic your plastic toy gun looks, or that fake blood - if the lady across the street thinks you just killed a man then you still have to explain it when the cops arrive.
It should also be noted that - like many pen & paper RP rule systems - LARP rules often don't set up rules for actual roleplaying, but more for combat and other more "vital" aspects of the game, letting players play along whichever way they want. This can be a dual-edged sword as any D&D player will know that a single player can easily ruin everything for everyone else - and this also applies to LARPs. (the same also applies GMs)
With the official description bullshit out of the way...
The general opinion that fa/tg/uys have on LARP is negative, to say the least (In the US. In Europe people usually don't hate it actively and there are countries where it's an accepted hobby). There have been a few cases where a normal discussion on LARP has been made, and a couple of people even admit to partake in the activities themselves.
The hatred of LARP mostly comes from fa/tg/uys that only wish to move away from a table to grab something to eat or drink, or to take a piss (the latter is optional and can be replaced by urinating in someone else's drink while they're not looking). Other annoyances are:
- Costuming. Most LARP costumes are deemed "laughably bad" by fa/tg/uys, and the act of dressing up in a fantasy costume to play out a fictional setting is considered ridiculous.
- Fake weaponry. Having a secret crush on /k/ommando's, many fa/tg/uys are ashamed of a roleplaying activity involving weapons made out of foam or latex.
- Vampire/Werewolf roleplays. There is nothing worse than having leftovers from the Gothic community pretending they're fashionable and creepily sexual undead or furries.
Some LARPers and cosplayers share a fervent hatred for each other, mainly because of the shared costuming habits combined with the differences each hobby has. Some LARPer's do not wishe to see a Naruto or Sephiroth at their event (this stems from the Dungeons & Dragons trauma's involving badly made "original characters" which ruined many a game), and cosplayers do not see the use in using all that time in energy for a costume that will be ruined. Also LARPers tend to consider some cosplay "armor" (usually made out of cardboard or just cloth) to be painfully wrong compared to their fuckton heavy chainmails and metal plate armors. There is a growing overlap in the two communities however. If you go to a larp, the people who look the best will more than likely be cosplayers while those who wear only what is necessary and look rather drab are probably only 'stick jocks' (people who go to LARP's only to hit each other with swords often to an excess and care little for stories or their characters).
Pro's and Cons of LARPing
- Fuck yeah, I look fancy/awesome/HAWT! Of course I'm not going to wear this in public, but in this forest it's a-okay. (I'm too sexy for my tunic, too sexy for my tunic, so sexy it HURTS.)
- OH MY GOD. OH. MY. GOD. PEOPLE. And not just my friends, of whom I suspect the short one might be gay for me. And they're all HERE! They don't just have to leave in the middle of a game or never arrive thus ruining the evening! And there's WOMEN. OH WOW.
- No fighting required. You can (sometimes) fuck over people by being able to write and read.
- Food! And it's actually consumable! I want a chubby 30+ year old woman cooking for me every day!
- Look at me, I'm having fun in the weekend while being outside. Crazy, huh?
- Two words: RAIDING PARTY!
- FUCKDAMN IT'S COLD/WARM. THE SHOWER IS FUCKING COLD, I HOPE NO ONE PISSED IN IT. I HAVE TO WAIT HALF AN HOUR IN THE COLD.
- Ugh, I need a better inflatable mattress. And a new sleeping bag. And a tent, the fat guy snores.
- FUCK OFF I'M TRYING TO SLEEP. GO ANNOY EACH OTHER SOMEWHERE ELSE. FUCK, WHERE'S MY SWORD, I WANT TO SMACK YOU IN THE FACES. CUNTS.
- Instead of three-four other people trying to kill you, now you have around 60+ people trying the same! BEWARE THE BRIGHT-COLORED CLOTHING, THOSE ARE THE WORST BASTARDS.
- People might hit you with padded sticks...(if in a Scandinavian LARP, same thing, just with little or no padding, if you are in Russia it could be a metal stick)
- Walking everywhere - it is the scourge of fa/tg/uys
- Two words: Shield walls. (Because if you're charging a shield wall, you're fucked.)
The Unofficial List of Required Items When LARPing
- A decent costume. Not too bright, not too dark. Armor tends to help.
- If wishing to fight, a proper weapon. Daggers are too short, staves are too long. One-handed weapons longer than 60cm/2 ft. are often the best.
- For everything non-fighting, accessories. Advice is to take a non-fighting activity that doesn't require carrying a whole box. Unless you like boxes.
- Leather pouches. Make sure these are big enough to actually contain items.
- A small leather moneybag, hidden in a place where thieves can't reach without you getting the chance to (literally) rape them. A special selfmade pocket in the middle of your crotch area is perfect, although disturbing for the rest - which make for funny conversations. Keep numerous additional small caches hidden other areas, just in case.
- Unless of course the person looting you has workarounds written into the goddamn rules (god damn it Darkon!). Usually this manifests in the form of them saying something like "I am X. Do you have anything hidden in your Y?", and if you lie about it, you're going to be looked at like a complete tool.
- If the event includes dinner, be sure to get a decent set of in-game looking cutlery and crockery with a tankard or similar. Also, bring a washcloth and a dish towel in case you have to do your own dishes.
- If playing something other than a human, the right schmink/elven ears/dwarf beard. In case of skinny fa/tg/uys trying to be a dwarf, padding bound across the stomach will serve as a cushion when you have to lay on the ground and can be added to your pillow at night for more comfort.
- A bag of toiletries (hygiene products). You won't do anyone a favor by smelling like a dead hobo, and in LARPs, smelly people often die first. At minimum, try to bring a bag with: some deodorant, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a towel [or two, maybe more!], shampoo, soap, a washcloth. Make sure to bring an extra plastic bag to carry wet cloth[es] in.
- If the event lacks a main building to sleep and eat in, bring a comfortable tent. A comfortable sleeping bag and mattress [or bedroll] is a must if you don't want to end up sleep-deprived.
- An in-game approved compass might be useful for those with a horrible sense of direction. Spending hours lost in a forest is not a good way to go. Shouting is also a good way to find your way back, if the opposite party reacts.
- A small amount of REAL money. Ordering a pizza a LARP is common in many places, since not all LARPs feed their players. Alternatively, bring something that you can eat 'cold'. Even if it tastes better after being roasted over an open fire, it helps to make sure that the food was precooked, just in case.
- Darkon - A documentary-movie about LARPers
Examples of good LARPs
- Grandeur Nature
- Darkon (link to the actual LARP group)
- Trailer from the Talsker Wölfe group
- a LARP ad
- The Obscurus Crusade - A WH40K LARP