Aug 03

For those of you who are not in the know, a LARP is a Live Action Role Player aka a nerd (many are female) who plays out an adventure using props, swords and armor. Yes people do this…

This past weekend on my ritual sprint session, a couple friends of mine experienced LARPing for the first time and their reactions were shall I say entertaining? The huge field around which the 5k track ran is normally a place for people who wish to play soccer, walk dogs or attempt the picnic thing. On the day that we went however it was beyond hot and the park was empty except for 14 people with plastic swords, staves and shields running around in what I assumed was a form of melee.

Question for the LARPs

So being a huge fan of Sword and Sorcery (even the 100% white Middle Earth) and a former desktop Advanced Dungeons and Dragons player, I get the wont to become your character versus imagining him/her in action. What I don’t get (and this is the athlete in me speaking) is why take it to level 2 and not go ahead to 5? What I mean is, well hmm most of the people I see LARPing are shall we say not of the physique of a warrior, mage, or thief in Sword and Sorcery lore. Granted that can come off as mean-spirited but it’s one of the main reasons people – like my friends on Sunday, were on the floor laughing at the display. The other thing is… the swordplay. I’ve found YouTUBE videos of guys whose physique, gear and swordplay at a LARP would force me to drink a huge cup of STFU but they aren’t typical. You know they aren’t typical. Why not train a bit with that fake broadsword to… I don’t know… convincingly cut your enemy down and parry his reposts?

LARPs could learn from Gamer Nerd

Out on the field I saw a guy with a staff running and just swinging it wildly at some 6ft fat guy with what I assumed was a plastic longsword – who then touched him on the ankle for a killing blow. COME ON LARPERS!!! If you’re gonna be out in public at least bring the funk. We should be laughing at you but at the same time saying “damn that actually looks fun” instead of “har har fat nerds playing swords and looking pathetic at it!” See it’s like a gaming tournament, outsiders look in on the nerd raging and poor sportsmanship as spazzes wrap up their joysticks and march away angrily when the other nerd wins the match. They laugh but the action on the screen at least shows that the cry-baby nerd actually loves what he’s doing enough to care.

See LARP’s the gamer nerd woodshed’s hours upon hours in order to not only enjoy his game on a godly level, but to overcome his opponents convincingly whether in competition or in exhibition. What I saw out there Sunday was pathetic, and I know that it is supposed to be fun. You can throw the fun word in my face till I’m blue but let me tell you something, Martial Arts is fun, Gaming is fun, singing Karaoke is fun, dancing is fun… you see where I’m going with this don’t you? Fun does not equate to half-assing it, I would be willing to bet that people who train to be better at the items that I’ve just listed do not find it any less fun than when they did it as a scrub.

Your swordplay emulates movies like Lord of The Rings, Conan The Barbarian and 300… yet you look nothing like your onscreen counterparts. This is why my friends laughed, if my article seems mean I hope I can lessen the rage by saying that I myself didn’t laugh because I get it, I get you. Keep doing what you do and let the haters hate, but do yourselves a favor and swing the swords around a bit in your off time, watch some kenjutsu/kendo how-tos on YouTUBE and sharpen up a bit. That way when us outsiders invade your realm with our judgement we can at least visualize better the scenario that you are trying to play out.

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  • nick

    What you just explained sounds like judging from a distance. The game looks silly to outsiders but you know nothing about the rules of play. There are many different LARP’s out there. Some are way more physical, see SCA or Belegarth, and some are more in-game ability, stat and role play oriented, see Distopia Rising with many variations that land somewhere in between. I personally enjoy the more physical aspect of LARP’s, the ones where hundreds of us nerd wannabe warriors gather in one place to face off in epic battles then drink to our victories or defeat at the feast afterwords. Sounds like what you were witnessing was a more fantasy/roleplay oriented one which have their appeal in their own way. As for the sword play? The weapons aren’t plastic, they are foam or latex. Also the way we fight is drastically different from real combat because our weapons tend to be lighter. I have seen tons of trained swordsmen take to the field thinking they are gonna show us how its done and within 30 minutes they throw their weapons down and leave angrily when they realize that their real sword techniques just don’t work as well here. We aren’t trying to be accurate to real life, we are trying to make a game that is easy to learn but difficult to master. I suggest you give it a try. Find out if you have a local Belegarth, Darkon, Dagohir or SCA kingdom in your area. These are the ones that focus the most on just straight up fighting as opposed to magic or classes.