A friend of mine blogged about LARPing the other day and has been looking for other LARPers to tell their story about how they got into it to try and encourage new players to try and stay in the hobby. As I decided to expand my blog this seemed like the perfect opportunity, so I volunteered. His blog is here:
Lair of the Jiggybeast
So, here we go.
For the purposes of the other blog: In the real world (the distinction will make more sense later) I work for the University of Leicester in the Student Recruitment (Widening Participation) Team. For the last year I have been working on outreach and public engagement for the Richard III project and am currently looking at that, as well as the role of the University as a living memorial to WW1. I have just completed a second master’s degree and will be starting a part-time PhD in October at the University of Sheffield. I live with my boyfriend, Al, and our friend Lee.
I was introduced to LARPing at the age of 18 at University in Aberystwyth. The boyfriend at the time was a LARPer and so were the majority of Rocsoc where I was hanging out. I thought it was a little odd and it took me a couple of sessions to get the courage to give it a proper go, but I was soon hooked. It was a brilliant outlet for the imagination. The small system is still running (I think) and we used to have a ‘Guild night’ in one of the meeting rooms on campus once a week and an ‘adventure’ on a Saturday in the local woods. From going to the small system, I was taken as part of that group to the Lorien Trust (LT) events. I haven’t been back to Aberystwyth to LARP since 2000, but have carried on with the LT events.
LARPers often talk about their LARPing career, on reflection, mine could have it’s own CV! I made a lot of friends all over the country through going to LT events. That led onto trying other systems and meeting even more people. Originally I played a half-fae called Anya, then realised the opportunities available and changed characters to Frantica the lizard. I was then asked to become a non-player character (NPC) and help out with the running of one of the factions at the LT. I changed character and played Aleena Tepes. I played Aleena for 13 years…maybe, and was a commander in the faction for 10 of those. Volunteering as an NPC has its ups and downs. The ups are amazing and the downs can be devastating. The experience is invaluable though. I have it on my real CV and it has helped me get jobs. I carried on until I realised that I needed to get *my* hobby back! So now I play an Appleseller.
As well as the LT, I also currently play Wasteland UK (post-apocalyptic), and Serenity LRP (Firefly based). I crew other systems such as Slenderman, and have been to Disturbing Events LRP (Cthulu), Eventyr (DnD), Outcast (fantasy), Curious Pastimes and Profound Decisions events. Each character I play is a little different to the next, has different goals and different fun.
My favourite current character is Bouncer from Serenity LRP, although I do love being the Appleseller at LT. Each character has its background, personality and skills. They are quite different, one is a healer and the other a warrior. I would go into these in more depth but that might be a later post and might be confusing here in a general overview. I think my favourite character which is now also a monster role is Frantica. There is history attached to the character which I love. Depth is good.
The best parts of LARP are when you push yourself. It could be stepping into a group of people and asserting yourself, it could be going into that dark room first. I love the adrenaline rush that makes my fingers tingle. I also love the quiet times when you can sit and chat with others and develop your character. They are both instances when stories happen, firstly by doing and being part of it, and secondly by making it up. Aleena, as a character, had a sister and we used to make up stories on the fly about our childhood together when talking to other people. Those stories then got retold by us and others, it made it a little more real.
The hobby has changed in the 15-16 years I have been involved in it. At one point the LT could boast an event of 6000 people on an August bank holiday weekend, but now the numbers are much smaller. This is partly to do with disposable income, but also to do with choice. There are more systems to choose from, so that precious income is being prioritised when it comes to choosing where to go. If someone wants to LARP they will spend as much or as little on it as they can afford or need to.
My advice to anyone starting the hobby now is get stuck in. No one goes into a LARP game to play second spod from the left! No one will laugh at you because we are all in it together, in silly costumes in a field, shouting and waving rubber swords at each other! It is a silly hobby on reflection, but so much fun.