So, what is Larp?
Larp is short for Live Action Role Play. The way I describe it in everyday life to people who've never heard of it is: "Running around in the forest, bashing people with rubber swords". Another great term is 'improvisation theatre'.
Imagine you're in the world of Tolkien. You can be any character you want. You can be that tailor, or just someone at the inn. Are you an elf? A ranger perhaps? Or a hobbit?
You are for a short while, submerged into that world. Different rules to live by, but they're just as important as the rules from the Real World.
Well, truth be told, it's much fun! You can dress up to become something from your wildest imagination. You can be evil and start killing other characters and try not to get your head chopped off when you get cought. Or, you can be a fairy, floating through the woods. Ofcourse, this is all in the context of the rules.
Yes, there are rules. There must be rules to make sure no-one gets hurt. Larp is not about winning, even if your character thinks it is. It's about playing. Playing fair.
Okay, so how about those weapons?
There are specially made swords so you and your fellow larpers won't get hurt. The core of the weapons is glassfiber; around that there's latex (a form of rubber). You can't use them to stab with, because then the core would stick through (which can be very nasty indeed), but you can punch, not too hard though. I always get home black and blue all over.
And arrows?Yes, there are bows and crossbows, but special ones for the larp. Real bows are too high-strung. Arrows have coneheads, not sharpened tips. Shooting with a larp-bow is very hard, because it requires a totally different aim than Real Life bow-shooting.
There are other forms of weapons as well: quarterstaffs, spears (used as quarterstaff), daggers and throwing daggers. Also, magic can be a powerful weapon as well.
Yupyup. Don't forget magicians, sorcerers, witches and fairies. Some can cast only one or two spells, others have whole books. Before casting a spell, you must point at the person you want it to be cast at and then say the spell out loud. Fairies sometimes use the "uncontrollable hideous laughter"-spell where the person will have to laugh uncontrollably for a minute.
And does that work?
In real life, no. But in Larp, it's all about playing, not about winning! So if you get "uncontrollable hideous laughter" cast on you, you play along and laugh!
What about death?
Every character has a numer of hitpoints. The higher level, or stronger, you are, the more you have. Some can be very weak and only have 2 hitpoints overall. This means, that if you are hit by one sword (that doesn't have special gifts or does extra damage), you lose one hitpoint. IF you are hit twice, you're dead.
Stronger characters can have 7 or more hitpoints per location. This means that if you are hit on your arms seven times, you lose the ability to control that arm. If you're hit on the torso 7 times, you're dead as well. You keep track of your own hitpoints. Larp is all about playing, not about winning.
Are there any larp-law-enforcers?
There's the Gamemasters. They control the scene more or less. If something goes wrong or there's a problem, they can tell you what to do. I once was whispered into my ear (after picking up the sword of a dead person) that my sword had one paralize spell left. This way, they control the scenes and make sure no-one cheats (Is there a point in cheating? No, but people still do it) or gets hurt, out of character.
So, when do you larp?
That depends. There are many many different larpgroups. There's Moonblade, where I started, Formanterra, Shiverz, Dumnoni, Drachenfest, Ravenskeep etc.etc. And this is just for Europe! These events are all organised by different people but as long as you pay and play fair, you can participate. Sometimes people from one larpgroup decide to attend another larp.
And how often?
Some larp events are once a year, some more often. Organising a larp event is a lot of work and you won't make a living out of it. So, that's why they're pretty rare. If you want to larp more often, you can always visit more larps.