What is LARP?

By Terry Crew of LARPed.com

If you’re new to the idea of LARPing, the hobby can seem intense. People wearing full metal armor, garb that looks like it’s out of a movie! But really, at its simplest form, we’ve all participated in a LARP of some sort – and usually it’s not so extreme and is relatively accessible. Think back to your childhood – where you pretended to be an adult, super hero, Jedi, or number of different things. You were LARPing and you didn’t know it.

LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing. There are many different genres, types of games, and different ways to play and interact. Here’s some of the basics:


Fantasy has made the hobby super popular with games that put you in Middle Earth, but there a number of different settings one might play in. Such as:

– Modern day, but just playing a role you might not encounter like a spy.
– Super Hero. Kind of like an alternate universe where anything is possible.
– Vampire / Mythical Creature. This is a growing genre for sure.
– Space and Science Fiction. Imagine being a Jedi in the Universe or being aboard a deep space vessel.
– Magic and sorcery like Harry Potter. Magic schools are one of the most popular settings available.


So, once you’ve found a genre that suits you, there are a number of different types of games you might be interested in playing in. Are you looking to hit things with foam swords, or destroy a country with words from your tongue? Do you want something heavy on mechanics, or very free form with collaborative story-telling?

Here are some types of games:

– Boffer combat. Hit things, know when to run, and don’t die.
– Blockbuster events. Roll a cruise into a LARP event, and suddenly you’re drinking wine as a King/Queen.
– Parlor events require minimal garb or outfits, and are mainly run as a table top game like Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons.
– Free form events have minimal mechanics and are based on consent. What you want to happen actually does happen.


Looking like you want things to look can be challenging, expensive, and overwhelming. It’s best to start out simple, and evolve from there. Don’t plan on being royalty from the start – work your way there through the story. Maybe you’re an adventurer at first, who strikes it big and evolves into nobility?

Thrift stores, garage sales, and raiding your closet are great places to start for your first kit. Just remember to do things in layers as that can make a huge difference!