Skip to main content

Start a LARP 4: LARP format

Start a LARP. Seriously, it's easy and fast to do so. Check out other articles in the series if you don't believe me. Today I'll be talking about format your LARP might take.

Basically, in the world of LARP there are two basic types of events: campaign events and one-shots. As you go from one larp scene to another, you'll see one type being more popular than another. Majority of Croatian LARPs are campaign events, though there are a few one-shots here, most widely played one being Love is blue. If you haven't larped before, you might have already imagined LARP as one of those two types.

The difference is in format, purpose and how they affect players. Campaign events seem to be more popular for fantasy LARPs (though not in every scene), and they allow playing the same characters in future events, creating more opportunities for characters to grow. They are also very cost-effective, as they allow players to build up their gear over time - which is very good for fantasy and other genres which can have heavy costuming as it will - over time, players will improve their costuming standards, quite often over what they'll do for one-shot LARPs.

One-shots are usually time-limited. The game environment and characters within them will exist only once - although the event itself might be repeated, and the same scenario unfolded again with different (or sometimes even the same) players.

Differences between those two formats are much greater than "one continues, other does not". Campaign events can commonly lead to greater associacion and attachment between players and characters. They can also lead to very complex characters, with years of defining events behind them. They commonly reward players who've been around for longer with powers or other game mechanics, and can use the same stuff to keep players coming. They can also be showcases for the best larp gear around. On the other hand, campaign LARPs can go stale over time, and they can require more effort to make the entire setting more consistent and believable between events. Having (commonly) more game mechanics might lead to more powerplay.

For players in one-shot events, their characters won't exist past this one game. It's also easier to create a good story and concept for a one-shot game than for every iteration of a campaign LARP. These two can combine to form a powerful and immersive experience, akin to best moments of a campaign LARP, and players might engage in deeper roleplay, playing their characters to get maximum experience, without any out-of-character need to preserve them for future events. On the other hand, characters have very limited time to grow or change. And with every event being self-contained, event quality is even more crucial for attracting and retaining people, without the "leveling" mechanic to fall back to as a crutch.

Apart from being one-shot or campaign, larps differ in their length. In Croatia, the longest events are four days (Jaska and Crolarp, which are campaign style), while the shortest one was only one hour in length (Love is blue, one-shot). Worldwide there are plenty of longer events, and certainly some shorter ones. One-shots are typically shorter, but that's not always the case - e.g. Croatia's Maksimir LARPs are campaign style, but few hours in length.

Of course, there are plenty of exceptions to what is written here. The most high-budget larp ever made was Dragonbane, a week-long fantasy one-shot larp organized in Sweden in 2006, with over half a milion Euro budget, and a living, talking, fire-breathing, 26 meter long dragon... And a full medieval village built just for the event.

You're not expected to do something like that. It's something that's not only incredible for everyone who's already into larp, but also a feat that has never been repeated since... That event took 2 years to prepare. You're not expected to duplicate it, you can freely start low on budget, even with no money at all. But, something like that is possible.

Biggest LARPs by the number of players are usually fantasy, campaign style and several days long, though others might provide other benefits. There are really no wrong answers concerning style. It's just that... a style. Nothing more, nothing less. It might feel different or produce different effects, but all of it is "valid" LARP. There are even mixed types of events, such as a campaign larp that stops when its story arc is complete, or an event of several hours divided into periods which are at different times in-character. And you can start your own LARP in any way mentioned here, or think of something new. There are no wrong answers, and while there's certainly a lot of ways to do it, and a world of detail you can explore, the basics are easy. Start a LARP.


Popular posts from this blog

The 15 rules of larp

The following 15 rules (warning: strong language) were written some years ago in Great Britain, and have been pretty much generally accepted on the British larp scene. Especially popular is rule 7 - widely known by its number and commonly considered to be the most imortant rule of all (and I agree). Even the biggest British larp forum has taken Rule7 as its name. The rules have been originally created by the Drunken Monkeys and edited by Rick Wynne who added some extra stuff in the explanations to make them more understandable to international audience (it still contains some British larp lingo though), more work-safe and to throw in his two cents. (copy of the original wording is available here ) 1. Don’t play a mighty warrior; play a warrior and be mighty. Don’t label your character. As soon as you say that you are the best swordsman in the land someone will come along and kick your ass. Just get into the mindset of the person and role-play it out. 2. No one cares about you

These 10 Easy Steps Are All You Need To Start Larping!

"How to become a larper? How to start larping? Where do you begin? How to join a larp? How to prepare for your first event? How to gear up? What do I need to know for my first larp?" Etc. These are all questions that people interested in larp ask all the time. And in over three years of writing this blog and over 350 posts on it, I just remembered I haven't written any decent advice for new and potential players. And that's why it's harder than it seems. Not preparing for your first larp, but writing about it. Different larps can be quite different, and can be even more confusing to existing larpers (used to another style) than to those who never larped before. However, I decided to do it - and write a comprehensive guide about it, with a catchy Upworthy-style title that's sure to catch the attention, right? After all, it did catch yours. Below you will find a 10-step guide that will answer the most fundamental questions about larping that you might ha

Mind’s Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade rulebook review

Available on DriveThruRPG Reviewing a book as complex as this one is a monumental task. It was published 3 days ago, and it's got a monumental 550 pages of content - luckily, a large part of it was familiar to me from "slices" they released before they published the book, and little has changed there. However, rules is relatively small part of this. The book is loaded with art, stories, tips, setting lore and more. This is a review of the book as a whole, and there's much more in it than rules. But let's start at the beginning. Vampire the Masquerade larps have started all the way back in 1993 with the release of the first Mind's Eye Theatre, as a rework of the tabletop RPG published by the White Wolf Publishing (tabletop was published in 1991). The idea was to provide players with a way to play tabletop-like stuff in live format. Basically, like with tabletop, you buy the rulebook and run the game with your friends. And it worked really well - despite t