A commercial larp publication? I was intrigued from the first moment when I heard about it. The question, of course, is whether it justifies the $5 fee. I don't think I bought a magazine in over 15 years. With the growth of online portals - deriving their revenue mainly from advertising - I just found a lot of info available online for free in the main area of my interest at the time, which were computer games.
However, at that time finding decent info about larping online has been almost impossible. Even these days, when the situation is better than it has ever been before, larping is not only undocumented but also very context-dependent. Larpers might find a publication written for another larping scene difficult to apply to their own situation, because of different goals, issues, customs, player base, legal situation and much more.
It's no surprise that - being US based - Larp World Magazine is US-centric. It's published by Joseph Valenti (the owner of NERO), and edited by Aaron Vanek - some of the most well-known people in US larp. However, LWM remains highly aware of the international scene - especially larps highly visible to English-speaking audience, such as the Nordic and progressive scene. You can get your digital copy here. My review of the magazine follows.
In the beginning of the magazine, there are a few ads, news, short articles about some interesting projects and some US-specific legal stuff. The ongoing legal battle of larping.org and Archery Tag about the sale of larp arrows, cosplay and copyright law, etc.
The first major part of the magazine is called "Up Your Game". It consists of three articles:
- The Art of Being a Bastard by B Simon Smith - this article provides tips for scheming characters in PvE (or more accurately CvE) environments. Hints and tips about manipulating others to get to your goals. Many larps run this way, so I'm sure this will be helpful to many even though advice is just some solid basics.
- The Land of If by Piotr Milewski - advice on how to use real history as an inspiration to create interesting and powerful stories. I liked these. Stuff that works IRL tends to work in fiction as well.
- Team and Squad Tactics by Aaron Pirnack - again, some sound basic advice, but to be honest most Croatian larpers fail at this and should probably read this article.
Second major part of the magazine is "Features". Longer and in my opinion very interesting articles.
- Higher Education by Kaza Marie Ayersman aka Larp Girl. She presents a long and detailed review of College of Wizardry larp in Poland.
- A Tale of Two Hamlets by Pablo Valcárcel. This article talks about two very different adaptations of Hamlet, and also discusses larp adaptations of other artistic works into larp... and going beyond it.
- What We Talk About When We Talk About Community by Amanda Douglas - a long article about community. The article even quotes me on the page 32 :) and many other larpers as well. I have to say this is my favorite article in the issue. At times critical and honest, but very detailed. I would recommend this article to everyone.
- Illuminating the World of Darkness with Martin Ericsson by James Snetsinger - well, the title says it all, doesn't it? Those of you who've been following the WoD scene know that CCP sold White Wolf to Paradox Interactive, and Martin Ericsson is the new lead Storyteller. Lots of info on what's coming, sounds like it will be interesting :)
Third major part is "Larp fundamentals".
- Kitchen Sorcery: Hand Pies! by Cindy Kapp is a cooking recipe. Requires an oven, so you might or might not be able to cook it on your larp. Also, it would've been useful if ingredients were listed in metric units as well... converting units on the larp site might be tricky.
- Crafting: A Beginner’s Guide to Making Leather Bracers by B Simon Smith - a simple, detailed bracer tutorial. Lots of pictures for every step.
- Larp & the Law by Dave Miner - some basic, universal and sound advice on what to do if interrupted by police.
Next there is a reviews section, where you can find reviews of several media dealing with larp (reviewed by Kristin Brumley), as well as of one published larp (reviewed by Malcolm Harbrow).
This is followed by a short larp glossary, and an interesting "War Stories" method of what to do during low intensity of a larp. And the magazine ends, at 73 pages total.
Four digital issues a year are planned, and also one in print. Digital format works well for this magazine, because in these articles there are a lot of links leading to websites and resources where you can find more info.
Personally, I like the fact that it has something for all sorts of larpers - new players, old players, organizers, traditional, progressive etc., which is something very few publications manage to do.
Larp World Magazine had some initial distribution and layout issues, but they have been solved and it's available on DriveThruRPG.
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