What happens at a LARP Event?

There are many formats and genres for events so let’s use the most common to quickly describe what happens from start to finish.

The most popular theme for LARP in the UK (and possibly across the world) is “Swords & Sorcery” and the majority of participants favour weekend long events.

Pre Event

You book your spot on the event, make a character, read the background and rules, arrange costume, weapons, camping gear, food and all the other necessities and pack them all up ready to take along.

Arrival

You make your own way to the event and are greeted on the gate by one of the friendly event staff, who tells you where to camp and where to go once setup. You get your tent in order then jump into costume and make your way to GOD (Games Operation Desk) to pick up your character pack containing a crib sheet for any skills you have and in-game assets to use. They also explain that you need to get your weapons safety checked so you hand them over to be quickly examined and approved.

At this stage, most players would be ready to go but since this is your first event, you have no experience of LARP combat so you are given a fun demonstration of how to do it safely.

Time In

The event has a specific game area where the game happens. This area becomes active between specific times. So at 6pm, the referees call “Time In” and the game begins. This means you need to play your character and follow the rules when in the game area. Over the course of Time In, you meet other player characters, encounter plot characters, stumble across interesting items/areas and come face to face with scary enemies. In the beginning it feels daunting and confusing but by the end of the first day, it starts to make sense and you find lots of friendly chatty characters to hang out with. Luckily, the people around you understand that you are new and help you get into the swing of things. Also, you have plenty of chance to sneak off to the out of character camping area or the caterers to grab snacks and drinks to keep your energy up.

Time Out

At the end of each game session, “Time Out” is called. This is when the game stops, you can be yourself again and you get to know the other players better while sat around the cosy campfire. It’s been a long day so you also make sure you get some sleep before the next day’s adventuring starts.

Departing

The final Time Out is called on the last day so you pack up your stuff, making sure the area is clear of trash and then you say your farewells to new friends, making sure your exchange contact details to make exciting plans for next time.

Post Event

Not too long after then event, you clean any mud off your tent and repair and wash costume so it doesn’t go moldy. You chat to the other participants and check for cool event photos online. You start to plan costume tweaks and think about what new items will make camping more fun next time. You book a ticket for the next event and the process starts all over again!

Photo by Dave Moore
A group shot of Stormspire of Wintermark at "Empire" by Profound Decisions