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Title: Live Action Role Play: no blood, all glory

Source: The Spectator, June 1st, 2011

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Live Action Role Play: no blood, all glory

By John Beaton

Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011

LARPing began about 30 years ago and was modeled after other warfare-themed games.

If you've ever tried to suck the dragon venom from the arrow wounds of a fallen guildsmen while some level 12 necromancer slowly draws your essence from your body and banishes it to the pits of Hades, then you're either an extra on a new Peter Jackson movie or a "LARPer." 

LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing and is a blend of theater and simulated combat. The players (LARPers) will take on the elements of a character of their choosing and stick to that role like World of Warcraft players stick to their chairs. And despite what you may think, this fantasy game seems to be as ubiquitous in America as the cheese lodged in the hearts of the people that live here.

LARPing began sometime in the late 1970s with the rise of similar games such as Dungeons and Dragons. But unlike Dungeons and Dragons, you don't need a 20-sided die or a shuttered basement room to play. LARPing is generally open to everyone and is often carried out in semi-remote outdoor areas such as parks or fields. 

"[LARPing] a great way to get out, make friends and lose weight… the game is all the fun of playing pretend as a kid with rules and fast-paced, safe combat," said Ron Leota, a game master for a Seattle LARPing group.

This particular group is known as Alliance, which is a high fantasy LARP group that is a chapter in a larger nationwide group that uses similar rules. High fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that generally involves magic and parallel worlds, similar to Lord of The Rings. LARP games that involve high fantasy often allow the players a higher degree of escapism due to the almost limitless character possibilities. 

For example, Leota plays a "good guy" charismatic leader that goes politicking throughout the game and story. According to Leota, a large part of the fun is listening to the back-stories that each person makes for their respective character and seeing how those stories can intertwine throughout the game play.

For some, however, the battles are the drawing feature into these LARPing worlds and different groups have been formed to cater to that interest. Dagorhir, for example, is a battle game that doesn't allow magic or fantasy but instead focuses on all-out battles using foam weapons.

You may now be asking yourself this question: To LARP or not to LARP? Is it nobler in your mind to suffer the crushing guilt of knowing that you turned your back on the struggle for elf independence, or to know that you bravely fought, and possibly fell down, along side them? If the answer to either of these questions is, "I don't know" then possibly you are ready to give LARPing a try. 

John may be reached at jbeaton@su-spectator.com

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