How to Start a LARP Event?
Starting and Running a LARP | An Introduction Guide
If you are interested by LARPing and want to invest yourself more in the hobby, starting and running your own event may appear like the logical next step. Maybe there isn't that many LARPs in your area, maybe you have an original idea or concept you want to explore, or maybe you simply want to organize something nice for your friends. In any case, no matter the scale you are aiming for, the groundwork to create a new LARP remains the same.
When Should You Start a LARP Event?
Starting a LARP event requires a lot of work and preparation, and it cannot be done on a whim. Most LARPs require months of preparation before launch, often with many people working on the project. If you are having doubts about your readiness, a good way to get a feeling of the work ahead of you is to lend a hand to an already existing LARP, learning the ropes and watching what occurs behind the scene in terms of planning, logistics, and of course the creative process. Being a player can give some insight as well, but you should probably get a feeling of how it is to be on the other side of the curtain.
In any case, if you feel ready, begin working as soon as possible and recruit teammates to join you on this project. You will want to announce your event a few months ahead to let your players know and set up their schedule, as well as to create some hype around your game. By the time of launch, your LARP needs to feel polished and to give a clear picture of what it's about.
Step by Step Guide to Starting your LARP
Once you are set on the idea of launching your own events, here is a list in rough order of what you will have to do to get your project moving in the right direction.
1. Choose a Theme
What is the game about? How do the players interact with the narrative and the setting? For instance, you could launch a classic medieval fantasy LARP, but choose to go with a grim atmosphere with lots of intrigues and political scheming, which means that action and combat might take a step back to leave room for investigation and diplomacy.
This is going to define your LARP identity and attract players that are interested by such a theme. Likewise, your could launch a battle-focused war LARP in an historical medieval setting, dividing your attention between reenactment and tactical combat. This is not going to feel the same at all!
2. Define the Rules
Once you know your theme, you need to set the rules of the game, and those rules should help reinforce the type of play you are aiming for. Key rules in any LARP include a combat system, weapon rules, safety rules, character creation, and rules involving particular game mechanics you want to see into play, stuff such as crafting, magic, politics, etc.
The more attention you give to the rules involving a certain part of the game, the more likely the players are to focus on this part of the game system. If half the character options involve magic, I bet you that you are going to see a lot of magic users in play!
Rules can be detailed, but you have to keep in mind game fluidity as well. LARP isn't like tabletop gaming. You have to react quickly, and the players don't have a rulebook at hand at all time. Complicated rules system may be ignored, willingly or not, or simply not understood well. It's particularly true with combat rules. You will have to find the right balance between simplicity and detail, and this balance isn't the same for every LARP community. Some players like crunch and complexity, while others will be confused by it.
Balance and fairness is also very important to consider. Players need to feel they have agency and can be useful. Each character should be capable to interact with the game and its narrative in a meaningful way, and not be overshadowed easily by another character that picked the right ''skills''.
3. Develop a Narrative
The narrative aspect of your game is also a huge portion of its appeal. The narrative aspect of a LARP can be separated in two parts.
First, there is the lore. This is the background that defines the setting, including your world's history, geography, religion, and great nations. It sets up the many cultures and races that inhabit it, and can already establish rivalries, traditions, and grudges that will help the players create unique characters, prepare their costumes, and interact with the others in memorable ways. The lore is the narrative backbone of your LARP, and even if it's not all public to your players, you should have a good idea of the world in which you play. The lore also includes the particular backstories on your important Non-Player Characters (NPC).
Then, there is the storyline. This is the moving and flowing part of the narrative, the aspect that is driving the game and that may be the most influenced by the players and their actions. The storyline can involve huge events like an upcoming war or a plague, but it can also be small scale, focusing on the loss of a child, an opportune robbery, or the failure of a knight to avenge his father's death. The storyline is meant to create situations to which the players must react, providing them choices and agency. A good old quest is a sort of storyline, but it can take a lot of more subtle forms. Sometimes, all the storyline does is spurring conflict between the players, letting them settle among themselves who gets to win the challenge and who gets the reward.
4. Grow your Community
Of course, even the biggest lore and the best designed rule system don't mean much if you end up with only a handful of players and staff members. Not all LARP need a huge player base, but you may require a certain amount of people to realize your vision. Setting a reasonable goal is important. With your theme in mind, you should have a good idea of how many players and actors you need to provide a good LARP experience, and you should also know how many you can handle. Growing too big too fast can be detrimental for some types of events.
With your goal in mind, it's time to do some outreach. Your LARP team should be handpicked among people you know and trust, people you can work with even in stressful situations. Running a LARP is a lot of work, and your team needs to deliver. For the players, all you need to do is to invite them to look at what you offer. Having a nice and well designed website can help a lot, so you can share it on social media and get lots of attention quickly. When players like what they see, they will often follow your page and plan in joining your event. Being patient and helpful with new players is important so they trust your organization and feel taken care of.
How to Organize and Run a LARP Event
Each event is its own little challenge, even when you have been running your LARP for quite some time. Here are the things to keep in mind for each particular activity, from your first LARP to all the ones following.
✔ The Location
When you find a place to play that works for your needs, try to keep it at all cost. It may be a community park, a private wooden area, a church's basement, or a professional LARP location with buildings and trails. Some degree of privacy is often needed, but the amount of space depends on your type of game and your amount of players. Most LARP are renters, and a sizable part of your expenses comes from your choice of location. Keep that in mind.
✔ Divide the Work
Most LARP have a Game Master, or an handful of storytellers that more or less run the event. Tasks should be attributed to someone beforehand, from setting up the decors to welcoming the players on site, or running each particular storyline during the activity. Briefing actors, doing makeup, handling conflict between players, managing logistics; those are all responsibilities that should be shared or assigned to someone, but should not be left to improvisation.
When you are the host of an event, your organization is responsible for the comfort and safety of the players. If you don't provide food, shelter, or beverages, you should make sure your players are aware of it and planned in consequence. Be sure there is restroom accommodations on site (with enough paper, please) and that the location is well identified for your players. Parking and tent spaces should be identified, and the duration of the event should be made clear, with a starting hour and an ending time so players can set up their transport.
✔ At the Game
Most LARP run a presence sheet where the players sign in on arrival, and provide a few hours for the players to arrive on site, set up camp, and get into their costume. A short briefing before the game is also often given to remind the players of the most important rules, introduce the storytellers, and give particular instructions.
Ready to Start your LARP?
The most important thing is to have fun and be safe when you are starting your LARP event. Be aware of your own limits and don't push yourself too far. Running a LARP is hard but can be incredibly gratifying on a social and creative standpoint.
If you are looking for more tips or to gear up for your new event, you can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or come visit us in store. We also have an affiliate program, the Azure Order, to help LARP communities gain access to discounts and products.
Salut, excellent article qui pourra j’en suis sur donner envie a de nouveaux orga de GN. Par contre, lors de la réception des joueurs, il me semble super important qu’un briefing ait lieu. Les GN étant (en général) des événement sportif, les joueurs (et anim bénévoles) doivent savoir qui sont les eprsonnes resspources et qui sont les secouristes. Cette étape ne me semble du tout optionelle. Merci de votre temps et attention. Fx le nain fou.
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