The Live Wires Holiday Study Guide
An Electronic Feast of Live-Action Resources
In the best "filling in the gaping holes at random intervals as we go along" tradition of amateur journalism, I have decided to offer this little bonus column as a complement to last week's discussion of the converse natures of LARP and tabletop gaming. Simply put, it's time for a brief tour of what the world of LARP has to offer on that time-waster of time-wasters, the World Wide Web. Be sure to take notes- there may be a pop quiz when we reconvene after the holiday break.
Thanks to the immense success of White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade, most non-LARPers, when asked to put a face on live-action gaming, will imagine it to be a very pale face with two prosthetic fangs. Only slightly less famous are the padded-weapon fantasy/medieval reenactment games that have been going on, in one form or another, for more than thirty years. However, when I said in a previous column that there was a LARP for every taste under the sun, I wasn't exaggerating.
There are a mind-bending variety of LARPs currently underway, being designed, or waiting for new players around the globe. There are comedy scenarios, murder parties, tabletop games that have gotten too big for their britches, LARPs for "mature" participants, universal LARP systems, paintball combat LARPs, and small-group psychological terror immersion games. There are amateur LARP adaptations of tabletop systems, cyberpunk LARPs, media tie-in LARPs, political simulation LARPs, religious LARPs, Machiavellian intrigue LARP, post-apocalyptic LARPs, bar-hopping LARPs, military reenactment games, psychological problem-solving games, law-enforcement simulation LARPs, and LARP/play-by-e-mail crossover games. There are brilliant commercial LARP systems and strange, sad little failures. There are ingenious, boundary-breaking LARP experiences, comfortable and entertaining "filler" games, short-notice party scenarios, and obscurantist drivel that would leave Psych grads scratching their
heads! A lot of exciting design work is being done in LARPs by thousands of people around the world, and the body of gaming knowledge gets larger with every passing day.
Somewhere out there is the game for you. This resource guide might plant your feet firmly on the path to finding it.
General LARP Resources
Live Action Roleplayers Association (LARPA)
LARPA, formerly known as the Interactive Literature Foundation, has been around for years and organizes a regular North American convention devoted entirely to live-action gaming and interactive fiction. A quote from their web page: "Our focus is on the interactive aspect of games, rather than the rules or setting. So games that involve the interactive creation of a story are the sort that we are primarily working to promote, whether they have item cards, costuming, padded weapons, or none of these."
Shakespeare Eclectic Science Fiction Interactive Theatre
"Eclectic" doesn't even begin to describe this amazing collection of LARP scenarios, styles, and resources. Just, um... go see for yourself. These pages are maintained by Brian David Phillips, an Associate Professor in the English Department at
National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.
The Shade's Larp List
This venerable listing of LARPs by subject matter and location has been known and trusted by live-action afficianados for more than four years. This site has recently gotten a face-lift, and the improvements are ongoing. A good place to look for a White Wolf or fantasy boffer game in your area.
A pleasantly-designed site that hosts pages for a number of local LARPs and LARP resources.
Fantasy/Medieval Reenactment LARP Resources
The Society for Creative Anachronism
"The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is an international organization dedicated to researching and recreating pre-17th-century European history. " In addition to roleplaying and historical discussion, the SCA is also known for gigantic, sprawling battles with rattan weapons.
The New England Roleplaying Organization
NERO is one of the better known padded-weapon game systems, and has been around for quite some time. Despite its name, NERO maintains chapters far afield from New England.
A padded weapon medieval reenactment/fantasy gaming system with a number of chapters in north America. "The thrust of Amtgard is both recreational and educational, with major group efforts devoted to reconstructions
of medieval combat. "
A large fantasy immersion LARP in the Georgia/South Carolina area, noteworthy for its interesting and extensive web page.
World of Darkness LARP Resources
The Helsinki Chronicle
You have to travel to Finland if you want to play, but the participants in this vast and long-running game have been kind enough to build a very elaborate multilingual website. There are few LARP-related sites that can equal the level of detail shown here.. If you'd like a peek inside a Vampire game run with care and flair, this is the site for you.
Seasons of Darkness New York Vampire LARP
Although now ended after five and a half years of ongoing story, this site remains as a testament to a large and well-run game. Drop on by and have a look.
Science Fiction and Science Fantasy LARP Resources
Star Trek LARPs
Although there is no officially-licensed live-action Trek system, this page features links to several games, ranging from paintball battles between Starfleet commandos and Borg to theatrical away-team LARPs.
A British cyberpunk LARP, recently updated and filled to the freakin' brim with session photos.
Sci-Fi Live Action at the Open Directory Project
You want some choices? You've got 'em. Links here range from straight and classic cyberpunk to bizarre science fantasy medleys.
Commercially Available Live-Action Gaming Systems
Mind's Eye Theatre
This is the tiny corner of the White Wolf website devoted to their Mind's Eye Theatre line of products. It's quite dinky, considering the impact these games have had on the spread of LARP in the 1990s and the amount of hyperbole the company heaps upon its innovative live-action system. C'est la vie.
Dark Age Games
Publisher of the Cyberworld live-action cyberpunk game system. Hey, I said it was commercially available, I never said it was any good. Perhaps a recent face-lift at this website heralds a near-future improvement of the game...?
Now this is something special. Currently in its second edition, Cthulhu Liveis arguably the best-designed and best-supported LARP on store shelves.
Wyrd Images Interactive Entertainment
Their flagship product is a shallow White Wolf pastiche that dances with plagiarism, but they do have a fascinating randomization system involving colored marbles in a bag.
Fort Madness Kiev Reenactment Club
If you want to see something weird, rare, and cool, try this on for size:"A group of Ukrainian men and women who are interested in 19th & 20th century American Military History. They are enthusiasts that portray the average soldier serving in the Civil War, Indian Wars and Vietnam War." Although it's not gaming, it is roleplaying.
"A roleplaying game, a drama... based on the dramatic theories and aesthetic of Bertolt Brecht." Written by Greg Costikyan, and never finished, this bleak and mature psychological roleplaying scenario is nonetheless one of the most fascinating things I have ever come across in my LARPing years. Not for the faint of heart or the contented hack-and-slasher.
Shot Into Space in a Yugo II
This is just damned hilarious. Pushing the boundaries of funny, science-fiction, and Yugo-related LARP all at once.
Game well, game often, game in darkness and in light.