Larping is Live Action Role Playing. Instead of sitting around a table, play is done 'in action', up and moving about. Any resolution besides social ones are done by some 'lite' mechanic. It can be a great deal of fun.
I recomend everyone do it at least once. (If you are doing it just once, do a one shot scenario with an established troupe at a con).
Most larps are based on The World of Darkness, set in a modern world with somewhat modern characters. However there are larps based on Star Wars, Tolkein Fantasy, Star Trek, and other settings. Find one which fits your likes and something you can dress for.
Find out as much about the people in the larp. The golden rule of new gamers apply: Never game with anyone you wouldn't spend 4-8 hours doing something else with. If you have a larp, try to befriend some people who are in the larp before hand. (This also helps, because people tend to rp with people they know, rather than people they don't know).
This will also help you determine the 'Dress code' for the game. This is the way you are expected to dress. It determine how 'odd' or in costume and makeup they expect you to be. Even if you don't know the gamesystem or the game setting well, dressing appropriately lets you fit in immediately.
Unless you plan on sitting in the cafe all night and being beautiful or literary, larping will involve standing, walking, and occasionally running and jumping. Wear shoes you can do that in. You might be wearing a slinky dress, but black flats are always a good idea.
Find out as much as you can about the setting and rules of the larp. This allows you to play without gaffing in character ('Sure I like the Sabbat.' Other player slaps his forehead. 'You know this is a Camarilla town?' Now they have to either kill you OR you have to cover) or appearing to be a total N00b. This will enhance everyone's play.
On this note: Learn any handsigns involved in the game. This unspoken language is crucial to larping success in any larp, not just a vampire one.
If you have a character sheet, find a way to shrink it on to one or two 3x5 cards. This makes carrying your character sheet easier. Also know where each game mechanic is on your sheet, that way you will not be fumbling around looking for things. (Copy shop, reduced setting, a little glue, and some 3x5 cards.... very cool)
If the game is at night or in a variety of areas, bring a tiny flashlight. Always handy and uspecially useful if you are looking things up on your character sheets.
Find out about the game boundries and time period. Walk the boundries and familiarize yourself with the area slightly before you start the game. Walking it at noon the day before is a good idea.
If the game is outside, dress for the weather rather than your character. Just because your character is invunerable to cold and wet, does not mean you are.
Just because you are in the game boundries and time, don't forget your common sense. Just because your character can kill an army, does not mean you can. Larpers can get attacked just as easily as mundanes.
Once you get a character, practice it before play starts. This starts with you thinking about the character. Once you have a handle on it, think about how it will speak... what gestures it might do. Then practice some things in character. This will polish your performance some and give you things that will help you stay in character.
Larpers are more actors than table top players or play by posters. So remember, you are an actor(ess). You are going to 'act out' most of your character's actions. Be prepared.
Don't play yourself, but slightly different (I'm me, but a vampire). It only gets confusing for people and can get strange for you as well. Choose someone close to you, but different enough to be interesting.
Don't play across type. If you are a overweight male in your 40s, you can't play a 14 year old girl. Nope. Play something you are at least close to physically.
That should sum it up for now... Any other questions?
I've played homemade LARP for a few years now (though I've never done it through an organisation) and I find it very good fun. If you try running a homemade LARP, don't expect to be fighting dragons or giants. The effects aren't great and fantasy settings tend to be better for board games. I tend to go for sci-fi or modern-day settings when running LARP, as it reduces the amount of dressing-up that needs to be done.
If you do run an adventure like this, I recommend you have quite a large group and enlist the help of one or two others to act as multiple GMs as this takes the pressure off. When we play, we usually do so in the woods nearby, and restrict the playing area to about 1km^2. The multiple GMs can then more easily keep track of where the players are and can spring attacks on them.
For instance, we ran a game based on Jurassic Park. Obviously we couldn't get real dinosaurs, so we did it in the dark in the dense woods with lots of velociraptors because they are more human-sized than a Tyrannosaurus Rex and when it's dark no-one can tell the difference. There was no actual combat involved, mainly running away from dinosaurs and problem solving (trying to turn the emergency power supplies for the park online). I don't think combat works very well with LARP, it's better to create an atmosphere and scare people.
As Moonhunter has stressed, vampires and undead (or psychotic killers) make a good premise for LARP because they are so human-like and therefore require a minimum of effects.
As for organised LARPs, I don't know much, but I've found a few links (mainly relevant for the UK):
(most of them seem to be based in the South )
You could always try the relevant Usenet group...
Hope these are of some help!
http://www.skaro.com/larpdex.html Another handy larp advice page. Mostly here for its advice on how to dress in period.
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This I know something about.
When you are 'feeling out' the Larp, make sure to set up plot lines with the existing players. This could be mutual interests, mutual dislikes, possible deals, and so on. By walking into the game with some plot lines attached to you, you will get more out of the game.
I seriously push the idea of a wardrobe for your character. Don't wear the same clothes all the time, especially in a modern game. Just like spending money to buy miniatures, books, and other things to enhance you joy at table top, spend some money on a wardrobe for your character. Not only do you get distinctive clothing for your character, you can use them for yourself from time to time. (Since Larp Character's don't die very often, this is not a hard investment.)
If your larp is outdoors, I recomend you do a lot of walking to warm up. By walking to the store or parking in the boondocks and walking into work, you get the exercise you need to 'walk all night' for the game.
Larping is a lot of standing and walking. Get over it. Get use to it. Move on.
Bring your friends into the larp once you get started. That way you have people you really like to play with with you.
Lastly: Learn the Rules of the Game. Nothing is worse than a simple event that could of been a five minute thing, distracting from the game as people argue about resolution, call in narrators, and pull others into their problem.
This actually made me think about LARPing, something I swore I would never do, good article actually.
LARPing can indeed be very fun. I played NERO for several years and got some great memories.
Very fun and do it before you get old and creaky!
Though I've never LARP'ed. It is something that I have considered and will probably try at some point.
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