Ogeeku goes LARPing!
Howdy, kids! Duke here. And a little over a week ago, I LARPed. I wanted to come here and tell you fine folks about it. Because it was awesome.
Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the idea of LARPing, it stands for Live Action Role Playing. Which is…Basically, role playing. Think Dungeons and Dragons, but instead of hanging out and rolling dice, you wander around and hit people with foam swords. Now, upon hearing this, you have probably had one of two reactions. You either have the reaction my friend and DM wanted to have, and think it’s lame. Or you have the reaction that he actually DID have, and you think it’s awesome. And yes, the two times the topic was broached with him, he sorely wanted to be “cool” and think that the whole idea was lame, but both times he could not help but find it awesome. If you fall into the camp that does not find LARP appealing, then this probably isn’t for you. I’m sure there are many other fine articles on this website that you would find more to your liking!
But if you happen to like the idea, then read on, and I will tell you the tale of the New Player Event that I took part in!
I suppose I should start with how it works. In LARP, you play as a character that you create or one that is created for you. You arm yourself with a foam weapon. I saw swords, bows, staves, axes, and others, so there was a good variety. You basically fight with the foam weapons, each character doing a certain amount of damage depending on character and class. You have a certain amount of armour and health. When you get hit, the attacker will say how much damage they do, and what kind of damage. Some things take more damage from certain attacks. So if someone hits you and says “eight normal”, then they have done eight points of normal damage to you, which means it will have come from a weapon, rather than a spell. You take that eight damage, and subtract it from your remaining armour (presuming you have any armour remaining). Once your armour is gone, you take the damage from your health instead. Armour can be repaired by “refitting”, which means you kneel down, tap your chest, and count to sixty. For those of you that are bad at life, that equates to one minute. If someone hits you during that minute, the countdown resets. At one point I was hit while I was refitting when my count was up to fifty-nine. I was displeased.
Health, on the other hand, can only be replenished from healing spells or items. So your friendly neighbourhood healers are on the job! Unless your healers are unfriendly. I’d like to think I was friendly, but I was also a bear. And I’m getting ahead of myself! You have to keep track of your health and armour scores as you go through the adventure. Run out of armour, you can refit and be okay. Run out of health, and bad things happen. Death things. If your health gets to exactly zero, then you are considered to be unconscious. If your health goes below zero, regardless of how much you were damaged for, even if you were hit for seven hundred points of damage, your health is negative one. That means that you are bleeding out, and dying. You bleed out for five minutes, and if nobody comes along to stabilize and heal you, then you are dead. You can be resurrected, but I did not have to do that, so I’m not really sure of the protocol. But that’s…basically how LARPing works. I’ll get into the spells a bit later.
The event itself ran from nine in the morning until nine in the evening. Yes, a whopping twelve hours. I was surprised too. But as it turned out, I could not make it in the morning, as my ride (who was also my travelling partner at Fan Expo), Josh, was attending to family matters in the morning. So we ended up arriving around two in the afternoon, to find that most players had already arrived, made their characters, and wandered off into the forest to fight Kobolds. We were briefed with the basic rules of combat. No headshots, call out how much damage your attacks do, that sort of thing. This had been covered at the Fan Expo event, so it was just a quick refresher for us. Then we headed inside to determine exactly what our characters would be.
We had the choice of many standard fantasy races. Dwarves, Hoblings (Hobbit + Halfling), lizard men, bird men, various races of Elf, Half-Orc, Half-Ogre, and a race of animal-human hybrids. Not to mention the standard Human, and two variants of Barbarian and Gypsy. Yes, you can be a Gypsy. All in all, a decent variety to choose from. Josh ended up sticking with the standard Human, but I wanted something a little more…awesome. I immediately ruled out cat people, bird people, Gypsy, and Hobling. Not really my style. Dwarf was cool, but the fake beard did not seem like it would be much fun to wear. The various Elves were interesting, but I’ve never really been keen on them. Yes, I am a fantasy racist. I ended up selecting the animal/human hybrid, a race called the Scavengers. They let me decide what animal I wanted to be. Naturally, I selected bear. Who WOULDN’T want to be half bear?!
Unfortunately, Scavengers require a fair amount of work to do properly. If I were to continue with the character, I would have to invest in some fancy make-up and prostethics to give myself a proper bear look. But since this was just a single day event, we settled for simple make-up. Face paint, essentially. I had one of the helpful ladies give me a hand with my new BEAR FACE. Which is good, because I would have done an awful, awful job of it myself. And once my new face was on, I had Josh take a quick picture, which I will now show you. This is what I looked like as my bear. I should also note that I did not actually see my face in a mirror until a few hours later when we gathered for dinner.
Yep, that was me. All day. Unoriginal as I am, I gave my character the same sort of name I give to most of my other characters in games. I decided to go with my newest variant on it, and named my character Duuke. Which, incidentally, is also the name of my Chiss character in my Star Wars roleplaying campaign. Well, technically it’s Krand’uuke’idahten, but Duuke works. And that’s what I decided my bear man shall be. I also decided that he would be the ruler of the forest he was born in (to two bear parents. Not entirely sure how he came out half-human. I blame gypsies), and that he would call himself the Duke of his forest. Duke Duuke. That amused me greatly.
We also had to choose what class we would be. There were four choices. Warrior, rogue, scholar, and adept. Warrior is obvious, strong and good with weapons. Rogue is also obvious, sneaky and good with weapons, but not as sturdy as the warrior. Scholar is their version of mage, and splits into two different types. Celestial magic and earth magic. Celestial being your damaging magic, lighning bolts and whatnot. Earth magic is what they use to heal. The fourth class, adept, is a little of everything. Magic, fighting, and whatever it is that rogues do. I had originally planned to be an adept, to try out a bit of everything, but they were out of the character sheets for that class. I suppose it was popular! Instead, I opted for a healer, a scholar of earth. Josh was a warrior, so I figured he’d stand in front and let people hit him with things, and I’d heal him! It…did not work out that way. We had a tendency to get separated, given that there were a fair amount of players around. At least forty, maybe fifty, including the normal players who were helping teach the rest of us. I was surprised and impressed with the turn-out for the event.
Once we had our characters sorted out, we had to wait for the others to get back from killing Kobolds, so we could join in the fun. Granted, we could have probably gone wandering around the forest looking for them, but that seemed like a lot of effort. So we let them come back to us, which they did before too long. Plus, the extra time we waited was ideal for asking questions and making sure we knew what was going on. Which was great, because the volunteers were REALLY helpful about everything. Very nice people. And that was pleasant, knowing that should when we are able to return for a full event, these will be the same people we will be playing with.
Soon enough, everyone arrived back at the “tavern”, and shortly thereafter, we wandered out into the forest again. Having arrived late, Josh and I weren’t really aware of what had gone on earlier, and now had a vague idea that we were out looking to rescue some nobles. And I’m all for rescuing people with money. So we trekked through the forest, being routinely attacked by zombies. Not ACTUAL zombies, mind you. The zombie apocalypse did not begin while we were LARPing. Thankfully. Foam swords would have been…less than effective. We were attacked by the volunteers in zombie garb (black outfits, skull masks), and we had to fight them off. Well, to be more accurate, the others had to fight them off while I attempted to heal people who had fallen over. Most of the healers, it seems, had been there since the beginning of the event, so they had used up most of their spells by that point.
And yes, you have a certain number of spells you can cast, and also little “spell packets” that you use when you do cast said spells. Which means that if you’re casting a lightning spell at somebody, you have to hit them with the spell packet, which is a small bit of fabric with bird seeds inside. That way if they get lost or broken, it’s bio-degradable and birds think LARPers are good people. Being a healer, however, most of my spells were done by touch, so I’d go up to people with a spell packet in my hand and cast my spells that way, by touching them and saying whatever my spell happens to be. It would have been nice to stand over them and throw spell packets at their prone bodies while I cackled maniacally, but oh well.
At any rate, most healers had burned through a lot of their spells in the earlier bit, but I was fresh and ready to go. I would wander around, checking if people were injured, and fleeing like a coward from anything that looked in an unpleasant manner at me. I was a healer, not a fighter, dammit! Let the others hurt the zombies, I’ll just patch up the wounds and talk like a bear man. I later checked with Josh to learn that he had over twice my armour, so clearly I was not meant to be in the front lines taking a beating. And though it was cold, I soon found myself sweating as I ran around a forest swinging a foam sword (when combat was unavoidable and cowardice was impractical) and healing the wounded.
We managed to locate our missing nobles, and escorted them back to the safety of the tavern. Lots of undead were laid to rest, nobody died, and our mission was complete. Which of course meant that it was time for dinner. Back at the “tavern”, there was a veritable feast awaiting us. A pot-luck dinner with various meats and foodstuffs. I can’t go into any proper detail because I didn’t eat any of it, as I had acquired chinese food on the way there earlier in the day. So instead we had some drinks and just hung out, in character, with the assorted people. And this was SO MUCH FUN. We were able to work out our characters a little better, and get to know some of the others as well. Rowdy gypsies, a drunk town guard, and a Wood Elf who was going around spiking player’s drinks with “hooch” in exchange for unnamed future favours. I should note that this was not actual alcohol, just an excuse for players to make fools of themselves. Which we did.
Honestly, this was probably one of the most fun parts of the day. And given that it was a fantastic day, that is saying a LOT. Generally their events are full weekend events rather than single day events, so I can imagine (and hope) that the longer events have a lot more straight roleplaying. The roleplaying bit is generally my favourite part of…well, anything involving roleplaying. Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars roleplaying game, or any of the on-line games I’ve played. Even back when it was internet chatrooms and roleplaying forums, I’ve always been crazy for this stuff. With some of those you have a little time to think and deliberate before you act, with others you have to think on your feet and take things as they go. LARP definitely falls into the latter category. You have to think fast, decide how your character would act, and do it. And I’m not going to lie, it can be tough. But at the same time, everybody around you is doing the same thing, all facing the same challenges you are, so at least the playing field is somewhat even.
So we sat around, chatting with the other adventurers. I decided that, being born to two bears, he wouldn’t be particularly smart, and he wouldn’t be able to speak properly. So I took to referring to myself in the third person, by either calling myself “Bear” or “Duke”. I also invented my own measure of distance which equates to hand gestures and grunting. And also my own form of counting, which went from “one honey” to “more honies” to “many honies”. This kept things amusing for me in my interactions, which continued on over the course of the dinner. It was also around now that I saw myself for the first time in a mirror, in full bear face-paint. Oh my. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one in face-paint. There were two others who were human-animal hybrids, a fox and a badger. There was also a Drae (think Drow), and at least once or twice I saw someone with green on their face.
At any rate, once everyone was finished dinner, we were ready to head out into the woods again. Also, our spells were reset, so we were once again prepared for combat. We waited outside for a bit while things got ready, which quickly turned into duels and practicing. There may have also been a murder during one of the duels. At one point, a Gypsy girl dueled a half-ogre (or Ogrim, if you want to be specific) and…Well, I was a wee bit distracted at the time, but it seems the duel ended with her killing him. It was apparently their first murder of one PC by another during a new player event. And for those of you at home wondering, PC stands for Player Character, which just means one of the players. NPC, on the other hand, is Non-Player Character, which would be one of the volunteers playing a monster or something. Chances are most of you already knew that from other games, but better safe than sorry.
So after that whole murder business was sorted out, we were ready to go back into the woods and fight things! This time we had a pair of Elven guides to lead us. We wound up in a clearing and were immediately ambushed by…something. Stone warriors of some variety, if I recall correctly. Well, they charged us, then turned to stone and were immune to damage until they started moving again. They used this trick on us frequently, which made for slow travel. At one point, they blocked off part of the path, forcing us to go around them and letting them get behind us. And then we ran into a boss. Or…as I believe it was described, a “giant stone boar with glowing eyes and bloody tusks”. It was not a particularly pleasant creature. Needless to say, we killed it. It took a while, but eventually we pushed through and defeated them. Tough fight, but we managed.
We then located a group of barbarians, which was our goal. We did some sort of ritual with them to summon some ancestral spirits, then were put into a magical sleep and relocated ourselves out of the forest to where we came in, and prepared for the biggest fight of the day. We got up, formed a circle in the middle of the area, and they came at us from all sides. We had to defend the ritual as it finished up behind us from the assorted attackers that were trying to put a stop to it. We held them off as best we could and let the barbarians do their ritual thing, but in the end something unpleasant happened, and a man appeared who did twenty-five damage a hit. To put this into proper perspective, I had a total of fourteen armour, and fifteen health. And that was at full strength. So this one creature tore through us pretty handily, save for a couple of people that were playing possum. Then the adventure came to a close as the ritual was finished and we were awakened.
All in all, it was an awesome day. I really look forward to going back to some of their other events. Unfortunately, winter will soon be upon us, and as this is a mostly outdoor activity, things will slow down. There are, I believe, two more weekend events, and during their off season there will be some single day activities like the one I just attended. If you are in the area and are remotely interested, I highly advise checking it out. They have a nifty website with all upcoming events posted on it, and pretty much everything you need to sort out your character. If you are not in the area of Ontario, then I’m sure there’s another group of LARPers somewhere nearby. You just have to find them! And please do, because I had a lot of fun, and if you have gotten this far into this, then I’m sure you would too.
And I would also like to say thank you to the folks that set up this fine event, the volunteers that kept things going, whether they were fighting with us or against us. And thank you to all of the other players that showed up to share their first real LARP experiences with us. Thank you to the Gypsies for being hilarious, thank you to the Scavengers and the Drae for making me not the only one there in face paint, thank you to the Ogrim with the kickass costume, thank you to the Elves with their pointy ears, thank you to the folks with their awesome costumes, and thank you to the rest who came out and joined in!