Tuesday, March 29, 2011

LARPing, Another look.

After last years disastrous experience with SOLAR (Southern Organization of Live Action Roleplaying) I was a bit hesitant to try another organization. Georgia rather oddly boasts a really large number of weekend event style LARP groups. I've even heard rumours of an actual "LARP Town" being built some where in north east Georgia. Why this is I'm not sure, but it's true none the less. My own guess is it's simply because while the state is mainly boring, it also has a very large number of suburban centers.. perfect for producing the sorts of people who might want to LARP.

Basically my experience with SOLAR was that, while the actual human beings who played it were all quite friendly, the game world itself was highly competitive and not very friendly to new players. In addition to having no sleep before going to the event last year, and then coming down with the flu after the event.. I came away with an all together poor impression of it.

However, after finding out about the wealth of other groups I decided I'd give another one a shot. Instead of going with another "Local" one like SOLAR, I'd go to the big mother of LARP's. NERO. Short for New England Roleplaying Organization, and the parent of SOLAR, and Alliance LARP on the west coast, both due to internal schisms. You can see a bit about the NERO organization on the west coast by watching the documentary "Monster Camp" if you have Netflix.

The documentary "Darkon" really didn't help as it showed just how out of touch with reality some people are. Two players featured in that Documentary actually ceased being friends in real life over a dispute their characters had had in game. That kind of thing is so not for me.

On the other hand films like "Role Models" didn't really help or hinder but rather reinforced my own feelings towards it. While the fun that the characters had in the movie was accurate, so were the powergamers such as Ken Jeong's King Argotron.

I went into it with no small amount of trepidation, I didn't want to invest my time or energy or money into another abysmal weekend like SOLAR. So I did serious research into the NERO game, I got in touch with people who played it and asked lots and lots of questions. It payed off.

The NERO experience was vastly different, and in my opinion superior to SOLAR in just about every way. The game mechanics were pretty much the same, but the level of interaction of the people who actually ran the event was far more in depth. The "Marshals" ran plenty of Modules for players both new and advanced which were fun and involving. They stressed the role-play aspect in addition to the combat aspect.

The people were friendly and the other players were helpful to us mere newbies. No one came and KO'ed us to get our pitiful stash of 5 silver that new players start out with like they did in SOLAR, and the Marshal's worked really hard to work in some modules that were the right level for new players. Every time we turned around some one was offering to help us out some how, when asked, they all stressed that new players are the life blood of the game and without them it would shrivel and waste away. Judging from the number of people who had similarly poor experiences with SOLAR I saw I wasn't alone in my estimation of them.

The only problem faced by the event was that it simply bucketed down rain all weekend. Leading to us playing in the cold and wet. Tornado risk was pretty high and we get being shepherded into the Tavern in case one touched down near by. A Cabin was nearly struck by lightning, not to mention the risk of Pneumonia. This of course was well outside of the NERO marshal's ability to control.

I plan to go back to another event at some point in the future. I really did have a good time. But it does admittedly take a good bit of getting past ones own self denying rationality to play. It's not something for those lacking in imagination. If you go into it and all you see is people in pillowcases bashing the crap out of each other with pipe foam.. then its probably not ever going to be your sort of thing. But if you can suspend your disbelief, and really move back into the realm of make believe you undoubtedly had as a child.. then it can be a great deal of fun.


Brian Murphy said...

I've never LARPed, as I don't think I have the personality for it, though I do play tabletop RPGs so on some level I find it intriguing.

Is there an overarching quest or goal, or is it one side vs. the other with the object to annihilate one another?

Lagomorph Rex said...

Yeah in this particular instance there was an actual storyline. It probably took just as many NPC's to run the event as it did PC's to play the event.

It's a lot more role play oriented than the previous ones I've been too, where it was more or less just an excuse to bash the heck out of each other with foam swords and run off the new people.

Lagomorph Rex said...

also, I understand entirely. I probably new about LARPing to some extent for nearly 5 years before I finally worked up the nerve to actually go try one... and even now I still find it difficult to suspend that much disbelief.. But the thing is.. what you are really doing is playing a really big game of D&D where the will of the DM is spoken by Scripted NPCs.