|A GUIDE TO LIVE ROLE-PLAYING
Imagine that you were
so taken by a play, film or book that you wanted to go on adventures
like the characters in the tale. Role-playing allows you to do
something like that.
You take on the role
of a character for the duration of play. You try and get inside his,
her, or its mind and behave like that person would: you don't make
decisions as yourself, but as your character. To allow you to
play your character (known as a player character, or PC - you are the
player), you use rules; therefore, the PC can have powers and abilities
that you don't.
Thus, you could play a
great warrior from the Beowulf tales. To do so, you would come up with
a background for the PC, which would explain where he is coming from,
why he does what he does, as well as what he looks like. The rules
would then allow you to make him good at, for
example, running, and fighting.
Rules will, usually,
revolve around making dice throws. These will be matched against tables
to see whether you have achieved what you want to do. The complexity of
these rules varies from game to game. However, good role-playing
(playing your PC as realistically as possible) supersedes all
This is only half the
story: the other half is the referee. Just as in any game, the ref,
upholds the rules and makes sure that everyone is sticking to them, but
he or she also creates the world and all the people in it (these people
are known as non-player-characters or NPCs). In the above
example the ref would provide the setting for your hero's quest, and
the fearsome challenges that he must overcome. In doing this the ref,
normally, has help from a rules system (that gives them details on
monsters and settings).
Between the players
and the ref an adventure is created. It is in the fine balance between
keeping the world credible and allowing the players freedom to do what
they want that a believable and enthralling time is had by everyone.
People play the game (called timing-in) for as long as they
want; although, between four to eight hours is the norm.
Live Action Role-playing
role-playing (or LARP) is basically the same as described above: you
take on the role of a character, have rules to aid playing and refs to
create the world and challenges; however, you do all of this in real
time and whatever your character does you will do yourself.
In these games your PC
can still do things that you can't; however, there are limitations on
this - you look very foolish as you do a 'great-leap' and then only
vault what an average human could. This is one of the main drawbacks of
LARP: even with a healthy suspension of disbelief you are still limited
by physical constraints. This runs through all levels of the game: as a
tall player you will not be credible as a dwarf, and the refs cannot
really produce streams of red-hot magma.
So why bother playing?
Because, it's more intense and physical than the tabletop game. You are
really there, you really walk 10 miles; you really get hit and smite
foes; you really watch your enemies, in the boardroom, look
shocked as you outmanoeuvre them; you really sit around a camp fire and
you really feel fear as the NPCs emerge from a dark forest at four in
the morning. Live role-playing combines the best of fancy-dress,
camping, acting and sport.
priest tries to drive off an evil mage.
rules are designed to meet our aims, and we have
spent considerable thought and time in their
They are designed
primarily to be fun, but also to reflect reality and allow for ancient,
modern and futuristic genres to be played. So, they have to cope with
mages throwing fireballs, psychics coercing people in a pub and
cyberpunks unleashing torrents of shells. These demands have been
balanced with ensuring that the system is simple, and fast to use.
Many of the rules are
concerned with combat. This does not mean that the game revolves around
violence; in our regular time-ins we highlight the serious
consequences of unnecessary aggression. We do not run cowboys and
indians, for that people can go back to the playground. But, when
combat does happen our rules allow it to be fast and for your adrenalin
to kick in.
We do not have a hit
location system, you have an overall pool, ( which armour adds to) that
goes down no matter where you are hit. As people shoot or hit you they
call out damage so you know how much to deduct. All blows are pulled,
that is, they are hard enough so that you know you have been hit, but
no harder. Players who abuse this and who deliberately hit the out of
bounds areas (head, breasts and groin) are thrown out of the
The rules make it hard
to accidentally kill another PC, but if you want to you
can. They tend to land on the enjoyable rather than the
realistic side. This is deliberate as it allows players to battle for
the whole week-end, and, ultimately, life is unpleasant enough -
role-playing should be fun.
As of January 2014, the rules are in the middle of an
extensive re-write to incorporate some exciting new features. As
a result, the full rules document is not currently available.
brave character storms the enemies' tower