LARP, Live Action Role Play, where you act out a story in an improvised fashion, within a set of rules and a world create by a GM, Games Master or, usually for LARP’s, a team of GM’s. LARP’s usually consist of 3 sets of people. The first is the players, they have their own sets of motivations and react to the world around them. The GM’s, they create the world, rules and the story and events that those characters are going to respond too and finally there is the crew, these are the people that bring the story to the players. They are the world around these players, and are called NPC’s, non-player characters.
I love to play in LARP’s, there is something about losing yourself in another character for a while, be it 3 hours or a weekend, there is something to be said about responding to a story and changing a story, instead of just reading, listening to or watching a story. There is a real sense of adventure and a true emotional impact. There is a buzz that happens. Recently though, since I quit my job to work on my own business, there have been financial restrictions and this is why I have been crewing.
LARPing itself is not a cheap hobby, costumes, or materials for costumes cost you, weapons and accessories cost and other things you might need cost. The game itself is usually not cheap, as GM’s have to pay for venues, food, transport, materials, costumes, toilet roll, and oh so much more, they have to at least cover those costs in the charge for playing the game, but there is one benefit in all of this for start-ups like me, or students, those between jobs, or whatever other reason you may not have the cash flow right now to go ahead and play…you could crew.
Crewing is so so much cheaper for a variety of reasons. The first is that the game is usually a lot a cheaper if you are crewing, there are a variety of reasons for this. One is to encourage people to come and crew, if you are paying less it you are more encouraged to help out and as crew that is what you are doing, the game cannot happen without you, the GM’s know that, and it is one way of saying thanks. The second is the time and actions are not your own, you will usually play a variety of characters over the weekend, from mooks to powerful villains, distressed townsfolk to royaly, but you are playing to someone else’s script. The characters you play usually have two sets of motivations, their own and then the GM’s. Your characters motivation could be that you need to kill one of the major player characters, the GM’s though may not want this to happen, their idea could be that it is actually just to give them a good scare and, unless things go horribly wrong, you should not actually kill them. You have to take this into account when you are crewing and you have to know when and how to fail.
A third reason that games tend to work out cheaper if you crew, usually costumes are provided, this is a wonderful thing, as I said before costumes, or materials to make costumes, are not cheap therefore not having to worry about having more than a few basics is wonderful. It also means packing for the game is far lighter.
I love both aspects of the game, and each comes with its own rewards, as a player it can be being the centre of attention in an important moment, an intense connection with another character or having your hero moment, for crew, well it is making those experiences happen. When you are sent out into the game with your briefing, your change of costume and maybe some makeup, you are going out there to give these people those moments. How can someone save the King if no one is trying to harm him? How can you kill the villain if there is no one to play him? You can also get small moments of honest interaction. A throw away character I played in the last game was called out again as the players decided they needed her, it was taking a while to begin so I was interacting with one of the characters a lot, there was flirting, there was talking and in the end I think a friend was made. This little moment was special for me, and likely special for the player. It gave them a chance to open up without revealing things to other players too early in the game and to have a personal moment to feel a part of it all.
LARP’s are tiring, there is a lot of running around, you sleep less, you are fighting, emotions are high, and this is something that runs for both players and crew but, when the game is good, you do not care. You do not worry about the next day when you drag yourself out of your comfortable bed, you do not worry about things at work, after all you saved the world twice this weekend, who cares if the photocopier is broken. It can leave you on a high and it can leave you feeling a little lonely, it can make the world seem brighter and duller.
As crew I find that this emotional wind down is lessened, you are often in the crew room, running around changing costumes, chilling for 5 minutes before you run out for a fight, you are playing multiple characters, and you are less likely to sink as deeply into the role as you are more aware of what your character needs to do, rather than what they want to do. So returning to reality, the after LARP meet up is tougher. People are buzzing about what happened in the game, but a players emotional state and perspective are going to be different to crews, your mouth will stay firmly shut when there is speculation, you are not talking about wanting to write letters to other people, but there are things you do do. I love thanking players, or complimenting them on their great interactions. I enjoy hearing their theories, but like having read the book and going to watch the movie with someone who has not, it is nice to see it all from fresh eyes again and to watch their anticipation.
So do I love to play, yes I do, and I miss having been a player in a full weekend LARP for such a long time, but would I give up crewing? Not on your nelly! I am all about the story and being part of a great one, no matter how small or big I am in that story, I would not give that up for anything.