Friday, December 7, 2012

Why I don't LARP (The Long Answer)

I don't LARP because of my bad experiences with LARPers. (I guess that's the short answer, really, now that I think about it).

Here's three anecdotes illustrating these bad experiences. Feel free to comment on your own experiences, both good and bad. 

1. Satanic Panic in my Hometown.

Before I'd even heard of Vampire: The Masquerade, I'd been exposed to anti-D&D viewpoints in my hide the fact they were playing D&D with me. Their parents disapproved. I went to a youth outreach center, run by some well-meaning Christians from a local church. One of them flipped when he saw me running a D&D game there. The conversation went something like this.
hometown. It surprised me that people thought what I was doing was somehow satanic. I think its one reason I had problems getting players in middle and high school. The stigma was still there. A couple of my friends had to

"No, that's not gonna work. Take that elsewhere, or better yet, nowhere. We all know how that ends."

"Um, It's just a game." (Yeah, it wasn't smart of me to actually run a game at said Christian youth center).

"Well, you're not gonna bring that garbage around here anymore. It blurs fantasy and reality. Haven't you heard about the kids who got lost playing D&D in steam tunnels?"


But then it turned out that kids my age were running around in storm sewers playing a D&D LARP in my hometown. They didn't get lost, but they had been chased around by police, as one of them happily told me one day. He not only played in our hometown, but elsewhere, and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.

2. Playing Cthulhu Live, twice. 

During my time at Iowa State, I was often an officer in the gaming club there. One time, the president, a who was a LARPer, wanted to run something other than the usual Vampire or Werewolf chronicle which the LARPers had been doing for years (more on this is a bit). I was the treasurer at the time, and wanted to support the president. I could get behind doing an investigative LARP like Cthulu, where I got to play a human.

I had some fun. In both sessions, there was a lot of talking, discussion, more talking, discussion. And we all surmised that nobody knew what was really going on. And then somebody bad would happen. And then there would be more talking, discussion, and more surmising that nobody knew what was going on. The club president tried to keep things moving along, but it was tough. About 20 people had showed up.

Combat basically degenerated into "bang, bang, I hit you" "No you didn't."

Overall, I wasn't having much fun, so I ducked out. I could not at least say that I tried LARP, rather than being just really annoyed with the LARPers in the club up to that point. Oh yeah, about that...

3. LARPers Gone Wild.

A good portion of these LARPers had been around since before my time, before anybody in my class had been around. The LARPers, for sometime, were the most successful sub-group within the club. They outnumbered the tabletop roleplayers and the wargamers by a big margin a one point.  Funny thing is: many of them weren't students. Some of them had never been students. And yet the club was supposed to be a student organization.

Why were guys in their 30s, 40s, and, in a couple cases, 50s, hanging around and basically controlling a student organization?

To get space on campus. They'd recruit just enough students to fill officer positions so they could get rooms. This problem compromised the club, not just the LARPers, for at least a decade until changes were made. Furthermore, the main promoters of the LARPers, as far I could tell, worked at jobs like McDonalds or Wal-mart during the week, but on Fridays or Saturday night, while on the ISU campus, they were the princes of the city. It was a pure power fantasy.

My respect for them dimmed further when one the non-students bragged how he/his character hid in actual wedding reception on campus to avoid other LARPers who were hunting him. He ate some of the food, too. Apparently, one night somebody called campus police because the LARPers got out of hand. (Aren't they also supposed to obey the Masquerade in real life?).

Furthermore, some of them had formed their own student organization and yet were still using my club's space. No wonder why the president who ran Cthulu life resigned. No wonder why the university started coming down on us. There's more to it than just the LARPers (it's a long story, which originated with religious groups on campus getting upset over the campus BDSM club). But one day our room reservations started to vanish, especially on the LARPing side.

The LARPers got mad, thinking that I or the former president had something do with it, and threaten to quit. "Fine, go!" I had had enough of them.

They started LARPing at the College of Design Building. But I know design students. Their major is a lifestyle, full of one project after another. And it didn't surprise me when the LARPers came back to me wanted their space back. Somebody had called the police on them and they'd been kicked out.

I felt like Edward Norton in the movie Fight Club, right after the police shot Bob...

Needless, to say, I didn't try to get them their space back. The university had limited what remaining spaces we could reserve, anyway.

This could just the LARPing situation from where I'm from. I'm sure lots of LARPs, both World of Darkness or otherwise, happen all of the time and nobody hears or notices a thing.

I just got sick of their antics or hearing about their antics. Once a LARPer jumped out of a bush on campus, ambushing one of my friends. My friend, thinking he was getting attacked, kicked the LARPer in the groin. Then he had to explain to the nearby campus security officer what had just happened.

So it boils down to having bad experiences with LARPers. I hope that they are the exception to the general rule.


Actually, I would like to know: were my experiences the exception, rather than the rule? Do these sorts of things happen on other college campuses?

1 comment:

  1. "He ate some of the food, too."--That sounds like a reason to LARP, actually.


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