Countdown to Nine Worlds Geekfest: LARP: Live Action Role Play

With only weeks to go now the countdown is nearly complete for Nine Worlds Geekfest 2014 and to help you learn more about the various tracks we managed to talk to some of the track leads and get the latest from them.  This time it is the team from the LARP: Live Action Role Play track Rei & Hanbury.

LARP: Lice Action Role Play is still one of those areas that seems to be a specialised area of geekdom but at Nine Worlds the team behind this track seem to be on the right track to bring it to the masses and let us know why it is still so popular.

What is LARP: Live Action Role Play?

For the uninitiated (where have you been?), theatre-style LARP, or Live Action Role Play, is a live action, non-contact form of role-playing game. “Participants each have a single character which they play in person. In our games, costume is optional but encouraged. Each character has their own background, capabilities, and suggested goals, but there is no script. Players must decide for themselves how their characters would act, and the choices they make will influence the course of the game. Unlike combat LARPs, the emphasis is on talking to the other players, and no weapons are involved,” said Rei Hampden-Turner, one half of the LARP sessions organiser duo.

“At Nine Worlds Geekfest we’re running a two part LARP writing workshop, in crossover with the Whedon track. Part 1 involves guiding a group of people through writing a basic LARP set in the Whedon-verse. At the end of it, we should have notes on characters, complete with goals, relationships, and plots, and a fair idea of where the game is set and how it should progress. Part 2 is where people then get to grab the collated version of this and have a go at playing it for half an hour, then we stop and discuss how it went, what worked and what didn’t work, how the game might be edited, and how to achieve different variations themes and styles.




Geek Syndicate: LARPing is still a big part of Geekdom but also a largely unknown for many people, what can you tell us about LARPing and your group?

Hanbury: We don’t really represent a group, but we are involved with a number of different groups who LARP in their own way. It’s a very large and diverse hobby, and there’s a lot of variety in what people get up to under the same banner.

At the base it’s about playing a character in a particular situation, talking to other characters as part of a group, in a shared world. From there you can go in a number of directions. Some take their roots from particular genres, like murder mystery, classic films, various science fiction settings, romantic horror, fantasy adventure, and so on. Some even involve ‘weapons’, such as foam rubber swords and axes, or lasertag guns. Some games are very much about the plot, others about discovering secrets of other characters, and others about psychological states of the players.

There are a lot of different LARPers out there, and a lot depends on what group you’re working with and what you’re trying to achieve.

Rei: I guess the group we run most of our stuff with is probably UK Freeforms, who organise a number of conventions and other events. One of the games being run at NineWorlds was written at Peaky, a UK Freeforms games writing weekend. The UK Freeforms games tend to be written as one-off games with pre-written characters, with plots that emerge from the characters’ goals and backgrounds. There’s recently been a lot of discussion about incorporating ideas from a kind of LARP pioneered in the Nordic countries, where there’s more focus on exploring themes and inner stories, and the games are designed to create an intense emotional connection. For me, I think what I like can be largely summed up by some posters I made once, featuring a few iconic scenes – Buffy with a stake paused over angel; Luke and Darth Vader on the walkway; Indiana Jones about to switch an artifact for a stone – and the caption: “What would you do?”

GS: Why bring LARPing to a convention?

Hanbury: To give people a chance to try it. LARP involves getting a large group together, and that’s very difficult outside of a convention.

Rei: Well, largely because I love it, and I wanted to show other people this thing I love! We write most of our games for cons, so we know they’re a good venue for them.

GS: Friday seems to be the actual events so tells us about those and also about the workshops on Saturday and Sunday?

Rei: The friday afternoon game is written and led by Sarah Cook of Firecat Masquerade, who produce various LARP related live events, also including caberett, storytelling, and other games. It looks really intriguing; a supernatural mystery to solve. I love figure-out-what’s-going-on games, and am looking forward to playing in this one myself!

The friday evening game is the Peaky Games event [see question 1], and one we’ve played in before; we’ll be helping Daniel to run it. It’s a very fun game; you get to play minions in a James Bond villan’s lair, many of them somewhat short lived, so it’s an easy one for curious people to easily drop in and out of if they want to play someone for ten minutes.


The workshops are the bits we’re running ourselves this year, in crossover with the Whedon track; we’ll be using various LARP writing techniques to guide people through writing a simple game, and then giving it a go. Hopefully this will be where I get to spread my love of writing as well as playing; there’s nothing like the feeling of watching people getting joy out of something you wrote, adding their own twist, and making it real.

Hanbury: The two games are different authors with very different styles, and a different approach to what makes a good LARP. The workshops involve the participants writing a game, so the style and feel will ultimately be up to them. We’re hoping to get some crossover from Whedon fans and fan-fic writers and anyone who wants to try writing their own game and see their own ideas come to life.

GS: For people who might be nervous or curious about LARPing what would you tell them?

Hanbury: Try it. It’s not difficult to do, it can be immensely rewarding, and the very nature of LARP means that you’ll be surrounded by people in a position to help you out. One of the things that keeps us going is that new people generally have a very good time. You don’t need to be an actor, you don’t need a fancy costume, and you won’t be letting anyone down if you’re not sure what to do.

Rei: Gosh, I was so nervous when I first tried out LARPing! I tend to get anxious, especially about social situations, so I was worried I was doing it wrong and everyone would notice. In fact I found it very enjoyable and liberating – particularly once I realised that I could blame anything stupid I said on my character! Yeah, give it a go. We were all new once – and most of us really want to show you how great it can be, so don’t be afraid to ask if you’re stuck.

GS: Costumes are a major part of LARPing so tells us what to expect and what others should do if they want to join in?

Hanbury: Some LARPs are very much about the costume, and it’s a hobby where costuming skill is always appreciated. A good costume helps set the mood for everyone, and contributes to the experience. However, costumes are not always essential. We run plenty of games where costumes are optional, and even in games where you need costumes, people would often rather lend afew props to a new player than not have them play at all.

Rei: I tend to make more of an effort for games that are longer, like the wekeend game we’re going to in February (it’s based on musicals and looks brilliant). For con games, costume is really there to add to the sense of immersion, so even just something basic like a hat or jacket that looks sort of like it might be the right flavour can be enough; please, don’t let worry about cosutme deter you! However, there are players who always make a real effort to appear in fantastic costumes, and it’s appreciated as it really does add to the game!

GS: What is the best thing about LARPing?

Hanbury: It’s different for different people. I like it as a way to be creative, and texpress myself in different ways. I particular enjoy coming up with unecessarily complicated ‘cunning plans’ whether they are fiendish schemes or hopelessly impractical failures. LARP is a safe enviroment to take risks, because even going down in flames is often a great deal of fun.

Rei: Oh, aargh, a difficult one! Uh.. personally I like fixing things, being the hero and making the world better. It’s like being on the holodeck or being inside my favourite story or something; it’s just real enough to get my heart beating faster, and to really feel it, but at the same time it’s a safe way to try out and experience things.

GS: Why do you think Nine Worlds has become so popular in such a short space of time?

Hanbury: It’s the structure, and the philosophy I think. Most conventions are organised around a single person’s idea of what’s fun, and then adds activities on to that until the con gets too big and they stop advertising. Nine Worlds starts off with the idea that people will do totally dissimilar things, and makes space for that. I can go to it knowing that there will be enought to do that I know I enjoy, to justify the trip, and lots of new things to try if I feel like stepping out of my comfort zone.

One thing I noticed was that a lot of the activities I’d heard about but never tried, turned out include people I already knew. Geeks often get used to camoflaguing their interests, and drip feed their interests to people they’ve just met, guaging the reaction as they go.

Rei: Yeah, there’s a lot of different things, different but related enough that it brings together some similar interests, and also the chance to try out some related stuff that you’re likely to enjoy. I think it also helps that the organisers set out from the very first to create a safe space, and the emphasis on that really worked. It felt like a really friendly con.

GS: Finally what are you looking forward to the most at Nine Worlds?

Hanbury: Trying something new. I don’t know what it will be yet, but trying other people’s interests is what I enjoyed most last year.

Rei: I’m looking forward to meeting up with friends I don’t see very often, meeting some new ones, and getting to do stuff together – and then talk about them later.


Now that has got you even more interested check out the schedule below.

LARP- Schedule


Amnesia: A Supernatural Mystery
Friday 1.30pm – 3.30pm, Room 42

The end of the world is nigh.
You were meant to do something very, very important.
But you can only remember your own name. Who are these other people? Why are you trapped in a room together?
Find out if you are a hero or a villain. Join with others to discover your secret mission and decide the fate of the world.
The clock is ticking….
Written by Sarah Cook, of Firecat Masquerade

Doctor Nefarious and the Paradise Project
Friday 5.00pm – 7.00pm, Room 40

Welcome to the Paradise Island resort! A deluxe hotel resort set on an exotic Caribbean island, with discreet and capable staff ready to attend to your every need. Don’t miss visiting the Paradise Casino, the world’s premier destination for the rich and beautiful with time on their hands.
Deep beneath Paradise Island lies the secret lair of the infamous villain, Dr. Nefarious. From this underground base he gives the orders that make Presidents tremble. Here he makes the plans that will bring the free world to its knees. Well… he will when it’s finished. The lair got relocated to Paradise Island after the Swiss mountain chalet had that accident. And the tunnels aren’t all dug yet, mostly because CIA Agent Jim Broker snuck in through the casino and blew up the M.O.L.E. Machine. And the power plant isn’t working yet. …Still, the revised plans are more or less on schedule.
Dr. Nefarious is currently enjoying his regular anniversary holiday. And that satellite death ray had better be ready when he gets back.
May contain world domination, cloned dinosaurs, and death without warning by shark tank.
Written by Daniel Taylor, Su Jolly, Mike Snowden, Nick Curd and Clare Gardner. Players are welcome to drift in and out of the game throughout, as many characters are short-lived minions.

Theatre LARP Writing Workshop, Part One: Structure & Ideas Generation
Saturday, 11.45am, Room 40

Ever been curious about writing your own LARP?
The participants will write a basic LARP set in the Whedonverse. We’ll talk you through the process, and show you a few tools and techniques. At the end of the session, we should have notes on characters, complete with goals, relationships, and plots, as well as a fair idea of where the game is set and how it should progress. Time to dust out all those fanfic ideas and see if you can shove them together! No previous experience required. Attendees can join in either or both of Part One or Part Two.

Theatre LARP Writing Workshop, Part Two: Playtest & Discussion
Sunday, 11.45am, Room 40

This is where people get to grab the collated version of the game we wrote in Part One, and have a go at playing it! After half an hour, we’ll stop and discuss how it went, what worked and what didn’t work, how the game might be edited, and how to achieve different variations, themes and styles. Watching people take something you wrote and make it real is a fantastic experience, and we really do recommend it. No previous experience required. Attendees can join in either or both of Part One or Part Two.


SOURCE: Nine Worlds

GS Blogger: Montoya

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