My First Time LARPing (Live Action Role Playing): A Culture War Report

One of the things you may not know about me is that I have some of the coolest nieces and nephews out there. Recently one of these very cool nephews invited me and John to join him and his friends for some LARPing.

According to the Urban Dictionary, LARP, or Live Action Role Play, is

“a type of game where a group of people wear costumes representing a character they create to participate in an agreed fantasy world. [They] use foam sticks as swords, foam balls as magic and other props to create the games world.”

The first time John and I visited Dagger Deep, the massive Heavy Action Roll Playing arena here on Vancouver Island, we figured we’d just take a look around. That was when we realized that LARPing was one of those all-or-nothing sort of things; we were, of course, denied entrance at the gate. Apparently, jeans just don’t cut it in the medieval world.

This photo was borrowed from the Pictures of Medieval Chaos page on facebook. Check out this photo and more by clicking here, or on the photo itself.

For our next visit we made sure to wear something at least passably medieval. While my nephew and his friend quickly headed through the gates to work on some “pre-mission business”, John and I stayed behind signing waivers. When we finally did get into the LARPing area we had no idea what was going on. The boys had told us we would be “peasants” for our first few weeks, which meant that we could see everyone who was invisible, but that we were pretty well guaranteed to die if we tried to battle anyone with a higher status.

Photo courtesy of Medieval Chaos Productions home page on Facebook. To see more, click here or directly on the photo.

For the first little while we ran away from anyone who held a sword and/or looked in our general direction, but eventually we got bored of that. After a bit more wandering through the forest trails we ran into some very authentic-looking knights with almost authentic-sounding British accents and John asked if they could make use of some peasants.

Except they aren’t actually being robbed

They kindly invited us to join them, and asked us to keep a look out for anyone they might not be able to see.

They were, of course, referring to anyone who was using the power of invisibility. How do you know if someone is invisible, you ask? Well, because they put their arms up by their ears like they are being robbed.

Kinda like this, but not at all.

It took me awhile to get used to everyone around me ignoring anyone who was walking around with their arms up. It also took me awhile to get used to ignoring anyone who had their arms out at their sides (that meant they were teleporting). While those are the only two rules I really picked up, there is a whole wealth of other skills and rules that are explained in their Player’s Handbook

Shortly after meeting the brave knights (and their rather large gang of peasants}, they led the whole group of us into a small fort. The fort is one of the many authentically-styled buildings dispersed around the property. It reminded me of the kind of tree-fort I could only have dreamed about as a kid. I’ve included a photo below, so you can see for yourself.

This photo of the fort is from the Dagger Deep Facebook page.

We spent the next hour or so patrolling the walls, spotting sneaky goblins who were attempting to scale them, and holding up the drawbridge/door whenever a horde of enemies attempted to bash their way in. Eventually, a few knights charged out the front door and I watched as a battle took place on the field below. It felt a little like watching a live-action version of a Lord of the Rings battle. Then, suddenly, all the goblins teleported away. All of us peasants started to get tired of hiding and deserted the fort one by one.

Not long after John and I left the fort, we bumped into a fire-goblin. She was also an incredibly fast runner, so, needless to say, I died a very gruesome gobliny death while John booked it across an empty field. While we were outside getting killed, I’m pretty sure the goblins returned and took over the fort.

A picture of the terrifying goblin king, courtesy of the Medieval Chaos Photos Facebook page.

While my deserting husband eventually did come back for me, we ended up leaving shortly after to go visit some friends who lived nearby.

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic experience.

I was impressed with the property, and how seriously everyone took their characters, but I was even more impressed by how nice everyone was. John and I hadn’t studied up on the many types of creatures, abilities, and rules, so we were constantly asking people what was happening. Every single time, the other players would take it upon themselves to help us out.

While the season is over now for the winter, we hope to go back to Dagger Deep for another adventure next year. We realize now that in order to really get involved with the mission we will have to study up on the rules. LARPing, like many activities, is much more fun if you throw yourself into it whole-heartedly.

If you live near Duncan B.C. and LARPing sounds like your kind of thing, check out Medieval Chaos website. For now, I’ll leave you with a little taste of what it’s like:

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