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I hit it with my axe – Approaches to LARP

There are three forms of LARP, traditionally. Or three approaches. They are:

Narrativist: I hit it with my axe because for generations before me, my ancestors have hit things with axes. This axe itself is that of my grandfather’s greatest grandmother, reforged at the time of choosing by the mighty H’obbes in a final act of master smithery before he tragically was murdered by the Cal’vin tribe who I have sworn to destroy.

Gamist: I hit it with my axe because then I can take its stuff.

Simulationist: This is a battlefield. I am a solider in this war, and therefore i shall hit it with my axe.

(My role in larp, almost invariably, is “Your axe rebounds and now has a small notch in it. The goblin you attempted to hit grins quietly. The notch begins to talk about minecraft).

The approaches to “fixing” this are many-fold  but almost always can be reduced to: “We will create a TRUE UNIFIED LARP, with BLACKJACK and HOOKERS, and it will be UNIFIED. We will do this by building it on a solid platform of MY PREFERRED APPROACH and then we shall allow the other approaches to GO FUCK THEMSELVES WITH A RUSTY MONUMENT.”

As approaches to the unification of the hobby go, it is mildly more successful to either build a system that rewards all three types and doesn’t really care why you are applying your axe, but will reward the different approaches appropriately; and then to let your players get into massive, long, and above all out-of-character arguments of the best way to have fun. But it’s also useful to read the various MANIFESTOS of the different divided approaches, and for them to have their own games, because the only way you can really make a game for everyone is empathy.

There’s no real point or conclusion to this, I’m just getting it out of my head.

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4 replies on “I hit it with my axe – Approaches to LARP”

I’ve also seen a fourth.

Littleboyist: I hit people with my axe because I have an shiny axe and I can hit people with it, and we’ll fight to see who’s best at hitting people with an axe. Oh, and, um “Yarr…” or something in character, but did you see Mock the Week last night?

There is a surprising number of people (of either gender) who refuse role-playing in re-enactment circles, and are just in it for combat and kit. These people tend to want combat rules that favours their personal style, but aren’t interested in simulation as such. At the crossover LARPs I’ve been to, there has been a lot of little boys, and far from all came from HEMA/re-enactment.

I am not a LARPist, but I think you’ve missed a fourth school, the argumentalist, who gain their enjoyment getting into massive long and above all out-of-character arguments about the best way to have fun.

The fourth school I’ve seen is the Immersionist: My character hits it with their axe. I don’t really know why – I think it’s because they like hitting things with axes, although it might be something to do with their continuing quest to externalise their deep inner pain.

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