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The LARP at the End of the World

October 31, 2012

One of Moose and I’s biggest sore spots is that while we are both gamer geeks, we are completely different kinds of gamer geeks.  He likes MMOs with a big group component and power min-maxing, I’d rather be able to play in my own time and customize my character.  He likes tower defense games, I like escape the room games.  He likes Live Action Roleplay (LARP) with an emphasis on “action,” I prefer a LARP with an emphasis on “roleplay.”  In essence, he likes strategy, I like story.

Before we met, we were both fairly active in local LARP games, each of which catered to our particular preferences.  We both tried out each other’s games and found that we both had the same problem.  Whenever we went to each other’s games, we were simply bored.  His game didn’t do much in the way of actual roleplay, so there wasn’t much for me to do other than sit around and talk to people while crafting.  My game didn’t do have any kind of physical action, so he mostly sat around and played his video games.

At each other’s games, I think that he felt much the same way that I did.  As an outsider.  Someone completely out of their element, with very few friends, and the typical geek awkwardness of not really being sure how to find new friends in this uncomfortable environment.  To many of my friends, Moose will always be “Squirrel’s husband.”  To many of Moose’s friends, I will always be “Moose’s wife.”  Even those friends for whom we have grown close as a couple, there will forever be those years where they knew us in our other lives, both real and imaginary.  Because we couldn’t seem to play together, there was no hope of creating a shared experience together in this, our mutually enjoyed pastime.

Until this weekend.

I mentioned last week that Cate and I have been going on frequent walks together.  One of the things I didn’t mention is that we’ve been doing this in preparation for a LARP Cate has been planning.  It’s a highly intense setting, and while I wasn’t quite sure I was going to like it, I knew I *really* wasn’t going to like it if I just jumped in cold.  So we walk.  I still can’t run much, and stairs will probably always be a bitch.  But if the bomb threat proved anything, it’s that I can walk considerably further than I could before.

Up until a few days before, Moose was still waffling on whether or not we were going to go.  Oddly enough, the weekend before Halloween tends to be a bit busy in the lives of geeks who like to dress up.  Funny that.  So the day we left was a frantic flurry of preparation as we hurried to pack the car and buy the things we would need for the weekend.  Food, warm clothes, lots of extra socks.  Everything that you would normally need for a weekend campout.  We tried to be quick, but nothing will cut back on the two hours of driving required to get to the site.

As it was, we arrived just in time to miss the first wave of zombies.

As odd as it sounds, we were a little sad to miss out on the fun of marching through a dark camp being terrified by our friends.  We spent about 30 minutes in the operations cabin listening to the gleefully terrified screams in the darkness and then were allowed to join the other players.  From there, it was all frantic roleplay and action that didn’t truly end until 2 am.  At 8 am, it started all over again.  The game officially ended at noon on Sunday, and was nothing but action packed the whole time.  Even the downtime periods at night were fun, as most of the players talked in character while bedding down at night and getting ready in the morning.

I participated in my very first boffer LARP as a zombie, earning a few bruises in the process.  I honestly found playing a zombie just as enjoyable as playing my own character, something I didn’t expect.  As for Moose, he had some hits and misses on the roleplay aspect, but by the end of Saturday night was yelling in character along side the most dedicated roleplayers.  It was thrilling to hear him talking after the game, making plans for future games.  Here, at last, was a game that we could play together, a perfect blend of action and story.

I understand that LARPing seems kind of childish to some people.  After all, what are we really doing if not dressing up and playing pretend?  But some of us never really grow out of the urge to put on a fancy hat and declare ourselves a cowboy, or a police officer, or a princess.  Some people channel that into epic Halloween parties.  Some people attend a local ren faire.  Some people go out and hit a convention or two.  For the truly dedicated, there’s the ongoing LARP.  This LARP is so much more than any other game I’ve played.  It is physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding.  As players, you are forced to work together in character, and everyone spends a little time being the bad guys.  Best of all, you get out what you put in.  If you work hard, come prepared, and contribute to the game, then you will have fun.

For Moose and I, we’re giving our time together.  And getting back a shared experience in return.  The game itself is amazing.  But the chance to spend time together doing something we both love is priceless.

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