Wednesday, 31 May 2017

I went 40K LARPing -- and a new project!

Some friends of mine run a Warhammer 40,000 LARP (that's live-action roleplaying game), called No Rest for the Wicked. I've always been interested in going, but a) it's usually quite far away from where I live, and b) I've never done any of the outdoor, hitting-people style of LARP, although I've done plenty of the other kind. Still, when they scheduled an event in Oakham, much more accessible to me, I decided to put aside my fitness-related fears and give it a go as a crew member for the weekend. 

And it was good! I definitely wore myself out a little too much running around in the sun and getting whacked with rubber chainswords, but I had a good time. I got to play a couple of talky NPCs in addition to the getting-thumped variety, which was fun. My favourite was a chatty Blood Axe Ork who just wanted a job. 

Orright, humies? This is me in the "backstage" crew area.
I do like a good Blood Axe, as regular readers of this blog will recall. 

Anyway, my overall impression was positive but here are a few quick things I noticed: 

  • I think that the stereotype of field-LARP as primarily a combat sport compared to the thinking gamer's parlour-LARP and tabletop is outdated (if it was ever true). When a beloved character died on one particularly challenging mission, I saw characters in tears, and the impromptu funeral was genuinely moving. 
  • The physical constraints of field-LARPing produce interesting limitations on encounter design, but this game tried really hard to keep things fresh. There were a lot of fights in this game -- I was in ten of them myself, and I wasn't in all of them -- but no two of them were quite alike. 
  • The 40K setting provides a really good environment for stuff that might otherwise be hard to justify in a more traditional sf game. Why is the hoobler reactor on top of a huge tower instead of somewhere convenient to access? Why did someone build sound-activated chainsaw-swinging robot zombies as a security system? Why indeed? Everything in this universe is built by lunatics. 
  • I am in better shape than I recall in terms of my stamina and breathing -- I guess I do cycle a lot -- but my joints are as creaky as they have ever been and I ought to stop flinging myself on the ground when I get "killed." I just feel like people like to see results when they kill a bad guy. 
  • Keeping track of multiple damage stats in your head while swordfighting in the dark is really hard. 
  • Explanation is key. We played two very similar missions in which restrictions were placed on player movement; one of them worked well and the other was very unclear. You basically can't explain two things at once, I think, especially in a hellfire hurry. 
  • People running these things plan more than gets executed: I know at least two whole scenes that were prepared in detail but simply never had time to happen. 

I had a great time and intend to go back next "season" when they restart the storyline, but this time as a player. There's just one problem: costume and kit! I have never really done any LARPing, so unlike most people I know I don't own lots of latex and foam weapons, comfy but cool-looking outdoorsy boots, thermal underwear or ... well, anything really. I have already begun to build a small collection of things, but the standard of kit in the game is very impressive indeed and I want to make sure I don't let the side down. To get an idea of what I mean, check out these photos of people in costume by Tom Garnett. The photos are by Tom Garnett, that is: the costumes are by ... various. Anyway, some of these are posed and some are action shots, and they are only a few of the hundreds of great images from the game. 

You can't tell, but he's trying to quietly sneak past a sound-activated murderbot.

Check out that sweet-ass glowing plasma pistol.
So as you can see they look pretty good! I have a lot to live up to. 

I have already become a bore on the subject of what I'm gonna wear as my hypothetical future character, and I don't see it letting up, so here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna turn it into one of my characteristic frugal gaming projects.

So over the next ... however long it is, I'm going to be scavenging in charity shops and car boot fairs and buying stuff second-hand and generally making things myself from junque and hoping that, by the end, I will have a cool costume and kit that didn't cost me the earth but that was fun to make. I know nothing about costume making and nothing about LARP kit, but learning how to do things as you go is part of the fun of frugal gaming. I will customise NERF guns! I will stencil some go-go checks on a tac vest. I will do ... whatever it takes. 

So by posing it to myself as a long-term creative and learning challenge I think I can overcome my anxiety about it!


  1. This looks amazing! How do I get involved???

    1. Well, tickets are probably linked on the website, but the place where most things happen is the Facebook group -- just search for 'No Rest for the Wicked' and it should probably turn up. There are only two games left in the current 'season,' but I'm planning to start actually playing (as opposed to crewing) once the new one begins in 2018.