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Roleplaying is somewhere between an interactive storytelling game and improvisational acting. Each player (that's you) acts the part of a fictional character who is entirely under their control. The overall story is roughly planned out by one person, but the decisions you have your character make will impact the final outcome of the plot.
It's very easy to start roleplaying if you've never done it before; even if you have no previous acting experience, slipping into character comes naturally with a little practice.
LARP stands for Live Action RolePlay. It means that instead of sitting around a table, talking through your character's actions (this is sometimes referred to as “classic” or “tabletop” roleplaying), you physically act out whatever your character's doing. In this context, it also means that instead of rolling dice or using another luck-based method to decide the outcome of combat, participants actually fight each other with safe foam-rubber weapons. For more information on how this works, check out the “How does this LARP work?” page. Naturally, we have some fairly extensive safety rules to make sure that nobody gets injured during combat. You don't need any experience with armed or unarmed fighting to start LARPing; our character generation system is set up to be able to compensate for the differences between your own fighting skills and your character's.
Not really, though we do have some historical re-enactors among our membership and re-enactment can make a good starting point from which to explain it to people. We aren't bothered about historical accuracy, instead going for a generic mediaeval “Lord of the Rings” style setting. We don't have many people, so rather than big battles we have a series of small scale skirmishes with a storyline connecting them. Because we let people join in with no previous training or preparation and we tend to be quite competitive and wear minimal protection our weapons are made of padded foam rather than metal. Because time and money are limited we aren't nearly as fussed about suitable costume. Basically, we're a lot less about putting on a good show and a lot more about just running around having a good time!
We meet up most Saturday mornings between ten o'clock and eleven in The Magic Cafe pub on Magdalen Rd to have a drink and a chat and get things organised for the day. Then the people with cars ferry everybody up to the Shotover Country Park carpark. We spend a while in the carpark getting ready and indulging in a bit of sparring, then by around one o'clock we set off into the woods for the LARP proper. Sometimes we stick to the main paths, other times we head off the beaten track a bit so that we don't have to stop everything to let walkers go past too often!
The LARP generally finishes sometime between four o'clock (it gets dark early in the winter) and seven o'clock, usually around five or six. People with cars then give everyone lifts back down the hill, and we generally proceed to the Rusty Bicycle pub to debrief from the day's adventure and socialise (it is conveniently right next to the Magic Cafe and has bike racks for anyone who wants to cycle out to the meeting place).
Nothing but yourself and some suitable clothing! LARP involves quite a lot of running around in the woods, so wear clothes which you don't mind getting a bit muddy and covered in undergrowth and which won't suffer too much from the occasional encounter with branches and brambles. Hardwearing footwear which won't give you blisters from running around a lot and won't let in the wet too easily is a must. Gloves are advised, though there will often be some spare pairs available to borrow. Dress up warmly with plenty of layers, unless the weather's particularly summery - even when the sun's out Shotover can have a lot of windchill, LARPs sometimes involve a certain amount of standing around waiting for the next bit and rain can turn up at very short notice. It's a lot better to wear too many layers and take some off when you get too hot than it is to wear too few and end up catching cold! If the weather is hot and summery, bring some suncream and plenty of water or other drink so you don't get dehydrated. Snacks can also be a good plan, all that running around soon works up an appetite!
The LARP group provides safe foam-rubber weapons for everyone to use (small swords, big swords, maces, daggers, throwing daggers, a hammer, axes and even a LARP-safe longbow) - many people also own their own weapons (such as quarterstaffs) and may let you borrow them. The group can also provide cloaks, armour, belts, weapon rings and a few other bits and pieces of costume. Some people put a lot of effort into their costume, as can be seen from the online photo gallery, but turning up in jeans and a sweater is just fine - you certainly won't be alone in doing so. Regular games cost £3 each, but your first two are free to get you hooked… <grin>
There are a number of acronyms and pieces of jargon used on this website and during the game. The most common ones are listed below: