Something a bit different this time. Though most of us 40k players typically prefer to avoid nasty things like ‘running around’ and ‘the sun’, it is sometimes nice to go outside to the woods and be a nerd there instead of just at the table top. Live Action Role Play, or LARP, is one such way of doing that.
Last September I started playing in Fools and Heroes – one of the UK-wide LARP systems, mainly at my wife’s repeated insistence that I would like it. And, as is usually the case, she was right. It has quickly become a big part of my life, once I was able to properly get into the mindset. I wouldn’t say it’s for everyone, but I would definitely recommend it to people who like TTRPGs like D&D and want something a bit more physical and involved. In this post I’m going to run through some of the things that initially put me off and my newbie tips on how I overcame those things.
This is me! I play a Halfling Alchemist called Basil Goodbread, which is quite fun for me because it allows me to interact with the community during down time (by making and selling potions) and also excuses me from being a scrub at fighting. As many of you may know, I do love Halflings
, so I’m enjoying playing into this by bringing a pouch full of flapjacks and talking like The Wurzels
(well maybe not quite
like that). I think choosing/creating the right character really helped me get into the hobby, but we’ll get to that later.
The first thing that put me off was really the cost of getting involved. I think my kit looks pretty good now, but it’s not trivially cheap to get all that stuff. It is however, also not as expensive as you might think. I’d liken it to the expense of a 40k army, in that you can indeed spend loads on it, but you don’t need to put that much in to begin with and there are usually plenty of people who are willing to help you out by lending you stuff to get you started. I pinched plenty of things that the wife wasn’t using, and she also helped out by making me some awesome hairy feet.
So like many hobbies, you can easily start out with very little and build up your collection over time, once you are sure you like it and when you have a better idea of what you want to do. Then you can go crazy! As you can see, there are some colourful characters around.
The next stumbling block for me was system mastery – or rather, getting over the fact that starting out I would both not know how the system works and not being very good at it. Like most games, there are rules, and learning those rules is best done in play. In addition, there is the physical skills of fighting with latex weapons and having awareness of your surroundings, as well as the improv skills required to act in character most of the time. In short, it was a bit overwhelming.
Here again, the key was to build up to it. Learning the system by playing from the back of the party and running away from danger, slowly gathering knowledge to better understand what was going on. Again, there was and is a lot of support from the other players. Getting a call wrong (e.g. “I Resist that Spell” vs “No Effect!”) is common and understood, and everyone seems happy to explain.
You also get to learn what to do when it’s all kicking off pretty quickly. Even playing a largely non-combat based character, I’ve started to pick up skills through ‘monstering’ – playing the bad guys (Fools and Heroes splits the players into characters and monsters at the start of each session, then you swap roles at the mid point), which I can now use to put up a bit more of a fight for the good side. This has made me more confident, which has in turn improved my ability to play my character and interact with the others.
This links to the final issue I had to really get into the game – how to play my character. For the first few months I struggled to really make an impact and make the character feel memorable or charismatic. But what I hadn’t realised is that in turning up and playing, in meeting people and handing out flapjacks to them, I had been building up a network of friends and allies that I could interact with. I was becoming part of the awesome community. That’s what really helped me over the last hurdle and got me hooked.
So now I’m addicted to this hobby, and I can’t wait to see what adventures Basil Goodbread gets up to in the future. Hopefully this post was enjoyable and maybe even informative. If you like the sound of it and want to get involved, I can recommend F&H for UK people, just find a branch near you
and get in contract!
Special thanks to Bailey Erikson and Izzi Wade who took these photos, and to all those who attended Leeds branch and agreed to let me use their pictures.