So. You’ve decided to plunge into the world’s fastest growing hobby. But where can you find fellow LARPers to stand alongside against the slathering Orc horde? If only it were as easy as stepping outside of your front door and yelling ‘FUS-ROH-DAH!’ and having the locals worship you as the Dragonborn – but alas, we have to do it the boring way.
Depending on where you are, it can feel isolated being a LARPer. Tennis courts, swimming pools and other ‘mainstream’ venues are obvious and omnipresent – but there’s no such thing as your local municipal LARP field (yet). But fear ye not! Thou art not alone! You can bet your boots that, lurking in nearby sewers and basements, there are other adventurers like you, yearning for the thrill of getting that sweet, sweet XP ding. It’s just a matter of finding them. Therefore – follow our step-by-step guiding on how to join a LARP group, and you’ll be grinding those Crushed Bone Belts IRL in no time.
1. Think About What Type of LARP You Want To Play
This is your Session Zero. If you’ve read our LARPing: The Basics Q&A, you’ll know that there are a lot of different types of LARP:
- Demonstrative LARPs – include combat-focused roleplay games and fighting systems
- Tabletop LARPs – include TTRPG-inspired adventure games, often with dice- or card-based combat resolution
- Salon or Parlor LARPs – include LARP formats and games drawn from improv & theater, often with darker themes (especially Nordic LARP).
- Historical/Re-enactment LARPs – include LARP games set in historical (or historical-ish) time periods, with themes inspired by real history.
Before you start doing the legwork of looking for a group, it’s definitely worth thinking about what kind of game you want to play. If you’re a mad-keep Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder fanatic, and want to bring that same buzz into the real-world, then an adventure tabletop-style LARP is for you. If, on the other hand, you want to explore the dark seedy underbelly of humanity with likeminded souls, and you’re craving a more intense, grown-up experience, then you can focus your search toward Nordic parlor LARPs. As well, it might well be worth considering any needs you might have as a player – for example, a demonstrative LARP system might well not suit you if you have mobility issues. HOWEVER – the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re wondering how to join a LARP group is: flexibility. You’re not deciding at this early stage, you’re just figuring out what might suit you and where to start looking.
2. Consider What Setting You’d Like To Play In
This is another important one – if you’ve got an idea of what you’re looking for, then you’ll have more success in finding it! Every LARP will be set within a certain setting: an over-arching game world that dictates the appearance, style and general themes of the game. Some themes include:
- Medieval fantasy – this one’s obvious
- Modern fantasy – think ‘Vampire: The Masquerade’ or the Werewolves of New York
- Futuristic/cyberpunk – Shadowrun and Fallout IRL? Yes please!
- Historical or alt-history – either a faithful historical setting from a certain period, or one that’s more loosely historically inspired
- Weird West – cowboys and American Indians and zombies and aliens!
Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list – but having some idea of what setting you want to play will help you with your search
3. Start Looking!
Once you’ve got a broad idea of what kind of LARP you’d like to play, you can actually start looking for a group. This is where the rubber meets the road. Or the sword meets the shield. Thinking of how to join a LARP group can seem daunting at first, but there are loads of places to start looking. Here are some ideas:
- The r/LARP subreddit – this is an incredible resource for LARPers looking for a group. It’s a thriving community with more than 30,000 members as of the time of writing. Reddit’s search function allows you to find specific posts relevant to your area too – try entering the name of the nearest big city! As well, try posting with your location and what sort of LARP you’re interested in, and you’re sure to get a response.
- Local gaming stores – what better place to find fellow nerds than the local game shop? Once rare as hen’s teeth, now most small towns have a gaming store. And many have pinboards or classifieds with local events, so you’re sure to find a party.
- College/University gaming clubs – virtually every university or college has some for of gaming society: either general ones for board games and TTRPGs, or even specific LARP clubs or Assassins Guilds. They’re almost always happy to welcome non-students as well.
- Facebook – apparently I’m an old man for still using facebook, but it’s still the best social media for organising events, meetups and clubs. There are often regional LARP pages, or you can find specific gaming systems with local events.
- Start your own! – if all else fails, why not start your own? If you find a system that you enjoy, and there’s not one nearby, contact the organizers and see if they can offer you support running a local event.
Sometimes, especially for more rural LARPers, there might not be a huge amount on offer. This is where flexibility comes in. Maybe they don’t have exactly the kind of event you want to play – but there’s a cool-looking event which looks like it might be fun. The stakes are very low – you’re allowed to try events to see if you like them!
4. Get Stuck In!
Once you’ve found a fun-looking local event, you can start to research the event. Is it a day event? Do you want to camp with other players? How much is the entry fee? If you’ve got any questions, you can always feel free to ask the organizers.
Now you know how to find a LARP group! You can start writing a character, statting them up, and equipping yourself with a fantastic LARP costume. But don’t worry – we’ve got that covered. We’re geared more towards Medieval LARP – but if that’s your thing, we’ve got an enormous range of Medieval-inspired clothing, gorgeous metal and leather armors, and top-quality LARP-safe weaponry to outfit you.
What are you waiting for? Adventure awaits!