Live action role-playing game (LARP)

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A Live action role-playing game (LARP, larp) or live role-playing game (lrp) is:

  • a role-playing game where the participants physically act out their character's actions.[1]
  • a collaborative pretending with rules.[2]
  • an improvised drama taking place without an audience, and with no manuscript.[3]
  • people playing out fictional roles within some kind of organized framework.[4]
  • an activity in which the real world represents a fictional setting and where you, the player, improvise a character.[5]
  • "Let's Pretend" for grownups.[6]

From these definitions three key features stand out:

  • physical portrayal: players say what their characters say and do what their characters do (within the bounds of safety and any rules);
  • improvisation: while the characters and setting may be pre-defined, most actions are improvised; and
  • the lack of an audiance.

Beyond this, almost anything goes. Larp is an incredibly diverse medium.[7] It may involve costumes, rules, props, collaborate storytelling, or foam-rubber weapons. It may last minutes, hours, or days. The characters may be prewritten in excruiating detail, or entirely freeform. It may be done for entertainment, for education, for artistic or political purposes, or even as a competitive sport. An expansive definition of larp includes all of these things.

Types of larp

Main article: Styles of larp

Within the broad definition of larp there are several obvious subtypes:

  • theatre-style or (in Australia and the UK) "freeform" games: short, pre-written, one-off scenarios telling a single story or set of linked stories;
  • campaign larps, whether using live-combat or abstract rules such as Mind's Eye Theatre, telling an ongoing story.
  • Battle games, which focus on competitive combat;
  • Nordic larp, a tradition associated with the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland);
  • Jeepform, which uses improvisation to tell a pre-ordained story;
  • American freeform, when its done standing up.


  1. Live action role-playing game, Wikipedia. Retreived 11 January 2015.
  2. LARP Definition, Retreived 11 January 2015.
  3. What is larp (live roleplaying)?, Grenselandet blog. Retreived 11 January 2015.
  4. What is larp? Larpwriter Summer School. Retreived 11 January 2015.
  5. Larp Census, Larp Census. Retreived 11 January 2015.
  6. What is Live Roleplaying?, MIT Assassins' Guild. Retreived 11 January 2015.
  7. What Is Larp?, Lizzie Stark, Leaving Mundania blog, 31 October 2011. Retreived 11 January 2015.

External links