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Amtgard is Not a LARP
[12/03/2002] [Quintus]

Amtgard is not a LARP.

I will say it again for those who didn't get that. Amtgard is not a LARP. This does not seem to be understood, so I will say it one more time. Amtgard is not a LARP.

What is a LARP? I have a few definitions, found in various places on the web with the simple question "What is a LARP" on a search engine.

From "Larp Developer's Resource" -

"What is a Larp? A LARP (L.A.R.P, larp) is a Live Action Role Playing Game. It's like a freeform movie where players are the actresses and actors. While there is no set script, players are given a brief character history, a character name badge, items, currency, and any game pieces necessary (dice, pencil, character statistics). There is no physical contact and combat is done by dice rolls. The game emphasizes drama, negotiations, trading, mysteries, problem solving, manipulation, and delightful chaos."

A "freeform movie" where it "emphasizes drama, negotiations, trading, mysteries, problem solving, manipulation, and delightful chaos." Well, unless you roleplay online, you won't get a whole lot of that at any given weekend game, at least not at my park or any park I have played at. In fact, you probably won't see this at just about any park on a weekly basis, aside from the occasional quest or "roleplay day".

Let's look at another definition.

From "What is LARP?" -

"Before I begin, one thing should be made clear. There is no physical violence or contact between players during the game. There are no drugs allowed, and this includes drinking. This also includes [anything consumed] before [the] game as well. If someone is found to be drunk or under the influence of drugs, they are asked politely to leave. These rules are for the safety of the players and are strictly enforced by the coordinating team and the players themselves. I hope this alleviates any apprehension or concern.

"Some say that LARP is the most challenging ad-lib acting they have encountered. But put simply, LARP is the enactment and interaction of character personas. Players create their characters according to established rules. Then, acting as their characters would, they endeavor to interact with other characters. As with any interaction between people, there are always problems and confrontations between characters. This helps to contribute to the plot of the game."

It is things like "no physical violence" and "ad-lib acting" that catch my eye. There is a lot of one, and very little of another in Amtgard.

"LARP is the enactment and interaction of character personas." In Amtgard, while we are required to have personas (in theory), we are not required to play them. NOTHING in our rules says we must fake an English accent just because our persona is English, or that I must wear fake ears because I am an elf. These are all things we do on our own, not enforced by our rules.

To really get a feel for what a LARP is, why not look at the various games that call themselves a "LARP". is a good start.

They all require a few basic things, and are similar to Amtgard. You play a character (persona). That character has a history. You should dress like this character. Most also include rules governing how to make your character, what they should wear, and how to act. Player interaction is a part of the rules, and enforced by the rules.

That is where Amtgard is different. We have no such rule. While we do allow for role playing, and there is plenty of live action, we are not a LARP for the simple reason that the role playing is not required by our rules.

Make a persona, create a history. You have to have it, but you don't have to use it. Make garb that is fitting for your persona, but you don't have to wear it.

I am not here to debate that this is the right or wrong way. I favor roleplaying personally. I am a flurb, I roleplay, and I do many a 'stupid' thing in the process. I would gladly give up a real game advantage in the interest of roleplaying, because to me it is more important to have fun than to win. I have fun through how I choose to play my role.

My argument, however, is simple. Amtgard is not a LARP. Amtgard is, in my opinion, a Fantasy Medieval Combat Game.

And just in case you still don't get it... Amtgard is not a LARP.

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