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An Overview of LARP

What is LARP?

LARP or Live Action Role Playing, is an exciting pastime which allows people to take on the role of somebody else - usually in a specific storyline and setting. In essence, you are playing an alternate persona, which has their own personality, morals and goals – that may not necessarily adhere to your own. Many larpers (people who participate in LARP) enjoy the chance to engage in their alternate persona and interact with like-minded individuals. Some LARPs are akin to war games with an emphasis on action and simulated combat, some are more like interactive theatre. Many LARPs stand somewhere in between these description. LARP is international with communities running events and games all over the world.

LARP in the UK is believed to have started in the early 1980s with the “Dungeons and Dragons” style game Treasure Trap at Peckforton Castle. It's estimated that there are around 200 separate LARP organisations in the UK. Some LARPs don't have any combat at all, with the whole purpose being able to determine or complete a given plot objective and crank up the atmosphere or intrigue in the absence of combat. Sometimes these LARPs are more about exploring character drives and motivations than following a defined plot.

There are different roles in which participants can take within a LARP/LRP game. Primarily these are split into player and crew roles.

A player is someone who has invested in the game and wants to get the most out of it for their character. Players may be combatant characters such as fighters, skirmishers, rogues, swashbucklers or battlemages, or non-combatant characters such as scholars, crafters, alchemists, surgeons or traders. Alternatively, players can take elements from both combative and non-combative fields to make a more in depth character.

Crew is a term given to any member who shows up solely to interact with the players passively as non-player characters or NPCs who aim to steer the players to drive the plot forward, or as monsters/enemies for the players to fight. The crew members do what the referees or game organisers tell them to, to ensure the plot runs as smoothly as possible.

The referees and game organisers help create and run the event. They are responsible for all the administration and site hire. They also write the plot and have the responsibility to ensure that everyone plays safely and that people know how to play properly, how to check that their weapons are safe (if weapons are used), that bows are used correctly, and that people know where to find first aiders if they are required. All of these things are covered by some games in the game induction briefing or ‘new player briefing’ prior to the start of game. This is a fairly typical example of how a LARP organisation is set up, but you will find that different LARPs have different ways of doing things.

As you may have now noticed, LARP has it's own lexicon of terms and phrases. If you hear someone say “In character” they are referring to times, events or areas where you play as your character. “Out of character” refers to times where you are your actual self or are in areas which are deemed to be out of game. For the best LARP experience, it is best to avoid mixing the two unless you really need to, such as when you would need to ask a game referee for advice or help. It should be noted as well that different styles of LARP use different terms. For example, some use the terms “curator” and “volunteer” instead of organiser and crew. Please refer to the Terminology page for more details of the terms we use in our events.

The fantasy “Sword and Sorcery” genre is still the most popular theme for LARPs in the UK however, you can find LARPs in the UK and round the world that are inspired by steampunk, all kinds of sc-fi, supernatural mystery and various periods of history- just to name a few. Some LARPs have no fantasy element at all and are set in the “real world”. Not all LARPs are run as pure entertainment. There are abstract and artistic LARPs. Some LARPs even explore social and political issues. You name it, someone's probably done a LARP about it.

So why play Insomnia?

Most LARP/LRP systems are very different to Insomnia LRP, for several reasons. Firstly, it would be honest to say that we are a relatively new and therefore small scale system and are still in the process of finding our feet in the LARPing world.

Insomnia LRP is a horror-survival game designed to be as immersive as possible. Therefore, it is not like a typical, LARP system and is not family friendly: (as in appropriate for ages 7+) It is not suitable for those under 18 years of age, due to elements of a disturbing nature and the stress which can be put upon the player from lack of sustenance, hydration or sleep. You will typically begin with only the clothes on your back and any medication required, making the game ideal for new players who do not have much kit (yes, LARP kit can get pricey). Plot will not be revealed before the game and you will go into the game blind for the most part, with only a starting brief to explain how you got to where you are. Weapons, food, and water are all to be obtained during the game. Our events focus on elements of horror, survival, atmosphere, suspense and the occasional bit of gore where relevant.

Every Insomnia LRP event is bespoke and there was no overlying campaign initially; however, since our fourth event in 2018 an overlying campaign has been formed. Additionally, players are either themselves or are given specific archetypes to play by the game team, depending on the scenario, which allows for players to roleplay effectively together.

Our events are fully immersive, which means that is there is no out-of-character time once the game has started until the end of the event. Disturbing occurrences are likely and can happen at any time, day or night. Our events last for 48 hours. The rule system is light and pretty self-explanatory, most of it coming down to common sense.

So if you have a thirst for adventure and fancy being thrown in the deep end for your first LARP, or if you are a LARP veteran who wants a change of scenery from the stereotypical myriad of other LARP systems, come along and give it a go!

Is Insomnia the event for me?

Insomnia is a unique and intense horror experience - so we want to be clear to potential players about what Insomnia is and isn’t.

Insomnia Is:

  • A game of personal, physical and emotional horror.
  • A game of survival, puzzles and character interaction.
  • An immersive, atmospheric experience where players stay ‘In Character’ for the entirety of the event.
  • An event that can be physically and psychologically demanding.
  • An event that may contain scares, discomfort and graphic horror content.
  • A game of very simple rules and mechanics.
  • A game where character survival is possible but less likely than in many other larp events

Insomnia Is Not:

  • A relaxing and ‘comfortable’ event.
  • A game with complex game mechanics, skill lists and rules.
  • A game where you necessarily are fed regular and full meals.
  • A ‘casual’ game where players regularly drop out of character or make out of game comments.
  • A comedy game. Dark humour may surface in-game but mainly, your characters will have very little to laugh about.
  • A combat heavy event- expect flight, rather than fight!