Larp Rules: How to get the most out of your next larp

Betsy!
3 min readJun 23, 2021

Larp rules? What? You’re looking at this post like I’m crazy. And yeah, for larp newcomers, it may seem crazy to apply rules to something like a larp — something that’s basically an improvisational experience. But hey! Rules actually provide a framework that allows folks in play to have the best time possible. And as a writer of bizarre-o larps (ie larps that are mostly online or by phone) it’s my job to look at things from the perspective of the player as well as my employees; to create the best experience for both, here are five larp rules to make your next online larp experience as awesome as it can be:

Tip #1: Your time is valuable, and so is ours. With an online or phone larp, you’re able to explore the past, the future, and alternate realities of every kind all from your own home. This can feel much more accessible than an in-person larp, and require basically no special costuming, props, weapons, travel to and from the larp location, or accommodation. But this can also make it feel more casual, too. Remember, you’re still paying to play the game, and it still pays to be respectful of the situation and the time. Show up on time for your online or phone larp, and treat it more or less like an in-person larp — one that we spent time crafting, and you spent money to play.

Tip #2: Be open, be curious; think Yes, and. If you wanted to know exactly what was going to happen in an in-person larp, you’d probably be better off going to a play. Likewise, if you wanted to know exactly what was going to happen in a phone larp, you’d listen to an audiobook instead, right? So to get the most out of your next online larp, be open to the story going where it goes, either through a playful openness to bouncing ideas back and forth, or letting yourself be nudged back on track if things get out of hand. The point is play as well as performance.

Tip #3: Respect boundaries. All that said, there are some lines that people can’t or won’t cross. In-person, there are generally rules of good conduct — don’t touch the performers, don’t grab them, don’t treat them disrespectfully. With a phone larp, you can’t really cross those physical boundaries, but there are plenty of ways that players can cross the line even from across the phone line. Don’t hit on performers, don’t ask them personal or intimate questions. And if there are things that are across the line for you, certain subjects or topics that are triggering, upsetting, or just plain squicky, hash those out beforehand when you register. This is all supposed to be fun, so let’s keep it that way.

Tip #4: Make space for play. With a phone larp, you don’t have to travel, have weapons, props, or anything like that, but you do need to have a phone. Make sure your phone is charged beforehand, although it’s fine if you need to plug it in, take a call in an emergency, or if real life intrudes. But, as best you can, set aside the time and space you need for the whole duration of the larp.

Tip #5: Start small, dream big. Mirror World Creations offers phone larps as short as twenty minutes, and those are a great place to start if you’re new. Take a look at our listings for those mostly-solo experiences (some can be played in pairs!), or if you’d rather, take a tutorial or get a group together for our games for two, three or four. After that, maybe throw yourself at something bigger — if you like online, take a bite out of Sinking Ship Creations #WeAreNecropolis, or if you’re ready for the real world, perhaps one of Incantrix Production’s pub crawls, or whatever else is around to play at a location near you.

But, look, this isn’t just a sales pitch. I’m genuinely excited about bringing in new players to online and phone larping adventures, and I want to set each and every one of you up for the best experience you can have. Be creative, be imaginative, be respectful, and your online larp experience will be well on its way to being amazing.

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