The Quick & Dirty Guide To Online Larping
The vastness of space stretches out before you.
You see before you myriad stars, infinite galaxies, an untouched realm of possibility ready to be charted and explored. As a member of the Survey Team for the League of Planets, it’s your job to be right on the edge of this new frontier. Along with three crewmates, you’ve been asked to set out and survey an alien world.
But when one of you becomes infected by a mind-controlling alien parasite, how can you determine which one? And once you do, what then? The parasite is alien life, and you’re not supposed to kill sentient life.
Welcome to the world of online LARP — an interactive story where you take the helm, you make the choices, and you get a chance to live in an immersive world that can be wildly unlike your own.
The spacefaring example above is the premise of Mirror World’s online LARP, Contact. This video-chat based LARP is just one way to approach online LARPing, but it’s not the only way. So what’s out there?
Immersive Online Stories
First things first, though. LARP stands for Live-Action Role Play. The key points being: It’s done live, it involves some kind of action, and it involves playing a role — though the role can be “as yourself.” There’s an abundance of amazing immersive stories online which sit right on the edge between LARPing and performance. These stories are immersive, not necessarily interactive, but are a great way to engage with these wild new worlds and adventures.
But what if you want something where you’re a little more part of the story?
Interactive, Play-As-Yourself Adventures
Sinking a bit deeper into LARPing are stories where you get to take a more active role. You get to walk the dusty streets, bargain with the fae, or visit the alien world. Online larps where you play yourself come into two broad subcategories: Puzzle-based, and Story-based.
Puzzle-based LARPs are often billed as Escape Rooms, but they’re not limited to that specific structure. Sometimes they involve a heist-based storyline (Agent Venture) or international espionage (The Mermaid’s Tongue), frequently they’re set somewhere fantastical (The Bewitched Circus) or otherwise strange (The Crypt). Like traditional Escape Rooms, usually involve a limited time and a hunt for clues, but not necessarily an escape from a location… and of course, since they’re all done remotely, you’re never in any physical constraint.
Story-based LARPs draw you into a tale where you take a key role. In Mirror World Creations’ The Girl On The Phone, you receive a call from a kidnapped woman who needs your help; in Walk the Night’s Tales By Candlelight, scents from custom candles are used to evoke the mood and draw out the experience of an improvised story. But in both of these kinds of LARPs, you’re playing you.
What if you want to take on a whole new persona?
Online LARPs where you can play as someone totally unlike yourself can take many forms.
Wanna create your own character? There are LARPs like The Loop, from Not Only Larp, where you can do just that. The Loop is inspired by the Netflix show, The Circle, and explores themes of social media, popularity, and appearances.
If writing a character from scratch sounds tough, and you want to have an idea to get started with so you can craft a character that will fit in the game, there are LARPs that are perfect for you. LARPs like Contact, from Mirror World Creations, give you a pre-written character sheet you can start with.
And of course there are in-betweeners; LARPs like Strife, from The Geek Initiative, where you arrive with a character concept, and the facilitators help you workshop it in order to provide connections with the other characters.
Well, we’ve provided links to all the larps we’ve mentioned, but in case you want to hear about our larps in particular…
Contact is a two-hour larp written specifically for video chat. It is a Star-Trek-style sci-fi LARP of discovery, trust, and dilemma. Contact is written for four people, and usually that means you have to find three other friends to play it with. But on May 28th, we’re running a special event where anyone can jump right in and join the story. Sign up for Contact now, choose a character, and you can work together with new friends to solve a morally twisted sci-fi paradox.
The Girl On The Phone is a one hour play-as-yourself larp written specifically for the phone. When a kidnapped woman calls you, begging for aid, can you help her escape her captors?