BY ERIC LORTIE
Once a month or so during the late spring, summer and early fall, you can go and do some great wilderness camping just 30 minutes outside of Sydney for $40, although your first time is free.
But you might want to bring armour. And a weapon. Or two. And some spells.
Live-Action Roleplaying, or LARP, is a pretty big deal in Europe. Easy travel between countries results in events with thousands of players. They dress up in authentic armour like medieval European soldiers, Samurai, Orcs from Lord of the Rings, or any number of other fantastic creatures. They then become those characters. There’s combat with foam weapons and plot, just like in a TV show, written by countless talented individuals. People get to live the entertainment rather than simply watching it.
LARP has been in Canada for some time and has only recently made it to Cape Breton, but it’s found pretty spectacular growth. Coming up on midway through its second season, Underworld LARP: Tempest Grove is part of a national chain. There are 12 other franchises, or guilds, in Canada. Tempest Grove, our Cape Breton guild, is one of the fastest growing ones.
It’s hard to describe, so here’s a video:
There is no set demographic for the type of person who enjoys LARP. LARPers work at CBU, they work at Walmart, they are programmers. They are single, or married, or parents. They are 18 or they are in their 50s. They play Dungeons & Dragons or they play video games or they play board games or they play cards. In some cases the only thing they have in common is that they enjoy LARP.
All of that is because LARP is incredibly inclusive and, above all else, about having fun. That’s why people keep going back. That’s why people who have never acted before come up with incredibly complex backstories for their characters. It’s escapism of the finest sort. It promotes exercise, introspection, empathy and problem solving.
The motto of Underworld LARP is: Run – Fight – Hide. It’s an 18+ fantasy/horror LARP. The horror is pretty low key, but it’s exhilarating having to circle around a campfire because there are people in the woods nearby who want to attack you with foam swords and you need to defend yourself.
It’s easy to hear all of this and think “This isn’t for me.” And that may be true. But it’s worth considering that almost everyone who has come out to one game has come out for multiple games. As they return, they have more gear, more developed characters, and have become more integral parts of the community.
You can find out more about that community here: facebook.com/groups/TempestGroveLARP/
And the official Facebook page for the organization is here: facebook.com/tempestgrove/
The next full-weekend LARP event is August 11th to 13th. If you’re interested there’s plenty of time to check it out and prepare. People are really keen to help new players learn the rules and come up with gear.