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Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role Playing Games

by Lizzie Stark

Pub Date: May 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-56976-605-7
Publisher: Chicago Review

Freelancer Stark trains her journalistic eye on the real-life realms of make-believe mages, goblins and elves.

Larpers—those fanatical folks who dress up in medieval costumes on the weekend in order to chase pretend beasties through hotel lobbies and wooded campgrounds—are a peculiar bunch, and the author knows them well. Like her, a great many larpers (derived from the acronym LARP, for Live Action Role-Playing) are highly accomplished people representing a diverse range of professional fields—definitely not the cheeseball-eating basement dwellers they’re so often accused of being. Stark’s keen observational skills and crisp writing style successfully cut through those hackneyed stereotypes to reveal the very real people who are drawn to deeply imaginary worlds. There is the Fox News–watching game master who continuously frets over the welfare of his players, as well as the father-and-son teams whose familial bonds only grow stronger with each passing year they spend slaying monsters together. Most of the profiles are rich, unexpected and compelling. The only commonality between them is the deeply held desire to leave the daily grind—often known to larpers as Mundania—far behind. Stark attempts to take the uninitiated into the larpers’ world, and she mostly succeeds. Eventually, however, the discussions about differing gaming mechanics, regulations and monetary systems grow tedious. The people populating these weekend worlds of wizards and witches are infinitely more intriguing than the arcane ways in which they are governed.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the world of live action role-playing—and some stuff you didn’t.