So yesterday I made a dig at live action role players that’s the height of irony, considering I’m the kind of person that can still calculate a THAC0 without a Dungeon Master’s Screen while raiding Molten Core, so I feel the need to make amends. Not only that, but my fianceé has a sordid LARPing past and a large number of my friends and neighbors in Pennsylvania are heavily into the LARP scene. Additionally I’m being dragged to my first event in late April, so I figured I’d better get the apology out before I get a blanket party thrown in my honor the first night I’m there.
I’ve never made any bones about how I’m not what you would call a member of “mainstream” society. Sure, I might be able to hide my power level pretty well at a job interview or something, but I’ve always been more comfortable with a book or a video game controller in my hand, or at the keyboard of a computer. I have many, many hobbies and interests that have gotten me labelled as a complete fucking loser, but even as I cried myself to sleep countless nights on my Empire Strikes Back bed sheets, I could at least comfort myself by saying, “Well, at least I’m not a LARPer.”
You see, for me there was a strict nerd and fandom hierarchy. The top of the food chain were the fantasy baseball nerds, as they were pretty much just statistics majors masquerading as jocks, and then underneath them were fans of horror, science-fiction, and fantasy movies and literature, then Japanese manga and anime fans, followed by videogamers, then pen-and-paper RPG players and wargamers, and finally LARPers (there are tiers underneath LARPers – namely filkers, furries, and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fans, but I’m not going to go there. You’re welcome.).
My reasoning behind the nerd power rankings in having pen-and-paper RPGers at a higher tier than LARPers was, while an RPGer will gather up his 50 pounds’ worth of game rule books, his giant bag of polyhedral dice, his Family Size bag of Cheetos and his six-pack of Mountain Dew, and get together with a group of his fellow basement-dwelling neckbeard power metal fans, at least it’s in private. The thrill lies in the secret shame/thrill of having a double life, where on Saturday nights you get to pretend you’re a nymph-raping orc barbarian that uses his massive schvantz as a siege engine (because let’s face it – unless The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is playing at your local $2 movie theater, you’re not going out on a Saturday night).
But LARPers… man, to the typical shut-in RPGer, deathly afraid that his entire high school might find out about his proclivities, LARPers seemed like the worst kind of exhibitionist freaks. Are they crazy? we would think. You’re going out in public? Beating the shit out of each other with foam swords and tossing little bean bags at one another? Watching the Society for Creative Anachronism at the local Renaissance Faire was one thing, but getting out there and doing it yourself? Outside? It seemed like sheer madness!
In a way I think basement dwellers are sort of in awe, and maybe a little bit jealous, of the LARPer’s ability to not give a fuck and just do this ridiculous shit out in public. Of course, you can also make a case for LARPers being a little more disconnected from reality than pen-and-paper RPGers by running around dressed up like the cast of True Blood in public with a pair of fake fangs in and then not expecting people to call the cops.
Anyway, this is the dilemma I find myself in, especially with my inaugural event looming on the horizon. It’s especially important to my fiancée and my friends down here because they were heavily involved in a fantasy LARP together for years and years, and many of the people that were on staff of this first game are working on creating and running this new one – so people’s hopes are incredibly high. I also want to support my friends, so I’ve got to just kind of put my preconceptions aside and do it in the spirit of solidarity, but damn if I’m not going to feel awkward as fuck that weekend, especially if I’ve got to beat someone wearing green body paint and fake horns with a foam-covered stick.
Oh well. At least check out the Facebook page for the new game, if you have a chance. And if you’re going to be near Montrose, Pennsylvania in late April, think about checking it out. I could use some backup.