Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chainmail and Skinny Jeans: Confessions of a LARPer

Okay, okay it’s time to come clean. I’m a LARPer. There, I said it.
No longer content to roll dice onto Mountain Dew-stained graph paper, I’ve taken my obsession with all things swords, magic, elves and dragons out of the basement and onto the field of battle.
For the uninitiated, LARPing stands for Live Action Role-Playing. Rules vary among different LARPing groups, but essentially you dress in medieval/fantasy garb and wail on one another with foam swords in a park or soccer field that will tolerate your weirdness. I’d describe it as full contact Dungeons & Dragons.
At first, I was hesitant to admit my newfound pastime. I mean, on the nerdo scale, LARPers fall somewhere just slightly below Furries. When questioned by my friends about the ever-growing armory in my closet, I told them I’d joined a medieval combat society, which I thought had a more socially acceptable ring to it.
I mean, when you think of a typical LARPer, what comes to mind? A chubby, asthmatic neckbeard with cool ranch Dorito breath right? Some forever alone motherfucker who’s real life is so pathetic that they resort to living in a fantasy world where they can be feared, respected and sucked off nightly by Liv Tyler? Yeah, me too. Yet I’ve been LARPing for several months now and not once have I felt the urge to don a silk dragon shirt and tuck it into my cargo shorts or pull my hair into a greasy ponytail. In fact, everyone I’ve met LARPing has been super cool and I’ve been having such a blast that all my friends, even the ones who scoffed at first, have gotten into it too.
Your interest is piqued, I can tell. Therefore, the following is a description of my experience thus far.
Now: my first order of business was to come up with a character to role-play. Eventually, I chose to be a human Ranger. Here is his backstory in brief:

Name: Davin Gale-Kin AKA Night-Arrow
Race: Human
Class: Ranger
Age: Speculated in his 23rd summer
Known associations: The Explorer’s Guild, The Brotherhood of the Rain
Alignment: Chaotic Good
This stoic and often grim Ranger, was once a feared assassin known only as "The Wolf" in the employ of High Magister Solonus Celeste.
Escaping from a life of crime and murder, Davin found solace and redemption in the rainy wilderness. Taken in by the native elves and trained in the arts of the ranger, Davin embarked upon a new life as a servant of good and justice.
Though he had at last found peace and purpose, Davin found himself swept up in the tide of a war that threatens the entire realm. Now Davin must fight for something greater than himself while struggling against his own violent inner nature and the beast he fears is forever a part of him, lurking just below the surface.

I know: cool, right?
So I had a character I wanted to play, but the next step was looking the part. Most LARPing groups I’ve read about require that their members dress in period garb, though most are generally pretty relaxed about this rule for newbies. However, with my experience cosplaying as well as an innate desire to always look like a badass, I went balls out on my Ranger garb.

"Your author obviously about to be wrist deep in babes"

I acquired my leather vest at a thrift store for $3. My gloves were Army surplus and cost $10. I found my cloak at a vintage shop for about $30. My baldric was a killer eBay find and ended up only being like $8. The Pièce de résistance was my leather shoulder armor which ran me about $60 and was another rad eBay purchase. All in all, I spent a little over $100 on my garb, though for the less invested, cloth for a simple tunic likely wouldn’t cost more than $10 at a fabric or craft store.
But enough about how kick-ass I looked. I was ready for my first event. And let me tell you, it. Was. Fucking. AWESOME! Seriously you guys, it was better than the first time I touched a boob. I fought with these nerdos for hours. I defeated a werewolf, joined forces with an order of middle-aged Knights, destroyed a mask of corruption and I even saw the goblin queen’s nip pop out of her corset. At the end of the day, I was exhausted, sore, battered, bruised and ready for more.
So now, forged anew in the fires of pretend war, I face the picnic tables full of snickering hipsters unafraid and without enough middle fingers for how much of a fuck I don’t give. I’m a LARPer and proud of it.

So fare thee well denizens of the internet. Hope to see you out there. Here’s some links to cool shit:

Dargarth - The LARPing group I am involved with.
Foam smithing - Good tutorials on how to make your own LARP weapons.
Darkon - Award winning documentary about LARPing. Watch it, it's awesome.

Daniel Byrne is a verbose badass who chain smokes and drinks copious amounts of whiskey in Seattle, WA. You can follow his sarcastic stream of consciousness on twitter.

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