On Theatre-Style Larping

By Adam Hurley

Like any roleplaying game you are playing a character, a persona who you think and act as if that person. Ultimately what separates tabletop roleplaying from larping is the act of doing instead of saying “My character crouches behind that tree” you will walk behind the tree and crouch. In boffer larping there is a limited form of physical combat in the form of boffer weapons and various skills your character can do/use to simulate actual combat. Mind’s Eye Theatre (MET) games don’t feature boffer combat instead using alternate mechanics to resolve challenges. It’s the same idea as rolling a die, there is probability, and various aspects of your character give you bonuses that may alter the probability in your favor.

The biggest difference between boffer larping and MET games is not the physical component but the stark reactive/proactive contrast between them. In boffer games as a player you are fundamentally reacting to almost everything. Staff sets up a battle, a module, a roleplay situation, a puzzle, whatever. Then the players are either brought to it or it is brought to you to engage with, while roleplaying between such encounters.

In MET games other the other hand it’s the opposite, the majority of the game is PC Proactive. Players tell Staff what they want to do and staff makes it a reality. Staff will still run plot without player’s taking the initiative as well, but those tend to be the minority of the gameplay. I often describe MET as a “Sandbox” game, it’s all what you make of it.. I’d also describe them as something of an in between when it comes to Tabletop RPGs and boffer larps. You are still active and roleplay more, but you still feature a non physical mechanic for conflict resolution. Further there is often a significantly more going on between players in many MET games, high amounts of intrigue, plotting, and scheming.

I do a lot of larping: For boffer games alone I have PCed 8 different games, staffed 4, and NPC-ed tons of others in nearly every genre. I love Larping all its forms, It’s a hell of a thing to run through in the woods clad furs and chainmail engaged in fast paced melee combat. That said I love a good MET game too, it’s a different type of game but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable or immersive. Yeah I can’t hit someone with a sword, but in a MET game I get to be in the driver’s seat, creating the situation instead of merely reacting to it. I’ve heard some people get put off by the Rock/Paper/Scissors system, feeling like it’s too limiting or silly.It may seem odd at first, but its a quick way to resolve challenges. I always ask such individuals if that is dumb why isn’t rolling a die in a tabletop game? I used to look down on all forms of larping, now I eat and breath it, MET is no different.