Looking back over my blog posts, I’m astounded at how rarely I mention my LARPing days. This should probably change, as it was what my whole life revolved around for close to four years.
Firstly, for the uninitiated, what is LARPing? It’s short for Live Action Role Playing. The quickest way if describing it is that once a week I’d dress up in a costume and go out to a park with a group of friends. We would then proceed to have fights using pool noodle swords and yell the magic spells that our fantasy-based game (Amtgard) had. It’s a bit more complicated than that, with playing the roles of characters and solving puzzles in quests, but that’s the general gist of it.
It sounds strange, I know. When our local group was first founded and my best friend and I were invited to join, we almost didn’t go. But we figured that it was worth trying out – and it sure sounded safer than the fighting with wooden swords we’d been doing – so we went and we were hooked. We both became part of the core of the group and were soon heavily involved in running the group.
If I had gone with my initial “that’s weird” instinct and never joined, I would have missed out on some amazing experiences. Two, in particular, come to mind. I think of them as being “movie experiences” because... well, they felt like I was in the middle of a movie. They felt like they shouldn’t be possible, yet they were happening.
The first happened at an event called Battle of the Dens, hosted by the largest Amtgard group in Canada. Hosted on a large, forested private property, this event allowed us to have night-time battles. As I am a sneaky type, and played as an assassin, this suited me quite well. One night, a group of us ran a mini-game were one team played the a caravan and the other – a team of assassins – set up ambushes. It was wonderful, but one moment stands out the most. The team of six assassins were stalking our prey, creeping through a field of long grass under the starry sky. I stuck my head above the level of grass to get my bearings, and saw nothing but a field of grass stretched out before me. Then another head popped up. And another. Just like raptors in Jurassic Park. One by one, we vanished back down into the grass. It was amazing.
Still, as great as that was, it doesn’t compare in outright feeling to a three-way battle we had one day. This was during a summer when our group had its largest number of members. There were three teams of about ten people each, competing with each other. Being clever and strategic, my team was letting the other two weaken each other until they caught on to what we were doing. Then they teamed up against us. Our small team was down a hill from the other two, and I was at the head. The enemy army, twice the size of ours, came pouring down the hill. I stepped out into the fray, swinging to the left and right, cutting down my enemies as they streamed past me to engage with the rest of my army. It was a glorious moment, straight out of a movie, and before I had done it myself I never believed it was possible to survive an onslaught like that. But, I did, and we won – and though it was “only” part of a game, to this day it remains one of the greatest moments of my life.
Yet, every now and then, I wonder, what would have happened if I’d decided not to try out this game that I first thought was crazy – as do most people I tell about it. How many experiences would I have missed out on, just because I thought it might be embarrassing to dress up and go sword-fighting in public? Or because I was shy and uncertain about joining a group of mostly strangers? Some things we just have to try to find out what they’re really like. Otherwise we can miss out on the most important experiences of our lives.
Click here to find the charity anthology containing a couple of my short stories.