Sunday, June 14, 2009

Live Action

As most of you probably know, table-top roleplaying is just one way of gaming. There's also LARP. This comes in many forms. The two most common are fantasy roleplay, through societies such as IFGS, and Vampire. There's no real reason to limit it to those sorts of games; I don't see why a live-action Wild West game is out of the question.

Of course, if you want to get technical, "Cops and Robbers" is a form of LARP. So is "playing house" and all the other make-believe games that kids play. Which reminds me of an essay I read in one of my Changeling books...

Steve Herman writes in an article entitled "Oh Boy! A Cat's Eye Shooter!" from the Changeling Player's Guide about how the imagination, the firm belief in things wondrous and magical, is the most precious gift that people have, and the loss of that belief as we grow to adulthood is a terrible tragedy. The author describes how he and his fellow gamers got out their old toys, action figures and the like. They tried to play with them, as they had when they were younger. It wasn't fun for them. They couldn't "create jungles from houseplants or deserts from carpet."

So they returned to the table. They played Changeling; they found that wonder again. They tried to steal a Wayne Gretsky rookie card, and chased a purple Snozzwanger through the alleys.
Basically, that's what roleplaying is: adults participating in the old childhood games of make-believe. There are more rules, the stories told are more complex, and it often tends to be more violent (or, at least, the violence is greatly codified). But it's still make-believe.

So why not get up from the table and do it live-action?

Well, for one reason, there are many things that can't be done live-action. There was a Werewolf live-action game. But I can't help wondering: doesn't it hurt the suspension of disbelief when you're supposed to shift into your eight-foot tall death-machine wolf-man form? Or even into pure wolf form? What about fantasy games, where there are teleport spells and invisibility potions?

Some things are easy to overcome. IFGS uses foam-padded boffer weapons to simulate combat. Vampire disallows physical contact between players of any sort, at all, ever (which I personally think is a bad idea, but what do I know?). I've seen a live-action society that uses different coloured tennis balls (basically) to represent fireball spells, lightning bolt spells, and ice bolt spells. But how about that invisibility? One system has a rule in which a character crosses his arms over his chest to indicate that he is invisible. Awfully hard to separate player knowledge from character knowledge in that scenario, isn't it?

I don't know. I suppose there's something to be said for LARP, but I tried it once, and it didn't do much for me. I prefer not to have my imagination hampered by physical reality.

That was a really unfocussed and meandering post. I'm sorry. But there it is. So for now, until next week: 

Game on!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've never been very clear on how strict the Vampire no touching policy is. I mean, are people not allowed to even shake hands? And you can't have people in the same space without them occasionally bumping into each other . . . it just seems odd to me.