Last week on The Dork Forest, Jackie Kashian learned about LARPing from Christian Brown and Roselle Hurley, with Jackie’s husband Andy sitting in and offering his own thoughts as a game designer and general GM-type person. Christian and Roselle run an ongoing LARP called Starship Valkyrie.
As my mental conception of LARPing is jammed somewhere between that one truncated Vampire session I played in high school and what I’ve picked up about combatty LARPs in the woods with foam weapons and beanbags as magic missiles, I appreciated Christian and Roselle providing a great example how a LARP doesn’t necessarily have to be high drama scheming or swinging foam or rattan swords.
And I still very much wish Jackie would record a session or two of her group’s role-playing campaign, just to hear how she plays a character. Tactical? High character? Munchkinly? I want to know!
The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society is a group dedicated to the Cthulhu Lives live action roleplaying game — LARP for short — which itself is a thematic, if not direct, cousin of the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, wherein investigators brush up against great and terrible beings with a frightening regularity. Their motto, Ludo Fore Putavimus, translates as “we thought it would be fun.”
Among the various resources the HPLHS offers to people interested in putting on LARPs are a number of PDFs of printable props. When outfitting oneself to take the role of an adjunct faculty member of Miskatonic University, you can go forth with Massachusetts driver’s license, Miskatonic Library card and the telegram from your reclusive Uncle Boris all in your hip pocket.
My particular favorite is the Miskatonic Library Conversion Kit. You can turn any book into a tome from the restricted collection. Snag some spine band-aids from your local public library for hardcore verisimilitude.
Even if you’re not a LARPer, a few well-placed props to pull out at the game table can do wonders. When the players come across the bloated corpse in the well, the first thing they’ll do, after choking down the bile, will be to check the poor soul’s wallet. Now you can throw one down on the table.
And this stuff isn’t good just for period Cthulhu games. Typewritten driver’s licenses and library cards will fit in anywhere from the late nineteenth century up to well into the 1980s, at least, depending on locale. (Until 2002, my own license was typewritten with no photo, albeit on a flexible piece of plastic.)