Sure, many of us grow up role-playing alternate realities that revolve around fantasies of, say, being stranded in the woods or discovering a new alien planet. But admit it: There’s some hidden part of you that craves a role-playing outlet as a fully fledged grown-up. Turns out, you can do just that if you’re a member of LARP House, a member-powered collective that offers Live-Action Role-Playing games to the public with a focus on marginalized communities. LARP House hosts mostly “theater style” LARPs inspired by many LARP traditions.
Where to find LARP games to play
Interested in trying LARP, but not sure where to begin? Of course, checking out LARP House is a good start – but the group’s members also offered up these resources and game suggestions.
“Sign: A Game About Being Understood” by Thorny Games
Description: Nicaragua in the 1970s had no form of sign language. But in 1977, something happened. Fifty deaf children from across the country were brought together to an experimental school in Managua. Without a shared language to express themselves, the children did the only thing they could: They created one. In “Sign,” we follow a small piece of their journey.
Kathy: “Sign: A Game About Being Understood” was the first game I ever ran, and it was really fun, easy, super accessible and really good!
“Still Life” by Wendy Gorman, David Hertz and Heather Silsbee (LARP House)
Description: Still Life is a game about relationships and their inherent instability due to forces beyond our control. Also rocks.
Tom: It’s great for new players because it doesn’t require any elaborate setup, while still giving you a unique experience (when else do you get to pretend to be a rock?)
“Are you There God? It’s the Quarterly Earnings Report” by Margo Grey
Description: A LARP about faith, friendship and finding meaning for a group of five to eight players and one facilitator that is conducted through a video conferencing system. You are an angel convening with your coworkers for your quarterly meeting, where you’ll be electing the angel who will lead this division for the next thousand years. It could get ugly.
Kathy: “Are you There God? It’s the Quarterly Earnings Report” is a fun game because it plays online in just about exactly an hour, and it’s extremely smart and funny. It just won an award, too!
“Juggernaut” by Jason Morningstar
Description: It is July 3rd, 1950. The Korean War is eight days old. National Security Council Report 68 is sitting on Harry Truman’s desk, a grim outline of the Cold War that is to about to engulf the world for the next 40 years. Alan Turing’s paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” is circulating for review. Cinderella is a box-office sensation.
And you have invented a computer that can see the future.
Tayler: “Juggernaut” is a very good game and can be played in a small group.
The Golden Cobra Challenge is a friendly contest open to anyone interested in writing and playing freeform LARP.
Tom: The “Golden Cobra” Challenge is a yearly LARP-writing competition, and their archives are full of good stuff. Almost all are beginner friendly and easy to run. Many years had categories for things like “Best Game that Non-Gamers Can Understand, Play, and Enjoy” (2017), “Most Appealing to Newcomers” (2014) or “Best Game for New Larpers” (2019). You can be certain the winners in those categories will fit that bill, and many of the other entrants throughout the years do as well, as making LARPs for beginners has been a consistent focus of this competition.
Kathy: Just dig into the library at “Golden Cobra.” It’s among the best collection of short, off-the-shelf games out there. It’s bound to inspire you! If not, reach out to LARP House, and we’ll help you out!
LARPs from the Factory
LARPS from the Factory is the supporting website for the book by the same name. The book contains 23 LARP scripts that enable you to run LARPs that have been designed for the LARP Factories in Oslo and Trondheim.
Tayler: For a larger group, the LARPS From the Factory collection has a wide variety of things, but “Before and After Silence” and “Limbo,” in particular, are easy to put on and very effective regardless of experience level.
And last, but not least: “A Crow Funeral” by Tim Hutchings
Description: In “A Crow Funeral,” the players will take the roles of opinionated crows arguing the cause of death of a member of their murder. At the beginning of play, players will split apart for a short while, then come together and join as a group.
Check out the extended scene of A Crow Funeral featured in the Minnesota Niche LARP House episode Rain, umbrellas and a fake crow not required.
Minnesota Niche Lightning Round: LARP Favorites
On the hunt for your own Minnesota Niche group? Check out these stories about other social adventures in niche-dom.
Special Thanks: Tim Hutchings
Production Team: Bernie Beaudry, Joe Demko, Ezra Gold, Anne Guttridge, Ryan Klabunde, Brennan Vance
This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.
Choosing works that are germane to small-town communities, performing them in venues important to the community’s history, and working with local community artists, Sod House Theater’s productions are relevant, intimate, and immersive. Discover more about how this theater company stages productions beyond the confines of a stage.
When Bix drove across the state of Minnesota in the ‘picture car’ from the movie Fargo, he ended up in his own Coen-esque adventure. This is one My MN Story you don’t want to miss.