Frequently Asked Questions
What is LARP?
LARP is an acronym that stands for Live Action Role Play. Live Action Role Playing is classification of gaming with the foundational aspect being a real-time, physical acting-out of a role/character within a set rules system. This differs from other role-playing games where you only say/roll/click/type what your character would do.
How the game is played depends on the specific LARP, as each has its own rules system. Like any other structured game, there is almost always a rulebook to describe the exact system of play. Different LARPs can be as different as basketball from football –just because both of those use balls and are both categorized as “competitive team sports” doesn’t make them very comparable beyond that. The same logic applies to different LARP games.
Alliance LARP differs itself from most other LARPs in that it is a role-playing game with some battles, rather than a battle game with some role-playing. Emphasis on character development, complex plots, and fantastic costuming also help distinguish Alliance from other LARPs. In all aspects of LARPing, from costumes to combat, Alliance strives to be the best.
What is Alliance LARP?
Alliance LARP is a full-immersion, religion-free, alcohol-free, classic fantasy live action role playing game. Players use improvisational acting to collectively live out a tale of epic adventure. Every player has the ability to impact the story and plot lines, as Player Characters (PCs) are given complete freedom in how their characters act (but every action can have consequences, and there is an in-game system of law with characters to enforce it).
For character creation, there are a total of 15 different races for players to choose from, such as Dwarves, Elves, and a variety of Alliance-specific races. There are also many in-game skills for players to utilize in the course of the game. Different races have different advantages and disadvantages to using various skills. There are no in-game “classes” for characters, however, out-of-game classes exist in order for characters to efficiently specialize in skill groups, such as combat or magic. Characters can specialize in more than one group of skills.
Alliance has a system of magic similar to most standard fantasy game magic. There are “general” magic spells, as well as two specialized schools of magic: Earth magic (a form of magic that revolves around healing forces from the earth) and Celestial magic (a form of magic that revolves around elemental forces from the sky). Magic spells are represented with birdseed-filled fabric packets. A caster says the spell’s incantation and then throws the packet at the target. The packet must be hit the target for the spell to take effect. Archery and alchemy (poison gas globes) are also packet-based.
Combat in Alliance is done in real-time with boffer-style weaponry. The most basic type of boffer is PVC pipe with pipe insulation foam and duct tape covering it, with open cell tips for safety. Weapon construction guidelines (found in the Alliance Rule Book) are strictly enforced and each weapon must be safety checked and approved by a Marshal before each event.
Alliance uses a hit-point system rather than a body-location system to simulate combat. The intent of combat is only to simulate combat by “tagging” the opponent with the weapon, rather than fighting at full speed and force. Physically fighting or even coming into physical contact with another player with anything but a boffer or packet is not allowed. There are Marshals who oversee the game and make sure everyone plays safely and by the rules.
This is only the most basic overview of the most basic rules to give a general sense of what Alliance is and is not. The Alliance Rule Book describes these and all the other aspects of the game in much greater detail.
Is there an age requirement?
Yes; you must be at least 16 to fully participate in the Southern Minnesota chapter. If you are age 14 or 15, you may attend only if your parent or guardian (not an older sibling!) is also present and playing. These underage players are called "Pages" and are limited in what they can do (no combat). The Rule Book has more information on Pages. All players under 18 must have a signed release from their parent or guardian in order to attend.
How safe is the game?
Safety is the number one concern when conducting battles in Alliance, and no one has ever been seriously injured at any Alliance event nationwide. Our insurance company has commented that we have had fewer injuries than a little league softball team.
We use foam-padded light plastic pipes as weapons, often referred to as "boffers." The intent of combat is only to simulate real combat by “tagging” the opponent with the weapon, rather than fighting at full speed and force. Physically fighting or even coming into physical contact with another player with anything but a boffer or packet is not allowed. In the event on an accidental injury, Southern Minnesota maintains a paramedic level First Aid kit and has assigned 'Safety Marshals' at every event.
What happens during weekend events?
When you come to one of our weekend events, you will come to our campsite that we use as a fantasy medieval town. Some campsites have cabins, but you may also use tents. The event will begin Friday night. From that point on until the game ends on Sunday afternoon (Monday afternoon on long weekends) there is no stopping; not for dinner, not for sleeping, not for anything short of an emergency. Adventuring will be going on around you at all times, and sometimes something as simple as traveling from your cabin to the tavern can be a matter of life and (in-game) death. A typical weekend event will have you in the thick of things in no time!
What should I do to get started?
First: Get ahold of the Alliance LARP Rulebook, which is available as a free.pdf document. Don't be intimidated by the length of it; begin by reading the parts relevant to what you will be doing. Also download and read some of the Southern Minnesota chapter's Player's Hand Book.
Second: send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to introduce yourself and be set-up with a New Player Marshal. New Player Marshals are experienced players who volunteer to work one-on-one with new players and can answer any questions about the game from character creation to event advice.
Third: register with the Alliance LARP Forums and check out our local Southern Minnesota section. This is where a lot of information is posted in-between games, both in-game and out-of-game.
What are PCs and NPCs?
At Alliance LARP events, there are two types of participants: Player Characters (PCs) and Non-Player Characters (NPCs). You decide which one you will be before the event and are that for the duration of the entire event (in most cases).
Player Characters (PCs) are players who design and live out the event as a single character. PCs have no knowledge of coming events or plot, being the “protagonists” of the story, similar to the main characters of a fantasy adventure book or movie. PCs have free choice to act in character however they so choose.
Non-Player Characters (NPCs) are essentially the supporting roles. NPCs play all monsters, townspeople, and anything else that the Plot Team may need them to play, frequently changing roles throughout the event. NPCs must act according to the Plot Team's instructions and cannot deviate from that. NPCs are the mechanism to make the story move forward, not just to be "enemies" of the PCs.
Please note that the PCs and NPCs do NOT have an "us vs. them" relationship! They both rely on the other to make the game work and have fun! The NPCs set-up situations to "hook" the PCs into ("Help!" My son is trapped in a cave full of big, nasty spiders!"), but PCs have free will to act (or not act) however they choose in regards to the given set-up. PCs can also go to the Plot Team with plot requests during the game ("We'd like to go to the Celestial Magic Guild to see if this nifty looking necklace we found in the spider cave has any magical properties!") and the Plot Team may have NPCs respond to that request. This process is continuously repeated throughout the weekend with several plot lines happening simultaneously.
NPCs are the lifeblood of the game, so as a reward for their assistance, those that NPC are also granted the following:
NPCing your first event is a great way to learn the system, though you certainly can choose to jump right in and PC your first event!
How does it all work?
Alliance LARP is first and foremost a role-playing game that focuses on characters, story lines, and complex plots. As a player, you become your character for the course of the event, which is typically an entire weekend from Friday night through Sunday morning. Everything you say and do is in-character. For this reason, you should design a character that is fun to play for such a long period of time.
In Alliance, your “role” in the world can be almost anything you want to be, from front line fighter willing to defend the town at the slightest hint of danger to an inquisitive scholar seeking to explore the magical world or even a simple bard spending your time entertaining others in the tavern. Over time, you could climb the ranks of nobility, eventually becoming a squire, knight, or other rank of importance. The game world is set-up for you to explore, develop, and expand!
Unlike most fantasy games, “classes” such as fighter or rogue are completely out-of-game. All in-game skills are available for any character, except with certain racial restrictions. The class system is only used out-of-game as a means to efficiently group similar in-game skills. Choice of class will affect the cost of purchasing skills, such as it being more expensive for a Scholar to learn to use a Polearm than for a Fighter. The class system is fluid, however; if you find that your character who once valued books and knowledge now has the lust for battle, you can begin to purchase fighting skills and eventually may choose to switch to the fighter class when the point system works out in your favor. The Alliance Rulebook describes the skill system in greater detail.
The only requirement for your character is that it must be one of the Alliance fantasy races and follow all of the racial requirements or guidelines for that race. This includes proper physical representation of the race through things like makeup and prosthetic ears, as well as racial restrictions on in-game skills. To balance those requirements and restrictions, there are also racial skills available to members of any specific race. High Ogres have the racial skill to resist necromantic effects, Dwarves have a racial advantage for blacksmithing, etc.
Characters also have free choice to react or not react to any given situation, but every action can have consequences. So while it may be fun to play an evil necromancer who wants to raise the dead for a personal army, understand that most other characters would probably fight against that goal if they ever found out, which would probably include trying to kill your character.
Player versus player conflict is allowed, but keep in mind that everyone is here to have fun. Intentionally starting fights with others for no reason than to be a jerk to them is against the rules. Player versus player conflict for legitimate character or plot reasons should be kept entirely in-game. Out-of-game, players often “check-in” with the other, letting them know it’s entirely in-game.
How Combat Works
Combat is done in real-time, so out-of-game athleticism and agility can be a great advantage, especially for dodging. Alliance uses a total hit-point system rather than a body-location system to simulate combat. Players must clearly call out both the amount of damage and the type of damage that their weapon does with each and every swing. For example, an Ice-enchanted short sword could swing for "Two Ice" (not "Twice"- it must be clearly stated).
For force, the swing should only be hard enough to let your opponent know they have been hit. For speed, you may only swing as fast as you can clearly call out the damage. For location, you must vary your locations between each attempted hit and your weapon must make a 45 degree angle change both away from the target and between the attempted locations.
Striking the head, neck, or groin is not allowed, although it does occasionally accidentally happen. Also, hands that are holding a weapon do not count if hit (they are considered part of the weapon). You also cannot duck and hide behind a shield only exposing your head, as your opponent would have no legal target. This is called "turtling" and is not allowed.
If tagged by the opponent, a player subtracts that amount from their Body Points. Armor points are subtracted first, followed by body points. Total hit points are calculated by adding armor point and body point totals. The goal of combat is to get your opponent's hit points to -1 (the lowest you can go), at which point they fall unconscious and being bleeding to death. You can then finish them off with a "killing blow" by gently placing your weapon on their chest with a 3 second count ("Killing blow 1, Killing blow 2, Killing blow 3!").
There are also various advanced skills a character can learn to help in various styles of combat. These are mostly divided between front-line "fighter" skills and back-attacking "rogue" skills.
Armor and Body Points
Armor points are determined by the armor material the player is actually wearing. Armor points are only granted for the use of in-period armor materials (padded cloth, hardened leather, full metal plate, etc.). Sharp edges, spikes, and other dangerous or hazardous designs are not allowed for safety reasons. A Marshal inspects and evaluates armor before each game.
Body point totals are determined initially by race, and then are modified based on out-of-game class of the character (Fighters gain body points much more quickly than Scholars). When your body point total drops below 0, your character is unconscious and bleeding to death. If you do not receive first aid or a healing spell/potion within a certain amount of time, you have bled to death and enter a "death count." At this point, you must be given a Life spell within a certain amount of time, or your character will die and be sent to the Resurrection Circle. Every character gets two "free" deaths, after which there is a cumulative 10% chance to "permanently" die for each additional death. Once permanently dead, that character is forever gone and you create a new one.
In addition to melee combat, packet-delivered effects are used. These packets are small pieces of fabric filled with about a tablespoon of birdseed. Packets are used to simulate archery (bolts or arrows), alchemy (poison gas globes), and magic spells. Packets are color-coded for these different effects: Alchemy packets must be orange, archery packets must be blue, and magic packets can be any other color (except orange or blue). So in addition to melee fighting, you may also have packets flying at you and hitting you with various effects!
Packets are sometimes also used to simulate non-standard effects from monsters, such as a spider shooting webs or a plant spitting seeds. Overall, there is no "imaginary" combat; something will almost always be coming in contact with you to affect you, even if it’s just sound waves from a "Voice Radius" effect (if you can hear it, the effect affects you).
See the Alliance Rule Book for more information on combat.
What should I wear as a PC?
Creating a costume for your character is a very important and very fun part of character development! Your costume for events can be as in depth as you would like to make it, though the minimum requirements are as follows:
You can choose to have lots of outfits to change in and out of as the situation dictates. Or you can have one outfit that you wear all the time. The rest of this is advice to help you decide what to wear and figure out where to get it! Enjoy!
Designing Your Costume:
Deciding what you want to look like is the first step. Dream big! I’d recommend spending some time looking around the internet and movies to decide what kind of look you want. Having an idea of your ideal look can help you make the right decisions when you are in the purchasing and putting together process. Get a bunch of images of the things that you like. You may not get exactly the same look as you found originally, but that’s good! You are playing your own character, not cosplaying! Below are some tips (NOT requirements) to help you get started:
Putting your costume together in three skill level categories:
“I eat clothing patterns for breakfast!”
Making your costume from scratch is one of the best ways to get exactly what you want! You can buy appropriate patterns and fabric from a fabric store. Simplicity and McCall’s both have good patterns. But if you know how to sew, you aren’t reading this part of the website, so we’re going to spend more time talking about what to do if you can’t sew!
“I can thread a needle with the best of them.”
You can definitely alter existing garments. Do you have an old dress? Maybe you can sew some vines on it and make it a dryad costume. Ribbons, bells, fur, chain mail pieces and buttons are excellent ways to alter a garment to look period. A barbarian may take an old pair of army boots and glue fur to them for a perfect pair of savage-looking boots. Even a rectangle of fabric can become a cloak by grabbing the two corners and pinning the front together.
“Needles are used for sewing?”
You are in luck! There are lots and lots of places that you can easily buy a costume. Try to avoid prepackaged costumes, though. These are typically of low quality and are not ideal for an Alliance event. Online and the Renaissance Festival are both always great places to purchase costuming. How much should you spend on costuming? That’s up to you! You can spend hundreds of dollars if you want to (I can point you to the best shoes for a low $400)! However, you certainly don’t need to spend anywhere near that much! You can also look through second hand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army and easily find a lot of great clothing to use at events.
Racial Basics Breakdown
All of the different races in Alliance LARP have unique traits that are described in full in the Alliance Rulebook, but here are a few tips for good racial representation of the non-human races:
What should I wear as an NPC?
If you are NPCing (Non-Player Character) then you just need to wear black. Bring comfortable shoes, black pants and a black shirt (and other weather-appropriate black clothing- it can get cold at night). NPC camp will have lots of costuming for you to put over your base layer of black clothing, lending you the appropriate costuming for whatever role they need you to play! Having pants with pockets is a plus but not strictly necessary, although you may need a way to carry "loot" on your person and pockets certainly help. You might want gloves or a sweatshirt for nighttime, especially in the early spring and fall.
You are also welcome to bring extra costuming! Many of our NPCs bring extra costuming pieces they own personally to use during the event. You may have the perfect shirt to wear as a local farmer, or maybe you want to bring a dress that is definitely your size. This is a wonderful thing to do! Just be prepared to keep it separate from the rest of NPC camps clothing. It’s easy to get stuff mixed up and lost. And we don’t want you to lose your stuff. You can also donate clothing to NPC camp. But that’s a separate matter that you can read about on the donations page.
What should I bring to an event?
There are several categories of things that you will need to bring with you to an event. Use this page as a general checklist, though your individual needs may vary.
General Event Gear
As we use campsites for our events, you should be prepared to be outside and in the woods for long periods of time. If you are not comfortable in the woods/outdoors, it may be difficult for you to be comfortable LARPing. For general out-of-game camping needs, all players should consider bring:
PCs are required to bring everything they need to play their character. The chapter does not provide personal items or in-game items (except as loot). PCs should bring their own:
NPCs are under the direction of the Plot Team, so Monster Camp will provide all the NPCs with all costumes, make-up, and physreps. NPCs should bring:
Additionally, but not required of NPCs, you may want to bring:
As stated at the beginning, this is only a basic list of required and recommended items. Your individual needs may vary.
What are "Goblin Stamps"?
Southern Minnesota Alliance LARP is dedicated to operating a quality game and our staff strives to improve all of the game’s aspects to the best of our abilities. This requires a vast amount of resources and countless hours of work, with our player’s assistance always being appreciated. Player donations of time, supplies, or even cash are just one of the many ways that these needs can be met, with players contributing these donations being rewarded with what we call “Goblin Stamps.”
Goblin Stamps (commonly called “Gobbies”) are points within the chapter that can be used to purchase several different things, such as:
For information on what donations will yield the best Goblin Stamp rewards, be sure to check out the Donations page. If you have any questions about donations, Goblin Stamps, or purchasing things with Goblin Stamps, contact us at email@example.com.
Are there any one-day events?
Yep! We also run Faire events, which are like weekend events but only last one day (no overnight stay). It's much easier on those with hectic schedules. There is still plenty of action during faires, and a lot less time to rest!