Larp and tabletop


A question from Storybrewers on Twitter:

For those who LARP and RPG, do you look to get different things out of these experiences, or is it the same drive?

I’m assuming that this is related to the planned larp version of Good Society, their regency rpg.


Many things are the same, but there are some clear differences as well. For me, the best part of LARP is immersion (which is harder in pen & paper RPG) while the best part of pen & paper RPG is that you can go off on thrilling adventures and have a small party make a large difference to the world (which can’t really happen in LARP in the same way).


I think the physicality of larp definitely aids immersion. You can describe a paniced combat scene or an elegant dance in tabletop, but actually waving a sword or having to remember your steps is a different experience.

I think there’s a similar thing with investigation and research: larp with an interactive or immersive set is good at creating the sense of discovery or of slow revelation leading to yawning horror, which you just don’t get from making your spot hidden or library use roll.


LARP handles situations with a large cast better than table top - the GM doesn’t need to worry about doing different voices for the NPCs and holding scores of different schemes and motivations in their head.

Table top can be all about you (or at least your small band of friends). If you decide to storm out of the ball early then the action of the game can follow you (this is not a reasonable expectation in a LARP of any size)


LARP handles situations with a large cast better than table top

This is very true.

I would add to the original question that pen & paper RPG allows you to be anyone with respect to looks, age and abilities. This is obviously not possible in LARP unless you stay very close to a pen & paper setting. But the immersive and physical aspects make up for it. (And then some!)

Another big difference is that LARP events have downtime while pen & paper RPG doesn’t. I don’t mean the time between events. I mean those times during an event when nothing much happens and you have to fill in the gap by just being your character. Pen & paper usually just skips that part because time works more like it would in a book or a movie.

Oh, and for historical settings in general: going to a ball is endless fun in LARP even if there’s no other plot! :slight_smile:


For me, the two forms scratch very different itches.

Tabletop roleplaying for me (in my preferred style) is this freewheeling enterprise where it’s easy to contribute your own material or say something that sparks the GM’s interest and you head off on an entertaining tangent, and you can either hand wave time passing or you can instead deep dive into some event that’s gotten everyone’s attention. So for me it’s a more responsive medium, it handles easily things that have to be specifically managed in a larp. It’s also easier for people who don’t like to be in the spotlight all the time to sit back and be entertained by their buddies for a bit before they decide what they want to do. (Very many of the women roleplayers I know will bring along a bit of handiwork, because it’s something they can fidget with during gaps in the conversation, for instance.)

Larping - there’s the physicality. There’s people dressing up, there’s the way that staging and spacing and how you expect to stand or sit or lie will affect their emotions. I feel my character’s emotions more powerfully in a larp. I also love how it’s a medium that embraces contradictory viewpoints - one of my common writing strategies is to pick an historical debate or philosophical issue and write a character for every point of view I think of. I don’t have to decide for myself which side I’m on which I would in a novel or short story, I have the player group embodying every side for me.