Selling larp to non-larpers

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I’ve just spent the weekend at Wellygeddon, handing out cards and flyers to some of the 22,000 geeks in attendance. This is the fifth year we’ve done this, and after five years I’m wondering whether we can do it better.

There’s an old saying that “Larp is sold by word-of-mouth”. Larping is a social activity, and the best way to get people to try it is if they know someone who already larps. That way they have the reassurance of a friend there, so they’re not faced with the intimidation factor of meeting a whole room full of strangers.

But when we recruit at Armageddon, we’re typically contacting people who don’t know us. They may know what larp is, because they’ve seen that episode of Supernatural or some other media coverage, or they may be larp-adjacent and play tabletop rpgs or do cosplay and find the idea of running around and hitting orcs with a foam sword or pretending to be someone else while looking badass in their costume appealing. But there’s still that intimidation factor. Which is probably why despite handing out flyers and getting names and email addresses on signup sheets, we have a relatively low uptake rate of these people actually showing up for games. I’m looking for suggestions on how to improve that if we can.

(I’m also after stuff about the basic stages of catching people’s attention and getting them interested, but I’ll add that to the thread later).


Would it be possible to run parlor LARP events in the evenings at Wellygeddon somewhere near or at the venue? I suspect such an activity might not be worth the cost and it is very difficult to run things on such short notice. But we do have some LARPs which run with the expectation that you get your character sheet just before the game starts.


Wellygeddon’s venue isn’t available in the evenings, and its in the heart of an industrial wasteland with not much nearby (and sadly Turnbull House is still closed). But for several years we’ve run a theatre-style larp on Armageddon weekend at one of our usual venues as part of the surrounding ComicCon event. This has let us follow a normal casting process, rather than an on-the night one, and the profit from these games has been useful in offsetting the costs of marketing.

We haven’t tried getting people to play immediately though. Its an option worth looking at, if we can find the right game and the right venue. I’ve recently acquired a set of short “BTL” larps which last only 10 - 20 minutes, and something in that style could potentially be used as teasers. There’s also games like JUGGERNAUT, Ghost Court, A Wolf By Any Other Name and The Bell which are low costume, low prep, and either low numbers or highly flexible. I’d been looking at something like this for the Play By Play festival, but the timing was bad this year.


“BTL” in this instance means?


“Better than Life”. Named for the Red Dwarf episode.


While immediacy has a lot going for it, a later game can work well if it is well chosen. Blackfyre Rising was ~ weeks after Armageddon 2016, and attracted a large number of new larpers. This year we’re running Harry Potter and the Ten Year Reunion, and I’ve just been told that it has filled, with 8 / 20 players being completely new to larping. So I think part of the trick is to have an accessible game with a strong, popular media tie-in.

Anyone want to write a 20-player Star Wars larp for next year?