With geekdom accepted into the mainstream more and more, some of the deepest geek hobbies that used to be considered laughable are now also starting to be seen for what they truly are – opportunities to have fun, let loose, participate in fandom without constraints, and regain some of that childlike wonder that so many people have unfortunately lost touch with.
With immersive, fantastic universes like Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Walking Dead having such profound impact on our collective experience in recent years, it stands to reason there are a lot of people who actually want the opportunity to live the same lives our favorite characters from TV, film and literature have lived. And the good news is – you can.
Below you will find 5 of the most immersive themed LARPing (Live Action Role Playing, for the uninitiated) experiences available today. This is far from a complete list – whatever your fancy, you can probably find it.
Dystopia Rising is a live-action event network, held in over a dozen locations each on a monthly basis. Based in the US events are held at campgrounds with cabins, facilities and an amazing community ofplayers. Over a weekend, attendants take on fictional personas and immerse themselves in a post-apocalyptic world. Overrun by the undead and mutated creatures, characters portrayed fight for survival, civilization and the future of a humanity that has been ravaged by the destruction of the world once known. A Dystopia Rising LARP is a full immersion experience. Once we call Game On on Friday evening, you will be LARPing all weekend until game ends on Sunday morning.
Dystopia Rising is a post zombie apocalypse survival horror scenario where you will come to reside in one of the settlements of survivors for a weekend. During that weekend you will get to play this game, meet a ton of great new people, and enjoy stepping away from the modern day and into an post-apocalyptic world for a weekend. Because this is a Networked game, you will be able to take your character from your local game to other games.
You can learn more about Dystopia Rising on their website or in the video below.
The Voyage North
Become fully immersed in the setting as we live out our days in a medieval camp with our guild, discover the ever growing Grand Duche of Bicolline, battle side by side with your guild and allies, and celebrate our victories around the campfire every evening! This, and so much more, is The Voyage North.
Bicolline is a medieval, fantasy, role-playing experience located north of Montreal in French Speaking Quebec. It is the largest event of it’s kind in North America and arguably the highest quality event location and experience in all the world.
The Voyage North exists to transport you to this magical place, organize all of your accommodations and help you experience this far away land for all it has to offer. Members enjoy staying in color coordinated medieval tents, comfortable bedding, hearty meals, complete camp comforts: campfires, lighting, guild hall, our own tavern; as well as transportation from and back to the airport. All you do is show up with your costume and enjoy your week!
You can learn more about The Voyage North on their website and in the video below. The Voyage North does require you to apply and interview for membership, so get that ball rolling now if you’re interested in attending in 2018.
Nukelanta is a volunteer organization dedicated to hosting fully-immersive post-apocalyptic experiences in the Atlanta, GA area and beyond. We our known for our Fallout-inspired LARP, as well as attending and hosting several other themed events. Our mission is to build up the post-apocalyptic scene on the east coast, and to help build experiences that are fun, engaging, and completely immersive.
Like Fallout, Nukelanta takes place in an alternate version of history where 1950s aesthetics, design and technology advance in the directions imagined at the time. The resulting universe is thus a retro-futuristic one, where the technology has evolved enough to produce laser weapons, manipulate genes and create nearly-autonomous artificial intelligence, but all within the confines of 1950s solutions, like the widespread use of atomic power and vacuum tubes, as well as having the integrated circuitry of the digital age. The architecture, advertisements, and general living styles are also depicted to be largely unchanged since the 1950s.
Learn more about Nukelanta on their website and in the video below. In addition to fight-based LARPing, Nukelanta also offers Jugger matches (a post apocalyptic spin on football popularized by the film Blood of Heroes and events like Wasteland Weekend.
Dragon Thrones Game
Dragon Thrones is an immersive and interactive weekend experience set in an original fantasy realm inspired by popular medieval and fantasy fiction worlds we all know and love. Thematic spectator entertainment, catered dinner + meals, historical surroundings, and on lodging is all inclusive. Game-play includes both a personal and team-oriented social role-play objectives combined with a MegaGame (a massively scaled board game with global implications).
It’s like a medieval fantasy larp meets one large game of Risk and you live within the game!
The best part about this LARP is that it takes place in an actual castle. Think the exterior is impressive, head to their website and check out the interior. It would be hard for the lines of reality and fantasy NOT to blur if you’re roleplaying in a place that looks like this.
You can learn more about Dragon Thrones Game on their website, and in the video below.
Let go and immerse yourself into a 19th century world of magic, mystery and intrigue… Located at the Le Pavillion Hotel in New Orleans, The Armistice Arcane is an all-inclusive weekend where you will be immersed in the 19th century, exploring relationships, forming alliances, and discovering just how far you are willing to push the limits of social acceptability. This one of a kind experience includes everything you could want for an unforgettable weekend.
The Armistice Arcane is a game of intrigue, high politics, gothic horror, and magic. We explore themes that are both light and dark in nature — friendship, alliance, working with our enemies, diplomacy, paranoia, fear, and anger. Many of these characters are outcasts from society, and some of them have lost everything they love. We also look at the nature of good and evil and ask questions about what truly makes a person a monster. This is not a game for children or for those who are easily disturbed by exploration of any of the above. The Armistice Arcane aims to see what happens when we push the limits of “acceptability” set forth by society, and what happens when our actions come back to haunt us.
You can learn more about Armistice Arcane on their website and in the video below. This LARP requires an application for membership, so get yours in now if you are interested in attending.
Special mention: SCA, Armored Combat League, Adrian Empire, Amtgard, Dying Kingdom
If medieval combat is more your thing, there are A LOT of options for immersive experiences. While some of these groups would argue that they are re-enactment and not LARP (and there certainly is a distinction between the two), these same groups offer the ability to create a new persona, participate in a variety of fighting styles, learn new crafting skills, and rise through the ranks of a psuedo political society; so in my opinion the distinction is a matter of semantics and the two are more closely related than the groups care to admit to. 😉
Amtgard and Dying Kingdom offer a more traditional LARPing experience inspired by the medieval period, using foam weapons and stat-based combat. SCA and Adrian Empire focus more on the re-enactment side of things and offer a lot more variety in the types of activities you can participate, while adhering much more strongly to historical context. SCA uses rattan weapons and full-speed combat. Adrian Empire is an offshoot of SCA that has since blossomed into its own community – their fighters use live steel weapons, at a slightly slower pace of combat than SCA. Armored Combat League is almost exclusively fighting-based, with full contact, full speed live steel combat at a competitive, international level.
Most of the groups listed here have events nationally and some even internationally (SCA is the largest and oldest of these groups with 60,000 participants worldwide and 50+ years of existence. SCA also plays host to Pennsic War in Pennsylvania, the largest medieval event in the world which boasts more than 10,000 attendees each year).
Learn more about each group below:
You can learn more about your local Kingdom and Barony on the Society for Creative Anachronism website, and learn more about the society in the video below.
Armored Combat League
Learn more about joining the competitive sport of the Armored Combat League on their website, and check out some video coverage Nerdist did below.
Learn more about The Adrian Empire, celebrating 30 years, on their website and in the video below.
Learn more about Amtgard on their website and in the video below.
Learn more about Dying Kingdoms on their website (unfortunately there are no good promotional videos of this LARP group currently available).
This is far from a complete list of available LARPs, but some of the most immersive experiences currently available. If you are interested in seeing what other LARPs are available in your area, we recommend The LARP list.