For most of us, the perfect definition of a nerd consists of only two words: Dungeons & Dragons.
For those who have been sheltered from the world of the overly-intellectual and hyper-fantasized, Dungeons & Dragons is rightfully the nerdiest thing in the world. But within this magical realm of Wizards and Halflings exists a group of people who greatly surpass D&Ders in their nerdy thirst for questing and goblin killing: we’re talking about Live Action Role Playing (LARPing for short).
The hobby of sitting in a friend’s Mom’s basement, drinking energy drinks, eating Cheetos and navigating through fictitious worlds of yore, started a long time ago and blossomed into a community of highly imaginative dreamers, who found a way they could escape their less than satisfying lives as students, accountants, corporate guinea pigs, etc. with the roll of a multi-sided die. But the new phenomenon called LARPing has taken that imaginative whimsy to a level that will forever claim ultimate nerdom.
In the original setup of Dungeons & Dragons, a player creates a character using attributes such as charisma, intelligence, dexterity, strength, constitution and wisdom. Players get to choose a race and class for their character, which they also name and bestow a physical description upon. This way, everyone playing has a persona they have built from the ground up. When the role-playing commences, battles and luck-based events are decided due to the role of the dice, with attributes and special abilities of the characters taken into account to determine if warrior kills orc or orc kills warrior.
Now this all sounds extremely nerdy and you may be asking: Carlin, how can anything top this nerdy-ass past time? To that question I proffer this: Imagine a whole swarm of Dungeons & Dragons nerds deciding to brave the sunlight and come out of their parents’ basements to try and make their characters come to life. Literally. Is this already sounding worse? It should.
Much like Civil War reenactors, those who participate in LARPing don costumes, paint on make-up and become their fantasy characters to take part in battles that are 100% fake.
For an accurate portrayal of what goes down in these LARPing sessions, please do yourself the favor of going to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_ekugPKqFw and watching some videos of the height of nerdocity (WARNING: If cardboard armor, tinfoil lightning bolts and quasi-choreographed shadow boxing skits get to you, watch at your own risk!).
The amount of time put into the elaborate costumes can be admired, but the lack of self-respect cannot. The battlefields of unreal skirmishes show a propensity for the melodramatic and exude a downright sense of confusion. Example: In D&D, rolling dice decide how much damage a player gives or sustains, while in LARPing the rules of when to live and when to die seem to exist only in the ill-fitting wigged heads of its participants. The days of arguing who wins a battle of attributes from the comfort of an old couch are long gone for those who LARP. Now they can settle their disputes like the ruffians of medieval times: with foam weapons.
Many people who created LARPing characters have supposedly said they did so to offer them a chance to become what they long wished they could be. And when they slip into these new personas on the weekend, they feel powerful and are able to exercise real control over their lives – even if it is complete fantasy. If that is what keeps you happy in life, so be it.
As someone who has had experience playing Dungeons & Dragons, I understand the draw to fantasy world explorations. So to all LARPers out there I say this: More power to you, but you’re still the biggest nerds on this planet!
P.S. – For those wanting more than what the Internet can offer of this LARPing, just wait for the documentary “Darkon” to come out on DVD. I know I’m anxiously awaiting its release.