Letting LARPing go

The year 2015 is a threshold year for me with respect to Live-Action Role-Playing. This year, I’ve been away from LARPing for as many years as I was involved in the hobby.

I started LARPing with a group then known as NERO-NJ in 1991. That group became LAIRE a couple of years later. By 1995 I was Director of LAIRE; my name still appears in their rulebook.

By 1996 I found the organization and I were rubbing each other the wrong way. I resigned as Director and from the game. I left with many fine-sounding words that overlay a current of bitterness.

Tony Kukal was another player in LAIRE. In 1997 he gave me a call saying that he wanted to start a new LARP, Mystic Realms. He wanted me, as an experienced player, to help get the new game off the ground. I agreed.

As with LAIRE, I found myself rising in the hierarchy until I held a position of importance in the organization. By 2003, I was having many issues with the game that gradually built up to a realization that once again, I had to leave. This time, my departure was cordial; I’m still FB friends with many of the people I LARPed with 12 years ago.

When I left Mystic Realms, I wrote an “exit letter” stating my reasons for leaving the game. It’s not a great piece of writing. [1] In the end, I decided not to publish it on the MR message boards. I figured it would serve no purpose for either the game or for me to air my dirty laundry in public.

Over the past few years, I’ve occasionally blogged about my memories of LARPing. Lately those memories have come back again. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because of the threshold I mentioned at the start of this post. Perhaps it’s because there’s now a LARP series on YouTube that depicts the hobby in a positive light for the first time.

I become nostalgic. I look over my old Mystic Realms materials. I think about all the moments I wished I could do as my characters Winston Waterston or Vasili Stephanovich. Maybe I could go back…

Then I get to my exit letter. All the issues I raised in the letter are as valid now as they were 12 years ago. There’s even a new issue: there’d be more a physical risk now.

Now I’m glad I wrote that exit letter. It wouldn’t have the done the game any good, but it’s done me some good. It helps me take off the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. I have to live life now, not in memories of the past, some real and some imagined.

I still miss LARPing. I have a feeling this is not the last time I’ll blog about it.

[1] Yes, it’s even worse than this blog post! Though it’s not the worst thing I ever wrote.

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