What is LARP?
LARP stands for Live Action Role-Playing, a hobby that is gaining popularity in many areas of the world, especially the USA, the UK, and Europe. Unlike in table-top games like Dungeons and Dragons, players in LARP games do not say what their characters are doing - they do it. To successfully fight, negotiate, cast spells, and when all else fails run away, the player really has to act these things out in the real world. Many LARP organisations use foam-padded weapons for combat. Spellcasting is often represented with chanting, gestures, and sometimes by throwing small soft "spell-packets" that must hit the target for the spell to take effect.
In my opinion, a good live roleplaying event combines elements of acting, fighting, and problem solving in equal measures. Some players will mostly come for the combat, others for the character roleplaying, but all will appreciate a well-integrated game. When a game goes beyond being a series of puzzles, a sporting event, or an excercise in impromptu roleplaying, and meshes them all together, you get a gaming atmosphere that is greater than the sum of the parts. These are the games that players will still be frothing about years later.
I'm biased towards the hitting-each-other-with-foam-swords type game. There is also an equally poplular range of live games that do not involve physical combat, usually termed "theatre-style" games. This includes the Vampire: Masquarade games. If you want a broader definition than mine, try Idiot's Live Role-Playing Page.
Where to find out more...
When I started looking for live roleplaying resources on the internet back in 1995, there were just a few photo galleries and if you were lucky some descriptions of how to make gear. As I write this there is a huge upsurgence in LARP on the web. It almost seems like as many clubs have websites as not, there are detailed guides to making anything from your own leather boots to latex swords, LARP web magazines are being published, and calendars of events are common. Here are a few links to get you started:
The FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions about live roleplaying and their answers.
Here are some game scenarios I have written. Play them as short games or work
them into a full-scale game. Modify them to your hearts content.
All I ask is that if you do use them, please give me some
feedback on how the game went. WARNING: if you are generally a player and not a
game organiser, I recommend you don't read these scenarios. They give away all
the answers, which takes the fun out of playing them.
Here are some rules systems I've used for various games. I'll be putting
the Portal fantasy rules system here later, once I've converted it to HTML
and ironed out some of the bugs.