#LARP and the Single Swordfighter

So, I’d decided to use a Live Action Role Play (LARP) event as a central part of the plot for my romance novella, Knightless in Seattle. I had an idea, but I wanted to get it right and not make anyone want to throw my book against the wall because I hadn’t bothered to get my facts straight.

“Write what you know,” they say, and although I hadn’t participated in a LARP, my daughter had, and I know her. Then I got to know some of her friends who LARP, like the guy who is a fencer and knows his swords. I picked their brains for possibilities. I described the idea of combining a HEMA tournament with the plot of a LARP. “Could this happen?” I asked. They assured me it wasn’t impossible to think that it could.

Then I reached out to an instructor at an HEMA academy to learn about that side of things, and found to my surprise that the sort of fluid crossover I’d imagined existed between LARP and HEMA wasn’t exactly greeted with open arms by the HEMA community. In fact, there was a deep concern on their part to ensure that people (including me) do not confuse the two.

As I mentioned in a previous blog about HEMA (Guys With Swords- Sign Me Up), these guys take the study of Medieval European fighting techniques seriously. The website for the academy in Los Angeles displayed a clear disclaimer that Hollywood stunt-types would not find what they were looking for at the academy and need not apply. From the HEMA side of things, it was the difference between being a sword-fighter and playing one on t.v. The line couldn’t be more clearly drawn.

And I get it. From their point of view, it would be like letting people think there really wasn’t any difference between Indy car drivers and go-kart racers.

But I don’t think they need to worry. Nobody is confused about the difference.

Especially the HEMA students who love their LARPs. (I almost didn’t have the heart to tell the academy instructor that one of his top students is an avid LARPer. Almost.)

I’m pretty sure these guys (and girls) love the discipline and accomplishment of being really good at something. I’m also sure that they are very clear about the difference between immersing themselves in the skills and immersing themselves in another, albeit imaginary, world and put on the whole character of a medieval warrior. Knowing what they know, and being as into it as they likely are (to work that hard at it), the chance to “play” a swordfighter in a LARP could be a pretty irresistible proposition.

Oops! Don’t try this at home!


How much fun is that?

I’ll be talking more in future posts about other surprising crossovers to the world of LARP.