Adventures in Larping

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Special Feature

by John Anglin

Warriors, wizards, healers, and rogues gather together to take back their town from the noble and leaders that betrayed them.  The plot of the latest Hollywood summer movie? No, it is the current plot of NERO Texas LARP (Live Action Role Play).  With roots in tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, LARP adds costumes and props.  This allows the game to take on an interactive aspect that combines physical activity and improvisation.
Harlen Thomason is the chapter owner of NERO Texas, and he spoke about some of the misconceptions that surround role playing and larping.
“I think the biggest misconception that I always run into is religion.  A lot of people think that we are Pagan, Wiccan, etc., but there is no religion in the actual game itself,” Thomason said.  “I think if I could only let everyone know just one thing about NERO it would be that NERO is a community where people can go and not be afraid to share experiences with other like-minded people.”
Jesse Sawyer participates in the NERO gaming sessions, and he also spoke about some of the misconceptions surrounding larping.
“Larping is great for people interested in any kind of role-playing or even acting.  There has long been a certain stigma attached to role-play in general and even more so on LARP, but that stigma is steadily declining as the ‘nerd’ culture becomes more and more popularized by television and video games,” Sawyer said.
He went on to encourage those who might be interested to come out and give larping a try.
“Some people who might want to play may be nervous about doing so because they worry about what others might think, but once you’re playing, you don’t have the extra attention to spare worrying about that.  It’s great fun and a wonderful way to meet people while indulging in a hobby and keeping fit,” Sawyer said.
Community and a sense of family are two things many members of NERO spoke of when asked what they enjoy about NERO.  However, there’s also an undeniable element of fun when it comes to the LARP events.
“I’ve enjoyed playing role-playing games since I discovered Dungeons and Dragons when I was about twelve,” Sawyer said.  “My friends and a few cousins and I would sword fight with sticks while pretending that some of us were heroes and the others were various monsters.  We always enjoyed the play, but it was not structured or organized. LARPs give me an opportunity to do that at the next level.  I enjoy being able to role-play with other people with the same interests and I enjoy the more physical aspect that just isn’t present in table top gaming.”
Combat in NERO is action packed exercise that emphasizes safety and fun.  The weapons used are made of materials such as foam, duct tape, fabric, or latex.  Each NERO chapter has their own safety marshals who ensure that weapons meet the safety regulations.  NERO is described as a lightest touch game, meaning players are swinging for contact but not with any real force.  This makes NERO perfect for younger players and those who want to have fun without the intensity of some of the more combat intensive games out there.
NERO member Daniel Herrera has participated in LARPs all over the United States.  He summed up why the hobby matters so much to him.
“I’m able to immerse myself in a world of role-play, combat and interactive fun meeting new people and getting to play the game with them,” Herrera said.  “I can take a vacation from reality for a weekend and get rid of stress by conquering an army of undead, rescuing a damsel in distress from a burning village or just partake in the simple art of having an Ale with the local dwarf,” Herrera said.  “There’s never a dull moment in my hobby.”
Getting started with NERO Texas is absolutely free, with new players receiving a free 90-day membership when they sign up at nerolarponline.com.  The group’s next event is being held this Saturday at Marion Sansom Park in Fort Worth.  The event begins at 9 a.m.

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