The LARPening: A Tabletop Game About Live Action Roleplaying

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In the LARPening you play a LARPer who LARPS.  LARPening is not itself a LARP, but a tabletop roleplaying game. You can probably make a LARP version of the LARPening but this is not recommended.

Equipment: You need tokens to represent Clove Cigarettes, which represent attention span (and probably Clove Cigarettes), and Spotlight Tokens, which represent engagement. A six-sided die.

Character Creation

In the LARPening one player plays the GM and the others are Players. The game cannot begin until one person agrees to be GM, so whine and cajole each other until someone accepts that responsibility. Alternatively, let the player who is most in love with telling an epic story be the GM.

Players: The goal of the Players is to accrue as much Spotlight Time as possible before they run out of Clove Cigarettes and get too bored to continue. Each player starts with five Cloves, and can wheedle Influence to bum additional Cloves off of your fellow players.

Each player has to come up with a LARPsona, the character they’ll be playing during the game’s event. This is a short paragraph written on an index card placed in front of the player or pinned to their lapel, describing how awesome their character is. No one is compelled to read the other players’ cards.

GM: The GM’s goal is to get the other players to interact with the beautiful story they’ve crafted. They can use Spotlight Time as an incentive. The GM may or may not have Clove Cigarettes, but their consumption is irrelevant. The GM’s work is not done until all of the Players have gotten bored and gone home.

The GM comes up with a story scenario for the Players to interact with. This can be planned out or extemporaneous.


To begin with the GM describes the initial scenario to the Players, the only limit being their imagination. The GM is free to imply whatever situation within the context of the LARP itself that they choose, including the fictitious events of the last LARP the group played.

Preening: The Players then describe their characters’ arrival, who dropped them off, what costumes or other props they’ve brought with them for the game, and how cool they are. Everyone votes on who the coolest player is by giving that person one of their Clove Cigarettes. You can absolutely vote for yourself.

After the initial preening is complete, the GM describes something that changes the status quo of the first scene. This can be anything – an NPC arrives, a bomb goes off, or someone discovers a delightful riddle.

Scenes: Each scene operates the same way. The GM offers Spotlight Time to one of the players, possibly the one they think is coolest, or their significant other, or whoever they think will perform best in the scene. That player gets a Spotlight Token. Other players can attempt to steal the spotlight (and the Spotlight Token) by upstaging the GM’s chosen player; this is accomplished through Posturing. The winner gets the Spotlight Token.


When two Players interact it’s a form of social maneuvering often disguised as friendship. The Players can act this out if they’d like, but it comes down to a die roll. If the player (not the LARPsona) is wearing a costume or has another prop, give them a +1 to the roll. If they speak with an accent – appropriate to the character or not – give them a +1 to the roll. High roll wins. The loser of the roll misses the next scene sulking and must consume a Clove Cigarette. If they have any Spotlight Tokens, they can return one to the GM instead of smoking a Clove.

After the scene is resolved, giving one player a Spotlight Token, players have the chance to Posture for social dominance. This follows the same general rules, with the exception of there being no reward for it. Only the penalty for failure.

When any Posturing has been resolved, the GM describes the next scene, and the process begins anew.

End of the Game

As Players run out of Clove Cigarettes they get bored and leave. When only the GM and one Player remains, the game is over. The player with the most Spotlight Tokens had the most fun, and is the winner. GM satisfaction is measured by how many scenes were played through before the Players lost interest. There is no comparison between Spotlight Time and the abstract of GM satisfaction. The GM cannot win.

Michael Coorlim

Michael Coorlim is a teller of strange stories for stranger people. He collects them, the oddballs. The mystics and fire-spinners, the sages and tricksters. He curates their tales, combines their elements and lets them rattle around inside his rock-tumbler skull until they gleam, then spills them loose onto the page for like-minded readers to enjoy.
Michael Coorlim

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