LARP Terms

How to Speak LARP

You may encounter a bewildering number of strange new terms when you decide to try out live action roleplaying. These can be confusing and even vary greatly from game to game. Below are some you may encounter in Altera Awakens and other LARPs that share a similar background.

Ambush Alley: Originally, this referred to a very dark (yet still inexplicably combat-safe) stretch of path between the Craft Building and the Unit 2 Lodge at AH Stephens state park. The underbrush left only a narrow path, and despite its relatively central location on site, it was the scene of a huge number of monster ambushes. As the underbrush was cut back several years ago, but the term is still used generically for any dark path that is obviously ideal for ambushes by monsters.

Basic Blacks: This refers to basic attire that is worn when a player is volunteering to NPC or Monster. Black shirts and pants are preferred to be worn, as it provides an easy and nondescript base for costuming.

BGAs (also IBGAs): Between Game Actions. Submitted after a game event, as part of checkout or feedback, these are limited tasks a PC can take between game events, or “Gatherings.” The exact number of BGAs and their scope vary from LARP to LARP but they generally are used to set up actions and events for the coming game event, rather than replace actual game play. An excellent rule is to ask for what you want in BGAs, but be willing to change your actions based on what the Staff tells you.

Blanket: This refers to the amount of Experience Points that everyone receives for paying for an event.

Boffer:  A simulated weapon, padded with foam, covered in duct tape, dacron, or other material. Latex weapons are not technically boffers, but can be used in what is referred to as, “boffer LARPing,” that is to say, live-action combat, as opposed to non-combat, or “Parlor” or “Theater” LARPs.

Boss: An extremely high-powered monster, tied into a specific plot or storyline, just like in video games. This can be a major campaign villain, or a major monster that must be defeated before the storyline may progress.

Brew or Potion:  A consumable item, generally represented by a tag, which is destroyed upon use. Combat brews that are thrown are represented by packets. Brews or Potions are created with the Alchemy production skill in Altera Awakens.

Build: See also Experience Points. These are the points with which characters purchase abilities. New Characters are built with a set amount of Starting Build that is a portion of the current maximum build available in game. After character creation, active players earn additional Experience Points or Build by attending game events.

Button-Pusher: From “Apple Bitin’ Button Pusher,” a player who takes risks without necessarily considering the consequences to themselves, and more importantly others.

Camp Over: An event that occurs at a primitive campsite. This means there are no cabins or showers, but there are usually bathrooms and running water within walking distance. Players sleep in tents that they bring themselves. Sometimes called a “Two-Day,” theoretically beginning on a Saturday morning and running till Sunday evening, though they do often last as long as the usual 3-day event.

Charging:  Crowding an opponent so that they must retreat or step aside to avoid physical contact, considered unsafe behavior. A player may be removed from combat and event prohibited from attending events for unsafe behavior.

Check Out (also Feedback):  A form or email sent after a game event. Allows players to provide information about what they accomplished during an event, any concerns they have and general feedback. They are used to help improve future events, both for the individual and the community.

Cheese:  Fudging or intentionally misinterpreting rules, typically to one’s benefit. This can be include things like creatively interpreting how firm a “firm hit” must be to count as actual damage, claiming not to hear “voice” delivered effects, or jumping backwards after someone has called an area effecting power.

Claws: Boffers made with red tape or dacron, usually in small (dagger size) or short (shortsword size) length. Claws imply natural weaponry, and as such, cannot be disarmed. Many monsters use claws as their default weapons.

Closing Ceremonies: A final address of plot to the player-base, at the end of an event, after Game-Off. Some events do not have a Closing Ceremonies.

Cobbler (going to see): Doing one’s volunteer time as a PC is often referred to as “Going to see the Cobbler”, so as to have a vaguely in-play way to refer to it and explain the character’s absence from play.

Corkscrewing: The practice of walking around a character who is on their knees and can’t move their legs, forcing them to spin around rapidly to continuing fighting. This is deemed unsafe behavior and sportsmanship violation.

Cookies:  A special currency, awarded for volunteering, donating to the games, extra site clean-up, or other things, at the discretion of Plot. Cookies can be exchanged for various benefits at game check in for your self, gifted to others or contributed to a communal reward system.

Crunchies: Wandering or random  monsters, usually weak to moderate threats, sent into town largely for the purpose of being killed quickly, and entertaining combat players.

Culture Packet: An information document given to players who choose to play a given in-world culture. Culture packets should not be shared with others, not even people who are playing the same culture. They should only come from the game staff.

Glow Stick/Bracelet/Necklace: Cylume chemical light sources. DO NOT SWALLOW. Glow-sticks also contain fine shards of glass. Breaking open glowsticks and pouring them over oneself is inadvisable for this reason. Nonetheless, often used to create represent various effects at games.

Event:  Also called a ‘gathering’; a single game session. “During an Event” refers to the period of time which is considered “in play”.

Fate of the Party:  If a player has to be called away from a module for any reason, they may opt to take “fate of the party,” indicating that they accept the outcome of the module in their absence, without being able to take part. Any consequences that the rest of the module party gets, such as a death due to a TPK, or evenly split loot, they generally also receive.

Feast: Part of an event where a large meal is provided, usually included in the event cost. This is typically held in the Tavern, and most often provides some rest from combat for both players and NPCs, although in-town, “talky” plot may occur.

Field Battle: Generally the largest battle of any given event, most three-day events involve a field battle, usually on Saturday evening.

Floon: Excitement, enthusiasm, or interest. E.g., “I’m bursting with floon for the event this weekend.”

FOIP: “Find Out In-Play”, this means that the answer to an OOP (Out of Play) question is something that can only be discovered within the game world, and will not be answered in any other fashion.

Full Set:  Maximum number of particular skill or the minimum to qualify for the next higher set of a skill.  A full set of Dodges, for example, would be a three in Altera Awakens.

Game-off: The official end of play at a given event. Clean-up, packing up, and the like must still be completed after this point.

Game-on: The official start of play at a given event. Check-in, getting into costume, and set-up is usually completed by this time.

Healer Girlfriend/Boyfriend: A Player Character built for primarily healing, typically with very few combat skills. In its most classic form, the character carries a staff.

Hellgrinder: Any extraordinarily difficult or brutal combat-heavy module, field battle, or event.

Hold: A game-pause, generally called due to an unsafe situation, rules dispute, or plot fiat. During a Hold, everyone must freeze, take a knee, or cast eyes down if possible. a Hold ends when all issues are resolved, with a count of, “3…2…1…lay on!”

Hook: See also ‘Module.’ The hook is the character or marshal that comes to let you know that the module is ready for you, and leads you to the location.

IP or IG: “In Play/Game” events, items, and actions which take place in the consensual reality of the Game World. See also OOP/OOG. Players are expected to remain “In Play” as often as possible during an event, and it is polite to keep “Out of Play” actions and conversations away from those who are “In Play.”

Jumpy-Stones:  form of Physical Challenge in which players are forced to leap from position to position. To miss a jump is to fall into something universally bad for your character. This can sometimes be used to describe any sort of Physical Challenge when briefly describing something. “We had a fight, some jumpy-stones, a puzzle and some more fights.”

KBA: Killing Blow Active. See Killing Blow. The majority of NPC/Monster adversaries are not KBA but a character may still die as a result of the other effects of combat or damage. Volunteers should never assume they are KBA unless explicitly instructed by a full Plot member, for a specific role or encounter.

Killing Blow: Administered to an unconscious or otherwise helpless character, this involves touching said character with a weapon and saying, “killing blow one… killing blow two… killing blow three.” At this point, the character is dead, and if they are a PC, must see plot to have the death recorded. Not all NPCs are “Killing Blow Active”, or KBA. Only NPCs which are KBA may deliver a killing blow to a PC; PCs may always deliver a killing blow to unconscious or helpless NPCs, or other PCs.

Lay-on: The call to end a Hold, indicating that play may resume. This is usually said at the end of a three-second count so that everyone can prepare and resume their positions.

Lich-Marshal: A Marshal who is accompanying a specific NPC, and calls out effects, defenses, and manages their stats on their behalf. Usually indicates that the NPC in question is an extremely high-powered monster, or a Boss.

Marshal: Also called “Guide,” “Referee” or the like, a non-player who oversees or ‘marshals’ action in a scene or module. Marshals settle rules disputes, give stats to Monsters, describe a scene if elements cannot be phys-repped, and otherwise represent Plot to players.

Medic: Calling ‘medic’ means that someone has been wounded OOP, and needs real medical attention. Not to be called for in-play injuries.

Micro-Chain: Despite its name, there is no particular stigma attached to this term. It refers to micromaille, a type of chainmail armor with very fine links. A full shirt of this armor typically weighs just a few pounds, and can be comfortably worn between layers of clothing.

Module:  A fully Marshalled storyline, usually set outside of town for a small to medium group of characters.

Monster, Monstering: Playing an NPC, usually as a monster. These come in various flavors.

Monster Town: The out-of-play area where the Volunteer NPCs, and sometimes Plot, reside.

Munchkin: (Also Power Gamer) A person who is primarily interested in gaming the system in such a way that their character is as powerful as possible, without regard for game-balance.

NPC: “Non-Player Character”. Also known as “Monsters.”

Off-Month: A month in which no event occurs for a game.

Off-Season: The period of time between the last three-day event of a year, and the first three-day event of the year. Often times one-day events will occur in the interim, but it is still considered the Off-Season for all game-related purposes.

One-Day: A type of event that ends the same day it begins. Most One-Day events begin in the late morning and run until the early evening. These events are held in different styles, but are almost different in style and location than a three-day or four-day event.

OOP/OOG: “Out of Play/Game,” events, items, and actions which take place or exist outside of the consensual reality of the game world. Stuff that “doesn’t count.” See also IP/IG. A person that Out of Play is sometimes designated by a single weapon or hand resting atop the player’s head, or by wearing a White Headband.

Orange Headband: Someone who has opted to have no part in combat (as a recipient or inflict-or) at a given event or permanently, typically for reasons of safety, such as players who are injured or pregnant. This non-combat status is indicated by wearing an orange headband. They are typical subject to the Fate of the Party or other types of simulated resolution of damage/death.

Packet: Typically made of birdseed bundled up in a bit of colored cloth, and tied with a rubber band. Represents a thrown spell; the person hit with such a spell must take its effect, or otherwise mitigate it. Also called a Spell Packet, though it may represent thrown alchemy/brews as well. Each game has their own color system to determine what type of source is represented by what color.

Packet-Chucker: OOP/OOG slang for Spellcaster, or someone like an Alchemist/Brewer, who primarily throws spell packets instead of engaging in melee combat. Also called a ‘Caster.’

PC: “Player Character”, this refers to those who play a given LARP, as distinct from Plot and Volunteers, or NPCs.

Perm: To permanently die, as a PC, meaning that one must create a new character in order to continue PCing. This does not typically occur on the first death but subsequent deaths may be more likely to be permanent (FOIP).

Phys-Rep: Short for “Physical Representation”, this refers to a prop item used to represent a thing, for example, a foam boffer might be a sword phys-rep, or a bit of rope might be the phys-rep for a wall of fire. This term is a catchall which can apply to pretty much any prop.

Plot: The Plot Committee or members; the ones who are responsible for running the game on the whole. May or may not imply also a knowledge of Rules; this depends heavily on the game.

Production: In-game item creation, such as Smithing, Tinkering and Alchemy. Accomplished at specific times during an event; or as part of BGAs.

PVP: Player-Versus-Player. Indicates situations in which the PCs are pitted against each other, in combat or socially. In Altera, PVP combat or behavior is typically frowned upon, but is not considered a violation of sportsmanship. It is likely to just make other players not like you very much.

Rez: Short for “Resurrection,” this refers to a dead character or monster coming back to life and returning to play. In Monster parlance, this refers to how many times a given group of volunteers should attack, be killed, and return to play.

Roll(ed):  Utterly annihilated; what happens when a group of PCs or NPCs come in and kill everyone in their path with ease and minimal casualties. When it happens to PCs on a module, it is sometimes called a TPK (Total Party Kill) or Wipe.

Rules: The game’s core guidelines and policies; may also refer to staff responsible for writing and making calls about disputes in the rules. Not every game has a Rules Committee that is distinct from Plot.

Shield Wall: A bunch of melee fighters with shields who have formed a line, holding their shields in front, to face the enemies.

Site: A given State Park or other area where an event is held, includes both in-play areas, like the Town, and out of play areas, like Monster Town.

Spell-Blossom: Having a fist full of packets, usually so the bulbs are visible between the fingers, forming a “blossom of packets”. This is sometimes related to a packet-users power level, as it is assumed that they can use all the packets they are displaying.

Stats: Statistics, refers to either the numbers on a character card, or the abilities and toughness/armor points given to a certain monster. PCs improve their stats by spending Build.

Stick-Jock: A term for a player who LARPs for combat, and is less interested in roleplay. More generally, a PC whose primary focus is being a melee brute.

Sword-and-Board:  A character who uses the combination of sword and shield for combat. Considered a very standard build.

Tag: Also Item Card. A slip of paper or card listing the properties of an in-play item. Tagged items are subject to in-world effects, and have greater in-world objective reality. In cases where it is impossible, inconvenient, or unwise to trade in phys-reps, for example, when weapons are taken from a monster in-play, often players will get tags for the items, instead of actual props. Also, one’s clothing is not tagged, but one’s armor is– thus, one’s armor may be destroyed by an effect, but one’s clothing may not be destroyed.

Talky: An NPC whose primary function is to come in and talk to the PCs; they may or may not have any combat skills, as combat is not expected to be their primary function.

Tavern: The central building on site, where the majority of meals and feast are served.

Text-Prop: A physical in-play text, such as a letter, scroll, or other document.

Three-Day: An event spanning from Friday night of a given weekend, to Sunday morning. Typically considered a “Full Event.”

Town: The area of the site which is considered “In Play”, most often used to refer collectively to the player base, e.g., “We totally rolled Town.” Players sometimes use this as the group term for things the player-base does as a whole, such as “the town went to kill the bad guy.”

TPK: “Total Party Kill”. Also Wipe.  What happens when a PCs are completely rolled on a module; used specifically for modules because those usually involve a small group of PCs, or a ‘Party’.

Trapping: A safety violation in which one player pins or “traps” the weapon of another, so that they may not freely move their arms or the weapon.

Turtling: A safety violation in which one hides their full body behind a shield, removing all legal targets from view/access.

Ultralight: Boffer weapons made with lighter than PVC cores, thusly weighing less than old-school boffers. So commonly as to almost be a standard these days.

Unicorn: The practice of repeatedly raising one’s hand to his head in order to say “Out of Game” comments during the middle of In-Play scenes. This practice is so named because the motion frequently looks as if you are making a horn with your hand gestures.

White Headband: Worn to signify when someone is “Out of Play” and should be ignored by all “In-Play” characters.

Crits: Combat bonus that add a number to the base damage of a melee weapon.

XP: Experience points. Awarded to characters for attending events, they may be used to improve existing or buy new character powers and abilities.

Zesty-Minty: This refers to flavored fake blood, typically used for mouth-related effects. It is a minty flavor that many people find pleasant or at least inoffensive to use when creating bloody and gory effects. It is sometimes simply used as shorthand for fake blood. If meant to be swallowed, it is very important to cut it with some other liquid, such as water or Gatorade.

Source: Originally consolidates from various sources, but special thanks for permission from Rabbit Stoddard of Dust to Dust.