Glossary

From Cambridge Larp Society

Armoury

A place where communal phys-reps are stored, often with items available for loan to new players until they buy/make/are given their own.

Background

Even though you may just have invented your character yesterday, supposedly they have been alive for a decade or two and in that time they might have done interesting things which shaped their personality. The more rich and colourful the background, the easier it is to roleplay the character and the more "alive" they become. You should email your background to the refs, or just keep it in your head to apply in-character.

Broken

A broken phys-rep is one that doesn't work for its intended purpose any more, like a sword where the handle comes away from the blade. If the weapons checker says your weapon is broken or unsafe, it is; don't sneak it in. A broken rule or character is one that is vastly more powerful than the rest of the system.

Call

An important part of the combat element of LARPing. Essentially you do something and call to the person you're doing it to a particular word or phrase that communicates to them that this is a special ability of some sort that is otherwise impossible to phys-rep. For example a heroic, bone crushing blow would be roleplayed as a sword swing while calling "CLEAVE" to signify that it has the mechanical effect of breaking the limb it strikes. Other calls serve an OOC safety purpose, such as "STOP THE GAME" - upon hearing this you should immediately drop out of character and stop moving.

Canon

Most LARP groups have an archive of past happenings and plots, which may also supposedly sketch out the history of that universe. This provides a valuable and interesting resource for players writing new plots. Some of this is true, some of it is false, either deliberately or though common mistaken perception. A canon fact is something that can be relied upon as true. In general the information on this website can be treated as canon.

Character (PC)

When you LARP you invent a character according to a series of rules and then you pretend to be them. You can have several characters at once (though you can only play one at a time!) but most people prefer to have a main character whom they focus on. Your character does not have to be anything like you, even down to gender and species, although many of the most successful characters have been very similar to their players.

Character Party

A group of characters all on the same mission is a character party, often abbreviated to 'party'.

Character Sheet

The skills of your character are recorded on your character sheet, which is also a record of your XP. Character sheets are duplicated - the player has a copy so they can remember what skills they have and update as necessary and the refs have a copy so they know what characters they have in the system and can write plot accordingly. The ref copies of the character sheets are stored electronically, and many players do the same. Please do not feel compelled to publish your character sheet to the other players; this is not compulsory and may be detrimental to your character's health if they are someone particularly nefarious.

Directed Player Character (DPC)

A DPC is a role written by the refs to further a particular plot. They are played by a player. If that player can keep their DPC alive for long enough, a DPC will generally meet their end at a moment chosen by the refs, in a manner chosen by the refs. Often, the other players will not know a character is a DPC until the DPC is cackling over their fallen bodies. Outside of whatever plot the refs have destined for the DPC, they function much like a normal PC, with the ability to make stupid decisions and be punished for them.

Dramatic Hits

An old practice still occasionally found is that very powerful entities on adventures will be statted to 'Dramatic Hits' rather than given a specific number. The ref playing them will judge when they have taken enough damage to kill them, rather than allowing this to be decided by a pre-agreed number. The term 'dramatic' may also be applied to stamina, or any other resource; this means that they run out when it feels right that they should and not before.

Downtime

The period between roleplaying sessions (which are sometimes called "up-time"). Some systems allow some interaction with the game world between sessions for activities such as trading, crafting, research and espionage. This is usually done by submitting a written "downtime" to the refs to process.

Encounter

A situation players are faced with, that they must resolve. Encounters could be a group of enemies to fight, some diplomacy to be done, or a puzzle to be solved.

Flange

A sometimes derogatory term for an item, person, object, or ability not immediately covered by the basic rules, introduced by the refs. One purpose of the call system is to allow the players to react correctly to flange when it occurs, rather than being confused.

IC

In Character. The opposite of OC, referring to things perceptible to characters in the Game world. Players who are currently role-playing are said to be IC.

Interactive

A session, usually indoors, of extended roleplay that is usually more socially oriented than action. Contrasts with the comparatively structured linear format.

Kit

Your kit is your costume and your personal phys-reps. Most players eventually acquire vast amounts of kit, much of which is slightly yet fundamentally in need of repair. This tends to be a disadvantage of having distinct kit for each character - when they die you are left holding a blood-spattered shirt/pair of elf ears/four litres of blue hair spray with no use to you or anyone else yet with great sentimental value. It gets added to the pile of kit until your partner or mother throws it away in several years. Some of the society members own more than their body weight in kit. Kit can be donated to or borrowed from the armoury at need, but please ask ref permission before doing this.

LARP

Live Role Play or Live Action Role Play. Possibly derived from phonetic pronounciation of "LRP". Also a verb "to LARP", eg: to take part in a LARP event or "to be LARPing".

LARPer

One who LARPs.

LARP-safe

A LARP-safe weapon is one that has been constructed specifically for LARPing.

Linear

An adventure held outside where encounters are laid out along a set route which a group of characters follow, usually with a set objective. Often an NPC "character ref" accompanies them as a member of the character party to ensure they don't stray off course by accident or design.

Machine-gunning

Machine-gunning, or drumrolling, is forgetting that your light foam/latex weapon (usually a sword) is supposed to simulate a massive iron bar with sharp edges and therefore moving it impossibly fast in combat. No-one is perfect, but if someone accuses you of machine-gunning then you probably are. Machine-gunning is a problem because it is unfair for those who are role-playing well, as if their sword really were heavy, and more importantly because you are far more likely not to pull blows and therefore to hurt people.

Meta-Gaming

The act of using knowledge of a game to influence your actions within the game in a generally unsporting manner. For example: an ignorant warrior character would not necessarily know the finer points of magic, but the player might use that knowledge to solve a puzzle the character wouldn't be able to.

Monster

An NPC. Also a verb "to monster", e.g. to monster an event, meaning to play NPCs for that event. It is polite to monster at least as often as you play your character on adventures.

Munchkin

Someone who is more interested in personal power than roleplay - the word comes from a description of the behaviour of 12-year-old D&D players. LARP, as with all roleplaying games, should not be played to win. Specific examples include vastly optimising a character sheet to create unrealistic characters, and using meta-gaming to figure out aspects of plot. "Munchkin" is also the name of a very good card-based game which fully explores the concept in a good-humoured way. Also a verb "to munch", eg: to act like a munchkin.

Non-Player Character (NPC)

An NPC is a role written by a ref and given to a crewmember to play, generally for a short period of time. An NPC exists to further the game in some way, such as: giving the PCs necessary information, adding immersion by making the world feel populated, attempting to fight the PCs, etc. An NPC can be anything from an inoffensive and comedic street urchin to the Big Bad Demon Lord who wants to have the PCs for dinner. Some NPCs are "recurring NPCs", who the refs send in several times. These are distinct from DPCs because DPCs are generally allowed to make their own stupid decisions, whereas recurring NPCs are ref puppets who enable the PCs' stupid decisions.

Night Bash

A linear run at after dark.

OOC

OOC or OC stand for Out Of Character, and refers to things outside the Game world that are not perceptible to the characters. Someone with their hand in the air is OOC, and you should therefore pretend you cannot see them if you are IC.

Phys-rep

A physical representation of an object (these are called "props" in the theatre). Debate exists over whether all props and costume are technically phys-reps, or only "pretend" items. Eg: a latex sword is clearly intended as a physical representation of a metal sword, but is a proper suit of reenactment-quality metal chainmail a "representation" or an actual suit of chain? Regardless of the outcome of this debate, they are all referred to as phys-reps. Communally-owned phys-reps are often stored in an armoury, even if they aren't weapons.

Plot

The story that the characters and refs are telling. Cooperatively. Honest.

Plot Dump

If it is important for the characters to understand and react to the plot, but they are so thick or misguided that they are unable to do so, it may be deemed necessary to use a Plot Dump. This generally involves a meeting with a helpful NPC who explains everything, or happens to possess a vital powerful object which they are willing to give to the characters free of charge. It is possible for a really stubborn party to require more than one Plot Dump before they get the idea, usually because they killed the first one without giving it a chance to speak. At this point they may find themselves suddenly fixed to the spot by an unknown force while the next one addresses them, or alternatively with words burnt into their arms (depending on how frustrated the ref is feeling by then). It is considered bad form to highlight the need for plot dumps with awkward questions such as "How come a humble border guard knows quite this much about the Queen then?" since one should never ask questions one doesn't really want answered.

Plot Stick

When lots of plot centres on you or when a large and pointed event happens to you then you are being hit with the plot stick. Characters have been known to die from plot-stick attacks, but usually they work it out in the end.

Pulling Blows

LARP is a game, therefore when you fight you are not actually trying to kill (or even slightly damage) each other. So when you are swinging your six-foot polearm at someone (or your tiny dagger), try to inhibit the blow before impact - aim slightly short of the target so you have lost force when you actually connect. Then you will have pulled your blow. Please ask for examples of good and bad blows if you are unsure.

Ref

The Ref Team run the Breaking Worlds system; they try to provide all the relevant bits of the world not provided by characters. They run interactives, organise linears and answer downtime emails. Refs also come in different flavours: some act as invisible marshals, others may "monster ref" (direct monsters and setting up encounters) or "character ref" (play a character to guide the party) or "story ref" (do all the panicking) on linears.

Skill

An ability your character has that (usually) allows them to do something you physically can't; for example cast spells or make heroic blows. Usually these are bought with XP or at character creation. Sometimes out-of-character skills that translate in to in-character uses are called "hard skills", for example the ability to run fast, or speak eloquently.

Tank

A Tank is a character who is particularly specialised in survival. It usually refers to a strong and heavily-armoured fighter with many, many hit points and no other skills, but it is allegedly possible to be a Healing Tank also.

Weapons Check

A Weapons Check happens before each LARP event: experienced people look over each weapon and items of large kit going into the event to ensure that they are safe for their intended use and not about to fall apart or injure someone.

Weapons Practice

As the name suggests, a spin-off event for LARP groups which use weapons so that their members can practice safe combat and learn how to pull blows and avoid machine-gunning.

XP

Short for "experience points", a currency that is earned over time or sometimes for in-game achievements that can be spent on skills. This is a common way of allowing mechanical character progression.