New Player Welcome Pack
Welcome to the Live Action Role Play hobby. Whether you’ve never heard of LARPing before or are an experienced player, we hope you come down and have fun at our games.
A little about us:
We’re a sci-fi group that meet in London on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month to socialise and plan geeky outings. We’ve been running for over 20 years and have a sizeable membership with a wide variety of interests. More information here: https://www.meetup.com/London-Sci-Fi/
As an extension of that, a bunch of us decided to start running our own science fiction themed live action role play in 2016, and we’ve been going strong ever since.
What is LARP?
‘Role play’ usually brings to mind a group of players sitting around a table rolling dice. Live Action Role Play is a step above that, because instead of relying on the random outcome of dice, we’re actually out there performing the actions in person – if a monster jumps out at you, you’re not just told about it, it actually happens!
It’s the closest we can get to actually bringing to life the shows and movies we love. We use laser tag as the most realistic way of simulating combat, and a group of volunteer NPCs (non-playing characters) to help the game runner drive the story.
Take a look at this page for more information: http://lotna-larp.co.uk/about.html
There’s also a lot of helpful tips to be found on this page: http://lotna-larp.co.uk/resources.html
How much does it cost?
We keep the costs down as much as possible – this is a non-profit hobby, not a business. We charge £15-£25 per one-day game to cover the cost of hiring the site, maintenance of the loan kit, and props that are used in the game.
Additionally, an annual payment of £10 covers insurance, this is payable for the whole year on the first game an individual plays following the start of June (when it's renewed).
Further costs to factor in include travel, food and drink (please bring your own), and costume, although these will vary person to person. In general, it’s a very inexpensive hobby! 😊
Do I need to do anything before coming along?
Ideally, yes. Most of the games we run are part of a series which involves having characters. To get the most out of the games, contact one of the game runners to organise your character. Details should be on the Upcoming Games section on this site, or use the Contact Form.
Don't worry if you don't know what to do, the game runners will likely have suggestions and be able to help you put something together - as simple or complex as you want.
It'd also be helpful if you could print out our Insurance Form and fill it in – we will need to have a signed physical copy of this before allowing anyone to play. We should have blank forms with us on the day, but it saves time if it's already done.
Lastly, have a look around this site to familiarise yourself with the hobby and answer any questions you may have. As always, feel free to contact us if you're still wondering about anything.
When/Where do we play?
Currently one-day games are held monthly at least 5 or 6 times throughout year, weather dependent, with an additional weekend-long event called Invasion being held over the August Bank Holiday weekend (2021 will have fewer games due to COVID restrictions).
Generally we aim for the 3rd Sunday of the month, starting in April and finishing in October, although this may vary slightly and we are exploring the possibility of running Winter games in an indoor location.
The site we use is called ‘Ultimate Wargames’ near Brand’s Hatch in Kent. The address is 1 School lane, Fawkham, DA3 8NY, but be aware that using this street number and post code in a satnav takes you to the wrong end of the street – the actual site is further down the road and close to the intersection with Three Gates Road. Here is the Google Maps reference.
How do I get there?
We try to make things as easy as possible for people to attend, so if you’re not driving we have a number of members with cars who are happy to do a run to the station to pick up players. The nearest station is Longfield, which is between 30-45 mins from London Victoria. We recommend being on the 8:15 am train from Victoria, although keep in mind that the timetables are likely to change and may be affected by planned closures on your day of travel.
There’s usually a group of people who travel down together so if you’d like to go in a group let us know in advance and we can coordinate. We also encourage new players to come along to a sci-fi meeting at the pub beforehand to get to know us, which are run twice monthly.
What happens during the day?
We have a general format to the day that we use for most games, although some may vary. We aim to have everyone on the site sometime around 9 am which gives us enough time to get everyone organised for the day. We’ll set aside some time to show new players how to use their kit and try out their laser tag toys.
Following that, we usually run a couple of skirmish games that will let new players get a feel for how to use the equipment, and be a bit of fun for everyone. Not all of the role play games have much shooting in them, so this is how we ‘get it out of our system’ before heading into the main event.
We break for lunch around 12:30, at which point the site opens up their kitchen and provides lunch of a burger, chips, and drink for £5.
After lunch comes the main themed game, and you’ll probably see the game runner and NPCs running around beforehand getting things ready. We ask that players stay within the main compound area and not wander around the site during lunch in case they stumble over any props or plot points that they shouldn’t see before the game has begun.
Most games will begin with a briefing that will recap any important information that has been sent out previously, and give you the details you need for the current game, and then game in is called and it’s over to you.
The game usually takes a few hours, although this can fluctuate depending on players’ progress and decisions made along the way. But we aim to pack up and finish by around 5pm, at which point we head to the local pub (The Rising Sun, in Fawkham), tip back a drink or two, and share war stories.
What do I need to bring?
- Good footwear is the first thing we usually recommend, as it is a physical activity and it’s likely you will be running around in the woods. Most players favour the military-style boots with good ankle support.
- Another safety item is a whistle, although we do have some spare. This is in case you get lost or injured on the site and need to get the attention of other players.
- We request that players put at least some effort into a suitable costume for the themed game. If it’s Stargate then army fatigues would be appropriate, if it’s Firefly then western-style clothes. If you’re a modern-day civilian scientist, t-shirt and jeans is in keeping… You get the idea.
- Water to stay hydrated (it can get hot out there), and food for lunch. High energy snacks aren’t a bad idea either.
- Any props or phys-reps (‘physical representations') that you feel would be appropriate for your character. Engineers may have a toy spanner, for instance (plastic 'safe' items only, please). Not essential, but it does add to the gameplay.
What about safety?
It is a physical hobby, there are times when people are chased or have to get from one spot to the other quickly. It’s also out in the woods, where there are a lot of potential trip hazards. We have insurance and will always have at least one qualified First Aider and fully stocked first aid kit on site in case of anything happening, but we do expect people to take reasonable safety precautions and not do anything that wanders into the realms of being dangerous.
Safety ALWAYS comes first.
We instruct players to always carry a whistle, and if in need, blast repeatedly on the whistle to alert other players of a safety issue, at which point the game will be paused and all members will come to assist.
Can you go into a bit more detail about the combat system?
Within the game environment is a Laser Tag System, which means we don’t have to wear any safety equipment as there are no potentially harmful projectiles. The beams are of IR (infrared) and as such will not affect your sight, they’re similar to the beam that comes out of your TV’s remote control.
The laser tag gun unit comprises of an emitter (which sends out the infrared beam), muzzle flash (which gives a realistic clue to your location), and a speaker (which will make an appropriate ‘gun’ sound, and may also give a clue to your location), with a reload button or switch. Some may also come with additional features like mode change, but these are on specialised weapons.
We have headset sensors which can receive infrared beams from 360 degrees, and these must be switched on and worn unobstructed at all times while the game is in play. They also have a speaker that will alert you to when you have taken a hit, so it’s recommended that this speaker is positioned in close proximity to your ear.
The exact workings of the laser tag gun and sensor will be explained in person on the day, and you’ll have the opportunity to get a feel for their use before starting the game.
Melee combat is not present in most games, and you will be advised if there’s any alteration to this.
What to do about costume?
Costumes will depend on the themed game, and as we run a series of linked games throughout the year, one costume will usually be good for a number of games (and, most likely, will be used again in future games). We try to keep things as inexpensive as possible but we do request that some attempt is made towards your costume as it helps everyone keep in character.
Some suggestions and links to costume resources can be found here.
Is there anything else I need to know?
Probably, but much of it you’ll pick up naturally in your first game. If you want more details about the hobby in general, we’ve added several resource documents here.
Otherwise, feel free to send us a message on Meetup, or better yet, pop down to one of our sci-fi pub meets to chat to us in person.