[RPG] What are the most popular/well known larp systems that meet our requirements?


We've got a local LARP group in my area and we've been struggling with getting a good set of core rules. We've borrowed for a few system, but none of them seem to fit exactly what we want to do. Either the system is too battle-focused or too rules heavy. We're looking for a system that's rules-lite but provides for melee, ranged attacks, and some sort of magic system, but doesn't interfere with the actually playing of roles?

We never picked one system to follow closely, we've also had our own home-brew system. The problem we constantly ran into was that the system either depended too much on melee combat, leaving the magic users weak and useless, or overpowered the magic users, making the melee combantants feel useless. When we worked on trying to balance everything the rules just exploded and got overly complicated, making it no fun for anyone trying to roleplay a character. Therefore we don't want to roll our own, we want to use a more tried and true one.

Best Answer

It sounds like you're doing boffer-larp; you might try a different style of LARP entirely. The broad styles of LARP generally boil down to:

  • Boffer LARP - combat handled by use of rebated or simulated weapons
  • Tabletop Derived LARP - Combat handled by game mechanics without acting it out.
  • Social-only LARP - no combat permitted, often no rules mechanics, either.

Boffer LARP is hard to balance between wizards and warriors, in no small part due to the rapid pace of combat, the tendency of wizardly types to be less able physically, and the psychology of people willing to get hit with large objects (even if they are foam). AMTGuard is well accepted as a fairly balanced ruleset; if it doesn't work, it says a lot about your player group...

Several of the no-weapon/no-contact LARPs are derived from tabletop gaming, and are pretty well balanced; the ones I'm familiar with, however, are not classic tolkienian fantasy.

Systems I know work:

  • The Masquerade
  • Live Action L5R
  • Comme Il Fault (Expansion giving LARP mechanics) & Castle Falkenstein (Core TT RPG)

Both CF and Masquerade can be found in PDF on drivethrurpg.com. I believe L5R Live Action can be as well.

All three handle combats as a series of mechanical resolutions, rather than being done in character, thus making balance much easier to obtain.

Social Only LARPS include such things as How To Host A Mystery... and most of the online shared storytelling, such as Storm Fires Weyr.