Wednesday, 1 May 2013

LARP Aid 2013

LARP Aid is a three day charity event and for the last 10 years, these guys have been raising money through the LARP community and donating the proceeds to charity. This year’s event was only the 3rd one held in Kent and was in honour of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance. This is a charity that is close to my heart so I was keen to go along, check it out and help in any way that I could.

LARP Aid is a very interesting concept. As you may know, LARP systems come in many different shapes and sizes, from high fantasy to SciFi and everything in between. Through speaking to these groups, I have realised that there isn’t much crossover between systems, and why would there be? Every system is different with it’s own story and history. Crossover between systems would be very hard to write and almost impossible to referee. I mean, how would you kill a robot with a bow and arrow? Do magical charms work against an alien horde? Are horses bulletproof? Answers on a post card please.

Being new to the LARP scene and not really understanding what it’s all about, I really needed the chance to attend a meeting of several groups so I could get a broad understanding of what makes LARPers tick. That is why I liked the sound of LARP Aid so much. LARP Aid is a chance for a variety of different systems to come together and share the thing that they all have in common, a love for Live Action Role Play (and apparently, fighting and drinking). It is a chance for players to come together and have a good time without having to worry about storylines. Characters get a unique chance to develop and interact with others that they would not normally meet within their own systems. Out of character, it is an opportunity for players to meet others and learn a bit about the other systems that are around.

I arrived at Dunn Street Farm, Ashford, Kent with a mild sense of discomfort. I didn’t really know what to expect. I had done my research, read articles on the previous events and spoken to one of the organisers, Thomas Coxon at length but I still wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into.

Walking onto the site, I was greeted by Tom and immediately I was made to feel welcome and at home. I was glad to see that there was a good variety of genres at the event. I could see fantasy, steampunk and SciFi (specifically Big Damn Heroes whom I was most anxious to meet).

Tom Coxon

There were a variety of traders at LARP Aid, peddling their various wares. Eldritch were there offering a huge variety of foam latex weaponary. If you’re after anything stabby, choppy or clubby and made of foam, these guys really are the people to go see. The Viking Store is another LARP equipment retailer but with a broader product range. They sell weapons, shields, costumes, armour... pretty much anything really. Gordian Knot Games were also there. These guys not only run ‘Magic The Gathering’ events in the UK and Europe, but they are also responsible for Big Damn Heroes, a SciFi LARP group that use Nerf blasters at the heart of their system.

The Fayre TimesFestival is a very interesting organisation that are running an event in September that hope to bring a huge variety of niche hobbies together for one huge public event.
Eldritch and their Plethora of Stabby Clubbyness
The Viking Store.

Gordian Knot Games

Fayre Times Festival

Of course, what sort of event would this be without a warm, comfortable and friendly place to sit down and enjoy a nice glass of your favourite tipple? Such a place has never been as warm and friendly as the Crimson Moon. You know you’re in the right place when you ask for a glass of Mead and they ask you which type.

Inside the Crimson Moon
I had a chance to meet the guys from the Fayre Time Festival who told me all about the exciting event they have planned for September. I’ll be writing about these guys very soon so stay tuned.

There was a large variety of different events and tournaments set up over the weekend, some of which I got to witness during my visit. There was an archery competition which was running for the whole weekend with a prize for the winner.

Big Damn Heroes Added their Own Unique Flavour to the Archery Competition

I was lucky enough to see the two handed weapon tournament, spears, and dual weapons. All using LARP safe latex weapons, expertly wielded by some of the greatest warriors I had seen that day.

Highlight from the Spears Round

Big Damned Heroes were also running a Nerf Arena. For a donation of 50p, players could form teams and play various games such as ‘capture the flag’. This was obviously something of a highlight for me. I’ve never laughed like I did seeing a guy in chainmail hold his own against a barrage of darts, armed with a sword and shield. Just goes to show that sometimes, you can bring a knife to a gun fight, just as long as the knife is a jolly big one.

Big Damned Heros Prepare to Capture the Flag.

LARP Aid would continue long into the evening when the drinks would flow, stories would be told and there would be an auction to help raise more money for the Air Ambulance. I had donated two modified and painted Scout IX-3 blasters to the auction and I managed to convince Mike at Blastersmiths UK to make a donation also. Sadly though, I had another charity event to help out the following day so I had to leave early.

My Donation - 2 Modified Scout IX-3s

All in all, I had a wonderful time at LARP Aid. I had met some wonderful people, seen some amazing things, learned a bit more about LARP and drank quite a lot of mead. All in a days work.

Upon returning to my computer on Monday morning, I caught up with Tom Coxon to find out how it all went. It turns out that thanks to the support of all that attended, LARP Aid 2013 managed to raise over £1000 for Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance.

Thank you so much guys. Thank you for making me feel so welcome and especially for doing so much for charity. Keep up the good work and I’ll be seeing you all next year.

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