Monday 21 July 2014

Green Cloaks LARP: Review.

Forget 'Come to the dark side, we have cookies', from now on its 'Come to the LARP side, we have smoked ribs and mead.'

Ever since I started attending Sci-Fi LARP events, I have been hearing the same sentence from many different people, granted the wording is different from each, but the focus is the same. "Yeah these guys are good, but its not like The Green Cloaks". I remember asking "what made them so special as opposed to anyone else?" and then it was explained to me. They don't just spend a day or afternoon doing LARP, they spend whole weekends doing so. The second I heard that, I just had to meet them and experience what the system and seeing if it was for me.

Luckily, I was fortunate to be on hand for their 2nd event on the 20th-22nd June and boy am I glad I did!

Green Cloaks LARP is about working as a team trying to survive, or maybe even thrive, in the horrors of battle. At times, it felt amazing and its the main reason why I'm going back. The other reasons why I'm going back (and why you should join me) are just as important.


As I have written in reviews of other LARP systems, I find it hard to go straight from real world into character LARP. Especially as the other systems I have gone to usually run one day events. I find myself just getting into the swing of things and then told, 'Sorry fun's over. Home time'. It's a real bugbear of mine and it was beginning to put me off the whole idea of LARP. As I've said before, LARP is a genre which needs time. If the time on the day itself is restricted, how is anything both characters and plot, ever suppose to move forward?

Trinity Games, founders of  the Green Cloaks system, seem to have had the same thoughts and have figured out how to fix the problem. I am told that most of the large LARP events run for a few days, but I'm the new guy so I can only write about what I know. This is as basic as I can explain it to you. Turn up in the morning, hours before the game begins, get your tent pitched. register, pay and sign the boring (yet important) stuff, get something to eat, mingle with old friends, make new ones, relax, have a drink (optional), time to LARP! It makes the day, from 'Time In' onwards, just great to witness and experience. People who have already had a day to get 'in the zone' and are ready, rested and prepared to enjoy themselves.


Another thing I love about Green Cloaks is the location. Another gripe of mine is something I like to call the 'normals factor'. Too many times, in both NERF LARP and at wars, I have witnessed games that had to be stopped to let everyday people pass by with there dogs or, on one occasion, horses. Now I understand that sometimes this is unavoidable. When LARPing in a public area, these people (and animals) are allowed on whichever grounds we are on, but you must admit, it breaks flow, brings anyone in character straight back to reality and can begin awkward questions from 'slack jawed yocals' which we don't want to answer.

Again, this seems to be something the Green Cloaks have dealt with effortlessly. The site at Broadstone Warren, East Sussex was the most secluded venue I've ever been to. Even with four large factions there is still plenty of room for battles and quests in between, as well as plenty of room for the G.O.D (Games Organisation Desk) tent and the food vans, traders and of course, the bar. The site was immense. Thick lush woodland surrounding everyone and everything. No passers by or dog walkers here. Not even one horse which to me is a victory no matter what the conversation! No car alarms or screaming babies, total seclusion. Seclusion is something so important to LARP (any version) and seeing the GC people do it so well should be putting other LARP organisations to shame. Hopefully one or two of them may read this. Who knows?

The distance between each camp also added an extra dimension to the game play. Breeding both comradery and paranoia between the camps gave me the real action of the weekend. Rumour and hearsay between factions really helped promote the sense of fear and unease in the world and that really helped with the immersion. Not only that but the space between the factions allowed the difference between the factions to shine through and really helped promote the idea that we weren't in a wood outside East Grinstead, we were in a vast, sprawling universe totally unlike anything I knew in real life. Each faction camp had it's own personality and vibe. From the approachable 23rd Heavy Infantry, all the way to the downright mean Kingskeep 98th who incidental KILLED MY CHARACTER OFF!!!. Not that I'm bitter or anything...


All of the battles are against a common foe, such as the 'Tech Dead' (think the Borg with bigger swords) and the other monsters of this LARP universe, and not between factions. At first I thought that was a little odd but then, as always, I forgot one of the golden rules of LARP. Monsters are there to aid the progress of the players, not kill them out right. Players fighting players is a war, and in wars characters die, quickly and often without meaning but having a dedicated monster team allowed the plot writers to guide the players through the story. This is the first LARP I've been to where a character dying had great impact into the story, yes even mine, (not bitter) both for the other players and for the main story as a whole.

Correspondant John Birthday (me) gets himself in a spot of bother.
The main story behind the fighting is something which I liken to a closely guarded secret. The basics are there for everyone to see but nobody really knows what is going on (except the refs of course, they know everything).

I'll explain.

In game, you are a soldier (or whichever style of character you choose) on a war torn planet and you are trying to restore peace. Sounds simple and to be frank, that part is. But what the GC people have done, with so much space and time at their disposal, is add so much more to explore, discover, fight and change about the world you now find yourself in. When playing as my second character, (a soldier), I found myself completely unaware of the whys and where's of what my team and I where doing. I was just focused on staying alive which is precisely what I want to do. LARP is at its very best when the story is used to place the characters in a certain situation, then put to one side when the battles begin.


Green Cloaks is a grass roots system meaning it is designed for new players. Designed specifically to introduce new people to the hobby. This is achieved perfectly by some very cleverly written rules. A lot of fantasy LARPs have very long and complicated rules. Each weapon does different damage and each character can have many, many special abilities. Green Cloaks has been kept simple in that all melee weapons do the same damage as do all blasters with a few simple exceptions. This means that when you are in the thick of it, you don't have to think too hard about what to do. Hit with a sword or NERF dart 'X' amount of times and you drop to the floor and start counting. If you get to 120 and no one is around to heal you... you dead. Other systems I've seen have outrageously complicated rules. Maybe I'm missing the point and they are designed for expert players but as a noob, complicated rules only breed arguments such as the  'No! You can't do that. I'm a higher level than you' nonsense and 'no that hit doesn't count because of reasons' crap. Simple equal level melee brawling helps make the game more immersive and ultimately, more fun. Of course there are exceptions for long time players who now have powerful characters but these are great to have on your side when you come up against a powerful foe, but for a level 1 'noob' like me, It was perfect.

Private James Birthday on patrol with members of the 98th.

Finishing Touches

For me, a large part of the appeal of this system is the attention they pay to the OC (Out of Character) areas. These spaces provide players with somewhere to go to escape the fear of attack. They can chill out, grab some refreshments and buy some new kit.

The food and drinks provided where wonderful, affordable, plentiful and served by a local family who, and this is an important factor for newbies like me, didn't judge. In fact they seemed to enjoy having conversations with the players. They really made an effort to provide a varying menu and they had different specials most days. I honestly have to recommend the chicken and ribs!

Davidoff's Bar, set up and run in character, by one of the players was fun to be a part of. During the day you could go for a drink in character seeking refuge from the horrors of war and when the days activities were over, it was a relaxing place to talk to fellow players and swap war stories. Mead was the drink of choice for the majority of players and while we where all encouraged these days to 'drink aware.' I never once felt like the amount of drink being consumed got out of hand. In short, food and drink made the whole experience feel so much deeper than just a group of people meeting up to turn and fire at one another. It felt like an organisation of like-minded comrades, an ever growing band of friends and on more than one occasion, it felt like a family.

There was an open 'marketplace' if you will for you to buy holsters from the ever awesome Blastersmiths UK. LARP weaponry of all shapes and sizes from the welcoming and humorous Eldritch and also, a place that you could have got your blasters modified of repaired on the day by some bloke with too much time on his hands, Kevin from UKNerfWar.

The UKNerfWar stall sells blasters, ammo, accessories and modifications.


In the LARP world the Trinity Games team provided, new players get welcomed like a brother or sister. There is no hassling of the new guy, no out of character mean-ness shown towards one another, everyone is there simply to enjoy themselves.
Private Birthday and Cpt. Sebrova taking cover.
I must take the time to mention a couple of faux pas on my part. While I mentioned that new players will be welcomed, turning up in jeans and t-shirt will not, (unless that's something to do with your character). Looking at it, it's obvious why. As I mentioned before, each faction has it's own style and it's difficult to get into it if there are people who don't look the part. If you come to the Green Cloaks and wish to be a soldier, you will need to be dressed as one. camo, armour, holsters, everything. Certain groups will/may have spare kit, but that really isn't any excuse not to have the kit yourself. You should also remember that your character may run in to the 98th and be horribly murdered (again, not bitter) so it is a good idea to plan your next character and bring extra kit just in case.

Camping may not be for everyone, I myself really struggled on the first night, but that is no one else's fault It's worth noting that if your more 'indoors-y' like me, you may have to bring some luxuries with you. That said, it was nothing a strong cup of tea and a bacon sandwich didn't fix in the morning!

Those I feel are the only two negative experiences I had over the weekend and they are both easily resolved for next time.

Kharn G'or. Don't make him angry.

LARPing with Green Cloaks will cost you £30 and a weekend. but it will be a weekend of meeting new people and long streaching battles, which when completed, give you a feeling of accomplishment and victory and provide you with war stories to tell your new friends around the table of the bar with a mead.

Try them out. Other than possibly a few awkward nights sleep if your not used to camping. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If you would like any information on joining GC and you're interested in attending their next event on 8th August, join the Facebook group.

Photos courtesy of Ronnie Hall Photography

MerryUnBirthday Twitter @BadFormPeterPan


  1. I hope you had a great time with your 2nd character when you joined 98th Kingskeep as one of our recruits... something you didn't mention in your review which is a shame.

    Also we did give you two warnings to stay away ;)


  2. Civilian journalist attempts to enter heavily armed suedo Russian military establishment repeatedly, despite many warnings.....

    seriously, this is not murder, this is clearly suicide da?

    :) we were lovely to you after you came back and played with us :P

    -Absolutely not the Kingskeep

  3. Someone (you) need to write a one year later edition of this article so people can hear how things have come along after a huge year in 2014, I'll have a drink waiting for you at the table with your pen and paper.

    1. You're probably right Davidov and we will gladly take you up on that drink once a year has actually passed. 😉

  4. That year has passed and I've just spent the night working on the bar for next year!

    Re-read the article for old times sake and glad to say we still have you, just remind me I owe you at least one drink after this years performance.