I’m Not In Your LARP

The joy of live-action roleplaying games is the consensual nature of the delusion. In essence, it’s just how actuality works: if you want to be a 300-year-old Elven wizard, it’s quite difficult to do without, say, being 300 years old. It’s fairly easy to just pretend, but not necessarily satisfying. You can potentially create any number of games, with more or fewer rules, as you so desire. Your limitations are generally budget, physical reality, ideas…things you can access.

But it’s beneficial to know you’re in a LARP. It’s helpful to know that you’re probably not going to be able to go pick Elven mushrooms in the Invisible Forest tomorrow, because Elves aren’t real.

(Or if they are, they are very, very selective in the humans with whom they communicate, and if you’re not Tolkien, you’re probably out of luck.)

I’ve spent about six years thinking, “There’s no way that many people could be in a LARP.”

Because there’s a world, a Universe, a Multiverse, a cosmic paroxysm of difference between saying, “I have cast a fireball from my bare hands and incinerated you”, and believing that it has happened. It would help, for example, to check to see if those people are incinerated.

I’m afraid that I helped promulgate some of these policies. Before I was canceled myself, I was preaching pretty loudly how we should listen to the people who said they were hurt, and not dignify the people they might have hurt by speaking with them.

(I’d like to talk a bit about how what I was trying to say was different from what’s being said now, but why? It’s not that interesting a tale.)

If you are trying to do something, and you do it, and then you try to see what effects it had, I’d say you have a reasonable way of trying to figure out what’s going on in general.

If you are making major life decisions about other people to whom you could speak and you don’t think you need to ask or investigate…you’re in a LARP.

My wife (of 18 hours at the time of this writing!) calls them the anti-Jeff people. It’s a great descriptor, really. But I don’t think it makes for good storytelling. I’d say it would be a lot to ask for anyone to listen to me if I switch from fiction to nonfiction. (I’d rather listen to a bad Warren Zevon song than a good song by most bands. He changed a lot, but the core quirk and gonzo weirdness were always there. I do owe my fans the things which brought them here, as long as I think I can do them in interesting ways.

My compromise is writing a touch of nonfiction today, about The Great LARP.

The Great LARP is not, in my eyes, associated with an actual political party (I can’t imagine that most of you came here for any politics more realistic than Game of Thrones). It often pretends to be. But it’s just a mindset. It says: “I want to believe these things. I won’t check on what I believe. But I’ll accept it as real and I expect everyone else to either do the same, or be labelled an enemy.”

The sad thing—one of the saddest things, for me—is that I don’t consider the term an insult. I consider what it describes to be an insult.

I’d consider it insulting if someone told me that I have views that I’ve verified against only one part or one side of a complicated or important idea. I’m no kind of Marxist, but I’m quite sure that, if I were, I’d want to have read at least a good bit of Marx. I wouldn’t want to have ignored his critics or elevated his champions to a point where they’re unassailable.

I spent a long time—six years—thinking that because so many things involved me intimately, and some of them were indeed somewhat similar to people and situations I knew, that I was obligated to try to show I wasn’t what those people thought I am.

They’ll never believe that.

I’ve spent more than half a decade preparing for everything I say to be met with opposition, rewriting, and honestly, a lot of outright lies. I eventually realized that there’s no level of transparency, explanation, or proof that will matter to those people.

I am not a real person to them. I’m just a monster. I suppose I have the elevated status of Boss Monster of some kind, but I’m not an actual human being.

Which is lovely, because it just so happens that I do write fiction.

And still, I’ve got this habit of explaining myself. Only now, I’m not looking to explain myself to people who could never, ever be convinced by anything. I’m looking to talk about what happened, and what is happening. But mostly, especially here, I’m going to talk about Orcs. It’s not exactly going to be the world’s most complicated metaphor, but I’m not going for complicated. I’m going for the satisfaction of axes and chainmail and Necromancy.

It’s going to be fiction talking about ways I see reality. Which is pretty much the opposite of The Great LARP—part of its fairly explicit tenets are simply that the other side must be absolutely wrong, in actual reality, and therefore entertaining ideas of people even near the ‘other’ side or sides must be, by definition, utterly wrong.

I wish this thing I call The Great LARP really was just an attack on me, or just one side of an argument. But it’s just a function of block culture. The more you’re able to curate your feed, block and reduce any and all content you don’t like… well, we’re all primates. That’s going to feel pretty pleasant. But lots of things feel pleasant. I find alcohol pleasant; but I gave it up because I eventually determined that it was bad for me.

If your information input isn’t encouraging you to look outside, you seldom will. Why would you? You’re seeing things of interest, which appeal to your senses.

But if your system isn’t encouraging you to do that looking, especially if it’s effectively forcing you to look only where it wants you to look, that’s a LARP. And frankly, LARP is too kind a word.

But that’s enough for today. We’ll be back in a few days.

With more Orcs.


Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.