Q: So, firstly, for those that don’t know, what is LARP and what does it entail?
Live Action Role Playing (LARP) is the term for games that see their participants physically act out their character’s actions. Players, similar to the stars in a movie or novel, pursue goals designed by the game referees within a fictional setting represented by the real world while interacting with each other as their characters. The crew, similar to the supporting cast in a movie, help to deliver the story, rewards and challenges to the players by acting as other inhabitants of the game world, be they friends or foes of the players. The first LARPs began in the late 1970s, where fans of tabletop games such as Dungeons and Dragons decided to don costumes and take their games outside of their homes and into the wilderness.
All participants in LARP wear appropriately themed costume to physically portray characters created for the fictional setting. They will improvise their characters’ speech and movements somewhat like actors in improvisational theatre. The outcome of player and crew actions are mediated by game rules or determined by consensus among the players and crew, and overseen by the game staff.
Q: What does The Neothera Saga do, and how long has it been running?
The Neothera Saga is a non-profit, High Fantasy/Steampunk LARP group based in Exeter, Devon. We specialise in plot-driven, emotive and extremely immersive events. We offer you the chance to step into a vast and lore-rich world of mystical creatures and epic battles, where magic and technology compete for dominance. If you are unsure of the theme, imagine Lord of the Rings with a Steampunk undertone!
We formed the club in 2014 and our experienced and creative team of staff includes dedicated and knowledgeable members of the southwest (UK) LARP scene as well as professional games designers. We strive to create an inspiring, immersive and welcoming environment where all of our participants can get involved, regardless of their prior LARP experience.
Our games, governed by simple rules, see participants act out impromptu scenarios whilst wearing medieval or steampunk-themed fantasy costumes. Combat is physically acted out with padded weapons, spells are cast by calling key phrases, and firearms are represented by foam dart or cap guns. Become a denizen of this fantastical world, adopt a persona of your choice and carve your mark in the legends of Neothera.
The world of Neothera has a varied and rich lore; you will meet or be able to play as a variety of fantastical creatures, ranging from half-demons, animal/human hybrids, to Urka (orcs), Faeries or mischievous Piskies, to mention but a few. The fictional world of Neothera is vast and full of places to explore, history to learn and fantastical creatures and people to encounter. The actions you take as your character will alter the outcome of the games, for better or worse.
Q: How long does each session last, on average?
We run two types of events with varying adventure lengths, these are as follows:
SINGLE DAY ADVENTURES
These are usually run once a month on a Saturday. The location is Woodbury Common, near Exeter. We meet at Tesco Exeter Vale cafe at 9am for breakfast and to check-in all players and crew, and then travel to the event site at 10am, ready to begin the game at 11am. The event usually finishes around 5:30pm.
LONG WEEKEND EVENTS
We run two or three long events each year, which are held at a private site on the outskirts of Exeter with five fields and woodland to explore. These events run from Friday to Sunday. You can access the site from 1pm on the Friday to set up your tent, with the game starting around 6pm. The game runs through the entirety of Saturday and finishes at 3pm the following day (Sunday). These events are regarded as being extremely immersive and we pull out all the stops with plot and costumes. Whilst the game can continue into the early hours of the mornings there is always time to get some rest in a field reserved for non-character or LARP related activities.
Q: Are there any upper or lower age limits for anyone that wants to take part? Do you need to be physically fit?
Our games attract people from a variety of age ranges and various walks of life. A good level of physical fitness is not essential, yet you should be aware that our games are often physically and sometimes mentally demanding. Our single-day adventures will often see participants walk approximately three miles around a pre-designated track of wood/scrubland on Woodbury Common.
Our weekend events are based at a private site on the outskirts of Exeter and a base camp is established for both players and crew, so walking long distances is not really required. That said, our games regularly contain simulated combat with padded weapons, which can becoming physically tiring over a three-day event. However, depending on the theme of an event, it may be the plot denotes that a large amount of combat does not occur. We always advise contacting us in advance if you wish to attend a game and do not want to get involved in combat or have any special requirements. We will always be happy to make roles for non-combatants or advise how physically demanding the event will be.
It should be noted that Neothera Saga UK LARP is not aimed at a young audience, and as such, we do not alter or censor plot, language or potentially disturbing occurrences that are acted out (such as gore, bad language, simulated violence and adult subject matter, etc) with a view that minors will be attending a game. There is no minimum age requirement for our events, although participants of 14 years and younger must always be accompanied and supervised by an adult (18+) who is also playing or crewing the event.
Q: What sort of experience & equipment do players need to be able to take part?
In terms of experience… none! Have you ever read a book, watched a movie, played computer-based RPGs, even imagined yourself as the hero(ine)? Congratulations, you have an imagination, and that is the main thing needed for LARP!
As for what else you might need, the very minimum a participant requires is a set of dark clothing that is not overtly modern (black or brown t-shirt and trousers without logos for example). You should also bring decent footwear; walking boots are ideal. We cover this in detail in a short manual you can download from our website called ‘Prepare for Adventure’.
Costume-wise, it takes a lot less than you may expect to get involved but many players find themselves choosing to invest more and to continually improve their kit with better weapons or clothing between events. A great place to start is by checking out our website and looking at the photo galleries. This will give you an idea of the standard of costume that is required. We also list reputable suppliers of LARP equipment, weapons and costume. If you want to discuss your character’s look we are happy to arrange a chat or email conversation; just get in touch!
Q: If someone fancied taking part in or observing one of your sessions, what would they need to do?
If you want to take part we would suggest stopping by our website to check out photos from past events and having a brief read of the game rules. It is not essential to know the rules inside-out. In fact, you can crew your first game with us and we’ll explain the basics on the day. You can buy tickets and officially put in your character application from the website, and we can discuss this with you via personal messages on Facebook or email.
We would also recommend finding us on Facebook, where you will soon discover that many of the players and staff would be happy to offer encouragement to new and existing participants.
Our YouTube channel is another good place to find an introduction to what is involved in the sessions. It is also possible to volunteer to crew before making a character, this allows you to be involved and try your hand at LARPing before having to create a costume or character.
We do not allow spectators at our games because this detracts from the immersive atmosphere we strive to create. However, we do allow photographers or filmmakers to attend, providing this has been cleared with the staff in advance and is deemed not to be intrusive on the game.
Q: We see that you have been shortlisted for a couple of awards this year; can you tell us about that, and where you see the group being in 2018?
The Neothera Saga’s goals are not to seek fortune and fame, simply to create a friendly community, to write and run events the participants have great fun playing. Our nominations for the two categories we were shortlisted for in the 2017 UK LARP awards are testament to this. It was our participants that voted for us and gained us the recognition they thought we deserved.
Our nomination for best grassroots system was based upon introducing people that have never tried LARP before, to the hobby. This is something we are passionate about; without new blood in the hobby it cannot continue, or even evolve and improve. We actively promote our games to LARP novices. Often these people have better ideas and a fresh way of thinking compared to gnarled old veterans who dislike changes in the way the hobby is evolving. The Neothera Saga system is simple enough to start off in, and scales to ensure there is enough depth for seasoned LARPers to get their teeth into. If you are new to LARP, our helpful team is always on hand to provide information and answer questions, regardless of how silly you think they might be!
LARP is a social hobby, and since the system began we have made many lovely friends along the way, many of which have stayed loyal to the game since our early days. Running a LARP system should be fun; moreso for the participants that attend the games. It has been amazing to see the overwhelming responses from some of our participants stating how their lives outside of LARP have improved since gaining confidence in dealing with roleplay-based situations at our game – experiences that have helped them in the real world.
We are often told by potential attendees that they are unsure if they will like LARP. To that we say, come along. Try it. Many people in your shoes have said the same, and they haven’t looked back since they first set foot into the world of the Neothera Saga.
Further information can be found at the following.
The Neothera Saga Website
The Neothera Saga Facebook Page
The Neothera Saga Twitter
The Neothera Saga YouTube