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What is LARP?

Which genres of LARP do exist?


Every LARP takes part in a particular setting. The worlds are very different and the stories take part in a huge variety of settings. They reach from historical backgrounds to fairy tales  and realistic and present games to science fiction planets far in the future. In the following we collected a selection of different genres. Be aware that this is only a selection with most played and most common games in Germany.



The most classical genre is fantasy. In contrast to other European countries, like Finnland, in Germany almost every LARP is based on fantastic background.
Historical effects from the Middle Ages are mixed together by mythical legends.
As a result we get knights fighting together with elves, dwarves and mages against sneaky orcs and bad goblins. Such conflicts next to solving riddles, discovering woods or the searching of libraries, fights are fought with special foam plastic weapons. More and more often there appear games which leave out weapons and fights completely. So more character play is set in focus.

Like you can see, also in the different genres there are even further sub genres. High Fantasy Games contain usually more non-human pawns in a game. High Fantasy also needs a lot of complicate magic. In contrast, Low Fantasy events you will find almost only human characters and this gives you the intention to live for that time in the Middle Ages.
Certain sub categories (like Dark Fantasy) round up the genre. It doesn’t matter if High or Low Fantasy, most organization teams create their own worlds. Analytically speaking existing worlds like Aventurien – the world of ‘Das Schwarze Auge’ (German Table top roleplaying game) are used very rarely.

Historical Settings

In contrast to Low Fantasy, where Elves and Dwarves do exist and magic is used as well, Re-enLARPment as a mix of LARP and Re-enactment you will find only characters fitting into the time of the settings, like the European Middle Ages around the12th century. The costumes are in most cases hand-made and pretty often we make fun on when the specific had come into vogue. Nevertheless re-enactments do not count as a typical LARP, because quite a lot of facts are missing, like the forming of an own character. Historical games are not only limited to the Middle Ages. Also games in the Roman or Germanic context do exist. Also the time in the late 19th century (gaslight) can be found here. Fantasy themes are often used for spicing the topics.

Vampire Live

Another big scenery in Germany is that of werewolf and vampire settings like Vampire – The Masquerade. Originally vampire was used as a P&P (pen & paper) and its development in LARP is fantastic. Intrigues and curiosities in different vampire families – the so-called clans. Even in this genre there exist more sub-genres like the Middle Aged campaign – Dark Ages. All settings have a few things in common. Every player plays a vampire or creatures living next to vampires like ghouls.  
In contrast to most Fantasy Larps, which last mostly over a weekend from about 2 to 7 days, vampire is much more regular but only for a few hours each.



With Science Fiction very often guidelines from books or movies are used, but of course the own creation of worlds, times and the stories exist. Examples therefore are Star Wars, Star Trek or Babylon 5. Different than in Fantasy LARPs, in Science Fiction you will be not able to play on character over and over again. In some SF worlds you fly to other planets, in other SF worlds you play only a few years in the future from now. Other games seem to be detached. Games like Shadowrun or other cyberpunk stories contain much more technology with robots instead of human beings. Warhammer 40.000 is often used as a background in other games.



Postapocalyptic settings like in movies (Mad Max) in the table top role plays (Degenesis) are quite often added to SF. The difference is in most cases not the quest to save a world everybody wants to live in, but more the total destruction of the background world.
Old waste yards, abandoned military areas and dirty storage buildings are the main settings in this kind of game. Costumes follow the motto: the dirtier the better.
End Time is relatively young, but more and more players follow these End Time games. To simulate firearms the players use now ‘nerfguns’, they do not look that authentic, but are much safer than the softair pistols used before. And that is more fun anyway.


This genre consists of mainly frightening background und it uses shocking effects pretty often. H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu myth gives a good foundation for such horror scenarios. Also in Fantasy horror elements are used from time to time. In the last years another genre grew up – so called zombie LARP. They use less horror but much more splatter to excite the players.

The epochs in the different games are very different, but because most players will die in the end anyway, they create another character for the next event.


Wild West

Diese Liverollenspiele sind aus der Idee gebohren, Cowboy und Indianer zu spielen. Und genau dies passiert bei Wild-West-Spielen. Der Sheriff versucht für Ordnung zu sorgen, während im Salon getanzt wird, auf der Straße treffen sich zwei Gangster zu einem Duell und der nächste Indianerstamm gräbt gerade das Kriegsbeil aus. Ob eher Comboys oder Indianer im Vordergrund des Spiels stehen hängt vom Geschmack des Organisationsteams ab.



Maybe there will be a Superheroes LARP soon. A lot of table top games already deal with that topic with more and more popularity. In LARPs you’ll find very few of those super heroes. But it’s only a question of time when super heroes will appear in German LARPs.



An edge profile of LARP is the so-called crime dinner. All members take a role und become active in this thriller. Usually you have a nice dinner with 4 to 12 people and enjoy yourself. The difference is that the people are wearing different clothes who have to solve a murder case. One of the guests is the murder and with clever questions everybody tries to get him or her. Crime dinners which professional actors who just are part of the game may not be called Live Action Roleplaying anyway.


Alternate Reality Game

Alternate Reality Games (short: ARG) are often used in product placement and marketing and are mainly played on the Internet. A company that introduces a new product on the market it calls an advertising agency with an ARG. One of the most popular ARGs is the history of the movie ‘Blair Witch Project’. The organizers of the game gave out information on the Internet, founded a fictional travel agency and much more. To be honest: in the case of the blair witch project it was pure marketing. Everybody thought that it was reality. An ARG plays with the perfect mixture of truth and fiction following the motto ‘this is not a game’. The players’ job is to reveal a secret in puzzle trails.

Nowadays there are more and more ARG with LARP elements, which play mostly in a modern metropolis, where the players experience a great adventure. Many parallels do exist between LARP and ARGs, that’s why they should not be ignored in our list.

Especially in historical settings there a lot of genres and subgenres like cloak-and-sword LARPs or games taking part in the 20s or 70s of the last century. Again and again movies and novels give inspirations for settings or LARP games. Harry Potter, Firefly or Pirates of the Caribbean. All in all one should announce, that the German LARP is very various.

Next to the genres there is another point of difference within LARP games. On the one hand there are tavern games, which play mainly in a Middle Age tavern, battle cons where the battle takes the first aim and holding of court cons, where dances and fantastic dinners stand in the foreground.