UK LARP history

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CJ has in March 2015 started to collect resources on UK LARP History on what may well become a more formal project, or be quietly abandoned, in the future. So far I have collected only names and dates for various strands of UK LARP, and tried to put links as I can find them. I've used the following terminology

  • FEST = Fest Contact LARP
  • CLARP = Contact Larp- one where physical contact is used to resolve combat
  • FREEFORM - in the UK sense - all characters designed by game writer, no physical combat. See Mo Holkar's blog here for a great explanation http://blog.ukg.co.uk/uk-freeform/
  • WKFREEFORM - a weekend long Freeform.
  • CTHULHULIVE - Games run using rules published in 3 editions, by Chaosium, Fantasy Flight Games & Skirmisher over the years. A non-contact LARP
  • R/P/S- Rock/Paper/Stones mechanic games. The best known ones are probably the Minds Eye Theatre World of Darkness series
  • VLARP - Vampire LARP, or any occult modern monster games

Contents

1982

April 1982 Treasure Trap Fantasy CLARP founded at Peckforton Castle - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_Trap by Peter Carey and Rob Donaldson [Source: Wikipedia, Treasure Trap]

Steve Jackson Games publish Killer; this book codifies a US college game known by many names. Many games were tun across UK campuses and schools as a result. I would be interested in hearing more about peoples experiences playing variants in the UK.

Mazes and Monsters is a Hollywood film in which Tom Hanks plays a LARPER. A moral panic about the dangers of RPG is stoked by the film. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazes_and_Monsters

1983

February - Durham University Treasure Trap created for purpose or arranging trips to Peckforton. At this stage they do not run their own events? Still going today, the longest surviving UK Fantasy CLARP system. [Source: Wikipedia, Treasure Trap]


1985

1985 sees the sale of Peckforton Castle, end of Treasure Trap, and the explosion of UK Fantasy CLARP.

Peter Garner starts overground Fantasy CLARPS in Kent, under the name Garner Adventure Tours http://www.labyrinthe.co.uk/introduction/history/

Treasure Trap closes after losing access to Peckforton Castle & financial issues. [Source: Wikipedia, Treasure Trap]

Durham University Treasure Trap begin running their own events. 30 years on they are still running weekly events as part of Durham University Student Union. Claims to be he oldest continually operating Fantasy CLARP group in the UK [Source: Wikipedia, Treasure Trap]

Birmingham University Treasure Trap was again a group of enthusiasts from Treasure Trap who responded to the closure of Peckforton by running their own Fantasy CLARP games, lasting till 2002. [Source: Wikipedia, Treasure Trap]

Mythlore Fantasy CLARP set up by Mark Cordory, still running today as Mythlore New Lands. It ran mostly in the Forest of Dean with occasional forays into the Brecon Beacons.

Garner Adventure Tours moves to Chislehurst Caves, and is renamed Labyrinthe http://www.labyrinthe.co.uk/introduction/history/

Portly Pixie Fantasy CLARP launched by Helen Holdforth and Roger Price in Coventry. It runs for next twenty years. https://portlypixie.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/hello-world/

The Nameless Anarchist Horde's CJ & Hugh Wake run Romeo & Juliet meet the Verona Chainsaw Massacre, a KILLER variant with rules for tragic romance that ran in the King Edward VI Upper School, Bury St Edmunds for one week in September 1985.

The Nameless Anarchist Horde's CJ & Hugh Wake run Cthulhu at Halloween '85, a one off Cthulhu CLARP in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The game is set in the modern era, and features 6 investigators, NPC ghouls and a 2 person carried shoggoth costume worthy of an Ed Wood film.

BattleBoard LRP was a private Colchester group of Fantasy CLARP players http://www.battleboard.freeserve.co.uk/

Timescape Adventures offers a "role-playing holiday experience" including "safe weapon combat" (WD 64, p. 4)

T. A. C. begins "live role-playing W. W. II" (WD 63, p. 45)

1986

John Naylor and Steve Bell found Fools & Heroes Fantasy FEST. Founded in Nottinghamshire there establish local branches throughout the UK and the annual FCLARP Summerfest which was the first Fest to break the 1,000 player mark in the early 1990's. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fools_and_Heroes

Heroquest Fantasy CLARP launched in Gloucester, with events at Biblins in Forest of Dean by Mark Roberts. http://www.heroquest-larp.co.uk/live-roleplaying-uk/about-heroquest.html They are still going strong today

Flights of Fantasy Fantasy CLARP set up in the Northwest. It later becomes Nothing Ventured.

Spirit of Adventure, "real-life roleplaying in the northwest of England" in Manchester (WD 78 p. 38)

1987

Pete Garner leaves Labyrinthe and former player and staffer Jan McMannus takes over; Alan Morgan deals with the innovation of Play By Mail downtime, keeping your character involved between adventures. http://www.labyrinthe.co.uk/introduction/history/

Children's TV show Knightmare begins, and is arguably a TV competitive LARP. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knightmare

1988

Andrew Rilstone's "fantasy parties" at the University of York. FREEFORM http://nnbtv.org.uk/Games/History.html

1989

The Australian Games Group publish Morgana Cowling's The Freeform Book http://www.amazon.co.uk/THE-FREEFORM-BOOK-MORGANA-COWLING/dp/B003LM07L6 popularising the use of the term FREEFORM

1990

The term LRP seems to the normal term in the UK. I have found no references to LARP before this date.

BattleBoard LRP in Colchester advertises and grows to thirty players. http://www.battleboard.freeserve.co.uk/

Brian Williams runs "Ace of Spades" FREEFORM at University of Edinburgh. http://nnbtv.org.uk/Games/History.html

1992

The Lorien Trust founded as a charitable organisation to run Fantasy FEST events at Locko Park, Derby. http://www.lorientrust.com/ The Gathering, the Summer Bank Holiday event reaches considerable size in the years to come.

Home of the Bold Gloranthan FREEFORM run at Convulsion

Battle Board LRP splits in to Mists of Avalon and Shadows of Sorcery LRP based in Basildon http://www.battleboard.freeserve.co.uk/

1993

Mind's Eye Theatre VLARP rules released, suing a R/P/S (Rock/Paper/Scissors) system. These games cover White Wolf's World of Darkness setting. The Camarilla UK follows and still continues today in London.

A different approach to VLARP was ViP: Vampires In Public. Lots of system material here, but IO don't have dates for the game. http://www.vampiresinpublic.org.uk/index.php Thanks to Mark Nichols for the details - it began in Coventry and expanded to Oxford, Lancaster, Birmingham & Worcester.


http://www.angelfire.com/dragon/camarillauk/Projectinfo_page.htm

Also Machiavelli Games begin 5 years of large scale games set in the world of Ars Magica. http://archmachiavel.tripod.com/

1994

Mists of Avalon and Shadows of Sorcery LRP both cease running. Mists of Avalon and Shadows of Sorcery LRP

1995

Small Furry Creatures Press run Cruel Hoax's WKFREEFORM Cafe Casablanca http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/cafe-casablanca

The Lorien Trust becomes Merlinroute Ltd trading as The Lorien Trust, a private company. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorien_Trust#Lorien_Trust_Events

1996

Small Furry Creatures Press run Cruel Hoax's WKFREEFORM The King's Musketeers http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/the-king-s-musketeers

Curious Pastimes founded and the Fantasy CLARP Renewal Campaign, still going strong today launched. http://curiouspastimes.co.uk/ & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curious_Pastimes

1997

Cthulhu Live 1st edition published by Chaosium. The game rules by Rob McLaughlin are clearly partly inspired by the earlier HPLHS games in the USA. Immediately COCLARP groups spring up, including influential groups in Malvern, Worcestershire and Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

Small Furry Creatures Press run WKFREEFORM 1897: Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/1897-queen-victoria-s-diamond-jubiliee

Quest Celtaii is running, I believe in Scotland. Does anyone have details?

Bradford Fief of Camarilla UK VLARP ran from 1997 to 2000 http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~sdmanby/

1998

Small Furry Creatures Press run WKFREEFORM Arabian Nights http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/weekend-freeforms

CJ runs Cthulhu Live adventure on farm at Ashchurch, Tekesbury

Matt Pennington and others set up Omega, a Post Apocalyptic CLARP

1999

Small Furry Creatures Press run WKFREEFORM Shakespeare's Lost Play http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/weekend-freeforms

Nothing Ventured becomes Forever's Destiny this year.

July 23rd UK Freeforms founded as Yahoo Mailing List by Steve Hatherley - http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/uk-freeforms/ & https://www.facebook.com/groups/363628217072715/

Chaosium publish the CON LARP book NEXUS http://www.abebooks.co.uk/Nexus-Live-Action-Roleplaying-RPG-Supplements/10885384018/bd

2000

Small Furry Creatures Press second run of Cruel Hoax's WKFREEFORM Cafe Casablanca http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/cafe-casablanca

CJ runs his Cassandra 23 7 weekend Cthulhu Live campaign which takes place over multiple locations in real time in Cheltenham & environs.

CJ writes Boots for the Glory of Russia COMMITTEE GAME for CGCHESU LARP Soc. Download a later version here http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/boots-for-the-glory-of-russia and at Fallcon.

Fantasy Flight Games publish the Cthulhu Live Players Companion http://www.amazon.com/Cthulhu-Live-Companion-Robert-McLaughlin/dp/1887911103

2001

Simon Morgan, owner of Eldritch a CLARP kit kit company takes over Labyrinthe from Jan Mc Mannus. http://www.labyrinthe.co.uk/introduction/history/

Freeform Games (Murder Mysteries) set up by Steve Hatherley & Mo Holkar selling high quality play at home murder mystery style games suitable for gamers as well as general public - http://www.freeformgames.com/index.php

CJ runs Cassandra 23 Episode 8; not part of the previous years Cthulhu Live series, but a Cyberpunk influenced SF sequel set in the near future.

CJ runs Last Flight of the Albatross at Fallcon

The Open Day Harry Potter freeform run at CGCHESU. The larp group there ends as the scheduled game for September 11th 2001 was Strangers on the Bus, written many years before, in which one of the characters is a terrorist off to blow up the World Trade Centre. For obvious reasons the game was pulled...

The 9/11 attacks end many pervasive larps, as security issues make it harder to act oddly in public.

Peaky Games - a Game Writing Weekend starts, and runs to the current day. http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/peaky many Freeform games have been written there and some are available for purchase. This year saw three games written at Edale in November. http://peakygames.wikidot.com/past-peaky-writing-weekends

2002

Cambridge University Treasure Trap Fantasy CLARP founded by former Durham players Jennifer Curtis and Toni Badnall. Continues till 2014. [Source: Wikipedia, Treasure Trap]

Birmingham University Treasure Trap run their last event. [Source: Wikipedia, Treasure Trap]

Peaky Games - a Game Writing Weekend runs again at Edale http://peakygames.wikidot.com/past-peaky-writing-weekends

Fallcon in Oxford features several FREEFORMS; CJ's The Open Day Harry Potter FREEFORM does not run after he is taken ill en route, leaving an angry mod of larpers dressed as schoolkids with wands hunting for me. Lorenzo's Blessing a Renaissance freeform by Tony Mitton does succeed.

2003

As late as 2003 LRP rather than LARP still a common usage.

Omega comes to an end

The White City run Fantasy CLARPS in Oxford

UK Freeforms run WKFREEFORM The Torch of Freedom http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/the-torch-of-freedom

Ticking Dog Freeform Run at Oxford Brooks November 8th

2004

Matt, Alison and Bill Pennington create Profound Decisions and launch Renaissance Fantasy FEST Maelstrom

UK Freeforms run WKFREEFORM The Siege of Troy http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/the-siege-of-troy


Peaky Games - a Game Writing Weekend returns after missing 2003 again at the new venue of Appleby Magna http://peakygames.wikidot.com/past-peaky-writing-weekends

2005

Portly Pixie Fantasy CLARP closes https://portlypixie.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/hello-world/

UK Freeforms run WKFREEFORM Once Upon A Time in Tombstone http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/once-upon-a-time-in-tombstone


Peaky Games - a Game Writing Weekend moves to Ashbourne, Derbyshire. http://peakygames.wikidot.com/past-peaky-writing-weekends

2006

Skirmisher LLC publish a 2nd Edition of Cthulhu Live

Phil Branscombe, Duncan Mathias and Andy Byatt take over Fantasy CLARP Labyrinthe which becomes Labyrinthe UK Ltd and runs to present day. http://www.labyrinthe.co.uk/introduction/history/ UK Freeforms run WKFREEFORM Pyrates http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/pyrates

Dragonbane International 325 player 5 day larp in Sweden with a purpose built village and mechanical dragon, attended by 5 players from the UK. These include Nathan Hook, who also helped design the larp and become involved with the Nordic larp scene afterwards.

Peaky Games - a Game Writing Weekend returns to Appleby Magna http://peakygames.wikidot.com/past-peaky-writing-weekends

2007

1st Grand Tribunal UK in Cheltenham includes the first UK Nordic-style freeform 'Not to Yield' (Ars Magica setting) by Nathan Hook. http://www.grandtribunal.org

Consequences A the Freeform LARP Convention held at Naish on the South Coast begins, and has run every year since. Complete list of games run here: http://www.ishtari.co.uk/consequences/a/Schedule.php?action=23

The Bristol Manifesto published in the Knudepunkt book for this year by Nathan Hook, presenting a simulationist playstyle.

Peaky Games - a Game Writing Weekend runs again at Appleby Magna http://peakygames.wikidot.com/past-peaky-writing-weekends. It runs annually at the same venue every April from this year on.

2008

Forever's Destiny starts running Fantasy CLARP events in Northwest England and continues to the present. http://www.destiny.org.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=4553 It grew out of Nothing Ventured.

UK Freeforms second run WKFREEFORM 1897: Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/1897-queen-victoria-s-diamond-jubilie


Bizarre Consequences convention held http://www.ishtari.co.uk/consequences/b/Schedule.php?action=23

2009

UK Freeforms second run WKFREEFORM Tales of Pendragon http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/1897-queen-victoria-s-diamond-jubiliee http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/tales-of-pendragon

Isles of Darkness splits from the Camarilla UK and both continue till present http://www.islesofdarkness.com/

Pervasive Games; Theory & Design by Montola, Stenros & Waern published in English.

Curious Consequences convention held http://www.ishtari.co.uk/consequences/c/Schedule.php?action=23

2010

Profound Decisions begin running Odyssey a Classical era Fantasy FEST. http://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/odyssey?1 based on the earlier Odyssey events by Boogieman Games.

UK Freeforms run WKFREEFORM Sharp & Sensibility http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/sharp-and-sensibility

Nathan Hook publishes Green Book 1 - Nordic Style LARP scenarios

Dramatic Consequences convention held http://www.ishtari.co.uk/consequences/d/Schedule.php?action=23

2011

December 2011 - Phoenix LRP a Fantasy CLARP in Coventry announce they will run events using the Portly Pixie system. The forum suggests they ran adventures in to 2013, and they may still be active. http://www.phoenixlrp.com/

Ornithocracy: A Parliament of Feather by David Mumford launched https://www.unexpectedevents.co.uk/WastelandUK/AboutWLUK.aspx

Wasteland UK a Post Apocalyptic CLARP with Nerf guns launched. - https://www.unexpectedevents.co.uk/WastelandUK/AboutWLUK.aspx

UK Freeforms second run WKFREEFORM Once Upon A Time in Tombstone http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/once-upon-a-time-in-tombstone

UK Freeforms run WKFREEFORM Masquerade http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/masquerade

Level 5 Nordic larp run by artist Brody Colon in Liverpool. http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?585179-Level-5-1970-s-self-actualisation-workshop-larp-Liverpool-UK

Extraordinary Consequences convention held http://www.ishtari.co.uk/consequences/e/Schedule.php?action=23

2012

Profound Decisions end their Maelstrom FEST game.

SWATT set up by Stephen Begley at Sussex University, a former member of CUTT. Fantasy CLARP [Source: Wikipedia, Treasure Trap]

Lizzie Stark publishes a history of LARP Leaving Mundania, which largely ignores UK styles.

UK Freeforms third run of WKFREEFORM Lullaby of Broadway: All That Jazz http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/lullaby-on-broadway:all-that-jazz

The Art of War Freeform by Mark Galeotti run at Continuum Convention.

Heart's Blood A jeepform-style / nordic freeform based on Dracula published by Nathan Hook

Fabulous Consequences held http://www.ishtari.co.uk/consequences/f/Schedule.php?action=23

CJ & Charlie Paul found Cheltenham Freeforms - http://www.grandtribunal.org/wiki/Cheltenham_Freeforms

2013

Profound Decisions launch Empire a Fantasy FCLARP http://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire?3

UK Freeforms second run Cruel Hoax's WKFREEFORM The King's Musketeers http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/the-king-s-musketeers

Space Penguin games launch Pioneers a SF CLARP https://www.facebook.com/groups/PioneeersLarp/

Nathan Hook & Tasia Kann publish Green Book 2 - Nordic Style LARP scenarios

Projekt: Ragnarok Occult WWII game - http://www.projektragnarok.co.uk/

Gothic Consequences convention held - http://www.ishtari.co.uk/consequences/g/Schedule.php?action=23

2014

UK Freeforms third run of Cruel Hoax's WKFREEFORM Cafe Casablanca http://uk-freeforms.wikidot.com/cafe-casablanca

Nathan Hook publishes Green Book 3 - Nordic Style LARP scenarios

Firecat Masquerade begin Tales Out of Anchor http://firecat-masquerade.com/ and the COMMITTEE GAME Project Snowflake enters playtest

First Golden Cobra Challenge http://www.goldencobra.org/

Pan Psychological horror larp rerun by Nathan Hook in the UK, near Exeter. Weekend long larp in the nordic tradition.

Heroic Consequences convention held - http://www.ishtari.co.uk/consequences/h/Schedule.php?action=23

2015

A Foot On The Stairs 1920's country house LARP

UK Freeforms third run of WKFREEFORM Lullaby of Broadway: Into the Woods

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