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Live action role-playing: 'It’s a good distraction from life’s problems'

Big Issue vendor Will Adams describes how the interesting past time of live-action role-playing can help you explore different worlds.

Live action role-playing can help you explore different worlds. Illustration: Matthew Brazier

Live action role-playing can help you explore different worlds. Illustration: Matthew Brazier

Big Issue vendors have a wide variety of skills and experience, so we bring you the best of their knowledge each week. This week, Exeter vendor Will Adams, who became interested in live action role-playing a few years ago and is missing the opportunity to explore different worlds during the pandemic, tells us all about the interesting past time. 

I’ve always been a bit of a geek but I didn’t get into cosplay and LARP until a few years ago. LARP – or live-action role playing – is all about creating characters and going into different worlds.

You create yourself a character and buy the equipment for him – you’ve got LARP-safe weapons and shields and things like that. Then it’s about getting together with your friends and getting out of the real world. It’s a really good distraction from life’s problems.

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The characters all have free will and there’s a world and a storyline. There’s a world that one of my friends runs and the story is that we’re a civilisation on a different world. So literally you can have any sort of character. Most of the time it’s based on fantasy, there are a couple of my friends for example who play really mischievous goblins. So they could come along and run off with your shield or be hired as mercenaries to fight for you.

You could have two goblins getting drunk and me as a dodgy vampire sitting in a corner. Then you’ve got vikings walking around the place

“It’s such a wide-ranging hobby that anyone could do it but someone who’s into fantasy and would like to go into a different character is really going to enjoy it.”

In a whole game you could get 20 or 30 people there and the games just run on. At one event you might have 30 people and you might have five new characters, so the world is always changing.

Technically you can kill another character but all your actions have consequences. If you killed a leader of a group you’d then probably get killed in return because you’d have that whole group after you. It’s like in life, if you do something good it’s going to increase your social status and you’re going to get recognised. You do something bad and, well, you know…

Live action role-playing can help you explore different worlds. Illustration: Matthew Brazier
Credit Matthew Brazier
Illustration: Matthew Brazier

It’s such a wide-ranging hobby that anyone could do it but someone who’s into fantasy and would like to go into a different character is really going to enjoy it. If a 70-year-old woman turned up she’s be welcomed as much as anyone else, it’s not just for one particular type
of person.

I’m definitely missing it at the moment, and I miss the tavern nights especially. They’re hosted in my local pub and people dress up as their characters from different worlds. You could have two goblins getting drunk and me as a dodgy vampire sitting in a corner in the dark. Then you’ve got vikings walking around the place. You can’t fight in the tavern but everyone goes in with their weapons, just to flex them a bit. I’ve had some funny looks. But I’ve been at tavern night and random strangers come in and end up borrowing bits of costumes and having a brilliant night. They never show up again, but it’s good fun.

Will Adams sells The Big Issue in the High Street in Exeter. To buy a subscription from him while he’s unable to be on his pitch visit bigissue.com/vendors

Will was speaking to Sarah Reid.

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