GNS Theory for LARP – part 4 – Realist

My previous posts have talked about the segmentation of LARP players, and placing their desires into neat little boxes based on the venerable GNS theory for RPGs.

I think that light-combat LARP needs to add R to the GNS. R is for Realist. LARP isn’t like other games (either table-top (TT) or CRPG). A TT game that is heavy Narrative is great.  Gamist players will either move away from it, pull it in gamist directions, or take it over. A computer game can be low narrative (Diablo) or high narrative (Mass Effect) and still have heavy gamist elements.  In other words, in other gaming mediums, it is easy to pick a corner of the GNS triangle and still be awesome.

Light-combat LARP cannot adjust to do this, because it needs a large group of people to work.  That’s the Realist part of the story. You can’t have those amazing Gamist or Narrativist moments without a large enough player-base to support it.

Because you need a large group there will always be members of the group that are coming in with different desires. Some of those desires are Gamist and some are Narrativist. A lot of people want the Social aspects of LARP, which doesn’t fit in a neat box. A lot of people want the combat, which can overlap with Gamist, but really can be it’s own thing of physical enjoyment. A lot of people differentiate their Narrativist desires. Some want to emphasize their internal narratives, some want to build small stories with just their RL friends, and others want to be at the center of all the plots they can wrangle for themselves.

As a result, I think everybody, players, plot and NPCs should be a Realist.  More importantly, they should proselytize the Realist attitude. The attitude shift should be “I recognize your desire to have X as valid, and will try to accommodate you. Help a bro out and give me Y when you can.” No more of powergamers looking at “rp’ers” as lesser creatures, and vice-versa. I believe that it’s this credo that can act as a coherent social contract of light-combat LARPers.

“The only wrong way to LARP is when your enjoyment is at the expense of the enjoyment of others.”


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