We like to think of live action roleplaying as something simple, almost natural. We’ve all played make-believe as children, impersonating this or that role: «Wanna play cops and thieves?» is an ancient tradition.

Making up stories and playing with their characters, then. Just for ourselves, with no audience. But there are countless ways to do it, even when we only consider analog games. So what sets chamber / live action / roleplaying apart from its many siblings? To find out, we can compare it with better-known formats, citing a few other realities.

In the beginning, humanity found in narration and storytelling one of the truest ways to connect with its kin; people started telling stories, and they did it without the all-too-often smothering, ineffectual patterns and categories we have to face today.o
Flying Circus – Manifesto v 1.21

Back to childhood it is— our own and that of mankind. Let’s imagine a group gathered around a campfire, their stories a moment of shared intimacy and mutual understanding. A small circle of people, like in tabletop games, but the emotional involvement pulls us to our feet, like in live action games.

Tabletop: Low player count / Live: High player count

Since this is a live action roleplaying game, when you talk, drink a glass of water or take someone’s hand, your character does the same. Someone might have heard you, your glass may have been poisoned, the girl you’re holding could be someone else’s wife.
Susi’s simple rules

The stories at the core of our games aren’t guided by a narrator’s voice, they’re mostly played out one-to-one, speaking in our characters’ voices and lending them our bodies to move around in. That doesn’t mean we leave no room for a narrative authority to step into the story and divide it into scenes, playing around with time and space.

Tabletop: Indirect narration at the table / Live: Direct action on our feet

to play before creating (other people’s games are a source of inspiration); *
to play before translating (translation requires a solid understanding of the game); *
to play before editing (the text of a game is better after playing it); *
to play before laying out the text (the game must be of service to the act of play); *
to play before illustrating (the illustrations must convey atmosphere to the players). *

Manifesto – Mammut RPG

Our games can be written down and played over and over again, even without the author’s presence. So, instead of being events that only exist for the duration of play, they can look like instruction manuals, ready to be put in the players’ hands. But a scenario lives and grows only when it’s played.

Tabletop: Individual authors of rulesets / Live: Teams of event organizers

Crescendo Giocoso, our first scenario anthology. A book brought to life by Kickstarter.

We want to create ‘unidentified playing objects’, put the accent on the hybridisation and experimentation of genres and narrative techniques. Larp is an expanding galaxy. Not only do we believe that Larp can tackle any subject, but we also believe it can do so with the most diverse means. We want to hybridise with literature, music, theatre, visual arts and the new media. We want to harness the allegorical power of narratives, without obligations and without honouring any orthodoxy.
Southern Way – New Italian Larp

Individual authors and small groups of players may gather anywhere, even at home, and easily tune into a shared atmosphere, without needing anything more. But we enjoy literally stepping into someone else’s shoes, and drawing from every existing art form to help draw the magic circle we stand in. Minimalism is our aesthetic choice.

Tabletop: Mental visualization of space / Live: Scenic representation of space

The one true rule of improvisation is to appreciate every prompt you get, to use them as starting points and develop them your own way. This is true for the author’s words: secrets must come to light, choices must be made. It is also true for the other characters’ suggestions: their inventions become reality and their actions have consequences.
Groove by Oscar & The Italian Chamber Orchestra

Minimalism is also an exercise for the mind. Few rules, few props, few players, to get the most out of every single element, playing to their strengths with minimal preparation. We see ourselves as an orchestra capable of playing with no instruments. The only things that matter are the mood and the groove.

Tabletop: Scarce, simple props / Live: Big, elaborate setups

The Challenge of Magical Arts, at the Festa dell’Unicorno in Vinci. Our minimalistic takes on ritual magic have been kindly awarded with a first and a second place.

We’re not saying that our games take the best of both tabletop and live action roleplaying. Nor that all chamber LARPs work like this. Instead of drawing lines between forms of creation, we’d rather think of our games as bridges, where everyone can find both something familiar and a new horizon. Or take a blind leap, just like that, with the knowledge that we’ll land on something soft.

Indeed, playing pretend keeps us safe and makes us more daring at the same time: we put ourselves in play to connect with people. Don’t stay up waiting for us, just come join our concert. We’ll be playing all night long, jamming our way past every frontier.