How would you do a 40k LARP?


Supporting Cast!
Validated User
As I know they’ve been done before, but apart from a few pictures, I haven’t read much about them.

Just idle brainstorming on my end- the obvious thing would be to do some kind of boffer/nerf thing, what, with the “only war” thing and all. But what could you do to make it uniquely 40k ish? Maybe some business about a warp storm to explain how PC’s can get killed only to come back later?

Or, a smaller, parlor based game night work better- a bunch of Rogue Traders and IG officers and other folks stuck in an outpost or spaceship or a command room, and hijinks ensue. I’m thinking something along the lines of that “Ten Thousand Boots for the Revolution” LARP I read about some years ago.

The biggest thing would be a human focus- I really started thinking about this when I realized I could cobble together a Catachan outfit pretty easily with crap at the back of my closet (except for the huge biceps). Eldar or Mechanicus or various mutants/demons could be doable, but proper orks (much less an ork horde) are another thing entirely, much less ‘nids or necrons or whatever. Which would make xeno encounters a big “oh shit!” Sort of thing, at least.

Anyway, I’m just idly musing here. What would you guys do with the setting?


The Dark One
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As someone's just pointed me to this, I think this is where I pop up and say "Hi, I am something of an expert in this particular field".

I have spent five years running a moderately successful 40K LRP system based on a Rogue Trader setting, and have recently handed it off to a new team to take forward with the next story arc. It's called No Rest for the Wicked, and the website is currently undergoing an overhaul, but there is an active FB community. Both the old and new rulesets are available in the Facebook community files if you want to have a look.

It wasn't a boffer system as we're Euro-LRPers and use proper weapons, but the boffer/Nerf mix was what we started with. Nerf darts are a tricky thing to keep track of whether or not they hit, so we first shifted to "the dart just needs to fire" and then to "no darts needed". Ranged attacks are call-based, so the darts became less necessary as you were already shouting at people to tell them what damage to take.

The "getting killed only to come back later" bit I don't understand really... When characters die, they die. Except when a Cleric with the power of the God-Emperor goes "Holy Resurrection!" but that's a rarity. I'm guessing people do things differently around where you are? Every game I've ever been involved in has been "you live, you die, and that's it - roll a new character".

We ran full-weekend LRP events, where the rogue trader crews (about 30 players split amongst several groups) would arrive at a planet, loot it for all it was worth, and try not to die in the process while advancing the meta-plot of chasing after the legendary treasure no one's ever found before. As opposition for the players, we had daemons, Eldar, orcs, Mechanicus, several custom xenos races, custom-built war machines...

We started from basically nothing, and ended up with a basement full of props and empty pockets. But we also learned a lot of lessons along the way.

So that's how we did things - epic swashbuckling adventures roaming the frontiers of space searching for legendary treasure.

Another group did things differently. Death Unto Darkness is in its second iteration and is running an Inquisition-based system where the players are low- to mid- level operatives of the Inquisition investigating various things on behalf of their Inquisitors. Can't really go into huge amounts of detail on it as I haven't done much with it.


Supporting Cast!
Validated User
The "getting killed only to come back later" bit I don't understand really... When characters die, they die. Except when a Cleric with the power of the God-Emperor goes "Holy Resurrection!" but that's a rarity. I'm guessing people do things differently around where you are? Every game I've ever been involved in has been "you live, you die, and that's it - roll a new character".
Well, to be fair, my frame of reference I was thinking of was Dystopia Rising, which has a built in mechanic to track your character's 'Lives,' so to speak. I think the big thing I'm trying to get my head around is how to reconcile the general cheapness of life in the 40k setting with something that'd be enjoyable as a player-- I mean, on a full weekend LARP, it'd be a kick in the pants to get your character murdered in the first encounter and then get stuck NPC-ing or whatever for the rest of the weekend.

But yeah, I'm curious- tell me more! How long have you been running your game? How big is your playerbase? Do you attract mostly folks who are already familiar with GW's setting, or do you get more general LARP-ers?

(Also I see at least one squad of Catachans on your facebook page which makes me inordinately happy for some reason).

Sadly, you guys look to be all the way over on the other side of the ocean, which makes dropping in for a game a little ... problematic. Ah well. :)


The Dark One
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Full disclaimer: I am no longer involved in running No Rest for the Wicked. I was involved from the beginning until the end of the first story arc, and the next story arc is going ahead with a new team.

Season 1 ran for five years, and we had somewhere between 70 and 100 players over the years (usually around 35 players per event). We had the full gamut of people playing from hardcore 40K nerds who knew bits of canon we'd never heard of to people who were completely new to the setting, as well as people who with decades of LRP experience and others who had never swung a sword in their life. Even amongst the people who had done LRP before, we had a mix of field/fest LRPers and pub/parlour LRPers which made for an interesting mix of people and experiences.

For various reasons of copyright, we tended to use custom stuff rather than canon stuff when it came to things like Space Marine chapters, Imperial Guard regiments, Craftworlds, and the like. We based our setting off in the Eastern Fringe, and created our own sector. The "Catachans" are actually Arborians, who come from a jungle deathworld and drink lots of Fosters.

Regarding character makeup, we had pirates, rogue traders, Mechanicus, Skitarii, nobles, guardsmen, assassins, psykers, corporate stooges, Arbites, Inquisitors, Navigators, and probably more I can't think of right now.

Most deaths we had in an event was seven out of 34, I think. And Friday night deaths were pretty rare. The setting was a heroic one, and people were usually powerful enough to be able to just about get through most situations.

There is usually enough kit going around between crew kit and people's spare stuff that you can create a new character and head straight back into playing. Though some people do choose to crew the rest of the event instead. I've been doing field LRP for 13 years and dying can be a pain, but you get to see how people react to your death and bring in a new character - often with a better understanding of what you're doing.

We actually based it off the Rogue Trader RPG, which is a fairly powerful setting - unlike Dark Heresy or Only War where you're in mortal risk every game until you manage to survive long enough to become powerful.

The characters in the game were the heroes of the Imperium. They weren't the ground troops, they were the commanders. Some of them had been ground troops and survived. To put it one way, each of them was a Gaunt or a Cain, and the worst of them was a named Ghost. They weren't the ones who died meaningless deaths, they were the ones who pulled at your heartstrings when they died.


Registered User
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On a completely different note, I have run a one-off parlour LARP a number of times now. It's called "A Council of Nikea" and is for up to 18 players. Each player is one of the Primarchs, and it is the final meeting before the start of the Heresy.

The characters have their standard backstory, personality and aims, but there are set of 'Loyalty' cards which I distribute at the start of the game. These range from Ultra-Loyalist to Chaos-tainted Traitor, but the majority are more or less neutral. The game has various contentious issues to discuss, and the Emperor makes semi-random rulings that just nurture the differences :)

People who know the setting get a kick out of playing this literally larger-than-life characters.
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