A Short Guide to Fix Your Larp Experience

A Short Guide to Fix Your Larp Experience


Sometimes, when participating in a larp, things just go wrong. But where is the problem? How can you fix it? This article provides a quick guide that condenses the international larp community’s knowledge on techniques to remedy a larp gone wrong, and to fix it during the event.

The core of larp, perhaps the concept of larp itself, is co-creation. It is collective and improvised, often based on an emergent narrative with a strong experiential impact. All of these aspects make larps unique and powerful, but also open to potential risks. Their performative nature makes it difficult for participants to stop for a moment, analyze, and fix what is going wrong for them.

Larp as a triangle

A larp can be divided into various elements, and these elements can be adjusted on the go. But one important thing to keep in mind is that a larp is always bigger than the sum of its parts. There is something difficult to understand: a ghost, a hidden melody. That’s why when things don’t go so well, it’s not always easy to figure out exactly why. For the purposes of this article let’s imagine the larp as a triangle formed by the larp itself, the community, and you, the player. Usually a larp goes wrong when one or more of the sides of this triangle do not work.

What can go wrong

Following our triangle-based model, here is a list of possible issues:

The larp: unclear communication, poor game design, wrong logistics, temperature, insufficient or inadequate food, hard sleeping conditions and accessibility in general. Lack of meaningful plot and narrative, unclear larp structure.

Community: different play styles, lack of chemistry with the players or the community, lack of in-game connections with other characters, lack of things to do or meaningful actions, or a sense of being left out.

The player: your personal state, your expectations, difficulties in feeling/portraying your character, social anxiety, your commitment to the game.

How to fix your larp on the go

Rather than a comprehensive guide, I collected a series of practical tips from my own experience and the collective knowledge of the international larp community. I read articles, asked for opinions, and listened to stories. Then I tried to synthesize it into a set of tips and tricks, aimed at a quick resolution and getting the larp back on track in a decisive, though not always elegant, way.

Not all of these techniques can work for everyone. Use them as you see fit. Put them into practice as soon as possible, as soon as you begin to realize that things are not working for you.

The goal is always to relocate. This is because the experience does not work when we are out of place. Following our tripartite scheme, we can be out of place regarding the larp, the community, or ourselves.

The tool to relocate in all of these three aspects is communication: nothing can be fixed without talking with the right person. Whenever the problem is about the larp itself, the person to speak with is the designer or the runtime crew, in order to relocate yourself within larp dynamics that better fit your needs. Here are some possibilities to calibrate your expectations with the organizers’ design goals. If possible do this during breaks, in order to have more time.

  • Ask for advice and how to fix plots and relationships.
  • Ask about the core of the larp, the dos and don’ts.
  • Ask how the game will continue.
  • Ask about the play style they had in mind for the larp.
  • Offer your help to organizers (as an NPC or other roles)

When the problem lies with the community, the people to speak with are the other players, in order to relocate yourself within more positive social dynamics. Here are some possibilities in and out of the fiction, all meant to stimulate a quick change in your – and other people’s – character’s beliefs, social status, behavior. Here are some possibilities (see also Grønvik Müller 2020) :

  • Offer someone a favor
  • Ask for a favor
  • Get in trouble
  • Make bad choices
  • Spread your secrets
  • Show your character’s vulnerability
  • Make up and confess a deep love for someone
  • Change your mind on something
  • Remember something
  • Die!
  • Create things or situations (draw, write songs, start a cult)
  • Take the details you like in the game, and make a storyline out of this.
  • Involve more interested players
  • Sit down and let the game come to you (other lost players are searching for people to play with)
  • Search for some “lost player” and interact with them
  • Get involved in situations you want as a player, don’t worry about character consistency (see Nielsen 2017)
  • Go and play with the people you know/like to play with
  • Do your favorite/relaxing hobby
  • Stop your game and go calibrate with other players

When the problem is with your experience, the player to consider is yourself. The aim is to relocate yourself within your own personal dynamics. These techniques tend to affect other players less than the previous ones. It’s more about working on your personal experience, and tricking yourself a bit, in a good way. Here are some possibilities:

  • Calmly plan your return to the game
  • Play more with themes and elements within your comfort zone
  • Reset your expectations: accept the larp for what it is NOW, not what you wanted it to be
  • Do self-care
  • Take distance from the game for the time you need
  • Reduce the sense of failure

These tricks have to be used wisely. They can save your experience, but destroy the experience for other players and/or organizers in a sort of butterfly effect. For this reason it’s always good to talk with players and organizers before using them, if they involve other people. Some hacks (Brind & Svanevik 2020) and steering (Montola & al. 2015, see also Kemper & al. 2020) choices can blur the line between organizers and participants. A larp and your experience of it are not the same thing, so sometimes saving the experience means killing the larp.

Possible perspectives

From this brief guide we can draw some useful suggestions for the future, in order to make the best use of these correctives, while being mindful not to damage the social contract that underlies every larp. Designers, for example, could make space in their design for steering and hacking, clearly communicating which parts of the larp can be modified and which parts can not: possibly in the pregame communications, in player materials, and game guides or design documents. It would also be possible to workshop this.

On the other hand, as participants, we can train ourselves to reframe our expectations in a quicker way, trying to reduce the sense of a larp “being wrong”, since in most cases this is just a matter of our perception. We are not out of place at a larp: we are the larp, we are exactly where we want to be, where we belong. Larp is interaction: it’s a collective work we can do only together, as a community. And we will.


Simon Brind, Martine Svanevik (2020): Larp Hacking. In What we do when we play, edited by Eleanor Saitta, Jukka Särkijärvi, Johanna Koljonen. Solmukohta 2020.

Magnar Grønvik Müller (2020): Heuristics for larp. In What we do when we play, edited by Eleanor Saitta, Jukka Särkijärvi, Johanna Koljonen.Solmukotha 2020.
Jonaya Kemper, Johanna Koljonen, Eleanor Saitta (2020): Steering for survival. In What we do when we play, edited by Eleanor Saitta, Jukka Särkijärvi, Johanna Koljonen. Solmukotha 2020.

Markus Montola, Eleanor Saitta, Jaakko Stenros (2015): The Art of Steering: Bringing the Player and the Character Back Together. In The Knudepunkt 2015 Companion Book, edited by Charles Bo Nielsen and Claus Raasted. Rollespilsakademiet.

Charles Bo Nielsen (2017): Loyalty to Character. In Once upon a nordic larp…twenty years of playing stories, edited by Martine Svanevik, Linn Carin Andreassen, Simon Brind, Elin Nilsen, Grethe Sofie Bulterud Strand. Knutepunkt 2017


Thank you to: Sarah Lynn Bowman, Bjarke Pedersen and Juhana Pettersson for private conversations, and to all the participants in the thread that I opened in the Larpers BFF facebook group

This article has been reprinted with permission from the Solmukohta 2024 book. Please cite as:

Giovannucci, Alessandro. 2024. “A Short Guide to Fix Your Larp Experience.” In Liminal Encounters: Evolving Discourse in Nordic and Nordic Inspired Larp, edited by Kaisa Kangas, Jonne Arjoranta, and Ruska Kevätkoski. Helsinki, Finland: Ropecon ry.

Cover photo: Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.

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Alessandro Giovannucci is an award-winning Italian larp designer and larp theorist. He co-founded the larp collective Chaos League and wrote the Southern Way Manifesto. His well-known international larps include Sahara Expedition, The Secrets We Keep and Miskatonic University. He is regularly invited to hold talks and workshops about larp and immersive experiences. His chamber larp has been translated into several languages. Curious, friendly, and proudly antifa https://chaosleague.org/