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by Annet Nijmeijer

Modes of Transport

What do you mean, modes of transport? Aren’t we talking Live Action RolePlay (LARP) here? At fairs, sure; at re-enactment, sure. But here at LARP, the best mode of transport we have got are your own two feet! Have you ever tried to perch a hobbit up on a war steed? That's cruelty to animals, that is! Really.

If the live roleplay community lacks something, it's animals. For townspeople, usually at the most lives, there are several NPCs willing enough to play them. At any given moment, except just before large battles, some NPC or other is bound to be bored, go up to the dungeon master and say "Hey, shall I represent the local blacksmith / whore / farmer / innkeeper?" and the DM will nod and smile or say something along the lines of "Well, there's going to be a big batch of orcs coming out of that mine in an hour to bash, so don't be too long."

Animal-wise, it is a different issue, especially cart-pulling ones. Of course, in a way, you could call orcs animals. To people who are “specisist” this would, of course, sound only just. But some of my friends enjoy playing orcs. Actually, I do too; because there's something to be said for a creature wearing lots of fur and leather, prancing around with clubs, bones, spikes and horned helmets. Even the green skin colour is something you can get used to. You get to misbehave as much as you want to. Which is, to some people, what LARP is all about. Of course, LARPing is also all about empathy. Trying to place yourself in somebody else's position. Imagine troupes of orcs in the village encountering a specisist.

"You filthy animals! Grunt grunt snort.”

"What you call us, puny human?"

"Hello. Animal. You. Yes, you. Ugly green animal with the horned helmet. You seem strong enough. My horse has just died. Pull my cart."

Wanna bet? I say ten to one that that was the end of the specisist.

On another factor, no one dares insult an illithid. Or maybe just the really stupid people. Or the people who do not play D&D. In any case, calling an illithid "Squidgy" is not a good idea either.

Now, since most people wouldn't dream of asking an elf or a dwarf carrying a double-headed axe to pull a cart, you're kind of running out of options. There are no animals at a LARP. So if you have a cart, better find yourself some slaves to pull it. After all, that's what slaves are good for, isn't it?

But transporting a cart is not the main problem here, unless if you're a merchant or a gypsy. What about... say... nobles? Nobles loathe walking on the street, mainly because this would place them amongst the smells, filth, dirt, horse-poo and commoners that line the streets. Up high on a noble war horse or well-bred steed you distance yourself from the commoners and their smells. Your feet are at a nice kicking height: if anyone dares trouble you, you can just kick them in the face and be done with it. And you'll have to perform some pretty acrobatic stunts to step into poo.

But without horses, the nobles still have to stick to the ground. So basically, at LARP you're stuck with carts but no horses, nobles who pinch their noses, and the occasional dead specisist.

There has been one exception. One. I have once seen a horse at a LARP. Not just the occasional passing-by horse you can't seem to avoid causing to stampede while rushing through the woods in your flapping cloak. This horse was specially brought there. The regular LARPers there were ecstatic to see the horse. Signe-Sanne Oortgijsen brought her tinker Blizzard to the Lord of the Rings LARP. There, she and Blizz surely dazzled and frightened all of us as a Nazgul.

That just makes you want to go "This is not the mode of transportation you are looking for."

Annet Nijmeijer is a student in Holland who spends more time on Larp than on studying. She designs Larp costumes for her friends and herself. She has attended ten Lives so far, and doesn't intend to stop any time soon.

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