Friday 20 December 2013

Labyrinthe: LARPing in the '80s

Sorry about the recent bout of silence on the blog, but life has been rather hectic of late, what with the end of school and the start of the Christmas Holidays, saying I have been rushed off my feet would be a bit of an understatement. Even so, I have managed to get quite a bit of painting done this week, but I have yet to take any snaps of my freshly based miniatures, and I hope to be able to up the production to a few minis a day over the next couple of weeks.

Well, that's the plan anyway.

Today I have a little clip from a 1980s television programme about Labyrinthe and Live Action Roleplaying, or LARPing for short. Now I have written about this before and have shared with you an amusing television programme hosted by Ben 'I used to be able to write funny sitcoms like Blackadder' Elton, if you cannot recall what I am rambling about here just follow this little link and you'll see.

What strikes me is the way roleplaying is presented here. The 'they are all geeks' angle that prevails in the Ben Elton piece is still suggested here, but there is a darker tone hinted at as well, especially when White Dwarf is mentioned amongst 'magazines like these'. These days its hard to see White Dwarf as anything more than an over priced catalogue but it seems that there was a time when the magazine raised the ire of 'Daily Mail' style journalism. What amuses me further are the ways in which many of the key players have been presented; darkened rooms, shadowy faces and whispered tones. What amazes me is the revenue that LARPing was bringing in during the '80s, £100,000 is even today a considerable sum, but 25 years ago it would have been greater still! Thankfully, the article cuts off before the 'journalists' attempt to link roleplaying to the Hungerford Massacre of 1987. It seems this particular sensationalist tool of poor journalists everywhere is not a modern invention. In the days before Great Theft Auto it was Dungeons and Dragons that encouraged psychopaths to commit mass murder! 

Have a watch and see what conclusions you can draw from it. Feel like sharing them? Well you know how below! 



  1. O wow, I remember those chalk caves well. Only got to LARP at Labyrinthe once - about 14-15 years ago - and played monsters throughout my day. Was super fun though.

    1. The soundtrack certainly gets interesting towards the end!

      I've always found the letters pages in old WD's fascinating to read and many of them seem preoccupied with the image of roleplaying being presented like this - I'll have to have a flick through them again.

      I definitely remember Larping being mentioned, but not always in a favourable light from "serious" roleplayers who weren't into all this hack and slash stuff!

      All certainly seems a bit tame in comparison to GTA these days...

    2. I too find the old letters pages fascinating, especially as WD changed from a decade old roleplaying monthly into a miniature wargames mag. But you are right; LARPing was never really taken seriously, much to the displeasure of its active membership.

  2. Morning all
    I’ve been lurking on the blog for about a year now and thought I’d make the leap and actually comment. I’ve recently go back into painting and playing WFB 3rd after a 20 year break. I’m also an active live-roleplayer (Heroquest).
    LARP certainly has changed a lot this the clip, especially the costumes (classic hairstyles - we're all just jealous!), although I thought the ‘evil scout’ looked pretty good. The bed sheet (with a hole cut for your head) over jeans and carry-mat foam sword really isn’t how it is these days.

    Happy to be shot down in flames, but I think Labyrinth would run quite short (4-6hrs?) standalone games with a set scenario (rescue the damsel, find the treasure etc), almost like a fantasy themed paint ball event with hand combat. I'm guessing this was maybe why table-top roleplayers were usually a bit sniffy about LARP (with good reason in my opinion).