Glossary of terms, for LARP in general and Empire in particular

As we have some time on our hands, and this doesn’t seem to exist, I thought this would be helpful, for players old and new.

Because LARP, or indeed LRP, is it’s own dialect sometimes. And can be darn confusing.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO MEMORISE THESE.
They may be useful if you are having trouble understanding some conversations about Larp.

So please post comments and suggestions below, and I shall incorporate them into the first few posts…

Thanks to CharlieP, AnthonyHJ, PaulWilder and Emmanovi for their contributions.

2 Likes

Generic LARP terms:

Player: that’s you. You, who is reading this, and contemplating playing the game.

Character: The role you play, the part you act out, the main character of the story you are creating as you play the game.

NPC Non-Player Character: A part played by a member of the game team (see Monster Crew and Over The Hedge). Examples might be servants, messengers, foreign diplomats, and any barbarian Orc.

IC (eye-see) ; In Character. Discussions, events, items, that take place or exist within the game. On-stage as it were, during the gameplay itself. As distinct from OOC. For example, in-game money has value IC. A political arguement may take place IC.

OOC (oh-oh-see) (also OC, OoC) ; Out of Character: Stuff that is more real-world, the off-stage stuff. Your neon geodesic dome tent, the toilet block, your car, the discussion about that tv show you saw before arriving on site… these are all OOC.

Time-In : The period of the event when the IC stuff happens. When your character meet, bounce off each other, argue, tell stories, and so on. The official start and end of the game, in time.

Time-Out : The bit around Time-In. Before the game starts, when it stops for the night, when it finishes at the end of the weekend (or whenever).

[The above 4 interact a lot. You can, for instance, drive your OOC car into the IC area, to unload your IC tent, during Time-Out, before the game starts. During an IC conversation during Time-in, you may nip to the OOC toilet block.]

Time-ish : Indeterminate. Unsure whether time-in or not. Usually used at Empire on Sunday afternoons, when someone might be packing up their tent and stop to say an OOC goodbye, or perhaps late one night when Time-Out has occured (and the game has finished for the night), but people are still role-playing at each other.

Downtime What your character does between events. Depending on the game, this can be as simple as “wanders around doing nothing much”, or as complex as a brick-thick fantasy epic novel. When discussing downtime, the opposite of it, the stuff that happens in play, is “uptime”. In Empire, downtime is a fairly simple set of options with drop-down menus on the Profound Decisions website, affected by various things during the game.

Phys-rep (Fizz-Rep): Physical Representation. A prop. Usually applied to weaponry, sometimes to big bits of scenery. Your foam sword is a phys-rep for a real sword. In game, it is a real sword. Your pewter tankard is a phys-rep for a pewter tankard, likely belonging to your character. You, during time-in, are the phys-rep for your character.

Hard Skills: The stuff that YOU can do. Can YOU run for 400m across a field, hold a tent spellbound with a song, juggle numbers in your head while talking politics? Chances are your character can do this too. For example, “Walk briskly around for 2 hours while wearing plate armour” is a hard skill. If YOU the player aren’t able to do this, your character is going to have a hell of a time doing it.

Soft Skills: The stuff that your character can do, usually specific to the game. Examples include using lots of different weapons, casting magic rituals, brewing magic potions, performing field surgery.

[Note that there is some overlap here. If you have the hard skills for using a selection of medieval weaponry, you MIGHT be better at fighting with the phys-reps. If you are actually a trauma surgeon, you MAY be able to narrate your IC field surgery with shocking detail. If you are actually able to cast magic spells… tell the rest of us please!]

Soft Kit*: Your characters costume/outfit. Examples include robes, tunics, doublets, dresses, trousers, and all the relevant accessories. What your character would likely be wearing at lunch. So called to distinguish it from…

Hard Kit: Often armour. Often, therefore, hard. Applies to leather armour, chainmaille, plate armour, and similar. What your character is likely wearing into battle.

Factions/Nations: Depending on the game, these are IC (and often, for administrative purposes, OOC) large groupings of the players/characters. They may be allied, antagonistic, rivals, or whatever. They often have a unifying theme, costume, outlook, or similar. If done well, they should be visibly distinct from each other.

Groups: Smaller sets of players/characters, usually within a Faction/Nation. Often with their own ideas, theme, maybe colour scheme, within the greater one of their Nation.

Refs ; Referees, often seen in hi-vis jackets or similar. The people who organise and run the game. Go to the refs with rules queries, games mechanics issues, and similar. Often found at the Games Operation Desk (GOD).

Monster Crew : those people playing all the other roles in the game other than the player characters. Think of them as the chorus in a musical… Messengers and diplomats, peasant mobs and hostages, strange tribesmen and wandering prophets… but most often, they’re playing monsters and combat opponents, hence the name. Sometimes Monster Crew are volunteers for a few hours, sometimes they’re booked in for the event. Acting as part of the Monster Crew is called Monstering. The area where they are mustered, costumed and deployed from is the Monster Room. See also Over the Hedge, below…

3 Likes

Specific Empire Stuff, In-character concepts and names for things.

The Empire consists of ten Nations. These each have distinct terminology, themes, names for things, and so on. Picking your Nation is the first step in character creation.

Groups in each Nation thus vary in names…
A group in Dawn is likely a House, ruled by an Earl.
In the Brass Coast, a Family would be represented by a Dhomiro.
A striding or steading in Navarr may be led by a Brand.
And so on.

Each Nation appoints one or more Senators. They meet in the Senate and argue politics.
Each Nation also nominates Generals to lead their armies. They discuss the military campaigns in the Military Council.
The mages meet up in the Conclave (held in a private subdimension called the Hall of Worlds), the priest in the Synod, and the high-end merchants in the Bourse.
[These are all things to find out more about in play, so I won’t go into too much detail here]

Foreigners are large groups (of NPCs), usually outside the Imperial territories, who the Empire is not at war with. This includes the Iron Confederacy, the Great Forest Orcs, and (at the moment) the Thule.

Barbarians are similar, but the Empire is at war with them. Examples include the Druj, the Lasambians, and until recently the Sumaah Republic.

Realms are the magical dimensions touched on by the world of Empire. They come in six flavours (Day, Night, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring). Rulers of the areas of these realms are known as Eternals. Think of them as Faerie Lords if it helps. Dealing with these (in a variety of negotiations) is mostly done by the Mages, and/or the Conclave.

The Way is the official Imperial religeon (I think of it as militant Buddhism). It has seven Virtues (Ambition, Prosperity, Vigilance, Courage, Pride, Loyalty, Wisdom), a cycle of reincarnation, and no associated diety.

Rings/Crowns/Thrones ; this is the Imperial Currency. Twenty rings to a Crown (for a rich man could wear a ring on every finger and toe), Eight Crowns to a Throne (for eight “kingdoms” were merged into one Imperial Throne).

2 Likes

Calls and Terminology

PD ; Profound Decisions, the company and organisation running the game/LARP of Empire.

Calls are things shouted during play, important for players to note.

MAN DOWN indicates someone has been actually injured.

TIME FREEZE means “pause the game”

Details of these and the many other calls are better officially expressed via the wiki:
https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Calls

Spells are short term magical effects cast by mages, often resulting in a Called effect.

Rituals are long term magical effects cast by mages (often many of them), which can go from a small buff on a single character, to buffing an entire army for months. Rituals come in the Realm flavours and are of various sizes ; eg a magnitude 12 Spring Ritual…

Blessings, Anointings and the like. Priestly spells cast by the priests, often subtle buffs with effects more role-playing than mechanical.

Over the Hedge (i.e. amongst crew, whose base is on another field separated from the main IC field by a hedge), these are often spilt into Skirmish Crew , who provide various enemies for characters to fight, and NPC Crew , who play various characters. There is some crossover and some roles cover both.

Incidentally, an NPC (Non Player Character) is a character being played, but in a crew role supporting the story rather than as a player. These roles include Field NPCs , like the Civil Servants and Egregores who are on the field for all or most of an event, and Plot NPCs who are often only on the field for shorter periods and have specific agendas.

Refs: (Specifically Empire Refs) Seen in black and yellow tunics. There to register rituals, testimonies and anything that needs to be added to the big computer system as it could affect future events, or needs feedback such as investigative rituals or checking the sentinel gate for skirmish details . Please do also ask them any queries you have about rules. They also have radios if there is a problem with the site or you need first aid help. There is usually a permanent ref at the Regio (magic stone circle) during time in and often one in the Hub, otherwise anyone with a radio (egregores, civil service) can ask for one to come around to your bit of the field.
Refs in black and yellow tabards are battle marshalls, usually only present on the skirmish field and do not have tablets and radios. They are there to ensure safe fighting, and to escort some of the big monsters who have limited visibility in their costumes.
The people in red and black tunics should be ignored as they are there for safety reasons and are doing a job such as handling smoke machines or pyrotechnics and shouldn’t be disturbed.

https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Referee

Redcaps ; another important part of the PD Crew. While the Refs deal with the player characters, the Redcaps at Empire are the site setup and support crew. They put up the tents, do the landscape drainage, run the electrics, and maintain the toilets. Be very grateful.

Battles These are the large-scale fights which occur twice per event, Saturday and Sunday morning. Hundreds on each side, epic sprawling combat. If you play one, you are expected to monster the other.

Skirmishes Short quests and adventures, through the Sentinel Gate. These can be from 15 to 50 or so people, there are many of them during the event, to various places, against various foes. Competition to get on these can be fierce, and they can be very dangerous.

2 Likes

Misc: Useful phrases for Empire, socially accepted excuses, the things we say when we mean something else.

"I’m new to Anvil" This is pretty much a code-phrase, used by new players (and occasionally new characters for experienced players. It means “I have just started playing this game.” Using this may get people enthusiastically pointing out everything, explaining stuff, and telling you stories of this awesome thing that happened last time…

"Out berry-picking" During the battles (Saturday and Sunday mornings), half (ish) the nations are tapped to send heroes out to battle. While the other half are asked to join the Monster Crew for the battle to provide plenty of opponents. Typically barbarian orcs. If you are monstering, your character obviously cannot be found in Anvil. So where are they? “Out berry-picking”, apparently. Personally, I prefer “on maneuvers” or even “on patrol”.

"The baggage train" This has become an in-game reference to the OOC camping fields, and the many rows of parked cars. In-game, it might be assumed to be where cartloads of spare food etc, along with the carts and wagons and oxen that brought a lot of Anvil along, are being looked after by servants and similar. Examples of use include: “I’ve left it in the baggage train” [I’ve left in in the OOC area in my car but don’t want to break the immersion by saying so], or “I think she’s sleeping in the baggage train” [she’s in the OOC camping area]. There has also been the occasional reference to people buying food at Tessa Cowells vegetable market in the baggage train [yup, they’ve nipped off to Tescoes to buy more food…]. I suspect a Marcher player is behind that one…

Bleed: What happens when you don’t keep Player and Character distinct. This can be good (“I was still singing it on the way home, it was great, I feel great”), but can also be bad (“I can’t tell if the player hates me, or just the character… I feel awful…”). Bleed tends to be emotional, and can cause problems. Approach with caution.

FOIP : (foyp) Stands for Find Out In Play. Not common at Empire, where most info is on the wiki and your character can know it (or have forgotten it) as you prefer, and having notes and looking stuff up is absolutely encouraged. More common in some other systems. Can still refer to needing to do the legwork to make connections to find out who wants your resources, or will make you the thing, or has the arcane projection you need.

Pronoun Badges: Helpful indicators of a player / character’s preferred personal pronouns (he/him, she/her, they/them, etc.) according to their personal preferences. These should always be respected when worn.

IRL: “In Real Life” - Sometimes used to describe aspects of a player’s life unrelated to Empire, such as their job and where they live. Also used to describe LARP in general when comparing it to tabletop or computer roleplaying games.

Crossplaying: The act of playing a character whose gender-identity does not match the player’s. For example, a woman playing a male character, or vice versa. Should not normally be applied to transgender players. Please respect every character’s indicated gender-identity and any pronoun badges worn.

2 Likes

FOIP : (foyp) Stands for Find Out In Play. Not common at Empire, where most info is on the wiki and your character can know it (or have forgotten it) as you prefer, and having notes and looking stuff up is absolutely encouraged. More common in some other systems. Can still refer to needing to do the legwork to make connections to find out who wants your resources, or will make you the thing, or has the arcane projection you need.

2 Likes

Over the Hedge (i.e. amongst crew, whose base is on another field separated from the main IC field by a hedge), these are often spilt into Skirmish Crew, who provide various enemies for characters to fight, and NPC Crew, who play various characters. There is some crossover and some roles cover both.

Incidentally, an NPC (Non Player Character) is a character being played, but in a crew role supporting the story rather than as a player. These roles include Field NPCs, like the Civil Servants and Egregores who are on the field for all or most of an event, and Plot NPCs who are often only on the field for shorter periods and have specific agendas.

1 Like

Refs: Seen in black and yellow tunics. There to register rituals, testimonies and anything that needs to be added to the big computer system as it could affect future events, or needs feedback such as investigative rituals or checking the sentinel gate for skirmish details . Please do also ask them any queries you have about rules. They also have radios if there is a problem with the site or you need first aid help. There is usually a permanent ref at the Regio (magic stone circle) during time in and often one in the Hub, otherwise anyone with a radio (egregores, civil service) can ask for one to come around to your bit of the field.
Refs in black and yellow tabards are battle marshalls, usually only present on the skirmish field and do not have tablets and radios. They are there to ensure safe fighting, and to escort some of the big monsters who have limited visibility in their costumes.
The people in red and black tunics should be ignored as they are there for safety reasons and are doing a job such as handling smoke machines or pyrotechnics and shouldn’t be disturbed.

https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Referee

1 Like

Pronoun Badges: Helpful indicators of a player / character’s preferred personal pronouns (he/him, she/her, they/them, etc.) according to their personal preferences. These should always be respected when worn.

IRL: “In Real Life” - Sometimes used to describe aspects of a player’s life unrelated to Empire, such as their job and where they live. Also used to describe LARP in general when comparing it to tabletop or computer roleplaying games.

Not sure if this last one is controversial or at least in need of some very careful wording, but it’s something that you see at Empire.

Crossplaying: The act of playing a character whose gender-identity does not match the player’s. Should not normally be applied to transgender players. Please respect every character’s indicated gender-identity and any pronoun badges worn.

2 Likes

Anxiety Badges: A sign that a player is shy or has anxiety issues and should be included even if the wearer doesn’t feel comfortable jumping in at the deep end.

4 Likes

I think this is confusingly inaccurate…

1 Like

Subset of the crew would be more accurate. Refs are also crew, as are GOD, PLOT and Skirmish teams.

1 Like

Great list @Geoffrey_Willoughby (and other commenters)! Now, who do we talk to about making this a page on the Empire wiki… :wink:

2 Likes