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LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing. It is a type of game in which the participants assume identities and act as specific characters, and where the action takes place following the scenario written by a moderator or Game Master although, in the end, it is the individual decisions made by the participants that make the story unfolds one way or another. LARPs are typically divided into two types, combat and theatre, although the boundary between these is quite flexible. Does it sound familiar?

Yes, surely with this explanation you were thinking of a scripted game of airsoft, but the activities that fit within the broader definition of LARP are very varied and have coexisted for at least a century. Although this “discipline” gained popularity during the seventies due to the success of tabletop role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. Today we talk to Olle Nyman, so he can tell us about his group, Machine Dogs, so we can delve a little deeper into this spectacular modality.

You are not new or few, but this is a rather unique activity among the general public, how did you start?

I was looking to set up a group back in 2015 to be able to attend the LARP BBr, my idea was to put together a group that was a kind of mix between the Vuvalini and the War Boys from Mad Max Fury Road (two of the wildest factions in that universe). Therefore, we are talking about “born from a vehicle”, but much more barbaric and boheme-chic. And that was just pure evil. 

Back then we were originally about nine people. Some of them are still part of the group today. At our peak, I think we were like 23 people in the group altogether, but now when we attend the BBR we are usually around 13-15 people.

If someone wanted to try this variant of post-apocalyptic events, what would you recommend? 

Well it's very simple and basic…Find a place to meet, decide on the theme, promote the event, and of course do it.

Is it necessary for LARP to be related to the post-apocalyptic?

Mad Max is my main inspiration for this type of LARP, but I have a soft spot for darker, more dystopian post-apocalyptic ones, such as those inspired by The Road movie and similar worlds. However, these events cover different needs and motivations. What I do with the Machine Dogs is more for the thrill and the action that you feel.

Do you pay a lot of attention to the characters (clothes, makeup, tattoos)? 

Some of the "characters" are recurring (and are part of us), over time they evolve. Since they are built from year to year, both in terms of the team and the background story. And yes, also with makeup and temporary tattoos (laughs).

Are the vehicles in which we see you your own or are they provided by the events organization? 

At the moment we have two cars available and running (or at least that work right now -laughs-), plus one that we are fixing and tuning, a quad and one or two motorcycles (depending on the event). None of them, except one of the motorcycles, is authorized to drive legally on the road, so we have to transport them in trailers. And if you want to know more about how they can be used in the BBr, it is best to always check the rules on their website, we are not the organizers and such rules can vary each year, so you can see what each event is about.

And how is an event of this type, are they big or are they something more concentrated? 

LARPs are usually from Thursday afternoon to Saturday night, followed by an after party at the end of the event (which is sometimes almost as savage as the event itself). I think the record is close to 700 participants, it is certainly a large number of people for a meeting like this.

It sounds like these are events where you take more than one great story home, tell us one that makes us want to sign up next time. 

Definitely one of my favourites is when we attack a caravan with our cars, and then have a car chase with some hired detectives, all of us driving at the speed of about 20 km/h feeling all the tension in our necks. The chase finally ended with the chasing vehicle exploding with a pyrotechnic grenade launcher that we had with us, something really spectacular and very exciting. Then we went back to town to have a beer… like good warriors.

Are these types of events very popular in your land?

In Sweden there are not many teams or companies that organize this type of LARPs. There are also not many places to do it properly, which possibly limits companies from setting up these events.

We recognize many airsoft replicas among the different weapons you use, but all extremely customised, is it something important in this world? 

I would say so. They should look as good as the rest of the gear, clothing, and vehicles! So we customize our weapons, according to our appearance or the character we have created.

I think that between what you have told us and what they are seeing, many of our readers already want to give it a try, but please tell us in a couple of lines why they should join.

Airsoft is much more fun if it is part of a larger story, in which the background and the other players also act and look like they are part of it. The more you create your character and the more the environment promotes it, the more you will enjoy it.