Summer is just around the corner, if not here already where you live. It’s the time of the year for parties, get togethers, and entertainment! The time for fun! Tabletop gamers aren’t always the type for music-blasting pool parties or raucous concerts, but I’ve yet to meet one who doesn’t enjoy a good LARP.
You can look into local groups for their regularly scheduled events, of course. But if you want something a little smaller, or don’t have tons of vacation time left over, Parlor LARPs are a good option. We’ve talked about them before here at D20Collective (5 Spooky LARPs You Can Run for a Fantastic Halloween Live Action Roleplay), with recommendations in the horror genre.
This time, we’re recommending 5 science fiction LARPs you can run for a variety of group sizes.
What are Parlor LARPs?
LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) is a type of structured game, in which participants act the roles of prewritten characters, interacting and attempting to reach certain goals amongst each other. They often have a set of abilities and features to use to that end – much like a game of Dungeons and Dragons, but instead of rolling dice you simply act out your character.
Parlor LARPs are smaller versions of standard LARPs (which are often large-scale events which take place over whole weeks or weekends, with many participants), that take place over the course of a single day or evening. They typically require far fewer players, as well as a Director to take the place of a DM running things.
Perhaps slightly on-the-nose in 2022, Quarantine is a 6 person LARP that includes space travel, aliens, intrigue, and a deadly disease. Players take on the roles of the variety of passengers aboard a small spaceship heading to the planet Acquecia, who are startled to discover they are denied landing due to the presence of a nanovirus being detected aboard their ship. For the time being, they’re stuck together, trying to remove or disable the virus so they can land and go about their lives. And, you know, not die.
This is a short and sweet LARP that is meant to run for 1-2 hours. There’s a clear group goal to work toward, with a story set out to follow, which makes it a good option for first time LARPers who might be a more goal oriented. There’s also the potential for action and combat, which can keep your players engaged.
Get it here: Quarantine
Plan Eight from Outer Space
Plan Eight from Outer Space is a love letter to 1950s B-movie sci-fi cheese. You (yes, you – this one doesn’t require a Director) play as one of up to 8 aliens running a board meeting to troubleshoot their plans to conquer the Earth. You’ll go over the last 8 attempts, particularly the last, and brainstorm ideas for the 9th. Hopefully, by the end of this meeting, you’ll know just how to get those troublesome humans to acquiesce to your rule.
While this LARP is meant to be a sort-of prequel to the cult-classic flick Plan 9 from Outer Space, you don’t have to have seen it to play the game (although I would highly recommend it). There isn’t any combat, however, or much action at all. You all stay seated, as in a proper board meeting. This means that you mostly rely on the improv abilities of your fellow players to keep things funny and interesting. It’s meant to run for around 2 hours.
Get it here: Plan 8 From Outer Space
Set in the Firefly/Serenity universe and inspired by the classic western film of the same name, Stagecoach is a fun but dramatic LARP. Players are passengers and crew aboard the Coronado, a transport ship operated by the Companion’s Guild, bringing various individuals through Reaver territory to another planet. But things can never go as they’re supposed to in the ‘verse, and something (or someone) or starting to cause trouble.
This LARP has room for 10 people, plus one Director, and is meant to play for 5 hours. You’ll definitely want to have working knowledge of the Firefly tv series, if not it’s associated movie Serenity, to fully grasp the tone and background of the setting. That said, it’s a high-tension game with lots of opportunity for roleplay and interaction.
Get it here: Stagecoach
Sufficiently Advanced Technologies
If Doctor Who is more your speed than Firefly, Sufficiently Advanced Technologies is a better choice for your group. This game, meant for 16 players, is not officially associated with the franchise, but features a storyline inspired by it, with the necessary time-traveling do-gooder and their human sidekick as they attempt to save the world from the meddling of various alien forces. In this case, they’re interfering with the development of transporter technology, and the various forces that might cause trouble.
SAT definitely puts the emphasis on a single player as the star of the show, which makes it a good choice for a birthday party game. Let your player of the hour really shine in the role as the Doctor-stand-in! Luckily, other characters are equally as compelling and interesting to play, so everyone should have fun with it. It’s meant to run for a full afternoon.
Get it here: Sufficiently Advanced Technologies
For a larger group, full of series sci-fi fans, Homeworld is a LARP that takes place just post-galactic war. The Sheyans, a telepathic alien species, are the first alien race that humans ever encountered. And they did so by completely destroying human spacecraft and demanding surrender. Eventually, though, they were the ones who had to give in. Now, having official surrendered to humanity, they have invited 6 humans to come and discuss the terms. They might have a few tricks up their sleeve, of course, and the humans each are competing to bring back the ultimate spoils of war – a laurel wreath in the shape of the Homeworld.
This is a fairly series, interaction and politics heavy LARP for 25 players. That’s a pretty big group, and so requires plenty of pre-planning on the part of the Director. It’s also a fairly series game, with little opportunity for hijinks and comedy, and references to the atrocities of war. It’s meant to last for a full evening and is definitely geared toward a group of military sci-fi fans.
Get it here: Homeworld
Have you played any of these LARPs? How did they go? Let us know in the comments below!