Halloween is the favorite holiday for a great number of tabletop gamers – the costumes, the fantasy, the fiction, it’s all part and parcel for TTRPGs. There’s no better excuse for a quick LARP or module of Vampire: the Masquerade than a Halloween party. Pre-pandemic, I made a yearly tradition of just that!
Shutdowns and social distancing made it impossible to hold a LARP the last couple of years, but with more and more people being vaccinated, it’s finally safe enough to run one this year (albeit maybe with fewer players). If you’re looking to do something fun last-minute, here’s a few free LARP scenarios that you can set up and run.
What is a LARP?
LARPing is short for Live Action Role Playing – an acting and improvisation activity, usually supplemented with rules for conflict resolution, wherein players pretend to be a predetermined character to achieve certain goals that the scenario outlines for them. It’s mostly like tabletop gaming, except that you’re acting out the role of your character in its entirety.
LARP groups can get as large as hundreds of people, although most are a more manageable 15-25. Smaller LARPs, called Parlor LARPs, can get as small as 3 or 4 participants. Most, in addition to their casts, also require Directors, who run the game, mediate conflict, and ensure that everyone is following the rules, like a Game Master would.
Be sure to be safe! Keep your parties small, and, if necessary, use whatever masks are necessary (These can also add to the intrigue and improve your character). Social distancing may be harder, but if your home is too small a venue, most public parks are a fairly safe venue.
All Saints Eve – A Supernatural/Contemporary Horror LARP for 4-8 Players
In All Saints Eve, a perfect LARP for a Halloween haunt, your group spend an evening Halloween party in a house containing spirits straining to break free. Not everyone knows about these spirits, and others are directly under their control, kidnapping, murdering, and scheming for the release of some great horror that lurks within the walls.
This LARP requires few players, relatively little in terms of costume, and a willingness of your players to interact with some pretty serious themes. You can find it for free here: All Saint’s Eve Download
Snow White – A Dark Fantasy LARP for 6-8 Players
Snow White, written by the same publishers as All Saint’s Eve, takes place just after the end of the traditional fairy tale. With the Wicked Queen set to be tortured to death in just a few hours, secrets piling between the prince and the princess, and the precarious state of the kingdom as a whole, almost everyone here is out for their own good.
This LARP is a little more lighthearted than the previous, but still a fairly dark take on fantasy. It definitely isn’t a Disney princess adaptation. You can find it for free here: Snow White Download
The Business of Murder – A Murder Mystery LARP for 6-8 Players
The Business of Murder is a little more of a murder-mystery party game than a traditional LARP, although the players all still have to act and behave according to their character motivations, inspired by the novel and subsequent play. In this game, a group of recent graduates are having an informal sort of party when one of their number is murdered. The question, as it always does, remains: whodunnit?
This game doesn’t only rely on the players interactions to create conflict, but feeds them small clues, and requires them to use their brains to try and solve the crime that has occurred. If you’re a fan of Clue, either the game of the movie, this is a fantastic LARP to go with. You can find it for free here: The Business of Murder Website (with Downloads for 2 Editions)
Fire At Midnight – A Vampire Intrigue LARP for 10-12 Players
Fire At Midnight also has an element of murder mystery, although it’s more a vehicle for setting up the scenario than anything else. A young vampire has been found murdered, and any Kindred (related vampires) in the area are being rounded up for questioning. Who staked him? Who burned him? Why? Even if you aren’t interested in these answers, an impromptu gathering of vampires from different houses creates quite a few opportunities for plenty of parties…
This LARP takes place in the world of Vampire: the Masquerade, and relies on a baseline understanding of the vampiric politics within. There’s no need for an in-depth understanding of the game, though, since this is meant to stand alone.
This game is less of a Parlor LARP and more of a proper game. This means that there’s a timetable of events, fully fleshed-out rules for combat, and plenty of props and items to be acquired throughout the game. You can find it for free here: Fire At Midnight Download
Hotel Paradise – A Haunted Hotel LARP for up to 16 Players
The Hotel Paradise is another game propelled mostly by the interests of the characters, and the way that the players choose to create conflict with each other. It takes place in a now-condemned hotel, well known to be haunted, which is being researched by a couple of still-living university students. But, unbeknownst to the researchers, there are elaborate wards keeping the ghosts inside, and outsiders away, and even the chance of sabotage between those researchers themselves.
This is a great LARP for a group of friends who already know each other, especially with a couple of players who enjoy causing mischief and pranking one another. Once you enter this haunted hotel, you’re at the whims of the supernatural! You can find it for free here: Hotel Paradise GoogleDoc
Have you ever run any of these LARPs? How did they go? We’d love to hear about it!