Watch: Yellowknife LARPers bring board-game fantasies to life
In a tavern in the woods near Cassidy Point, a group of mercenaries pick up their swords, spears, and a bow, and embark on an epic journey to save a village from a child-eating witch.
Along the way they’ll fight a skeleton, barter with a hermit for a magical token, and be temporarily blinded by the witch before defeating her – returning only to find all the villagers have been killed in their absence.
It’s another Saturday on the Ingraham Trail.
This adventure was organized by LARPcraft YK, a group of friends in Yellowknife who LARP – or live action role-play.
It’s an immersive hobby where characters, stories, and battles like those found in fantasy board games are brought life.
“LARPing is dressing up in a period costume – and that can be whether it’s medieval, or zombie, or futuristic – and basically playing a game like Dungeons and Dragons, but you’re actually acting it out,” explained Lexie Rosilius.
Rosilius has LARPed for the past six years.
“I’m a giant nerd and they were like, ‘Hey, you want to come pretend to be a vampire or a person with a sword?’” she said.
“And I was like, ‘Yes. Yes, I would like to do that.’”
Rosilius and Reigh-Leigh Foster were the “shapers” for last weekend’s event. That means they come up with the storyline, design and set up the adventure, and play characters like a tavern keeper, skeleton, witch, and hermit, with whom players interact.
Lexie Rosilius, one of the shapers of Saturday’s adventure, plays the tavern keeper. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
“They will give us a reason to go on an adventure,” explained Brett Trimble, who plays a mercenary warrior.
“Usually it’s some poor, destitute villager who’s had a tale of woe we have to go solve. And then you get to run around and sort-of dig deep into your mind.”
Trimble said shapers plan an adventure two weeks in advance, which can include creating props and infrastructure. Members of the Yellowknife LARPing group takes turns being shapers and players on different adventures.
Trimble has been LARPing for about 25 years, including a heavier combat version for 15 years. He said it harkens back to the role-playing board games he’s been playing since high school.
“It’s all the things that you thought were fun in your head, but your body gets to do it too. You get to really experience it,” he said.
Brett Trimble has been LARPing for more than two decades. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
“It is really fun to run around and smack your friends with big sticks, knowing full well you can do it again the next day.
“Yellowknife’s gorgeous up here. We have this great site – it’s the sandpits, some roads, some hills, some cliffs – and you let yourself go. After a couple hours, you come back and you relive it with your friends.”
Players create their own characters but there are rules they have to follow, different levels, and a points system. There are also different genres of LARP like horror, the supernatural, science fiction, and post-apocalyptic scenarios.
Like many other hobbies and sports, LARPing in Yellowknife has been affected by the pandemic.
The mercenaries barter with a hermit for a magic token to defeat a witch. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
“Originally, this was going to be an organized event that was larger and was advertised for. And Covid just shut it down,” Rosilius said.
“So it ended up being – when they started opening phase two and the social circles – we were like, hey, we’re friends, we still want to play, and so we just decided to play.”