Frequently Asked Questions

The Key Question

I'm interested in trying Treasure Trap- what do I need to do?

It would be useful if you could read this FAQ and the website, and email us at treasure.trap@gmail.com to let us know you're coming. It's not strictly necessary, though- if you show up at the start of an interactive or adventure, someone will be able to run you through the basics. If possible, it would be good if you could show up wearing fairly plain dark colours (so, avoiding things like blue jeans, white trainers or large logos), because it will then be easier to find costume which will make you fit in with the setting. Having said that, don't worry too much about it- no one will mind that much (we were all new once!), and it's probably better to come wearing white trainers which you feel comfortable in than dark shoes which you can't run in safely.

The Basics

What is Treasure Trap?

Durham University Treasure Trap is the UK's oldest continuously running larp group. We have a sister system which runs in Cambridge.

What is larp?

Larp (or LRP) stands for live-action roleplay. It's basically theatre without a script or audience- you play a character within an imaginary world that we create.

Are there many larp groups in the world?

Larp exists in Europe, the USA, Israel, South America and New Zealand. Within the UK, there are larp groups running games ranging from sci-fi action to Victorian horror. The biggest larp group in the UK has around 3000 members. For an example of a UK system which many Treasure Trap members also play in, see this link: http://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/

What sort of world is Treasure Trap's game set in?

Treasure Trap's world has its roots in medieval fantasy fiction (think Terry Pratchett, Robin Hobb or the Lord of the Rings). The action is centred in Durholme, a city of tall towers and dark alleys. For more information about Durholme and the kind of people who live there, see here:
http://www.dur.ac.uk/treasure.trap/library/

What sort of characters do people play?

Within the world of Durholme, players can play almost anything they want- a knight, a beggar, a thief, a priest, a wizard, a bard- anything you can think of. You can play a hero, a villain, a misguided idealist or someone just trying to get by. The choice is up to you.

How often does Treasure Trap run larp events?

Every week during term time, we run a tavern night and an adventure (during which we play our characters) and a weapons practice (when we don't). Tavern nights, also known as interactives, are indoor events which are run in Vane Tempest Hall in the DSU building, from about 7 to 11 pm on Thursday night. Adventures are run on Saturdays from roughly 11am to 5pm (or occasionally on Friday evenings- check the upcoming events calendar at http://www.dur.ac.uk/treasure.trap/

Weapons practices run every Sunday from 1 to 3 pm at the Sands field in Durham (go to the market place, turn left down the steps behind the church, turn right at the river and then keep walking past the car park and the tennis courts. This is about ten minutes walk). At weapons practices, no one plays a character- we just practice fighting with the kind of larp weapons which we use at interactives and adventures.

We also have two kinds of event which only happen once a year. The banquet runs every year in Epiphany term. At banquets, no one plays a character- we just get dressed up in costume and enjoy an evening of medieval food and dancing, followed by a weapons tournament the next day.

We also hold a weekend-long larp event in a scout camp near Durham, every year after the summer exams finish.

What do you actually do at larp events?

We get into costume and then spend a few hours acting out our characters. It's like playing a part in a play, except that there's no script or director to tell you what to do- only you can decide how your character would act in any situation. Many characters have dreams which they want to pursue- for example, they might want to get rich, destroy something they see as evil or gain power over part of their world. Or they might just want to socialise and enjoy themselves. It's your character- you can decide how you want them to act.

At interactives, we decorate Vane Tempest hall like a medieval pub. The characters mingle, drink and talk with each other. Sometimes they make decisions that change the world they live in. Sometimes there are raids or assassination attempts. Sometimes it's more quiet. It all depends on what the players have been doing recently, and how they're shaping the world.

Adventures, in general, have less talk and more action. From the loading bay beneath DSU we head to the woods around Durham. The character party (a group of people playing the same characters they play at interactives) move down a path through the woods. Along the path, they meet other people- for example, they might find a group of peasants being attacked by bandits. The character party can then decide how to react to this. For example, they might decide to heroically slay the vicious bandits and rescue the peasants. Equally, they might reach a diplomatic solution, or just help the bandits to slaughter the peasants in exchange for a cut of the loot. It's all good- the players do whatever their characters would do in that situation, but must bear the consequences later.

What does fighting involve at Treasure Trap events?

Treasure Trap is a live combat larp system, which means that if a character decides to attack someone, the player will physically hit that person with a weapon. The weapons we use are all standard foam larp weapons, which receive regular safety checks. It's against the rules to use a larp weapon in a way likely to hurt a player- for example, you aren't allowed to stab with a weapon, or aim for someone's face or other sensitive areas. However, we find that if you use larp weapons properly (light, slashing cuts only), the padded blades are unlikely to hurt anyone. Any Treasure Trap member should be able to give you a demonstration of safe fighting technique.

What is Treasure Trap's safety record like?

The occasional minor injury occurs, mostly because on adventures we're actively running around outdoors (and occasionally stepping in rabbit holes, tripping over tree roots or falling into nettle patches)- not the fact that we're hitting each other with padded weapons. In this sense, Treasure Trap is just like any sport. We have trained first aiders present on all adventures and we avoid fighting in any area which looks likely to become unsafe.

Where do you get your weapons and costume from?

We make some of our own weapons and kit. The rest we buy at national larp events, or from larp websites such as http://www.lrpstore.co.uk/ Costume can also often be found cheaply on eBay or from charity shops. We have a medieval fantasy setting, but we are not strict about historical accuracy.

Many Treasure Trap members own their own larp weapons and kit, but we have a large supply which we can loan out to members for use at events- you don't need to buy anything in order to start attending events.

We also have a kit-make session about once a term, when everyone who comes can make costume, weaponry and armour if they like. These sessions can be very useful, as they allow members to share skills and knowledge with others, and help each other out with costume.

How much does Treasure Trap cost?

Everyone's first interactive and adventure is free!

Yearly membership of Treasure Trap costs £3 and life membership for Durham University students costs £5. Otherwise, charactering an interactive costs £1 and charactering an adventure costs £3 - crewing events is free of charge.

Weapons practice is also free for all.

Larp words

What do IC and OC mean?

IC stands for "in character". OC (or OOC) stands for "out of character". IC things exist in the imaginary gameworld. OC things exist in real life.

During an adventure or an interactive, everything which happens is IC unless someone indicates otherwise. Someone standing with one hand in the air, or wearing a thin white sash, is showing that they are OC. This means that none of the characters in the game can see them, and so you shouldn't react to their presence or try to talk to them unless you are also OC.

Everything which happens IC, stays IC. If someone's character is rude to another character (insults them, shouts at them, or even attacks them), then IC the other character may be furious, but OC neither player should feel hurt. IC, someone might spend an hour screaming at someone else before finally losing their temper and killing them- OC, when the event is over, both players can go to the pub afterwards with no hard feelings.

It's generally considered good manners not to talk OC about important IC secrets- for example, if your character finds out that Jane is plotting to murder Bob, then they can tell other characters this IC if they want, but you shouldn't discuss it OC (except with the refs, who probably already know). This is called the Find Out In Play rule (FOIP). Similarly, knowledge you've found out while not in play shouldn't really be used while in play, as many people will tell you things OC that their characters wouldn't tell yours IC.

If you have an OC problem at an event (for example, you're confused about the way some of the rules work), then feel free to ask someone for help. Ideally ask a ref, but if you can't see one then ask the nearest person. You can make it clear that it's an OC question and not an IC one by holding one hand in the air, or just saying "OC, I have a problem". People want to be helpful OC, but if they think you're IC then they will respond to the question as their character would- which might mean ignoring you or lying.

What are PCs and NPCs?

PC stands for player character. These are the characters that an ordinary player will play at interactives, and sometimes on adventures. The PCs are like the main characters in a story.

NPCs (also sometimes called monsters) are people who the PCs meet. Everyone that the character party runs into on an adventure is an NPC.

Who are the refs?

The refs are the people who monitor the game, check that the rules are working and introduce NPCs into the game. These are the best people to speak to about rules questions or what sorts of character you can play. The refs can be contacted at ds.ttrefs@gmail.com

What is a physrep?

A physrep (short for 'physical representation') is an object which exists OC and is used to represent an IC object. For example, a foam larp sword is a physrep for an IC metal one.

What is Rule 7?

Rule 7 in larp is "do not take the piss". Rule 7b is "unless it's funny".

Other information

Can characters die IC?

Yes. The average life expectancy of a PC varies, according to how many risks they take and what is going on around them. Most last several months, and some have lasted years, while others die quite quickly. Don't worry if your first character doesn't last long; any character can be terminally unlucky, without it being any reflection on the player's ability to play the game.

What happens when your PC dies?

You get a new one. People may feel sad that they can't play their old character any more, but it's also nice to have the chance to play something new.

Treasure Trap sounds interesting, but I'm not sure if I want to try playing straight away- can I just watch the game?

There is no audience at Treasure Trap. We try to limit the number of OC people in and around IC areas, because we find this makes it easier for people to suspend disbelief and get into the atmosphere of the event.

We find that most people find it very easy to learn how to larp, even if they're quite shy or haven't done anything similar before. If you just show up and sketch out a basic character then it's easy to start playing and get involved.

Treasure Trap sounds interesting, but I'm not sure how much time I want to spend on it- how much commitment do you need to be involved?

Many Treasure Trap members show up regularly every week. However, this isn't essential- if you only want to drop by every once in a while, that's fine too.

Is larp similar to tabletop roleplaying?

Larp probably has its roots in tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons. They're both hobbies which involve playing a character and working together with other people to create a story with an unpredictable ending. Many members of Treasure Trap also play tabletop roleplaying games.

The main differences between larp and tabletop are the larger number of players and the fact that everything is physically acted out. So, you don't have to imagine what the knight in armour looks like, because they're standing right there in front of you. Equally, if you attack them, you don't roll dice to find out whether you defeat them- you can physically fight a duel.

How historically accurate is the world of Durholme?

Not very. Our aim is not to painstakingly recreate 13th century northern England. We draw on historical influences when we think they would help us create a more interesting, detailed and exotic fantasy world, but we also diverge from history whenever we feel this will make a more interesting game. For example, in Durholme, it is not usually considered strange for women to become soldiers.

What kind of character would be a good idea to start off with?

The simplest answer is: anything which fits the setting and sounds like something you'd enjoy playing. Within those boundaries, feel free to play anything you want. The setting is quite broad and includes a very wide range of character types- if you're not sure if something would fit the setting or not then ask a member, preferably a ref (ds.ttrefs@gmail.com)

Some people find it useful to start off playing a character who is IC ignorant about the local area- for example, a character who has only just moved to Durholme from somewhere a fairly long way off (like Wessex). This means that your character won't be expected to know all about Durholme and its history, so people can explain things to them IC.

Some people also find it useful to play a character who has specific ambitions, or very strong opinions about something controversial (for example, a human character who believes that elves are subhumans and should be treated as inferior). Many people feel that a character who takes a stand on controversial issues is likely to have a shorter but more interesting life than a character who gets on well with everyone IC. That said, this isn't compulsory- if you would prefer to play a character who gets on well with most people and doesn't get involved in politics, that's fine too.