(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Santino D. Martinez)

Live-action roleplaying is popular among nerds the world over. But what they don't realize is that the military hosts their own LARPing events to prepare for war.

While training for real-life combat, it's important that the military runs simulations that get as close to the real thing as possible. But, when you start to really break it down, it becomes clear that the government is spending tons of money on opportunities for advanced LARPing — as they should be.


1.You’re just pretending you’re at war

Make no mistake, there's plenty of purpose behind it but, at the end of the day, your life is in very little real danger. A lot of times, you're shooting pretend bullets at pretend targets in a pretend country.

Even when you get real bullets, you're still fighting a made-up military in a made-up country.

Here, we have a group of infantry LARPers attacking an enemy town.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Rachel K. Porter)

2.You dress up as your selected class

Whether you chose to be a berserker (machine gunner), a warrior (rifleman), or a mage (mortarman), you get to dress up as your character and carry real equipment.

The bonus here is that the government spends tons of money training you in your selected class.

Here, we have a berserker class clearing the way for the warriors.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Rachel K. Porter)

3.You use real weapons

This is actually pretty cool considering that most LARPers don't get to use real weapons. The government will spend lots of money for you to get a real weapon to use in your roleplay events, like Integrated Training Exercise (ITX). Meanwhile, not every LARPer is into live steel.

You get to fire real rockets!

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Aaron Henson)

4.Real props

You get to ride in helicopters to make the scenarios even more realistic. Sometimes, you'll even get support from jets and tanks to truly sell an authentic experience.

Okay, so these props might be a tad cooler than getting to drink your own, real-life "health potion" that is probably just Sprite and grenadine...

They're there to create the most authentic of experiences.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III)

5.Other roleplayers are involved

When you go to ITX, they'll bring in a bunch of people to act as townspeople and enemies. This makes the experience a lot more authentic, which makes it a lot more interesting and fun.

They're out there to help you... or hurt you.

(U.S Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan A. Soto-Delgado)

6.There are non-player characters

The roleplayers that get brought in for the purpose of acting as the townspeople are very interactive NPCs. You'll go on a patrol through the town and they'll offer information or things to buy. Be careful, though, some might be working with the enemy!

You can talk with these NPCs for extra experience.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexis C. Schneider, 2d MARDIV Combat Camera)

7.There’s usually a game master

In a lot of cases, there will be someone acting as the GM, there to make sure people aren't cheating and everyone dies when they're supposed to. They might come in the form of your company Gunny (or a Coyote in the case of ITX). They keep things fair and they'll evaluate your performance after the event is over.

The Coyotes even wear special items to specify they're game masters.

(Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz)

8.You get to roleplay with other countries

On a peacetime deployment, you basically go to other countries to train with their military if your unit is trustworthy enough for that responsibility. This means that you travel and meet with other LARPers as you share an event together.

Here, we have two LARPers from different countries interacting in a dialogue.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tiffany Edwards)