‘It’s pure escapism. You can leave the office and be a fairy for the weekend’
A FANTASY Larping (live-action role-playing) enthusiast from Athboy who dresses up as mystical characters and travels around the country attending themed events has started to hand-make replica weapons for her unique characters to use 'in battle.'
Ciara Morrison (33) or 'Adelina the Warrior' the half cat half human alter ego that the talented silversmith transforms into says that this kind of make-believe for adults is the ultimate form of escapism.
As a fan of the fantasy genre (think Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings) Ciara felt compelled to go beyond reading books and watching films by delving into the intriguing cult world of live-action role-play or 'Larping' as it is known.
Evolving from cosplay and table-top games like Dungeons & Dragons, LARP events see fantasy enthusiasts acting and improvising in fictional scenarios usually in costume donning full armour with themes ranging from dystopian futures to zombie apocalypses. Participants, known as LARPers, sometimes stay in character for days at a time. The locations for these events can range from scout camps to castles and parks.
Ciara Morrison AKA 'Madame Curio' at a recent gaming convention in Dublin where her stall offering replica axes, swords and rocks attracted a lot of attention.
"I started larping when I was 14. The classic Cinema in Harolds Cross used to screen the Rocky Horror Picture Show every Friday night and I ended up becoming involved in the show. We used to get dressed up and come in amongst the audience as characters from the movie and basically act out the Rocky Horror in front of them while the movie is showing the background.
"A lot of people that were involved with that, were involved with Larping. They invited me along to check it out and I just fell in love with the scene. Once a week we used to go to what we called 'training' around various parks in Dublin, we'd get dressed up and fight with our foam weapons.
"The first character I had was a fantasy mash-up that was half-cat, half-human. Each event has an individual system with classes and races that you can choose from which could be elves, fairies, drow, orcs or trolls.
Costumes and armour used for larping
"When you create your character you are given a number of points to spend on skills which can be anything from reading and writing to counting to what kind of armour and weaponry you can use. You designate what points you want to put into each category and from there you know what your character is able and allowed to do."
In a world that is constantly steering us away from social interaction, the business support agent says that the ability to share different versions of ourselves with others is arguably one of the fundamental attractions.
"It's pure escapism. You can leave behind the office and can be a fairy for the weekend! Maybe in your everyday life, your routine is humdrum but you could be a king or queen in your alternate life. Maybe you are a big wig executive and you just want to relax and dress up like an elf.
Ciara's character Adelina the Warrior and larping enthusiasts preparing for battle
"If you imagine you have all this pent up stress and somebody hands you a big foam hammer and tells you to go and fight your rival enemy it's the best therapy in the world. You can think this isn't me, this is the powerful warrior or magical wizard or priest or whatever. I know people that in real life are very timid but in this game are mighty leaders. It enables you to explore another side of yourself."
The fantasy fanatic runs Ciara's Curios, an online store full of weird and wonderful trinkets and jewellery that she all makes from hand. Oh and then there's the pretend weapons.
"I started making jewellery for people involved in Larping. At the same time, I was disappointed with some of the props on the market so I decided to make my own. I make full weaponry, swords, axes, daggers, maces, rocks, hammers, you name it.
"I make them with a fibreglass core which is finished in plastic. Around that fibreglass core, you have waterproof foam that is filled with nitrogen instead of just air so it's really shock-absorbing."
Not content with just the one character, the Athboy woman has created another interesting alter ego,
"For this venture, I wanted to recreate the feel of rummaging through a curio shop and finding little oddities to take home! So Madame Curio is basically a modern Victorian woman who prattles around in old corsets and dresses showing all her treasures that she’s gathered from around the world! A bit like the Victorian freak shows of old!
The allure of the Larping world goes far beyond dressing up in elaborate costumes according to Ciara.
"It's fantastical. I think there is something about it that resonates to when you are a kid and are playing make-believe and you are just not there for the time you are playing. I find that a lot of people that play these games are generally the people that got picked on in school, they were the nerdy kids that never quite fitted in.
"There is that sense of community and you will find in the gaming scene in Ireland there is a very close-knit community.
"In a way, it's like a hodgepodge of misfits that somehow fit together in a group, a place where you feel like you belong even though you are a little bit odd, you can all be a little bit odd together."