Legal Liability in Live Action Role-Playing: The Law is Dark and Full of Terrors


  • Russell Murdock



larp, law, United States, alcohol, liability, live action role-playing games


This paper explores the legal liabilities and risks associated with running a live-action role-playing game (larp). Because few cases directly involving the larp community have been litigated, this paper searches for corollaries from other types of events run mainly in the United States that may prove enlightening for larp organizers. While the legal concerns faced by larp organizers may seem novel to them, many similar issues of legal liability have been litigated in courts for more than a century. The legal principles of social host liability vs. commercial host liability will be analyzed in the context of larps, demonstrating some of the likely disparate treatment for-profit larp organizers will experience versus their non-commercial counterparts. These principles will provide the foundation to analyze liability regarding the furnishing of alcohol in contexts when alcohol is being sold by the larp’s organizers, when it is given away by organizers, and when organizers provide alcohol to an underage minor. This paper also explores other liability concerns for larp organizers, including their responsibility resulting from criminal actions by participants; criminal or negligent acts by their employees and volunteers; and personal injury of a participant at a larp event. Finally, the paper will briefly explore the liability of the landowner of sites where larps take place. Where clear bright-line answers to legal questions prove impossible—as they all too often do—this paper seeks to provide a general foundation of knowledge from which larp organizers can begin to analyze their legal liabilities. This article is intended for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.




How to Cite

Murdock, R. (2018). Legal Liability in Live Action Role-Playing: The Law is Dark and Full of Terrors. International Journal of Role-Playing, (9), 4–8.