France’s band of weekend warriors with a difference

People taking part in one of the Ebenaum fantasy games

The Connexion learns more about the part-time world of live-action role playing games that give thousands of players a brief pause from day-to-day life

Bubbling away out of sight of mainstream French life is a rich seam of fantasy, imagination and make-believe.

Whether it is Murder Weekends, Escape Rooms, Cosplay, or Jeux Grand Nature (LARP in English – Live Action Role Play) people are spending their leisure time inventing alternative personas, and living in alternative worlds with alternative rules.

The most complex fantasies of all are ‘les jeux de rôle grandeur nature’ which are usually just called ‘GN’ for short.

French teacher Benoît Pouzet organises GN games in a world called ‘Erenthyrm’, which he and his brother Jean-Loup created as teenagers.

“We have both been hooked on GN since we first played one in Périgueux. I was about 16, and had got in to role play on an internet forum.

“I loved it because with GN you enter a world alongside strangers from all professions all over France and you don’t even ask who they are or where they are from.

“You just take them at face value with no judgements and no prejudices. I think that’s important in life in general.”

He and Jean-Loup started organising GNs in a wood near where they lived just south of Châteauroux.

In 2006, they set up www.ebenaum.fr , a portal into the secret world of Erenthyrm, along with Benoît’s primary school teacher wife Maud, to formalise the activity.

GNs are often organised in worlds invented by the organiser but some are in worlds created in manga, or books or films, including The Three Musketeers, Star Wars, or Westerns.

Drakerys (www.drakerys.org ), meanwhile,  is based on the board game.

Before he announces a GN via social media, Benoît works out the broad outlines of the plot: in the peaceful land of Erenthyrm, the king has lost his sword and it must be found, there are invaders on the horizon, etc.

As players sign up, they receive the rules of the game along with instructions on how to prepare, how to build their characters, make costumes, and what equipment to bring. “There have to be rules otherwise it’s anarchy and no-one is in the same world,” he said.

“So we ...

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