LARPing Comes to Television on ABC’s The Quest Premiere! by Rachael Ashdown
ABC’s new reality show promised to give twelve contestants a chance to live out their dreams of becoming heroes in a fantasy world. I for one was disappointed not to hear about casting until after the fact. And for me and anyone else who really wanted nothing more than to live in a castle and fight evil as a child (and some of us well into our adult years), we get the chance to imagine ourselves dumped into that world by rooting for our favorite hero on The Quest.
For those familiar with live action role-playing, The Quest will look like LARPing on steroids. In the first episode, we are introduced to the eclectic cast (known as Paladins on the show) as they are whisked away to a fantasy world, Everealm, where they are tasked with protecting the realm from the evil threatening the kingdom. With a setting based at a castle in Austria and a collection of detailed costumes and props, it is a LARPer’s dream.
As this is the first episode, it is understandable that our Paladins have a learning curve before they get into any real action. But it doesn’t take long before they are thrown into a medieval boot camp where they are tasked with working together to operate a scorpion (a large Roman-style fixed crossbow used as artillery). The teams had to cooperate to aim the weapons, which put a lot of pressure on the one team member in the tower directing his or her companions below as they aim the scorpion without seeing the enemy “soldiers” beyond the barrier.
While it is certainly an applicable skill in medieval warfare, it was not a very even test for the first challenge. Clearly, the team member in the tower was under the most pressure to communicate to those below, while one team member was merely responsible for fetching arrows, involving a tiny bit of speed and fitness but not much else. It is unsurprising that the person kicked off the show first was Katie, the losing team’s eyes on the field. Even without all the drama at the end to decide who was going home, it was clear Katie was the weakest link (pardon the pun). I only hope that The Quest is going to follow in the footsteps of my favorite reality show, Stan Lee’s Who Wants to Be a Superhero, and they bring back Katie later in the show as a villain.
As far as reality shows go, this is definitely the one for us fantasy nerds. The Paladins are on their way to learning real skills we’ve all wanted to learn, and the environment they created for the show is the closest any of us will get to a magical realm outside of or books or Hollywood. The cast itself includes everyone from a student to a mother to a math teacher and a mixed martial arts fighter, giving the audience a nice blend of skills and talents to chose from as they cheer for their favorite Paladin. While it isn’t without flaws, I will continue watching eagerly to see how our Paladins do in this LARPing fantasy, with the hopes that next time a monster snatches away a passing villager, our heroes will do more than just watch and run away.
Rachael is a freelance writer fresh out of college with a taste for fantasy, science fiction, and adventure. From Lord of the Rings to Doctor Who to Terry Brooks, she loves fictional worlds and the lore that inspired them. She has circumnavigated the globe, visited five continents in five years, and recently sailed aboard a tall ship in French Polynesia. She has a degree from Sweet Briar College in International Affairs, but her passion is writing, anything from sports articles to fan fiction to analyses of military theory. In her spare time she dreams of being one of Tolkien’s elves, practicing archery and wandering through forests wherever her travels take her.