As any LARPer will tell you, the best thing about joining a LARP is you get to be the hero in your own movie.
What they often fail to mention is that everyone else wants to be the hero too. No sidekicks, no servants. Unless someone is willing to play a secondary character it’s a bunch of heroes fighting to have the most epic moments.
Don’t believe it? Just stand with any group of Larpers and ask them what is the most epic thing they’ve ever done at a LARP. I Guarantee that conversation will last longer than 4 bottles of Mead. Some LARP’s account for this by providing cookie cutter role-play. You turn up with enemies already there, people who already know you and want to defeat you, or stop you achieving your goal and generally be bad guys, or provide some other kind of role-play.
However there are many European-style Larps that take things a little differently. (Such as Bicolline in Canada which you can learn more about via The Voyage North.) Instead of providing you with quests and role-play they encourage you to find your own. So whether you’re looking to play a more memorable character in your own Larp, or want to learn how to get the best Role-play experience out of a European style LARP. Here’s a simple breakdown of 5 ways you can easily increase the amount of Role-play you get in a LARP.
1) Have a code and stick to it
This is almost too easy, by simply having a very strict code that you follow, such as always accept a challenge, or always defend someone in need etc. You will always be self generating Role-play. Suddenly, whenever the correct situation arises you get the chance to “activate” your code and begin a new encounter. Naturally this works best for characters like Monks however the truth is you can adapt it for any character. Some examples would include:
- A wizard who follows a set code to appease their elders
- A Knight with a Vow of Poverty and Chivalry
- An Amazon who will never allow a man to best her in combat
- An Orphaned prince who refuses to let the code of the old lands die
The key is being strict about following your code. The more people see you follow it, the more role-play you will find. (Just don’t bore people with it in every conversation, a casual mention once in a while to people you meet should be more than enough)
2) Argue with a friend
Everyone starts a new game with their friends as.. well … friends. Which makes sense. However it also encourages you to keep to your own people. Some of my greatest Role-play experiences have come from starting a game with a close friend of mine with a huge argument in the centre of camp. All of the players gather around to get involved and break it up at which point they find the two of us stick like glue and defend each other. By having conflict within the group it enables others to get involved while still encouraging you to stick together. Suggestions for arguments could be:
- You got us lost and now we’re here
- I didn’t even want to join the army
- I thought you said the rampaging goblins were a music group!
- Magic Doesn’t exist
3) Ridiculous viewpoints
The final suggestion in the point above brings up one of my favorite ways to Role-play with a new group, and thats simply to not believe in Magic. Just being point blank ignorant to the fact it exists.This is amazing because it will encourage everybody to attempt to prove you wrong. No matter what you see however, simply justify it away as just the wind, or smoke and mirrors. Once again this is the kind of character people love to hate and if everyone else is having fun, you won’t be able to help yourself but enjoy being the character. However ridiculous viewpoints don’t have to stick to disbelief in magic. Others include:
- Swords are dangerous
- The gods aren’t real
- Elves are bad luck
- I’m allergic to Money
Just be sure to remember not to flood every conversation with your thoughts, save it for the occasional point of witty banter to encourage a fun interaction and to flesh out your character.
4) Go on a Quest
Most RPG video games nowadays are made up from a central quest wth a bunch of side quests. The side quest make up a significantly larger part of the time in the game. Your LARP experience can be exactly the same. Just treat the other players as the NPC’s who hand out quests. Simply talking to people and finding out what they’re currently trying to do is an easy way to work out what you’re going to do. You’re going to help them. By being the aiding character in their quest, you’re increasing your role-play. You could do any of the following:
- Vow to stand by their side until you have repaid your life debt
- Help them find a missing person
- Help them meet someone they want to meet
- Avenge them for a death on the battlefield
Letting another player guide you is an easy way to make friends, and to give yourself plenty of Role-play opportunities.
5) Have a weakness
This is probably the easiest way to build some role-play around your character, yet it’s the thing very few people are willing to do. After all aren’t we all perfect heroes? The truth is Even Superman has Kryptonite. Without a weakness your character is unbelievable, and this makes it hard for people to relate to them. One of the most memorable characters in the old games I used to play was a coward, who hid from every battle. People loved protecting him and being his Hero. Another character only had one arm, a HUGE disadvantage in combat, and yet never was more noble an ally appreciated in battle.
Find a disadvantage and add it to your character and not only will you find more role-play, you’ll probably find that character grows to be one of your most favorite to play.
If you’ve never played in a European style LARP before, and Love the idea of playing with 3000 people in an open world complete with over 300 purpose built medieval buildings then check out The Voyage North.
Its an experience like no other.
If you have ideas for simple ways to find more role-play in your LARP games then please feel free to post them in the comments below.