10 Tips To Being A Great LARP NPC

We’ve touched a fair bit on how to be a great player in a LARP game but there’s also a group of people who can really make or break a LARP. A group of people who don roles created by the LARP writers and game masters to people the wider world, providing extra conflict and excitement during a session. These are the quest givers and the witnesses, the police who investigate the character’s crimes and the monsters that lurk in the forests. They add a lot to the game world but with the power to shape so many players’ experiences comes a great responsibility to do so well.

  1. Play to WIN the hearts and minds of the players. Too often people get caught up in the idea that they must win the conflict (physical or otherwise) or be sure to lose it when truly the goal is to entertain those around you and help the players write their narrative.
  2. Read your NPC bios and ask any questions you may have. You’ll be a much better NPC if you’re briefed on the scenario, likely choices and situations in the local area.  That way you won’t be surrendering when you’re meant to be fearless or talking about cheese in a world without milk.
  3. Congratulate the players on their skilful manoeuvres after the session. Odds are you saw more of their manipulations than the other PCs did.  Certainly never pay them out for their poor decisions.  We all make them.  Mistakes are part of playing one’s character and lacking a wider understanding of the game.  They should be embraced — don’t ridicule someone for making them.
  4. Read about body language tricks so that you can better depict your character and help differentiate them from others.
  5. Eat something for breakfast, or bring something with you if you can’t stomach food so early. That way you don’t get grumpy and fatigued as the day wears on.  And definitely drink water — or cordial if you just don’t like the taste of water.
  6. Be gentle with new players, in particular. Work with them and help make their hopes and dreams a reality!  This may be through targeting their character for a kidnapping, giving them the chance to make a speech or throwing their favourite monster into the fray.
  7. Remember that your NPC is most likely not omnipotent or omniscient. If it would be appropriate, assume your NPC doesn’t notice if the players try genre appropriate behaviours like sneaking up on your camp, eavesdropping from behind a tree or pocketing a key from a table.  Bonus points if you don’t tell them you saw them afterwards!
  8. Bring your own costuming, if you have it, and learn how to apply makeup or face paint if it would be appropriate for your game and you have the capacity to do so.
  9. Understand how much wiggle room for improvisation you actually have. If you’re not told, than ask.  Some games allow their NPCs far more free will than others.  Your GM’s response will depend on how events are scheduled, how cohesive the vision must be and whether your own gameplay desires are likely to mesh with the setting, player expectations and overall theme and style of the game.
  10. React to hits in a combat LARP. Nothing makes a person feel more special than when they land a blow and their enemy grunts in pain, shrieks in terror or otherwise responds as though they had been hit.  Heck, if your LARP involves dice-based combat you can respond to the player’s dice rolls as well!

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