13 Tips On Being A Better LARP Player

It’s always good to find out the best ways to get involved and help everyone have a fun time. So I’ve listed out some handy tips on building a better community by being a better player.

These tips focus on out-of-character behaviours that can make the overall game a better experience for all involved. Naturally there are ways to improve your portrayal of character, ability to engage with plot and skill at creating captivating characters, but that’ll be the focus of future articles. For now let’s look at creating a great game environment for all involved.

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10 Steps to Manage Your Own Bleed

Bleed is a LARP term defining emotional crossover between a player and their character. Whenever you (as a player) feel an emotion due to the in-game reality or your character is impacted by your real world feelings, you are experiencing bleed.

Bleed includes the rush of excitement on finding an important gadget, the satisfaction of a job well-down and the sorrow of seeing a character die.  It also includes when your character refuses to go out on a mission because you (the player) are tired and need a nap.  In other words, it’s a natural part of the game and refers to the highs and lows that often inspire people to come along and get involved.  After all, you can feel sad when you see a character die on a movie or a play, why not in a LARP?

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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!

Top 21 Tips for Joining a new LARP

When you’re thinking of joining a LARP for the first time, it’s important to consider a few things. Firstly, everyone was new once. While some people have gained some experience in tabletop roleplaying games, re-enactment or improvisational theatre, many have walked in without that experience. The grand majority of players are eager to welcome in new faces, introduce you to the game and get you started with your character.

1.       If you’re feeling a little shy, perhaps you could arrange to meet a few players outside of the game first so you have some familiar faces.  ARC Inc. runs a number of social events, many of which are open to the public, which could provide a great way to introduce yourself.  We also have a forum and several Facebook groups that would give you an online method of saying hello.

2.       Contact the Game Master *BEFORE* you attend the game to let them know you’re coming.  Typically you can find the contact details on the LARP organisation’s web-page or message them on Facebook.

3.       Let the Game Master know if you have any previous experience in roleplaying and what sort of games you have played before.   This will help them give you the right amount of advice tailored to your needs.

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Players Planning for Success

Okay, so let’s say your character has a really big goal that can’t be managed through a full frontal assault. You either need to politically tear down your enemy, gather the evidence required to indict them or set yourself up to have some sort of strategic or tactical battle to come. Let’s take a Vampire: the Requiem example and say you want to erode the head of Clan Ventrue’s power base and humiliate him until the entire clan refuses to have any dealings with him.

No easy task. If you start by hurling baseless accusations around, or take a step wrong, you’ll likely end up being the one humiliated … or even murdered. So what do you do? How do you take control in this situation?

Firstly you need to keep accurate notes on your enemies.  Find out their motivations, likes and dislikes, allies, enemies, assets and other resources.  Find out the same information on those allies and enemies.  Get the best perspective on the situation that you can and record it because if you don’t than you will forget it.

Then brainstorm some options with your own allies, jotting down (OOC at least) each and every idea for both short-term and long-term plans.  It’s easy to just toss around thoughts verbally without writing it down, but if you don’t, you’re likely to forget half of your best ideas and get distracted by a less-than-ideal option that seemed easiest at the moment.  If they’re all written down, you can also go back to other ideas once you’ve fully nutted out whichever idea seemed the most valid in the moment.

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Getting Everyone on the Same Page

One of the trickiest parts of starting up a game is ensuring that all of the players and the Game Master are on the same page as to how the game is meant to be played. Unfortunately, there are certain meta-game considerations that should be kept in mind when creating a character in order to get the most out of a particular game. Some of these considerations are in the feats and attributes chosen, but a lot of is about the character’s mentality and design.

If I were creating a character for a classic dungeon crawl where the whole point is to fight monsters for fun and profit, then I shouldn’t make a Barbarian whose fear of her own rage convinced her to be a pacifist. Now this isn’t to say that you couldn’t make a pacifist Barbarian, as that could be a fantastic character concept in a different kind of campaign (even certain kinds of dungeon delves) only that it won’t work in this particular campaign unless we toss the essential premise (kick in doors and hit stuff) out the window in favour of something else.

So what can a Game Master do to ensure that everyone knows what the campaign is about so that they can take that into consideration when creating their character?

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Why Players Need to Read the Books

There are plenty of experienced players who find it hard to remember all of the rules and setting details peculiar to their game. That’s pretty normal. Some players aren’t keen readers, either, and would much prefer to learn through listening rather than going over the books. Some systems have dozens and dozens of different rule books and setting guides which is a lot to go through. Due to all of these reasons, there are plenty of players who don’t know the rules in the games they are playing and there are even a few players who boast about never having read the rule book.

The problem is that it’s important to try to learn the rules, even if you can’t remember them all.

It’s important because when a player doesn’t know the rules, they need to ask someone else to do it for them.

They are, in effect, adding extra work for other players or the game master to guide them through character generation / levelling up their character or get someone else to do it for them.  They are requiring other players or the game master to remind them about the things they can do which means that player or game master are also partially controlling two character sheets.  Sure, you decide whether you do the thing or not, but you’re not really getting to choose from all of your options — only those options that appeal to others or are so quintessentially your character.

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16 Ways to Burn Out Your Game Master

When most people talk about Game Master burnout, though, they often talk about the gaming equivalent of Writers’ Block. We’re going to look at the nastier form of burnout defined in psychology where a person experience long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in a particular sphere of our life.

The Maslach Burnout Inventory uses a three dimensional description of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy, which opposes the psychological construct of Engagement which is defined by having energy, involvement, and efficacy. Basically, if you burn out your Storyteller, they’ll grow frustrated, cynical, feel down about their skills, and basically get sick and tired of running games.

It’s a pretty serious issue and one that can be self-inflicted as often as it can be caused by other people, with some Game Masters working too hard for too long to achieve something too difficult to accomplish.  Of course, since it’s more amusing to tackle a serious subject by writing a joke guide, I’m going to do just that.  So read below to find the best advice on how to actively burn out your Game Master.

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