So you’ve decided to try a live role-playing game (LARP). It is very likely that the group you have chosen to play with offers a format in which each participant has to build their own character. Unfortunately, it is equally likely that no one has ever explained to you how to build this character, how to design it to be playable and fun, to connect with other players without risking isolating yourself. No fear. To help you, we have tried to select ten tips on how to design a character that can immediately fit into a LARP environment, without being ignored for days and days by monsters and players!
1- Burn your background
Seriously. Just do it. Take the background and throw it into the flames. Then feed what is left to some hell hounds. Then set the hellhounds on fire too. Then take their ashes and scatter them to the four corners of the kingdom. Then, for safety, the kingdom also burns. Then, and only then, will you be safe.
Photo: Luca Tenaglia
The background is the evil of LARP. For one simple reason: no one cares about a story in an RPG that exists only in your head, not even you. Sometimes, in fact, we lose sight of why to play an RPG you need a previous story. Certainly not to show our storytelling skills, but to give us tools and foundations on which to base our game. Designing a background should not be seen as a mere writing exercise, but as a game design one.
Good. Have you destroyed your background? Then we can begin to rebuild it by touching the really important points.
2- Do not look for the golden Allen key
All the characters in a LARP need a goal, a drive that pushes them to act and that can guide them in making decisions. Even your. Here, however, a problem arises. How do you go about assigning yourself a goal if you are about to start a campaign you know almost nothing about? You certainly have no idea what prodigious items are in play, or what the name of the villain of the week is, so you will hardly be able to hook on to those items.
Also, even if you knew that the prodigious Golden Allen key exists in the game world, deciding that your goal is to find it would be pretty pointless.
In fact it is not so much the what your character wants, but the Why he wants it to be important. If you want the Golden Allen key but can’t get it, you won’t have any other game stimuli, if instead you know you crave it because your character is, for example, consumed by greed or debt, you can immediately start planning a new one. theft.
The best thing is to set yourself an achievable relationship goal and decide the need that pushes your character in that direction. Let’s take two practical examples:
-You want to look for a husband, because you are the last lady of your house and for you the survival of your lineage is the most important thing of all.
-You are a wise magician and you want to find a noble young man to guide you towards greatness, because you dream that one day someone can unify under him the fragmented lands where you were born.
These two examples follow the same pattern: a relational, short-term goal of which you are the sole judge, and a long-term moral and ideal goal as the true primary drive.
3- Give yourself a price
They all have a price. Always. At least, they have it in games and even more so in LARP. For one simple reason: because it’s fun. Nobody likes monolithic and adamantine characters. It’s not nice to play them and it’s even less nice to have them around. And when it’s not nice to have you around, people stop playing with you.
What can distract you from your goal? Something material? Some money? Or maybe something more ideological? Are there any lines you don’t want to cross? Is there something that always makes you give in? Do you have an item or friend that you would pay any ransom for, in shares, promises, or jewelry?
Remember to give yourself a price and remember to give in. There is nothing worse than setting a big trap to finally collapse the White Paladin’s beliefs and then see that he is refractory to any temptation.
If you never give in, you will preclude yourself from lots of gambling opportunities.
4- Death is a bitch
Unless you’re playing a LARP in the Sandman setting, looking for Death is never a good idea. Getting in a position to kill another character or get killed is definitely not productive for the game, quite the contrary. By killing the co-stars of our adventures, whether they are allies or enemies, we do nothing but decrease our chances of iteration. If you think about it, even in fiction, hardly anyone dies. This is because no one wants to spend hours and hours introducing characters and then killing them.
This is why it is important to choose how we want to end matters with our enemies without removing them forever from our history. Do we want to punish them? Humiliate them? Force them to join us?
And more importantly, how you will behave you when will you be defeated? It is too easy, and too little use for the game, to be the usual Shining Sentinel who prefers death to dishonor. What will you do to save your life? Or, perhaps, your warrior honor will force you to serve for a year and a day whoever was strong enough to defeat you …
5- I am an orphan and the Equitalia orcs have destroyed my village
If most backgrounds (or, at least, those that don’t get burned) use this narrative gimmick, there must be a sensible rationale. And, indeed, there is: when you start a new campaign your character is alone. Now, it’s not so important to decide why this loneliness exists (because it’s your first time playing and you don’t know anyone, of course) but to think about how your character can get out of isolation.
Does your White Paladin want a family? Does he need someone to take care of him? Or does he need to take care of someone? Do you need a nemesis to self-determine? Are you looking for your lost sister? If so, don’t wait for the Masters to tell you “it’s her!” but arbitrarily decide what characteristics she should have and see if you can find her in the faces of the other characters. Will you be able to convince her?
6- In a riot of miccette
Think about your entry into the LARP. You won’t have many opportunities to get noticed by other characters. Staying in a corner of the tavern in silence for two hours will not help you. Dark and gloomy characters don’t work. Rather, come up with a theatrical coup. Maybe one that involves other characters. Let’s take an example.
Photo: Luca Tenaglia
Want to play a city scammer. First you go to the enemies of that city and make a proposal: “Take me in chains to my countrymen, and say that I have been in your prisons for ten years because I had the Mark of Importance on me. If you do me this favor, I will be in your debt and you will have a year and a day to ask me for something in return. Everything.”
7- Offer a drink
That is, do something practical! When starting a new campaign, especially if you are in the midst of hundreds of players, it is imperative that you have an excuse to start talking to others. Offer something to drink, bring needle and thread to patch clothes, read tarot cards, anything but make sure you have a practical reason to get close to others
8- Become a sponge
I don’t mean that you have to drink everything you’ve brought yourself because your shyness prevents you from offering it, but that you have to absorb everything that happens around you. Follow up on everything that happens. Look for every game opportunity. Don’t let the scenes slip on you. If Lord Poppleton insults you, don’t bow your head. Take revenge. At worst they will beat you in the public square. Where everyone can see you. And so you will no longer be the latest character that no one knows …
9- Remember to burp
That is, follow up on your weaknesses and make others notice them. If you are playing a peasant girl disguised as a noblewoman who has somehow snuck into the King’s court, let your true nature be discovered! Make everyone notice your crude doing in a blatant way. It will bring game both to you and to those who have your secret in hand!
10- Don’t do how Game of thrones
That is, find an end before it’s too late. Give your character a sensible story arc within the LARP, and when it’s finished, choose whether to start a new one. If for the first year of the game you played a cowardly knight seeking his courage, sooner or later you will have to finish this quest, one way or another, and then start a new phase of your adventures.
At some point you will realize that there is a limit to the stories that a single character can experience and you will want to change it. Just do it! You will not regret.