How not to be bored at LARP

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Know Who You Are I can’t stress enough how important it is that as a player you know everything there is to know about your character… even the stupid details like what tv shows they watch, where they go on non-game nights, who their friends are who aren’t vampires, why they wear the clothing they wear, and other more mundane stuff.

Your character’s motivations in times of stress (such as game nights or when following a plotline) are dictated by much more than just what they’ve done lately with other vampires or npcs. In a social game like LARP, where talking to people is suppose to be as fun as running around chasing monsters into the dark of night, if you don’t have enough to talk about with others it’s because you’re not giving your character the love and attention that he/she deserves.

Our blogs are a great way to help flush out who your character is by reflecting on things that happened in their history, things they do when not around other vampires, and even go over the things that have happened at previous games.

Create Story for Others So you know who your character really is? Maybe he’s a former drunken abusive husband who the Nosferatu embraced to teach a lesson to - does that mean his problems are over and now he can ONLY focus on why the sabbat is attacking this week or that bitch brujah who snubbed him? NOPE! The truth is that your former drunken husband is probably still looks back on his past and deals with it from time to time and how he tries to work through those issues is STORY or PLOT if you will.

Granted, it’s not something a storyteller wrote up but maybe the malkavian you run with was a doctor in their mortal life and still likes to help people get past their issues, or maybe the Brujah who snubbed you last week is a victim of domestic violence herself… how would a piece of your history effect their characters? How much rp could come from working through your past or making reparations?

YOUR CHARACTER’S HISTORY IS A PLAYGROUND FOR EVERY PLAYER IN THE GAME … let them on the monkey bars and have fun. Remember, LARP is a social game and a good chuck of the rp you get in this game won’t be with an ST but with other players. That’s not a flaw in the game… it’s how it’s designed.

Find Other People’s Story to Enjoy So you know who your character is, you got a GREAT history riddled full of weaknesses, strengths and interesting personality quirks - but you’re STILL bored. Time to be, be, BE AGGRESSIVE! If the social rp doesn’t come to Mohammed, then take Mohammed to the social rp.

In a LARP you should expect that everyone has done the same things you have in preparation for rp… they have a history, flaws, strengths and personality quirks. They’ve gone over the same list of questions you did when creating their character & have tons of fodder for social rp so… TALK TO SOMEONE. “How’s it going?” “What do you do for a living?” “Where did you go to school?” “Did you fight in the military per chance?”

Take a look at that list of questions I have linked to for creating character backgrounds (above) and use it to create conversation! I promise you that while some characters may not be immediately forth coming, eventually you’ll find reasons to interact, resolve each others problems, take up each other’s causes etc and THAT, my friends, is good story & fun!

Dig for Dormant Plotlines So now you and your new ic friends have spent time chatting it up, you’ve rp’d your little bottoms off and you’re ready to face the big bad world together rather than just being social tonight. Well, where to start? Yes, you could run off after the big plot of the night (easy to do at Conventions) but what about that thing that happened a few months ago? Did that get wrapped up? Sure… the prince and her lackies SAID it was or the implied it was handled… but was it really?

Your storytelling staff is busy creating a WORLD of darkness, not a plot of darkness. Many times the end of a story, or what feels like the end of a story, isn’t. Sure you caught the guy committing all those terrible murders but what about his victims? Why did he start killing folks? Where did he get those books that showed him how to do all those rituals? Plotlines don’t ever REALLY die in the world of darkness… they simply go dormant or are closed - think of it like cases in a police precinct. They don’t throw out the case file when they catch the bad guy… many times they revisit cases because there are similarities or unresolved things in a case that were not previously considered important but are now.

Make good use of your influences, contacts, and allies to chase down leads that others may have missed to get the most complete answers and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and go to the scene of the crime (so to speak) and use your own powers. Sometimes only good old fashioned investigation will result in answers. AND DON’T FORGET - sometimes the bad guy in a plot isn’t an npc but the player sitting next to you!

Players Who RISK It - Get the BISCUIT So now you and your buddies are SURE that all the social rp you could do is done, that all the old plots are resolved and you’re pissed off and bored because the Prince, your sept alpha or some other member of “the man” has put the nix on your big plans to run off and join the fun on the main plot train while they and their pals have all the fun. You KNOW you’d be having fun if you were involved but you’re not about to piss off the man in charge… right?

Ever watch one of those movies where the main character tells another main character (usually his sidekick, lover, kid or someone else that he or she feels responsible to care for) “stay in the car, I’ll be right back” and then he pulls his gun and manly walks inside ready to “take care of business” while his good buddy is just suppose to twiddle his thumbs and wait?

What does the buddy ALWAYS do?

Yep… he ignores them. The buddy KNOWS there will be consequences, he KNOWS how pissed his friend is going to be at the end of the night but… he doesn’t listen because his values and morality say, “Dude, get off your ass and do the right thing.”

Well, you’re the buddy… you’re the sidekick, you’re the person that the Prince or Sept Alpha feels responsible for and doesn’t want in harms way. You have two choices at this point… you do what he/she asks and stay safe (maybe finding something else to do with your time or maybe rp’ing out the social tension of waiting to find out if your friend is even alive anymore) ***OR*** you hope to roll the hard 6 and that maybe your presence will be a big enough help to your friend that he/she won’t be really angry when all is said and done. After all… they may need you!

This is especially true at conventions where the plot is written for MANY players to take part in and will be overwhelming to any 2-5 person coterie who may try to take it on alone. These plots are built by the ST so that as many people as possible can be at the heart of the action. YES… we could ask that players bend their concepts and not ask their sidekicks/lovers/friends/people they are responsible for to NOT go into the evil plot train’s tracks… BUT we’re going to make anyone bend their rp if we can avoid it.

Convention plots often come with big rewards for your big risk (whether that risk is a physical one and/or a social one … after all, ignoring the prince or alpha comes with it’s own risks when all is said and done) so if you WANT to be a part of the big pay off… you need to take the big risk.

In short (to quote David D.) “You gotta risk it, for the biscuit.” If you sit around with your thumb up your butt because you’re mad at the other players for excluding you, that’s not a short coming of the staff, the plot, or even your fellow players… it’s YOU who makes the choice to act or not act. Take ownership of your choices and take the bull by the horns if you want to! No one can make your character do or not do anything but you!

Be Prepared & Be Specific Lastly, it should be noted that while LARP is a social game, you sometimes can’t avoid going to a storyteller. You need their input and reactions to know how the world is going to respond to all that you do and in specific, the npcs and plots.

However, when you’re at a LARP you are sharing (at the moment) 1 storyteller/narrator for every 10 players (we currently have 4 narrators & about 40 active larpers) so you should really have your ducks in a row when you come to the storyteller for help so that others aren’t made to wait longer while the ST walks you through what the heck it is you’re wanting to accomplish. Let me demonstrate what I mean with a short example.

BAD - “I’m going to patrol the northeastern area of the city for the Sabbat.” As a storyteller I read this to mean… I’m walking around and I’m hoping to accidentally stumble upon sabbat who aren’t very smart doing something very obviously “sabbat-like.” Now this sort of statement leaves me with three choices… either I leave you sitting in a corner all night because FEW sabbat are going to be so stupid as to be all-but-wearing-a-sign advertising who they are *** or *** I tell you flat out “look dude you’re not going to find anything” sending you back to square 1 thinking I’m a bitch who is cock blocking you and thusly giving you an unfair amount of time to be planning (because ideally you’d be looking for an hour or so before going back to planning *** or *** I randomly throw sabbat at you eventually to make you happy but, in the end, make sabbat look stupid and weak as enemies WHICH they are NOT. This is something that makes the whole game suffer in the end and is BAD all around.

GOOD - “Our group is starting to look for the Sabbat. George here was present the last time they attacked and he knows they use graveyards to mass embrace people so he’ll be scouting the graveyards in the northeast looking for activity or freshly dug graves. Sally here has police influence and she’s going to spend police influence to see if there has been unusual 911 calls this includes property fires, home invasions, and murders. Betty has street influence and the homeless in the northeast might have been overlooked by the Sabbat as they did their things because she knows the Sabbat disregard and think little of humanity so she’s going to see if they can give her any information on any new gangs in the area as likely these guys would come off as a gang with a really nasty mean streak to the casual observer. Timmy here has actually met and talked with a member of the sabbat when he was last in the city taunting us so, since we want to fight sabbat, he’s going to summon the guy once all our investigation is done. We’ll be doing the summons in an abandon werehouse at BLAH location. If he doesn’t show in one hour (about how long we figure it would take him to get to us if he was in the city really) then we’ll give up.”

The above is specific enough that the ST isn’t going to spend a long time asking you what exactly you are really wanting to do. You conveyed which part of your plans are recon and which part was to get involved in combat. The ST can easily then give you answers, prepare combat situations, and once that’s done… continue on to other players who need their attention.

The above is ALSO good because you and the other players had to roleplay what you did and didn’t know about the Sabbat as well as discuss what you could and couldn’t accomplish.

All too often at larps players are SOOOO excited to get into the epic battle that they completely forget the planning phase and when someone’s character dies because of lack of planning on the players parts… it’s easy to feel bitter towards the staff for it.

Planning is vital for helping to avoid character death and it makes good roleplay! Got travel time where you have to sit out of game? RP about what you know or don’t know where the bad guy is involved. Got to wait for an ST to get to you before you can kick ass… another great time to rp. Don’t let planning times pass you by because you think it’s unimportant rp. KNOWING that your friend has a deadly phobia of water or is well versed in infernal lore is often KEY to winning the day.

Note: This does not belong to the Cammerilla or the Domain and found at