Posts Tagged ‘LARP’

So no shit there I was, supporting a line defending my new home in the lands of Chimeron against the darkness of Bedlam. Our line was doing well, keeping solid. I was running messages, casting a spell here to there as I was useful and things like that. Suddenly, one of our mages panicked and let fly a spell that sent such uncontrolled terror through me that I couldn’t help but flee as far and as fast as I could. I hid in the forest until I had calmed back down enough to return to the fight, only to discover that it wasn’t just myself that had fled, but every faerie or part faerie in the immediate area. We were no longer doing so well in the defense.

The point of that little story is that I am a roleplayer, a paste eater if you will. Sure, 3 years after this story took place I am now a fairly capable fighter with none of that magic nonsense, but I am still playing a faerie and still quite prone to little problems like the casting of a spell known as “Fear the Purging”. Stick Jock and Paste Eater are two very interesting words wrapped up in quite a bit of meaning. A stick jock is a person who plays a combat LARP primarily or even solely for the combat portions of the game. A Paste Eater is someone who plays a LARP primarily or solely for the roleplay aspects of the game. Now, of course, there are people who bridge this gap and enjoy being thugs while also roleplaying their hearts out. These people are usually going to be the vast majority, in my experience. Especially since we’re talking about a combat game.

So you want to be a Stick Jock

Maybe your friends LARP and you’ve liked sparring with them so you’re going to throw on a little garb and go hit things. Maybe you found the system on your own or through an on campus club. No matter how you found your way to LARPing, there are some very important lessons that a stick jock needs to learn early on. The first one is simple and applies to everyone, not just stick jocks, because there are days when even the most paste eatingest roleplayer just doesn’t care: No matter how much you don’t care about the story or the plot, do not break the mood for others, do not ruin the fun of others and above all else, do not make the person running the game have a hard to or regret running it. There is nothing more discourage to a person running a LARP than people mocking their game or event. There is nothing that will more anger and upset a hardcore roleplayer than someone talking about something that has nothing to do with the game. For example, there was one time that I was standing before the currently sealed open in a cave tunnel, we were preparing to face off with a very powerful golem and a troll wizard. We had just completed a very powerful (and very disgusting) ritual to Gaea and we knew that we would now be able to harm the golem. I was standing there, axe and shield in my hands trying to psych myself up for the final fight of the night when suddenly the half elf standing next to me starts talking to his lord about where they’re going to go for dinner after the event ends and whether they’ll be able to make the next event because of work. It was more than annoying, it completely broke the mood that we were about to go attempt a very difficult fight and that we might all be about to die.

Another thing that can be very important as a Stick Jock is making sure that you have picked a combat system in which you can fight in a way you enjoy and still be safe for the other players. There are many types of combat LARPs, using everything from foam swords to nerf guns. Some systems have hit points, some have location based systems. Some allow head shots, most don’t. A lot of LARPs include a rule to limit the amount of times you can swing your weapon in a given period of time, either by requiring that the weapon come back to a certain point or by flat out saying you can only swing so many times before you have to take a step back. Most LARP systems are going to be what is called Lightest Touch. What this means is that you have to take any blow, no matter how light. You also have you to swing as lightly as possible to make contact. There are a few systems, however, where you are allowed to hit people harder, if they are for example wearing plate armor. Anyone who wants to play multiple systems should always make sure that they are safe in all the systems that they intend to play in.

Remember that you are playing a roleplaying game. Some people are going to make pacifist characters or maybe a character that dies instantly if you hit them with a weapon made of silver or magic. These sorts of things happen and you should be understanding of these people and their characters. If that is the sort of fun they choose to have, then there is no reason that you should not let them. You’re probably thinking, why on earth should I care how the other people are playing? What if the other people on your line are faeries and a spell is cast that causes them to run away, or you’re fighting alongside a bunch of undead and the enemy takes control of them. These sorts of things happen, and you just have to roll with it and not let it get to you.

In review, the code of a good Stick Jock is as follows:

  1. No matter how much I don’t care, I will not break the mood and ruin the fun of others
  2. I will be a safe fighter for everyone else playing
  3. I will be understanding towards people who choose to have character flaws that may detract from their combat and interaction ability

So you think you’re a Paste Eater

You probably play table top games, maybe you really like fantasy or science fiction novels and movies. Maybe you play an MMORPG or other roleplaying video games. You probably have a really in depth character background, and odds are your character has all kinds of interesting flaws to them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having character flaws. I encourage them because they round out characters and make them more realistic. Being a Paste Eater has just as many responsibilities as being a Stick Jock. The first thing to remember is that in any LARP, there is no such thing as a main character. You are one of the players, everyone gets the chance to be a hero if they so choose. While you might get a moment here or a moment there where you get to be the star, you can’t demand that people constantly be paying attention to you at the cost of other people, or worse at the cost of the game master’s story. Its alright for your character to stand by their morals and refuse to kill and eat babies, for example, but you shouldn’t continue to harass the people who did months (or years) later. You can be a pacifist or hate elves or fear magic or whatever you want, but do not make it so that other people aren’t having fun because of the type of character you have chosen to play.

There are times when you just need to give up and hit things with a stick. Maybe there are bandits blocking the way, maybe you’re in hell or maybe you’re in the middle of a war. There are going to be times when you can’t talk your way out of the situation. You can try your damnedest, but maybe the NPCs are playing aggressive characters or maybe they were told to resort to combat. Combat happens, I promise you that. If you’re completely averse to combat, consider trying a theatre style LARP. But if you want to take part in a combat LARP, you will get hit and you will sometimes have to fight.

When you’re making your character, it might seem like a good idea to be afraid of fire and the dark, to be weak to iron and to have a specific way that people can take control of your character. It might seem like a good idea to only speak in your own native language. Maybe your character can only repeat the last word said to you. Maybe you have horrible amnesia. No matter how you build your character, you need to stop and think about how this character will interact with other people. Can you have a conversation? Are you willing to let your character be taught and change?  If you’re willing to have character growth, you can get away with more than you can otherwise. But remember that your character should always be able to handle dealing with other people. You can be shy or afraid, but be willing to talk to people.

To review, the code of a good Paste Eater is as follows:

  1. I will not detract from the event or other people’s fun with my character’s drama
  2. I will take part in combat if combat is necessary
  3. I will not make a character that has so many or such severe flaws that they cannot be interacted with by others
No matter which side of the equation you find yourself landing on, its important to remember that your focus should be on everyone having fun and being safe. LARPing is about people having fun together and no matter who you are and what you’re playing, you should do your best to play nicely with the other players.

LARP 101: You do WHAT on the weekends?!

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

So no shit there I was, standing at the front line, shield in one hand and the Chimeronian Northern Light blade in the other. The Bois of Bedlam were coming towards us but we kept our position knowing that we couldn’t retreat and let them at our healer. They pressed the attack and we managed to hold them off. One of my comrades had fallen, but a healer came running forward to take him off to restore him to life. I heard my name then and turned to see her tossing me her sword. I dropped my shield and caught it. It only took a moment to realize what I held now. It was Her Grace, the Duchess Ophelia, now a sword that could destroy these creatures with a touch. I switched it into my main hand and grinned recklessly at the on-coming wave of darkness. I shouted “Go!” and our line burst forward bringing the fight to them instead of waiting.

That episode was from my own experience as a fae elven fighter in a New England based LARP known as the Realms. It sounds an awful lot like the kind of story you would get in a tabletop roleplaying game. And really, that’s because on the whole they are a very similar sort of story. Like any RPG, LARP, which stands for Live Action Role Play, is very much based on the character and on people getting to be the hero, or the villain if they so choose.

LARP comes in a lot of different flavors. There are two major categories though. These are known as boffer and theatre. Boffer LARP is like in the picture above. We have swords of some material, usually foam, and take part in live action combat. Theatre LARP, pictured below, is a different beast entirely. There is no actual combat in theatre style LARP but instead characters resolve conflicts using skills and some mechanic like dice or rock-paper-scissors. These games tend to be much more heavily focused on character interactions and intrigue than on conflict of physical nature.

A theatre-style LARP in a decorated room

Image of Theatre LARP via Wikipedia

So, the next major thing that separates different kinds of LARPs is how long a story runs for. Most theatre LARPs are a few hours or a day long, some might last a weekend and a very few might last longer. Boffer LARPs, on the whole, last for much longer but can some times be a weekend affair or less. Theatre LARPs tend to also involve characters that are assigned, whereas boffer LARPs tend to allow the player to write their own character. When I say that the story could last months or more, here is a good example. The Realms, the LARP I was talking about earlier, has been going for over 20 years. Another boffer game called NERO International has been running since 1986. There are also Theatre LARPs such as Mind’s Eye Theatre that have been around for decades.

Alright, so you picked out what kind of LARP you’d rather play. Regardless of what variety you intend to play, the next question is how much you can put aside your own personality and pick up that of your character. A really great way to practice that is with improv games. These sorts of games can also help a person who is really shy or uncomfortable dealing with other people while ad libbing conversations. One game I particularly like involves one person running a “party” and the other people each assuming a strange character to make the party host guess while go through a party scene. Another way for beginners to get into LARPing is a really neat little game called How to Host a Murder. The basic concept of this games is that you host a dinner party and all the guests have roles they are playing involving a murder mystery and all the necessary evidence and menus and everything are in the box for the game. The only thing the players need to do is cook the food, get costumes and play through the story.

One of the very very important things to remember about LARP is that if you’re playing in a persistant game, you should take the time to make sure you get to know the other players out of game as well. Some people enjoy playing jerks, you might enjoy playing a jerk, but the player may not necessarily be a jerk in real life. Sometimes the biggest In-Game asshole is actually a really nice guy. Another piece of advise is that no matter how much you like to play a bad guy, don’t make that the only type of character you play. At least not until people get used to the fact that you aren’t an ass in real life.

LARPing is an extremely large subject, and something that I really enjoy talking about, so expect to see more little things talking about playing and running various types of LARP. While I largely play boffer LARP, I do periodically play in theatre LARPs.