May 19th, 2009

Mask

The Ten Rules: Introduction

I love roleplaying and one of my favorite forms is Live Action. It's one of the best hobbies that a creative person can have. It's social it involves improvisation and the group building of a collaborative story. Often, I end up at the center of a lot of plots - in the thick of it, so to speak - at the center of drama, politics and intrigue. Things don't always end well for my characters, but things often end well for me. I have a great time even as my character is dying. I've been asked why I always seem to end up at the center of a plot and that’s what I want to write about today.

A large part of it has to do with character creation. I see character creation as something that is collaborative. You will be working with a Story tellers and a group, so it's good to think collaboratively. Most Story tellers ask their players is to write a character background. The problem with that is that not all character backgrounds are created equal - writing one will always be helpful, but writing one that's just about how awesome your character is, or how they overcame something in their past but now it's all good - that doesn't provide a hook for the Story teller. A directed character background, one that sets up problems, challenges and goals that are current, or could become current in a characters life is important to getting involved. Tidbits that aren't relevant to current play can still help in the portrayal of the character, in helping the character talk to friends, enemies, in deciding what the character will say, but there is more involved to getting your character involved in a plot.

The most important thing, besides having fun, is to give your Story tellers fuel. Any good Story tellers works to create an interesting setting to play in, and to provide hooks that players might pick up. The best thing any player can do is to return the favor - to create a character with plenty of hooks for your Story tellers to latch on to. This makes it easy for a Story tellers to draw you into the plot, to make things interesting for you and the people around you. Detail is good - but the most important thing is conflict - to create situations for your character that could lead to conflict and drama.

Many players are reticent to give their characters problems, secrets and flaws. They believe that by doing so, they are setting their characters up for failure, to "lose" the game. However, LARP is rarely, by it's nature, about winning or losing. It is, in a way, quite Zen, as it is about the experience of play, rather than the winning or losing of a game. It is a game, certainly, but it is more an interactive experience, one that is being created together in order to enhance play. I can only say that despite these issues I've put on my characters, or maybe even because of them, my characters have often ended up in the thick of plots, taking on leadership roles, running from enemies while characters with more “perfect” backgrounds sit on the couch, annoyed that nothing ever seems to happen to them.