You’re a brand new larper and it’s a big wide field out there. Here are my top 5 pieces of advice to build your rep in a good direction and start to stand out in the minds of your fellow larpers.
Put your hand up – Opportunities rarely fall on yours lap – larp is a social game so you need to get out there. The issue is sometimes knowing where to start. From being a body guard, helping someone carry books or just passing on a message there is a wide world to see and you will bump into some incredible things on the dullest of toilet trips. This kind of adventure escalates. Dependable folk are in short supply and if you will put in the leg work then expect that toilet trip to turn into escorts to meetings you can eaves drop on cool stuff or dangerous missions in no time.
Often half way through an event when people are dog tired they will remember that faceless nobody who stood up and proclaimed boldly ‘I shall escort you to pizza van, m’lady’ or the one guy in the faction that has a throat sweet and was kind enough to share them. Be that guy.
Showcase your talents – This comes in three parts
Firstly: Your real person skills. I had a friend who could play a flue: she took a pipe one to our gate guard and lit it up with her melodies. Likewise I have another friend who is keen on craft – she uses her skills in the field to patch up other’s kit at a cost. These real skills make the world richer for all us talentless folk and we love it. If you could be ‘that guy who does the cool card trick’ or ‘that lass that is really funny’ go for it. Having traits that mark you out as a person are essential to rise above the rubble. Know your thing: if you don’t have a thing, like me, be that lass who always has a water bottle. That works too.
Secondly: Your in character skills. Did you pick up a support skill? By that I mean have you got any healing? Can you bandage someone? Feed them a potion? Sleep spell the guy pissing off someone on your side? If you can assist other people other people will warm to you. If you don’t have anything direct help their character survive: take the time to block for them if you can, drag their bleeding ass to a healer or just run up beside them and fight back to back with them. Make other people know you are there for them however you can – build bonds that will make them want to do the same.
Finally: Your character. Having a cool kit, a mannerisms that catches an eye, a keep safe or an odd way of speaking will catch you in the minds of many. If you are a beastkin let that primal dialect roll out of you. I have a snakekin friend who sssubtly rolls his S’s and hushes his voice and it really makes the character. Boom out, have a shovel for a weapon or have an oriental fighting stance away from the norm. Make your character stand out by being characterful.
Do not be a special snowflake – THE FINAL DESCENDANT OF THE THIRTEENTH PHOENIX DRAGON LORD WHO APPROACHES. HE IS THE CHOSEN OF HIS RACE AND SET TO DESTROY THE UNSPEAKABLE FINAL DEATH. HIS PARENTS ARE KILLED BY HIS SISTER AND HIS FATHER’S SWORD IS ALL HE HAS LEFT is not a wise character choice. One: you’re new – you probably don’t have the wheelbarrow sized bollocks required to save the world yet and also dead parents and father’s swords are a dime a dozen.
Do yourselves several favours. Define your character by what you do in play and not what they did off screen. If you have backstory let it colour your decisions but let the moment be the main influence. And, most importantly, don’t assume people innately care about your backstory: bring that up when you’re asked or it is relevant – don’t harp on about it.
Flow with the Tide The best kind of backstory fits the world you come from and if it can tie with a world event all the better. There is normally a town that has been destroyed recently if you want to rise from some ashes or 100 more towns just fine and dandy if you’re a dreamer looking to make a fortune or adventure. If you can email your plot rep or a games master to try and work out what would be inkeeping that’s awesome – failing that try facebook or larp sites to speak with the players. Start your life breathing in the world’s air and it will make your character a true part of it.
Ask for stories – While spouting your back story at every turn is not very wise taking the time to listen to other people’s heroism and history is. By giving people time to tell the stories they are dying to you will learn about the world and they will see you as a good listener. Without the ear of some good people you may miss out on good stories and plot lines in your game so take the time to establish yourself as someone out for knowledge.
At the end of the day without stories we’re people in costume.
On a final note: Pick your moments. No matter how long or short your Larp life is this will always be true. Sometimes your character will want to scream no, sometimes they will want to run and something they will have a mad fire urge to do something crazy. Knowing when to run, scream and crazy is a skill best honed by mistake. Try no to let this cost you your character by asking two simple questions: are the consequences going to kill me and do I care enough to do it anyway? While being the guy the healer’s peeled off the floor 30 times a day will not help your rep being the one person bold enough to say no to the big bad wolf just might.