The best piece of advice I have ever heard about larp is the title of this piece: all credit to one of my larping heroes for it.
Larp is something you do to throw on another skin and breathe through their strife and triumph for as long as the refs will let you. When you scream and career into others in fights let loose and enjoy every second of it. The fantasy lands of somewhere else give you a great arena to learn to cope with real world issues. Conflict is something I have seen a lot of people master in the field. Honing commerce, discovering bravery and forging opinions seems to be a blessing of those free form pantomimes. However, remember, sometimes, you are stood amongst real people with real issues they are trying to forget or limits they can’t break yet.
This advice comes in two major bands:
PHYSICAL. When making threats, challenges, orders or demands bear in mind everyone has a breaking point. To push them to it has a place, but to push them past it is cruel. Especially over multi day events people will suffer fatigue, even exhaustion, and you need to make allowances for this. If you challenge someone to a duel be ready to fight their champion, if your standard punishment is 50 laps become more inventive or when an army is moving don’t charge off and leave your non combatants for dead. This extends beyond warfare – we have a diplomat with an injured foot. We send runners for him and bring the roleplay to him where he will let us. Also, occasionally, heroes use bathrooms. They also eat, drink and sleep.
MENTAL. Good roleplay often visits the extremes of emotions but, despite all the Wizards and Unicorns, it can hit close to home. One area that is sensitive for many is the theme of death. Some people have the misfortune of loosing people in life then carrying their best friend in Larp to their resting place. It can be a hard reminder. I am not saying the only solution is to make everyone live as that is not practical but try to be sensitive in your roleplay. If you are not the kind of character that can then find a reason to be elsewhere if you know you’re going to hurt them oc.
Other times you can just know the player is in a bit of oc hardship. Think about them as a person: would they curse you if you mitigated your roleplay or are they going to hurt if you come at them with your normal fervour? If the answer is the latter then, again, if you can: be elsewhere. If not arrange for another time (next event) or speak to a group member of theirs to pass it on. Sometimes there is no comfortable solution but where you can aim to respect your oc toe.
If by holding back you’d upset them: let loose – they will probably really appreciate someone treating them like nothing is going on despite their crisis. However, when time out strikes only talk about it if they invite you to. At the end of the day you’re normally not saying something nice if you are considering the oc toe. Going up to them after an event and going ‘wasn’t that screaming match we had fantastic’ is unlikely to get a good response.
Never forsake roleplay but do find ways to make it flexible where you can.
All in all try not to be an oc jerk. There is a place and a joy to be found in ic jerks and their shenanigans but always share a wink and a nod before you do if possible. Respect the limits of people and you will get so much more out of their characters.