Roleplaying Enlightenment

People come to a LARP to have fun and to interact with others. We all like to be swept up into the continuum of the story and to feel involved with history in the making. Here are some tips on how to find plot or have plots find you.

  1. Talk to people – This includes the mysterious fellow in the tavern, or the seemingly innocuous townsperson wandering down the lane. Everyone has information to share. If you see a group of people talking, approach them politely as you would in the real world, and ask if you can join in on their conversation. Voice your opinion, have opinions. Tell tales of your past, or your culture. Sing songs, or play an instrument. Then you will stick out in people’s minds and they will enjoy interacting with you.
  2. Explore the woods – There are many trails in the woods; often you will find interesting travelers and items on or near them. However, if you leave the trails, you will invariably find more interesting adventures.
  3. Get a job – Work at the tavern, deliver messages, make up a job you think needs doing (the hedges are a mess!) and tell the town leaders you are willing to do it. People will recognize you, define you, and become more likely to approach you (and write plot for you!).
  4. Join a guild – Have a craft? Talent? Join the guild in town, if there is one; if there is not, create one. You will meet people with similar interests at guild meetings, and if you create one, you will become a leader in the town.
  5. Visit the town establishments – These are central gathering places for many people with similar interests. Decide what kind of people you want to meet and spend time in the locations that they frequent. Everybody spends time in the inn; if you work your way into a conversation there, you will probably learn something. Do not be afraid to approach the quiet guy in the back, drinking by himself. He may be quiet, but he could also have quite a story to tell.
  6. Keep busy – While it is necessary to relax (or collapse) at the inn on occasion, try not to give yourself too much down time. Take a walk in the forest or move to another table.
  7. Run with scissors! – Figuratively speaking of course… take chances in the game. Don’t be afraid to risk life and limb because in Epoch you get more than one chance.
  8. Take notes – You will not be able to remember everything you hear. Bring a small blank book and pencil with you and take notes on what you learn. This will eventually make you a person with information, and people will know it. They will approach you and, when they do, you will have something to say.
  9. Listen to your enemies – Sounds strange, but it is true. They know things that none of your friends will know, and they slip up at times, divulging information they may not intend to. This is how you learn about global plots and issues. Take note.
  10. Use/Read the message board – Epoch Toronto has an in-game message board. This is an excellent way to share information and opinions between events, and to make a name for yourself even before you attend your first event. Read it, post on it. This is a valuable resource.
  11. Work with others – Being mysterious is fun, but in the end, sharing information and working together brings you plot, and more importantly, camaraderie.
  12. Power is relative – Don’t worry how powerful your character is as far as what’s written on your character sheet. The new player can be as powerful as the veteran with the most points in the game. Your power and success is all in how you play your character.
  13. Stay in character – Your entire roleplaying experience will be improved ten-fold if you make the effort to remain in character. Roleplaying is contagious and if you can stay in character no matter what, then those around you will do the same.
  14. Don’t jump for your blade – Some “monsters” in the world of Epoch will interact with you. Not all the monsters want your head on a stick, some might even want to help you. Learn to recognize which is which and your life will be much easier.
  15. Play your own game – When creating your character and interacting with others do what you want – what makes you happy. We’re all here to have fun and you’ll have more fun if you aren’t worried about impressing others or “being cool”. Don’t be afraid to be different or to do what you think your character would do.
  16. Have fun! – This is the most important piece of advice anyone can give a person interested in pursuing live action role playing as a hobby. It’s all well and good to be serious about your role playing and to stay in character throughout the event, but the bottom line is that you are there to interact with your friends, do something exciting and have fun. After all, these role playing events cost a certain amount of money. Why pay to have a bad time. Relax a little, get crazy and have a good time.
  17. Remember – It’s just a game – This follows from the previous tip. One reason for participating in a roleplaying game, whether it be through a tabletop, or live action venue, is to try different solutions to the problems presented to see how they work out without the fear of real-life laws and retribution hanging over your head. A participant in a roleplaying game might try to steal an item that he or she needs and is unable to obtain through honest methods. If the player is caught in-game they may suffer some in-game punishment, but will have learned that perhaps another alternative may have been wiser. In real life this would not be true. Therefore, if your character has some setback in-game, enjoy it. These setbacks are what give your character the rich background that make for future interaction and make you a prime target for future plots. Don’t get mad, use the setback for a character twist.
  18. Make your own fun – Although we all pay real money to participate in Epoch it is impossible for the people in charge to give individual attention to every player all the time. This may not seem fair to some, but that’s the way it is. There are two things a player can do about this, they can have a miserable time and later complain about it and possibly it will get fixed. Or, they can make some fun of their own. The player will find that they enjoy themselves far more if they come to the event with at least one thing that they want to accomplish each day. Remember, if you’re not having fun, there are probably others not having fun. Why not plan something of your own which will give not only you, but several others something to do as well. Your addition to the efforts of the AD(s) will make the game that much richer and will keep you from being bored as well.
  19. Submit a character history – It is sometimes difficult to submit a character history before you actually experience a new game system for the first time. Walking in your character’s shoes for a couple of events always helps to develop your character’s traits, ambitions and background. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea for a player to submit a character history as early as possible. The AD(s) can use your history to aim plots at you in future events. Your character history need not be long, or comprehensive. in fact, it is advisable to have many loose ends in your character history. Your parents have disappeared, a sibling who wandered off, that adversary who always escaped from you at the last moment, these are the sort of unresolved issues that develop into memorable role playing experiences later on. The more you leave open, the more AD(s) has to work with.
    Another good reason to put together a character history is that it can give you a way to interact with other players. For example, if your character’s entire family was killed in an explosion caused by the nearby School of Alchemy your character might try and exact his revenge on any alchemist he meets. This provides you with a bit of plot of your own creation and also gives any alchemist you meet something to do as they try to save their own lives. These are the sort of angles that make a character history ripe for exploitation.
  20. Don’t mind your own business – Mind everyone else’s! – In any roleplaying game the player has two choices. One, they can mind their own business and no one will bother them, including, possibly, the AD(s). Or, two, they can mind everyone else’s business, find out everything they can about the other players and their dealings and have people coming to them at every event. With option one, the only plot the player will be involved with are those plots that he, or she happens upon by chance. With option two, the player can become involved with all the other players’ plots as well. Not only will you know what the other players are looking for, but you can also bring together characters that have something the others need, or want. If one character has found an important artifact that another is looking for, you could be the one to bring them together and save the day. Eventually the players will start coming to you as a source of information.
    Or, the player character can get involved in other players’ business in another way. As a member of the town authority, if a player joins the town guard, town watch, or some other organization, that player can involve themselves in other characters’ dealings at any time. If the others commit a crime, bring charges against them. If the others are crime victims, help them find the perpetrator. Not only does this position make you feel like a super hero, but eventually your character will have gain that reputation and others will seek you out to aid them, or to rat on their fellow players.
  21. Don’t be scared unless it is part of your character – Too often the town inn is full of players while the surrounding woods are full of cast waiting in vain to interact with someone. When they try to get the players out of the inn, no one will come. This seems strange when all these people have paid a certain amount of money to be adventurers. Yet the only adventure they find is a seat in the inn. The best advice is to jump at any opportunity offered. Offer to help anyone looking for assistance, no matter who it is. Even though. in real life, you know there may be a trap waiting at the end of the trail, go for it, it may lead to something else. Or perhaps, you can get the better of the situation and come out ahead. It’s one thing if you’re playing a cowardly character, but, after all, you’ve paid to find adventure, why not seek it out. Sitting in the inn isn’t always the best way.
  22. Decorate your camp or cabin – This may seem foolish to some, yet the results are surprising. It really detracts from the atmosphere of a live role playing game to come into a campsite full of neon orange tents with coolers strewn about and Coca-Cola cans littering the ground. The same holds true of cabins. Tents should be kept to a neutral color, coolers can be camouflaged with a towel, or other piece of cloth and modern food packaging should be kept concealed. To help the atmosphere the player can add banners, wall hangings and other props to make their area appear more “in-character”. Something as simple as bed sheets hung on the plain walls of a cabin can add to the atmosphere. When your campsite, or cabin fits into the atmosphere of the game, it encourages other players to come and visit you there. They will all want to see “that awesome campsite” that you’ve set up and will stop by to share in-game rumors and information while they are there. Decorating your area isn’t difficult, yet it has many benefits.
  23. Don’t hoard in-game money – Being the richest character in the game really doesn’t have that many benefits and will often make your character a target for thieves. Why hoard that money? Instead use it to add fun to your role playing experience and those of other players. Hire some underlings, bribe some guards, buy gifts for the nobles. There are many ways to turn simple coinage into memorable experiences for all, but money sitting in a pouch doesn’t really do anything.
  24. Teach yourself literacy – Of all the skills that players choose for their characters, Literacy is sometimes overlooked. Yet these skills can provide a lot more fun than skill with weaponry can. Once a battle is over there really isn’t much use for swordplay. Yet a scandalous note can breed fun for months to come. Secret messages, codes, anonymous warnings and treasure maps are the ingredients of all adventure stories. However, if your character can’t read, there isn’t much for you to do with these things. On the other hand, if your character can read and write, you can keep yourself and many others entertained simply by writing letters

Adapted with permission from the site of Mythical Journeys from their page “The Increasingly Misnumbered, Ten Steps to Roleplaying Enlightenment”.