LARP Character Development 101
(Written in 1999 - Cleaned up in 2012)
Live action roleplaying (LARPing) is significantly different from table-top roleplaying. Because LARPing demands that a person stay constantly in character, dress in character and act and speak in the first person for several hours at a time - rather than the sporadic nature of tabletop roleplaying, a different style of playing and plotting should be applied. Certain rules are universal to any setting.
Create a history.
- Create a timeline of your character's life
- Determine how your character related to family and friends.
- What does your character hate and what does s/he admire?
- Write a history that can be shared - at least partially - with other player-characters. Small talk happens in LARPs, too.
- Create goals that require interaction with other characters to accomplish
- Be prepared for your character to change in ways that surprise even you.
- Examples of my characters' timelines and histories may be found here. Be gentle.
Create goals for your character and pursue them.
- Don't just focus on the short term. Find some long term goals which would require several sessions to accomplish.
- If you're not sure where to start, simple goals include looking for allies, determining enemies, finding work/money or pursuing a character passion.
- LARPing is a social hobby. If you don't want to mix with other characters, you're in the wrong place.
Realize that no character is an island.
- Playing loners may sound cool and mysterious, but it can rapidly become boring and frustrating. Mix things up with people.
- You will attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. Being a stone cold, heartless, bastard can also become boring and frustrating quite quickly.
- It is your responsibility to get involved with
the plot. To use a metaphor: the game-master has just cooked the meal and put
it on the table, getting off your butt to eat it is your job. If you are
feeling uninvolved in the game, adopt new character goals, or talk to the GM
about how to become more involved.
Don't be restricted to just game-time.
- Use 'downtime' between sessions to meet other characters and roleplay with them.
- Character creation and history doesn't stop at the start of game one. Use 'downtime' to create new history for your character. If you love your GM and want them to love you, please keep it concise and use your spellchecker!
Keep "In Character" and "Out of Character" moments separate
- If you want to have an "Out of Character" moment, go away from the playing area. Similarly, don't have IC discussions in the middle of an OOC group, because any OOC people who overhear will become confused.
- If you are in doubt about whether your character knows something, assume you don't. Then you don't run the risk of being accused of cheating.
- If you are in doubt if a comment was IC or OOC, ask. There is never any harm in double checking.
Understand that the GM Will Not Carry You
- The GM likes you, trust me on this, but s/he's busier than the proverbial one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest. They will not always have time for you.
- GMs love you more when you keep things simple and use your spellchecker. Feel free to write reams of IC fic and such for your character. Do not be surprised if your GM doesn't have time to read it, let alone memorize it.
- A GM will do their best to keep your character in mind when creating plots, but the primary responsibility to get mixed up and tie yourself into the game is yours.
- Remember: The game is not about any one character, and it's definitely not about your character.