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The Newbie's Guide to Survivng a Larp...

Note:  Yes I know this is something like my fifth blog post of the day, but frankly I haven't got anything better to do and there's lots I feel like writing.  So there.

I'd never attended a LARP before this weekend, and so I was told I was the perfect guinea pig to use as a 'what went right/wrong' guide with regards to people like myself who've never been introduced to the mad world of freeform roleplaying.  So here is my bullet pointed list of suggestions, do's and don'ts and general advice.
  • Don't be afraid to raise your hand and say 'I'm new, I don't really know what I'm doing'.  People are more than happy to help you, talk to you and generally point you in the right direction.  By telling them you're new means that the people that have been at this for a while know not to assume that you know exactly what you're doing all the time.
  • Talk to people.  We're not that scary, we're all here for the same reason - to have fun.  Even if it's just a matter of walking up to someone and introducing yourself, it's better than hiding in a corner.
  • Find your way around the hotel.  There's nothing worse than being told to go somewhere and not having any idea where it is.  At least if someone shows you round and then forget, you might be able to vaguely remember where you're headed and spot someone on the way.
  • Costumes:  The costume depends very much on the event theme, in that for one even you might have a very easy, no fuss costume and the next could be something you have no idea what to buy/make.  Don't worry, it doesn't matter if it's not entirely accurate.  I went to an event set in the 18th Century wearing Victorian dresses because that's all I could find in my price range.  People don't mind as long as you've made the effort to change out of jeans and a t-shirt.  Another thing to note is that if you have a big costume, mention it in an email to one of the organisers and they'll make sure you're in an easily accesible room near lots of other people who can help you in and out if necessary.
  • Do ask questions.  If not of the GMs, then one of the players.  If you have a problem, someone will be able to help you.  If you've lost something, run out of things to do, or want to do something but don't know if it'll work, ask.  There's no harm in knowing - better to ask and get an answer rather than sit and wonder about it.
  • The GMs know everything.  Well, nearly everything at any rate.  Someone on that team will know your character's plots and abilities and can point you in the right direction.
  • Read your character sheet at least twice before the event.  Once to get the general idea, and other to actually absorb the important bits.  Remember to also carry it around with you all the times, because you'll need to double check who your character knows/doesn't know/needs to talk to/wants to avoid.
  • When in character, give away as much information about your character as he/she would.  Such as "My name is Annetta Sardoni, I'm a Venetian opera singer and I run an apothecary which my father left to me when he died."  Unless it's necessary, or your character would give more than that, it's a good starting point for both yourself and the other players, because they can then go "Oh, you run an apothecary, perhaps you could help me with..."
  • Bring a pen with you, and a notepad if necessary.  Your relationships and plots will change over the course of the weekend, and as they get more complicated, it's best to keep track of them on paper rather than just relying on your own memory.  It's also useful for ticking off goals your character has already completed.
  • Don't worry about winning all your goals.  The majority of them will change, and your character might have to adjust their actions to suit, or even try something different completely.  Even if it's one of the main goals.  My character was meant to kill someone, who then turned out to be her mother, who had given her away at birth because someone was after them.
  • Remember to eat and drink plenty.  You're not invincible, and as much fun as it might be to pretend you are, it will come back and bite you in the backside at some point.  If nothing else, carry a chocolate bar or two and there should be plenty of water avaliable throughout the game sessions.  You can go out of the room in most freeforms to get something most substantial, just make the GMs aware of it if you're not planning on staying in character whilst loitering at the bar.
  • When filling out the character survey, make sure you read each question and don't tick the box that says 'Yes, I'm happy to do that', when really, you're not.  You might end up like me, singing unaccompanied infront of an audience.  Not that I'm saying don't do it at all, but more make sure you're definitely comfortable with the idea.
  • Most importantly have fun.  I'm a big supporter of the saying 'you get out what you put in' and so far it hasn't lead me wrong.  If you sit in the corner and don't talk to anyone, of course you're not going to have a good time.  If you throw yourself into the thick of it, it might get a little confusing at times, but you'll find that you don't mind because there's always something to do.  That doesn't necessary mean that you have to take the limelight, but simply going out and taking opportunities rather than waiting for them to come to you.
And there we have it.  You might decide to completely ignore my advice, but that's what I learnt from my own experiences.

~ This is property of Kirstine Heald, anyone who attempts to steal it and use it as their own shall find their attempts met with pain, frustration and a black eye caused by my cat wielding a frying pan.


( 7 scribbles — Scribble Here )
Feb. 23rd, 2011 12:17 am (UTC)
That's a pretty good guide :-)

I try and differentiate when I am reading my sheet over goals I really need to do, and those that are just for character; It's metagaming, but rule 1 for me is "It's not about beating everyone, but having fun". In this game, "the safetys were on" until Sunday, so it was very unlikely you would have succeeded immediately. So do you go for a quick kill, implicate yourself and set up angst, use slow poison - then spend time trying to reverse it, or just feel relieved when you learn the "real" facts that you didn't set it in motion? A good game will allow for all 3, but sometimes I will either ask the GMs for a hint...
Feb. 23rd, 2011 11:02 am (UTC)
I know everyone goes about their goals differently, I just wrote what happened to mine :P It wasn't until I got home and got my brain back that I could've gone complete drama queen and started yelling "You're not my mother!" and then killed her anyway :P
Feb. 23rd, 2011 11:46 am (UTC)
It's often the sign of a good game, that you come back and thinking "I could have played that completely differently, and how would things have been different", not as "I got it wrong and missed an opportunity".

For my first big game, I had LOTs of those, and it is still my #1 game - years later, I replayed as a different character. It is still up there, and I still had those sorts of thoughts.
Feb. 23rd, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC)
Things could've turned out completely differently if the vampire that wanted to use my soul to speak with Diablo had found me! It would've been interesting to become the first vampire mistress of France, famous opera singer and notable female doctor :P

Ah well, there's always next time XD
Feb. 23rd, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
This is an excellent list

Would you mind if we quoted it on the Consequences website with a couple of changes to take out some of the specific Masquerade references?
Feb. 23rd, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)
Of course not! It's there to help people after all :)
Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
I'll have to look up this group some time. Sounds like fun, and very different to my usual combat-and-healing fests.
( 7 scribbles — Scribble Here )