Wednesday, 3 October 2012

On Roleplay - the basics of making a character

Prepare for a wall of text folks...

Yeah...finally we get to that magic "R" word. A lot of people outright ignore it. For many others it means a little posing and speaking in the Olde Ways until we start beating each other. Its all well and good but let's be reasonable here - good roleplay can make or break a LARP game. We'll beat each other up 2,3,4 times and then sit around in the bushes panting and asking ourselves, what next? Game immersion is broken and the fun level drops below 0. Yes, most people start larping because they want to hit others with swords, but that's only the visible cherry on the top. The whole cake lies beneath it and I can write a doctorate about it. Unfortunately I don't have the time for it so let's keep it somewhat shorter shall we?

Larp games are divided on many categories, and one of them is single events/events in a persistent world. Although its done for both, it is in the second type, that people have the reason and motivation to create a more complex character - after all they'd have to play that person for a while, not just for one Saturday.

I'll try to give  a number of basics on making such a character that hopefully will help you out with making your own.

Point 1.

Picking the race for your new self should be the starting point. For a beginner - best to pick human. Why? Well, simple my friends, its easy to play something that is well known to you. You can't do it wrong with human even if you wanted to, after all you ARE only human ;). Yes its cool to play something awesome, but only if done right and that requires experience and time which since we are talking about beginners we shall assume you don't have. If done wrong it looks absurd and pathetic which we shall also assume that you don't want to be. Besides we can't all be Drow outcasts right?

Point 2.

Keep it short and easy to remember. Otherwise you'd be known as "You there whatever yer name was." It doesn't have to be too original. Drazzt'il Rushna'Yohoregath will NEVER see himself in a song or a poem. If you really want to have a long full name(noble house and all) fine, but you better think of a short nickname yourself. Otherwise same as poor Drazzt'il the Drow, you will be forever remembered as "You there whatever yer name was."

Point 3.

Yeah...that one is simple and often simply forgotten. Make it easy on yourself and play someone close to your own age. It looks odd to be an old and wise wizard when the signs of puberty are still on your face. Yes, I know it closes a lot of options, but you still keep the ones that you can do with reasonable success.

Point 4.
Contrary to popular belief, its easier to say that you were a farmer/blacksmith/shepherd than a warrior/noble/mercenary. After all you are a simple farmer...just like your father before you and his father before him and so on and so forth. Furthest you went from your home village is 3 miles, and your current dreams all involve the red-headed big breasted baker's daughter. Professional soldiers, nobles and such on the road that were not already under contract with a mercenary company or a merchant are rare. You'll have to explain all that when and how did you learn to be a warrior, why did you do so, and why are you on the road. For nobles it gets even muckier.

For the girls...its even harder. Most fantasy worlds are feudal in nature and thus patriarchal - there is no war of the sexes, women stay at home, cook, watch the kids and do the farmwork. Men go out to kill each other. A woman warrior is very rare and making a decent backstory is half of the job - there has to be a special reason for her to be marching WITH the army and not behind it in the supply train. Unless of course, she is...there were plenty of girls in army supply trains, engaged in all sort of things... Anyway to put it simple - an "adventuress" is not something very often seen, and so take your time with the background. Like for example - who'd train a girl to fight and why?

Point 5.
Anyone in his thirties should consider including a bit of this in his character story. Is he a widower, or celibate? Or his wife and the kids are waiting for him back home? If you are actually playing together with your significant other, do consider adding this bit. It will certainly help, besides seriously - families must exist you know, people have to procreate somehow and be good at it, especially considering the casualty ratio in some LARP games...

Point 6.
Family(again) and social status

Yes I'm mentioning family again, but this time in the context of what would that mean for your character. If say you are a barbarian who was born and raised by wolves, that suggest no manners and complete lack of any social skills.  It really doesn't matter just make sure it suits you. If you are are thinner than a pencil, pretending to be the above mentioned barbarian and wearing only a loincloth brings us to the part of Point 1. that said "looks absurd and pathetic". Yes larping IS a game of make-believe, so help everyone and stay
believable. You could be a prince that is now a simple blacksmith, or a blacksmith that has become prince, regardless of that  your original status will always show and don't think its not important! The prince turned blacksmith would still have received substantial education. Yes its safe to assume that all of us are well educated but our characters can't all be like that. Very few could do more than read and write(sometimes barely even that) and especially no wolf-raised barbarians who's dialogue options span from "Me Krom, me strong." and "Krom Smash!" Keep in mind, knowledge does not have to be written! That's what sagas and poems were for. Of course if you are a century old elf you CAN be both a warrior and well educated, but you will have to do an even bigger backstory to explain and prove all of this.

Point 7.
Family relations
3rd time's the charm. Now I'm going to mention inter-family relations. If you are playing with people who are supposed to be your wife/kid/brother/father/sister/uncle and so on - congratulations, you will always have something to do regardless of how the game is going. You can have a row with your wife about your constant drinking, or plan a robbery with your brother or go aggravate said drinking problem with your uncle or go defend your kleptomaniac sister in court(or spring her out of jail, whatever you like). Going to the brothel while married always means hiding too, unless you want your wife to break your head for breaking her heart. Actually just go watch a few family soap operas and such and you will have plenty of material to keep both yourself and everyone else entertained when there is nothing else to do.

Point 8.
Relations with others 
They should really depend on the background, heritage and education parts you selected but that does not mean you can't improvise as well. Still if you want to be a nobleman, consider to what extend do you plan to behave in a noble manner. Believe me that involves a lot more than you think, you will have to behave with dignity, respect, and always remember your status - you were raised a noble - above the crowd. How you take it from there is your choice. A simpler man would be, well simpler to play too. You don't expect much from a servant girl or a town guard right  if you try to discuss politics and higher elemental magic with them do you?

Regardless here are the basic uh...classes of people you should consider your relations with.
- Kings, rulers, nobles etc. Either respect them or don't but keep in mind the risks involved. (Off with his head!)
- Priests, wizards, prophets and oracles. Actually these two should likely be separated - since religion and magic don't often mix on friendly terms. Same as above - keep in mind the risks of leering at them. (Turned me into a newt! I got better though!) You can always be suspicious of either type.

- Guards, men at arms, mercenaries. They shouldn't expect much, so treat them decently and no more. If less...keep in mind that they are well armed too.
- Peasants, farmers, vagrants, beggars. - Its up to you how you treat them. If you are a holier that thou type - treat them well, if you are not treat them to your boot soles.
- Burghers, artisans, merchants, inn keepers. The generic rule is that nobody shoots the bartender right? Well its up to you - keep in mind that these are useful people to have around, but also richer than peasants while not noticeably harder to relieve from their riches.
- Women.
Yes, women. Obviously this part is for male players only. Consider how you will treat the ladies. For example king Loius XIV always stood up when the servant girl entered to clean his office. Its how he was taught, regardless of being granted divine kingship. You could be leering, you could be shy, you could always say "Momma taught me never to hit girls. Hitting girls is bad!" Choice is yours, but keep it in mind!

Point 9.
The consistent character

This one has more to do with keeping true to what you are playing at all times. Consider the virtues you want your characters to have(Courage, Mercy, Charity etc.) as well as the vices(Greed, Lust, Wrath etc.) and play by them. Oh and do consider and include vices too - the Mary Sue section is two blogs from here in
Let's give an example now - Your hero is met by a young girl in the forest asking for help. If you are a good guy you will help. If the girl is good looking and you are lusty you will do it too, same if there is a reward and you are greedy. Mixing them up is no problem. You CAN be a just, greedy thief. Yes you want more money, but your morals won't let you stab an innocent man in the back and rob him...So your stab a criminal in the back and rob him instead.
Now let's give examples of the opposite - say if you army of galant, valiant knights meets a small battered force that tries to negotiate safe passage. Instead of mercifully letting them be you slaughter them with contempt. Well what does that make of you oh paladins?
Or say a greedy backstabber who suddenly becomes honest and proper because taking a huge bribe to reveal some information would case his team to lose the game. The last one is meta-gaming really, but the example still stands true. It matters not whether you want to be good or bad, but whatever you choose, stick with it!

Well that's it. Hope it was useful for you folks.

2 коментара:

Ivan Zalac said...

Personally, I think the most important part is choosing what you want to do in game and how do you plan to influence it... And whether you can bring something uniquely your own to the game. Try seeing everything that happens from a different perspective, the perspective of your character instead of your own, and acting on it like your character would.

Overall, I'd say this is a very nice list of things to be mindful of. The more details you define for your character, the better.

Buskador said...

Details come with time and some are actually defined ingame. I had not yet completed my current character background when I played it for the first time. During the game, well... I bravely ran away :D (impossible odds) and decided to include it as a trait - brave but not stupid, will bug out if things look really grim.

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