Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Know Your Roots

Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers decided to run a LARP that got way to real...

No, this is not actually a post about the history of LARP. Instead, it's a post about integrating your character into the setting for the game you're playing. You see, we have to use a lot of imagination to build a world that we all live in. And in order for us to operate on that:

There needs to be canon.

You see, when some other dwarf talk's about the hero Ulric who fought in the Orc War, it's important that I, as a dwarf, also know the story of Ulric. If I do, then we can use that as a jumping point for meaningful roleplay about what it means to be a dwarf.

On the other hand, if this guy stars talking about Jeremy the Dwarf, the greatest of all the heroes, and I've never heard of him at all, I can't really participate from an immersive standpoint. Sure, I could just do "Yes, And...", but that changes quickly from immersion to putting on a performance.

This is why we have canon.

Most story-driven games have a wide selection of cultural, historical, and setting packets for you to pull from. Use them. I can't begin to explain how many doors you'll open by knowing the canon. When someone talks about the dwarf war, you can participate as an educated individual. When you ask someone where they are from, you can actually identify the lands that they speak of. When someone mentions a word or phrase that means something to a specific culture, you will be able to react accordingly.

Don't worry about knowing everyone's culture at first. Just know your culture/background. You can find out a lot of information about other cultures in-game by asking questions, as your character might not know much about other cultures either.

Finally, don't come up with some crazy fantastical story that lies outside of canon. If you're not going with canon, then your history is either not noteworthy (which is fine), or your history is amazing and you're God Moding (making up story that is unrefutable). And in the case of the latter, no one will take you seriously, or let you play in any of their reindeer games.

So if the game you're playing has racial packets or background information, learn it and use it. You'll find it's easier to achieve a rich, immersive experience when you're following canon.


  1. Some settings have limited background, or maybe just not the detail you want. So as a suggestion, try submitting a character background that incorporates the elements you want to use. This can help get those aspects added into the written lore, if the staff team accepts them. At least it presents them to Staff - who can then put them in the game. It may not allow you to rp with other players right away, but it's better than making things up on the fly!

  2. That's an excellent point. In games where there is not a lot of canon, you can actually create canon, as long as it's approved by staff.