Thursday, November 17, 2011

LARPing with the Ones You Love

If you’re a lucky person who gets to share your love of LARP with the love of your life, here are a few considerations. Many of these apply to close friends too.

PC’ing Together - Whether you’re going together to your first event or your five hundredth, it’s a good idea to talk about what you both want out of the game. You'll probably be hanging together, so this can help you set things up so you both support each other doing what you like!

Think about starting characters as a unit of some kind, maybe even bringing in some other friends. Whether you’re just the same race, after the same thing, or an entire adventuring company; you can add flair to your character and atmosphere to the game. You can do the fighter-healer combo, or perhaps you’re both rogues or templars with complimenting skills. And for role-play, there’s immersion in numbers – you can both learn the background information and bring it into game through your interactions. You can even decorate or set up your own camp area to fit your theme.

It’s a bit harder to reconcile characters who have been around a while. At first, you probably aren’t sure if you want to give up years of character development for a person you might soon be referring to as “my crazy ex”. :) After that period, consider touching base with how you want to LARP together. This goes for goals and role-play. Everyone will know why you’re hanging out, of course, but it adds to game immersion if your can role-play hiring your s/o as a bodyguard, joining the same group, or otherwise having a reason to hang out in game.

There’s something to be said for staying separate too. Sometimes you just want to escape the real world, and not look at someone who reminds you that you need new tires :) Plus, it’s nice just to be able to do your own thing! If you’re both okay with it, that is.

NPCing - Couples who NPC together can be an unstoppable force for plot goodness. But they can also bicker and fight more than people who aren’t as close. Know your limits before you both take on a position in the same place. It’s good for your relationship and everyone around you :)

If you’re NPCing and your s/o is PCing, the basic rule is to avoid favoritism. Don't go too easy, or too hard, on them. If you notice you can't help yourself, try getting another NPC to interact with the person instead.

Now, probably no one knows your s/o better than you, so if you see they’re not having a good time and want to do something extra, talk to Staff. They might be able to throw a little something their way, without it looking like you’re just making stuff up for them.

If you’re writing plotlines for the other person, this is very touchy. It’s always a good idea to try to funnel it through someone else on your team, if possible. Run ideas by them, at least, and have someone else run it if you can. This will help weed out any favoritism – sometimes it’s hard to notice when you’re excited about making someone happy! And it helps other players from assuming you're loading up your s/o with awesome.

When you’re writing things up, ask yourself if you’d do the same thing for another player. Think of an example of someone you may not get along with. If they were in the same position as your s/o, did the same work, and asked for the same thing – would you give it to them? If not, it may be too much. Your s/o could be way cooler, and a better player, – but you want to avoid having people think that you’re just giving them things. Even if you’re being fair, perception is reality to your players.

Try to stick to one storyline at a time per player. If someone is pursuing being the captain of the space pirates, don’t also give them plot for finding an alien artifact of ultimate power. At least not at the same time. That can look like favoritism, and take a lot of your resources. Instead, try hooking another player into a storyline who isn’t expecting it, they’ll probably be thrilled!

So there you go. Remember, the couple that has dressed up together as cat-people can probably support each other through anything :)

Got any tips or suggestions for LARPing with someone close to you?


  1. Hey Karin!

    Great post!

    I have to say though, as someone that larps with their good old significant other, that sometimes staying separate at games is not necessarily a bad thing (you mentioned it, I just wanted to expand on it). Bill and I, in our dazzlingly awesome relationship start, pc'd/npc'd together quite frequently, especially since it was a large chunk of when we got to see one another. And then after about 2 years finally admitted that we didn't really like the game style of the other (meaning we don't really like to do the same things, the same plots and we often find ourselves moving towards other groups). AND OMG DID IT MAKE A WONDERFUL DIFFERENCE!!!! No more having to deal with dreary army stuff, or sit around looking at tags and dealing with guild stuff endlessly. Bill is released from up and down the hill eighty times and dealing with the gypsy drama/sitting in the circle. I could care about the rules-lawyering mid-mod, Bill LIVES for the mechanics and rules. At most of the games, we don't find ourselves staying with one another in cabins because our groups are differently made up, with different goals and objectives.

    However, we both check in with one another throughout the weekend to see how the other is doing, having fun, etc...We often plot together between games and our characters are totally friendly with each other (Arthur makes half his guild bank of Jade), but we just find that we enjoy different experiences within the gaming world and have different responsibilities, both ingame and oog. We do find ourselves on mods together and such, and then it is always a blast. We're also supportive of each other, both ingame and oog (for example, when Dave and I run plot at Lumberton, Bill and Stacey always make sure that food somehow finds its way up to the NPC shack.) Plus, it is a bonus to hear all the awesome stories the other has after the event :-)

    I'm really glad we're able to do that. Both of us have strong personalities when it comes to LARP :-)


  2. Are we calling you Jenn-Jenn now?

  3. Great Post!

    And to emphasize what Jenn said, if you're going to PC/NPC separately, checking in occasionally is important.

  4. The checking in thing is a good idea, and useful any time you're larping with friends, I think. The suckiest feeling in the world is when you're having a bad time, and everyone else is too wrapped up in their own stuff to notice or include you.

    Jenn, I started larping when I was single, and I'm totally the same way-- I just have to go do my own thing. I love occasionally doing stuff with the person I'm dating, but I'm way too ADD to just be glued to someone's hip all weekend.

    Regarding the favoritism thing, I Haz An Opinion. I feel like I must have commented about this at some point in the past here, but I can't seem to find it, so apologies in advance if I've told this story.

    Once upon a time, some people played NERO. There were lots of staff members who ran stuff for their friends and SO's. Those were the people the staffers knew better, so it was easier for them to write stories those players would enjoy, and those players had a lot of trust in staff.
    Unfortunately, there were many players who didn't have friends on staff. They didn't have someone looking out for them, writing plot with them in mind, and in general, showing them some love. Those players felt, rightly, that the situation was unfair. It was determined that the unfairness resulted from the Friends of Plot receiving too much attention. They named this problem "favoritism."

    They then decided to eliminate favoritism from their game entirely. People shouldn't allowed to run plot for their friends, cause that might look like favoritism. No one should go on mods run by their SO, cause that might look like favoritism. Plot members would deliberately treat their SO's and friend's PCs badly, to try to prove that there wasn't any favoritism going on. But strangely, the accusations of favoritism didn't die out-- they got stronger. The more people passed up potentially fun things to avoid the appearance of impropriety, the more they were dead-set on making sure that no one else got away with benefitting from having friends on plot.

    It took years, but some of us eventually realized that we had misdiagnosed the problem. The problem (in 99% of cases) wasn't that the friends and SO's of the staff were getting too much attention/consideration/communication. It was that everyone else wasn't getting enough. Favoritism was a red herring-- the real problem was isolation.

    So rather than waste a red-hot minute worrying about whether someone would get their panties in a knot that a plot member's boyfriend got knighted, we asked "Does everyone who might want to get knighted have someone they can talk to about it, and a way to work toward that goal? Does everyone have someone on plot who they have a rapport with, and who is devoting time and attention to making sure they have fun and stay involved?" Then, if necessary, we'd make new NPCs to go out and talk to the more isolated people, or assign a staff member to each PC team, so that they had a point of contact OOG.

    And it really helped. It didn't fix everything, but worrying about favoritism had been a huge distraction from what should have been the primary goal-- making sure everyone has a good time. It's fun to have friends on staff. So rather than take that away from people, why not just try to give that to everyone? And when everyone's having a blast, no one is really all that worried whose girlfriend/husband/whatevs is running plot for who.

    Obviously, the one exception to this is when you have a truly limited resource (like, say, only 3 people can ever be knights in your game) that is meant to be awarded meritocratically, or some kind of zero-sum situation. There, maintaining strict fairness and avoiding any appearance of impropriety is more of an issue. But those cases are actually pretty rare. When it comes to treasure, mods, NPC attention, etc, you can always put out more next event-- there's no need to be stingy.