Difference between revisions of "A Guide To Roleplaying"

From Cambridge Larp Society

m (You don't need to know everything)
 
(20 intermediate revisions by the same user not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
If you're reading this you probably know what "roleplaying" is as a concept, and have maybe done some of it - if not, have a look at our [http://www.camlarp.co.uk/Frequently_Asked_Questions FAQ]. In particular, LARP roleplaying is a little like freeform acting, it's improvisational, and there's a lot more to it than just the mechanics of the game. While they play a part in what you are allowed to do, they're not really where the roleplay comes from. Roleplaying is about making sure you act in character (IC) - i.e. you do what the character you're playing would do, not necessarily what you would do in real life. It's also about not spoiling the mood, acting in an out of character (OOC) manner can break the immersion other players have at that moment. In some ways this is a co-operative thing, in order to keep the mood, you need to work with the other players. This guide contains a few pointers to help you out.
+
If you're reading this you probably know what "role-playing" is as a concept, and have maybe done some of it - if not, have a look at our [http://www.camlarp.co.uk/Frequently_Asked_Questions FAQ]. Role-playing is about acting in character (IC), i.e. you do what the ''character'' you're playing would do, and not necessarily what you would do in an equivalent situation. In LARP, role-playing is also a cooperative effort: players interact with each other while IC so as to create an immersive experience for everyone.
  
[[File:Rina_Talin.jpg|left|300px|Photo by Kay Chard]]
+
However, we know that getting into character for the first time can seem challenging and you might be worrying more about role-playing correctly than actually engaging with the world around you, which can dampen the enjoyment. This guide was designed with the intent to help you get more familiar with role-playing.
== Ignorance is bliss ==
+
Your character doesn't need to (and in fact shouldn't) know everything about the setting. There is a huge amount of information on the website, but your character is unlikely to have extensive knowledge of aspects of the world and society that do not directly concern them. Unless you have a reason in your backstory why you should know about a specific thing, it's safe to assume ignorance. This both keeps things balanced for new players and makes the world more interesting. You can model information (and disinformation) flow if your knowledge about the world comes mostly from what others have told you IC.
+
  
== Don't Panic! ==
+
[[File:Rina_Talin.jpg|right|300px|Photo by Kay Chard]]
The nature of the game (not everything is defined, you are expected to ad-lib) means occasionally people have different views of how things work, and sometimes you'll come up against someone saying something about the world that doesn't tally with what you believe about it. Whatever happens, don't panic, drop out of character and have a big argument about what's on the website!
+
== Background creation ==
  
[[File:Jim.jpg|right|400px|Photo by Kay Chard]]
+
It’s good to have a solid character background from which you can get an idea of how your character interacts with the rest of the world. Even if you wish to keep details vague, you should have at least a few firm points about where they are coming from.
Firstly, not everyone is playing from the same page, other characters may be trying to spread disinformation. They may have been told something incorrectly IC. 'I've never heard of that - it's not that way where I come from. Are you sure?' is fine - generally if it's an OOC misunderstanding everyone looks slightly embarrassed, changes the subject and goes to thrash out what's actually going on with the refs OOC after the interactive.  
+
 +
Asking yourself the following questions will help you write a background:
  
The flip side of this coin is if you aren't sure and it isn't covered in the wiki, make statements that you can back up with your background rather than statements about the world as a whole. If it isn't covered in the website brief, it probably isn't something the refs think is important enough to need to be defined, but be aware other people may have defined it differently to you. Framing a statement as your character's personal belief makes it easier to argue your point in character if people disagree.
+
# Where did my character come from, and what interests them? Which parts of the world did they come into contact with?
 +
# What is my character’s opinion on this particular aspect of the world? Do they have an opinion on it at all?
 +
# Are there any words that if mentioned/actions that if performed nearby will result in an emotional response from them? Any secrets which if revealed might make them uncomfortable?
 +
# What is driving them? What would break them? How could they change as a result of event X happening to them?
 +
  
== Keep IC/OOC Separate ==
+
Many sign-up forms have some version of these questions incorporated to help you shape your character. You might even go as far as writing an IC diary of before the current events took place and carry that with you as a reference.
There are two levels to this - the first, most important is to have as part of your mindset that '''what happens in the game stays in the game''' - if someone's character kills yours it is not an attack on you personally. The same if their character disagrees with yours. (In general an assassination attempt is a compliment - your character is having enough of an impact on the game for someone to feel they have to take such a risky action). If you are having problems with this, talk to the refs. If you really can't get around this, this may not be the game for you. Conflict is a part of our setting, and we expect characters to antagonise each other and have fights.
+
 +
Your background will be your foundation, but keep in mind that due to the interactive nature of the games your character might evolve in unexpected ways that might not always align with your wishes as a player!
  
On a more mechanical level, your character only knows things they have found out IC. You, the player, may know that those wiggly blue things you monstered on the linear last week are about to shoot magic out their nostrils and are only defeatable by MAGIC damage, your character doesn't unless they were there, or have been told about it IC.
+
== You don't need to know everything ==
 +
Your character doesn't need to (and in fact shouldn't) know everything about the setting. There is a huge amount of information on the website, but your character is unlikely to have extensive knowledge of aspects of the world and society that do not directly concern them. Unless you have a reason in your backstory why you should know about a specific thing (e.g. common knowledge, or how they learnt a specific skill), it's safe to assume ignorance. This both keeps things balanced for new players and makes the world more interesting. You can model information (and disinformation) flow if your knowledge about the world comes mostly from what others have told you IC.
 +
 +
Secondly, while in-character, avoid arguments about what the website states should be true in the world - if you need to have a discussion like that, it should be in the OC area. Some aspects of the world are deliberately left unspecified, thus leaving space for IC creativity. Whatever claims about the world you make, back them up with your character background and remember that other people’s characters might view the world differently or might be misinformed, or even be lying. The players themselves might have different levels of understanding of how the world works, or slightly different opinions on it, especially if much of the mechanics is kept a secret meant to be found out in play.
 +
 +
Finally, while playing your character, try to forget information that you found out while crewing, while playing another character, or that someone told you OC. Likewise, if you wish to keep IC secrets it is better to keep them OC as well, and some players prefer not to know OC about IC secrets. Once you know information OC, it can be very hard to know how your character would act in the absence of this information, and avoiding using OC information often means hindering your character’s ability to deduce it themself, which can harm enjoyment.
  
 
[[File:Daria_Explorer_ritual.jpg|left|400px|Photo by Kay Chard]]
 
[[File:Daria_Explorer_ritual.jpg|left|400px|Photo by Kay Chard]]
== Keep IC Secrets OOC ==
 
In general, if you have something you don't want people to know IC, don't tell people about it OOC. Things slip into IC knowledge easily, unintentionally - would you have made that deduction if you didn't know XYZ OOC? At what point would you started to have suspect, IC, if you didn't already know the answer OOC? Even if you are happy letting people know your secrets OOC, you may be inadvertently be messing up someone else's roleplay.
 
  
== Don't Use OOC words IC ==
+
== Drawing the OC/IC line ==
Hit points, system calls and RESISTs (and hence '2 hit healing potions' etc) are all OOC concepts, really try not to use them IC. You should be able to convey any concept without resorting to describing the system OOC, if you can't explain them IC ('I have three hits left') it's probable you don't actually understand them in that level of detail IC. Although things have a definite system effect they aren't necessarily more certain IC than they would be in real life, it's acceptable to be slightly vague.  
+
What happens while IC is entirely based on in-game dynamics, and any enmity other characters might show towards yours should not be thought of as a personal attack on you as a player. If you believe they are acting out of OC reasons, speak to the refs or the exec. Similarly, don’t feel obliged to engage with any IC content and role-play that you aren’t comfortable with OC.
 +
 +
Additionally, don’t start chatting about how your OC week went while in the IC area: this is a space for IC role-play. If you wish to catch up with friends who also attend sessions, do so in the OC area. If you need to take a break from your character at any moment, you can always move to the OC room, and are recommended to do so if role-playing is getting too taxing on you. On a similar note, do not point out obvious OC elements in the IC room which are there either by accident or for necessity to others. While the organisers do try to keep the environment immersive, accidents like the Tesco bag floating in the Pool of Wisdom, or fluffy dogs intercepting our linears happen.
 +
 +
Lastly, try to convey your actions with minimal references to words relating to system mechanics. While it is necessary to say a CALL for it to mechanically take effect when an action is being performed (if the system has CALLs), you should try to not use the name of the CALL when describing the action. Example: you use your skill “EFFECT: TERROR” on someone’s character, leaving them to deal with the frightened role-play, then go around bragging around it. “I used the power of my words to bring them into submission and after I was done only a trembling shadow was left behind me” is a cool way to portray it, as opposed to “I used skill X to do EFFECT:TERROR and that worked.
  
 
[[File:Simeon.jpg|right|300px|Photo by Kay Chard]]
 
[[File:Simeon.jpg|right|300px|Photo by Kay Chard]]
== Don't drop OOC when you're IC ==
 
On the most straightforward level, don't start discussing what you saw at the cinema on the weekend - if you're tired of roleplaying and want to catch up with someone, leave to the out of character area. Don't make OOC remarks when you're IC.
 
  
Yes, we've all noticed that there's a Tesco bag floating in the Pool of Wisdom, or that the person playing the evil witch is the same person who played the dying maiden 5 minutes ago; but if you remark on it, you might completely spoil the feel of an encounter for someone else, and probably for yourself. Just because your hand's in the air doesn't mean that it doesn't distract other players just as much as if you'd made the remark in-character. Try to build up atmosphere, not destroy it. Try to always act as in-character as you can, and communicate things in-character. Don't say, "I think I know what happened here (OOC, I'm using Knowledge 3)"; or "the mage is the one at the back (*hand in the air* the one played by Bryony)". If you can't get something across in-character, then your character probably can't either, so don't say it. If you need to talk to a ref, do it in the least distracting way possible.
+
== Acting ==
 +
If background gives you foundation, you may wish to build layers upon it by focusing on how to “act” like your character. Think of a scene and an action they would take, then act it out.
 +
 +
Would they raise their voice if angry, or would they switch to an icy cold tone? Would they go silent in the face of terror or would they scream, or run away? Do they often adjust their clothes while standing or pass a hand through their hair? Do they click their tongue in annoyance, or whistle/sing to themselves when happy? You can even use some warm-up exercises: pick a way for your character to walk and practice it; move your hands, eyes and head like they do when speaking; try out different tones and breathing rates (though don't worry if that seems too advanced!). In brief, feel your character within yourself and use your body to portray that feeling as closely as possible.
 +
 +
If fighting, role-play tiredness and injuries. Yes, you are not actually getting hurt, but your character is and even if you still have life points left, they are unlikely to be moving at full speed if they have just taken a beating. Role-playing in a fight is difficult, because of the many things happening at once, but it looks extremely cool!
  
== Roleplay when you fight ==
+
Lastly, do not feel the need to overdo it. Better role-playing comes with time and practice, and no one is going to judge you in LARP! If you ask, veteran players will be happy to give you tips on how to better role-play whatever action you are trying to perform, such as surgery on a dying patient or slaying a defeated enemy. Watching others is also a great source of inspiration and learning.
You've been hit with a sword three or four times. Yes, your character sheet may tell you that you still have at least one point, but you're hardly going to feel it top physical condition. When you are hit with a weapon, it slices into your skin, or crushes your flesh. You're not going to be thinking about your next hit for a moment - you're going to be thinking "OW that hurts". Roleplay your injuries, perhaps be a bit less effective when you're back in the fight; because, however many points you may have left, you're hurt. You might be angry about this, you might be upset, scared, or gritting your teeth; but you're going to have noticed. ... your character will develop personality in the way that they react to things like injury, rather than just going "5 hits... 2 hits... 1 hit... dying".
+
  
 
[[File:Hellions.jpg|left|400px|Photo by Kay Chard]]
 
[[File:Hellions.jpg|left|400px|Photo by Kay Chard]]
== Don't prod the setting ==
 
Turns out the game world isn't real. Yes, there are holes in the system. Yes, a real character living in the setting might start to notice that it was slightly strange the way nothing much happened in the world over the holidays. You are in charge of your character, and peculiarities of the game mechanics and the way we play just do not occur to them. In the game world someone really can take a sharp axe and whang you over the head four times without knocking you out. This won't be surprising, because in the game that's the way the metaphysics works.
 
  
Large portions of this guide were borrowed from [http://www.dur.ac.uk/treasure.trap/roleplay.php Durham's Guide]. If you have any questions or want advice, just sit down with another player and talk about it. Most of our members are quite happy to argue about the philosophy of roleplaying and discuss it at length, and will only be too happy to help. Likewise, if you feel uncomfortable about something or are unsure if you're doing it right, just ask for some constructive criticism from your fellow players when you're not in character. Larp in general is a very different experience to most things, and we all learn new things every time we play.
+
== What not to do ==
 +
 
 +
Do not assume your character is flawless, or unchanging. Characters, very much like their players, make mistakes and sometimes act “out of character” or in an unusual way for them (just like a real person might in real life sometimes act unlike themselves). Likewise, characters can change, just because you scripted them to be a villain, it does not mean that the character cannot turn out to be a hero by the end of the season.
 +
 +
Do not write a character with maximal success skills sets for the setting, write a character which you will enjoy playing regardless of their raw assets. It is entirely fair to play a coward with no useful skills and no particular talents who is part of an IC discriminated against minority, and that can make your game surprisingly interesting.
 +
 +
Do not fear the unknown, or rather, let the thrill of the uncertainty seduce you. Due to the unscripted nature of the games, many characters develop in unexpected ways. As a player, you might or might not be comfortable with this and might wish to end your character and start anew if they stray too much from your ideal play. However, it is good to keep some flexibility of thought as to what your character might actually end up doing.

Latest revision as of 15:02, 12 October 2019

If you're reading this you probably know what "role-playing" is as a concept, and have maybe done some of it - if not, have a look at our FAQ. Role-playing is about acting in character (IC), i.e. you do what the character you're playing would do, and not necessarily what you would do in an equivalent situation. In LARP, role-playing is also a cooperative effort: players interact with each other while IC so as to create an immersive experience for everyone.

However, we know that getting into character for the first time can seem challenging and you might be worrying more about role-playing correctly than actually engaging with the world around you, which can dampen the enjoyment. This guide was designed with the intent to help you get more familiar with role-playing.

Photo by Kay Chard

Background creation

It’s good to have a solid character background from which you can get an idea of how your character interacts with the rest of the world. Even if you wish to keep details vague, you should have at least a few firm points about where they are coming from.

Asking yourself the following questions will help you write a background:

  1. Where did my character come from, and what interests them? Which parts of the world did they come into contact with?
  2. What is my character’s opinion on this particular aspect of the world? Do they have an opinion on it at all?
  3. Are there any words that if mentioned/actions that if performed nearby will result in an emotional response from them? Any secrets which if revealed might make them uncomfortable?
  4. What is driving them? What would break them? How could they change as a result of event X happening to them?


Many sign-up forms have some version of these questions incorporated to help you shape your character. You might even go as far as writing an IC diary of before the current events took place and carry that with you as a reference.

Your background will be your foundation, but keep in mind that due to the interactive nature of the games your character might evolve in unexpected ways that might not always align with your wishes as a player!

You don't need to know everything

Your character doesn't need to (and in fact shouldn't) know everything about the setting. There is a huge amount of information on the website, but your character is unlikely to have extensive knowledge of aspects of the world and society that do not directly concern them. Unless you have a reason in your backstory why you should know about a specific thing (e.g. common knowledge, or how they learnt a specific skill), it's safe to assume ignorance. This both keeps things balanced for new players and makes the world more interesting. You can model information (and disinformation) flow if your knowledge about the world comes mostly from what others have told you IC.

Secondly, while in-character, avoid arguments about what the website states should be true in the world - if you need to have a discussion like that, it should be in the OC area. Some aspects of the world are deliberately left unspecified, thus leaving space for IC creativity. Whatever claims about the world you make, back them up with your character background and remember that other people’s characters might view the world differently or might be misinformed, or even be lying. The players themselves might have different levels of understanding of how the world works, or slightly different opinions on it, especially if much of the mechanics is kept a secret meant to be found out in play.

Finally, while playing your character, try to forget information that you found out while crewing, while playing another character, or that someone told you OC. Likewise, if you wish to keep IC secrets it is better to keep them OC as well, and some players prefer not to know OC about IC secrets. Once you know information OC, it can be very hard to know how your character would act in the absence of this information, and avoiding using OC information often means hindering your character’s ability to deduce it themself, which can harm enjoyment.

Photo by Kay Chard

Drawing the OC/IC line

What happens while IC is entirely based on in-game dynamics, and any enmity other characters might show towards yours should not be thought of as a personal attack on you as a player. If you believe they are acting out of OC reasons, speak to the refs or the exec. Similarly, don’t feel obliged to engage with any IC content and role-play that you aren’t comfortable with OC.

Additionally, don’t start chatting about how your OC week went while in the IC area: this is a space for IC role-play. If you wish to catch up with friends who also attend sessions, do so in the OC area. If you need to take a break from your character at any moment, you can always move to the OC room, and are recommended to do so if role-playing is getting too taxing on you. On a similar note, do not point out obvious OC elements in the IC room which are there either by accident or for necessity to others. While the organisers do try to keep the environment immersive, accidents like the Tesco bag floating in the Pool of Wisdom, or fluffy dogs intercepting our linears happen.

Lastly, try to convey your actions with minimal references to words relating to system mechanics. While it is necessary to say a CALL for it to mechanically take effect when an action is being performed (if the system has CALLs), you should try to not use the name of the CALL when describing the action. Example: you use your skill “EFFECT: TERROR” on someone’s character, leaving them to deal with the frightened role-play, then go around bragging around it. “I used the power of my words to bring them into submission and after I was done only a trembling shadow was left behind me” is a cool way to portray it, as opposed to “I used skill X to do EFFECT:TERROR and that worked.”

Photo by Kay Chard

Acting

If background gives you foundation, you may wish to build layers upon it by focusing on how to “act” like your character. Think of a scene and an action they would take, then act it out.

Would they raise their voice if angry, or would they switch to an icy cold tone? Would they go silent in the face of terror or would they scream, or run away? Do they often adjust their clothes while standing or pass a hand through their hair? Do they click their tongue in annoyance, or whistle/sing to themselves when happy? You can even use some warm-up exercises: pick a way for your character to walk and practice it; move your hands, eyes and head like they do when speaking; try out different tones and breathing rates (though don't worry if that seems too advanced!). In brief, feel your character within yourself and use your body to portray that feeling as closely as possible.

If fighting, role-play tiredness and injuries. Yes, you are not actually getting hurt, but your character is and even if you still have life points left, they are unlikely to be moving at full speed if they have just taken a beating. Role-playing in a fight is difficult, because of the many things happening at once, but it looks extremely cool!

Lastly, do not feel the need to overdo it. Better role-playing comes with time and practice, and no one is going to judge you in LARP! If you ask, veteran players will be happy to give you tips on how to better role-play whatever action you are trying to perform, such as surgery on a dying patient or slaying a defeated enemy. Watching others is also a great source of inspiration and learning.

Photo by Kay Chard

What not to do

Do not assume your character is flawless, or unchanging. Characters, very much like their players, make mistakes and sometimes act “out of character” or in an unusual way for them (just like a real person might in real life sometimes act unlike themselves). Likewise, characters can change, just because you scripted them to be a villain, it does not mean that the character cannot turn out to be a hero by the end of the season.

Do not write a character with maximal success skills sets for the setting, write a character which you will enjoy playing regardless of their raw assets. It is entirely fair to play a coward with no useful skills and no particular talents who is part of an IC discriminated against minority, and that can make your game surprisingly interesting.

Do not fear the unknown, or rather, let the thrill of the uncertainty seduce you. Due to the unscripted nature of the games, many characters develop in unexpected ways. As a player, you might or might not be comfortable with this and might wish to end your character and start anew if they stray too much from your ideal play. However, it is good to keep some flexibility of thought as to what your character might actually end up doing.