Passive play is one of my pet peeves. All players go to LARPs to have fun, but why is it that some players get into game they insist on hanging on the outskirts of the activity, afraid to engage with other characters and stories? If you’re one of those people who habitually doesn’t get involved as much as they’d like to please give this a read.
It’s a small window of opportunity
Most LARPs I’ve played in usually last around 4 hours, which is actually a fairly limited amount of time to do the things that will entertain you. Stretch your entertainment value by being ready to play and once in game staying in character. Bring something to the table and attack the session so that you maximize your fun.
Fortune favours the bold
A LARP is a story, and the best stories aren’t about people that hang out against the wall. If you have a character you have a story. Do yourself a favour and look at where your story wants to take you, and then go there hard and fast. Don’t be afraid to take risks – in LARP the consequences of failure are pretty miniscule. A character is, after all, just a character, and there’s no reason to fear getting it in over its head. Though it may be nerve racking there is nothing more satisfying in LARP than going into a situation where you out-everything’d and walking out ahead, but if you don’t get involved in the first place you’ll never experience that.
It’s not that hard
The easiest way to get involved is to get involved. It’s really not any harder than that. Your character is going to have skills and abilities that make them an asset to someone (or at least I’d like to think so), all you need to do is find a way to be recognized for that ability. The first way to get involved is to have something you want to achieve. Goals push you towards interactions and good goals force you to rely on others to achieve them. The second way is to pay attention to those moments where it’s obvious that the organizing characters need bodies and be there, even if the task gets out of your character’s comfort areas. Never think you need the perfect stats to be able to attempt something, but by the token don’t get involved in something that altogether breaks your character motivations just to be involved. The third way to get involved is to become the one that does the organizing. This may involve a minor coup d’état, or may simply involve you starting to find tasks for people to do. Both have their relative merits and flaws, so do what you think is best.
It’s all about gumption
In LARP your force of personality is the single best weapon you’ve got. It’s not the dots on the sheet, nor is it your ability to know rules, it’s about you. Learn to harness your gumption early and often, it’s a muscle that not enough LARPers are willing to flex. If you are not by nature an assertive person I know this can be hard, but I challenge you as a roleplayer to try to play a character who knows what they want and doesn’t let anyone stop them from getting it. Not only is an exciting challenge from a roleplaying perspective, but it’s also a good life skill to learn.
A good way to get started is to lay claim to something publically. Declare that you are responsible for a geographic region or for leading others to overcome a particular plot or a particular title in the world and then tolerate no attempts to dislodge your authority. One of two things are going to happen: either you get away with it or someone steps up to challenge you. In the case of the former that’s your cue to push it even further, or in the case of the latter you’ve just created some social conflict and increased your engagement with the game substantially.
Invite others into your world
This is probably the best advice I can give. Even if you’re not willing to dive in head first into the action make your own action, and bring other characters into it. Don’t fall into the mistake of creating a character for a social game that is innately anti-social; when other characters engage you, engage them right back. Ask the questions you need to ask to see how they can contribute to your social goals and then try to deploy them towards those goals.
Ask to be more involved
If nothing seems to work and you’re still stuck on the wall (I know some people are by nature shy) you’re always still able to approach your storyteller and let them know that you want to be involved more, but just aren’t sure how to do it. You could also approach a player who plays a more influential character and do the same. They will at the very least give you some advice, or may even come up to you and peel you off of that wall, towards whatever adventure awaits!
Take agency over your level of engagement in the LARPs you play. At a game your time is limited, so don’t stand against the wall waiting for something to happen to you, go out and cause things to happen. Make the most out of other characters’ attempts to engage yours and start spending your own, personal XP on the Gumption skill. You’ll have more fun, and so will the players around you.