Tips and Tricks for Staying In-Character While LARPing

It’s the year 1017 and you’ve ventured your way to a far off land looking for help fending off a Goblin insurgency. You’ve got your armor on and you’re feeling like a badass warrior that doesn’t want to “take no crap” from anybody. That’s when Carl approaches you.

“Hey man, did you see the game last night?” Carl pulls out his cellphone and proceeds to reminisce about the highlight reels and unfair referees.

At this point you have a few options on how to proceed. Sure, Carl should be polite and understand that he’s at a Roleplaying game, but he must be really excited to see you and chat…so try not to fault him too much. If RP is something that is important to you and so is Carl, try and gently coax him back to the fantasy world. Redirect his attention with a polite prompt: “No, but I’ve heard an awful lot about these Goblins that want to overthrow the King!” If Carl still isn’t getting it, you can be a little more direct. Sometimes I’ll purposefully change my dialect and ask pointed questions like “What is this baseball that thou speakest of?” Usually people will get the hint, and they’ll be respectful of your desire to stay in-character and adjust accordingly. The benefits of handling the situation like this are many, and you won’t have totally shamed Carl and made him feel like an idiot.

Situations like the one described above may happen frequently, but it is ultimately up to you to navigate them with grace. Remember that you can really only control yourself, not other people. The best thing to do is hold yourself to a higher standard and act as a personal example of what you want to see in the Realms. Enthusiasm is contagious, and when people see what you’re bringing to the game, you’ll probably attract likeminded people who believe in what you’re doing.

Besides the classy redirect, you can also think about what your character’s voice sounds like. Some people have accents which makes for a more obvious difference between their out of character (OOC) or in character (IC) selves. If you can do an accent, try it out! It’s a good way to push yourself into RP land and keep you there. If you can’t do an accent, don’t panic! You’re in good company since it is an ability that a lot of people don’t have. If you like a challenge, fiddle around with your real voice and make a more subtle change. Mouse (my character) speaks more high-pitched and bubbly than I do on a regular basis. It’s just one option that you have to experiment with if you find yourself struggling.

Costuming is also a really important part of roleplaying. If you’ve taken the time to get all dressed up, chances are that you’re going to feel more into your role than if you were wearing your regular everyday clothes. It doesn’t have to be expensive either! There are a lot of guides out there on the internet that can help you turn plain old t-shirts into tunics with minimal sewing experience. When I first started Realms, I used to frequent thrift stores to find cheap shirts and dresses that had potential. Take a look around and see what you can find. If you’re not short on money, you can snag really nice stuff at a Renn faire, or from one of the amazingly talented craftsmen and women of our community.

The next tip for staying in character is simply this: Know your character inside out. If your character is different than you, then they should have unique quirks and pet peeves. What kind of things are they passionate about? What would instantly send them into a rage? You should explore their personalities a bit and know the answers to some of these questions. Then, when you’re out and about on an adventure, your character’s preferences or dislikes can help guide your interactions. My character has an extreme fear of cats as an example, but OOCly I love them. If my character met one on an adventure, however, she’d likely run in the opposite direction. Following up on this point, you should have an idea about your character’s strengths and weaknesses. Add in a flaw to make them more interesting. No good story has a perfect hero as the main character. Hygar, as another example, likes to play out that he’s really susceptible to the influences of dark magic. He loves power, and once he gets a taste of it he’ll likely get sucked in if nobody is watching him. It has led to a lot of really epic moments!

Following this up, you should probably know how your character feels about the divine. Gods and Goddesses/religion plays a major role in fantasy, and gives you something to talk about on the side. Does your character pay homage to one specific deity? Many? None? Why is that? If you know these answers, you’ll have even more depth to your conversations. My character has long been a fierce worshipper of Vandor (God of Vengeance and Protection of the Innocent) and won’t hesitate to tell everyone who will listen about his tales of valor. Churches in the Realms traditionally transcend nation boundaries, and gives you a whole new aspect of the game to explore through roleplay too.

The last trick we’ll talk about today is having a few conversation topics planned out. Nothing hurts RP worse than downtime from my experience. A boring silence is far more likely to draw out an OOC conversation than an engaging quest, so you can combat that by having a few conversation starters up your sleeve. My character likes Vandor and food, so if there isn’t anything going on you might find her talking about either of those things. Maybe you’re a warrior type character and talking about weapons is more up your alley. Find an excuse to talk to people, engage them and ask questions. You’ll be a part of the solution, and you might be surprised about what you learn in the process!

These are just a few things you can do to help keep yourself IC. Hopefully you’ve found this helpful in addition to having your own routines. Please remember that RP is supposed to be a fun community oriented activity, and if you ever find yourself getting really stressed or aggravated, it may be time to take a break. Keep yourself healthy and happy, and you’ll have a blast.

Tell us about your experiences! Leave us a comment if you have some tips and tricks of your own that you’d like to share!

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