The Sword
The Cabiri Chronicles
     Life of a History
     Under the Hood

     Balancing Act

     I was just acting!
     Lucifer as a Player
     Player Types Defined
     LARP Boredom
     LARP Survival

     Economics in D&D 3.5

     Sept 11, 2002
     Columbia Disaster

     A Letter of Vocation
     Evidence of Evil
     In Defense of a Reflection

     A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Just DO it!
How to Prevent Boredom During a LARP

          There have been more than a few LARPs where I've seen, both as a Storyteller and as a Player, other players sitting around griping about how they've got nothing to do. How the Primogen and Prince and maybe another faction have all the fun while the griper sits back, bored. Typically, they blame the Storytellers or specific players who "won't talk to them" and whine and whine. Chances are, though, they're just as much to blame as anyone else!
          In a LARP everyone has the responsibility to make the game fun for everyone involved. This is pretty much common sense. That's why you don't start yelling at people out of character or try to cheat (which is insanely easy in a LARP of more than five or six players). But most people forget that they've got a responsibility to themselves as well, to make their own fun.
          Now, some people set themselves up for boredom. They create a "concept character," and expect to have fun. A "concept character" is a character who is created around one plot device or character hook which the player thinks is "neat." While the idea may, indeed, be "neat," it may not be conducive to long-term enjoyment. Let's say you've talked your Storyteller into letting you play a Diabolist/Diablerist? Samedi Antitribu with Garou Allies. Neat-o idea, but chances are the person who created this character wants more to rely on a specific concept than a well-defined character. When the secret gets out or the concept reaches fruition (usually in the first game), the player starts getting bored, assuming he survives the night. A True Role-player doesn't need an outrageous "gimmick" to have fun. All he needs is a personality and some stats; he can then can roll with what comes at him. He doesn't need to play some obscure bloodline to "ohh and ahhh" the other players. Once the "ohh and ahhh" stage is over, most concept characters are ignored because they have nothing more to offer than shock value. Instead of trying to convince the Storyteller to let you play an Abomination, try putting on a suit and playing a Ventrue or Lasombra (depending on the context of the LARP). Chances are you'll end up involved in a lot more that way, as you snuggle up to the other members of your Clan, or betray them for more power. Of course, there's nothing wrong with coming up with a character hook, as long as you develop a detailed and interesting personality around that hook. A Brujah who prefers subtle rebellion amongst the corporate community to rabble-rousing is an interesting idea, as long as there is a viable personality to go along with it. One more important thing...if you come up with a concept, make sure it "jives" with the World of Darkness or your Storyteller's concept of the World of Darkness. Playing a Salubri who has the Clan Affinity Merit with Clan Tremere is not only against the setting, but it's stupid. Also, don't play a Nosferatu and think that having an extensive information network in Europe is going to have any affect on a game set in Chicago. Kindred are an insular bunch, and the politics of one city rarely have a substantial affect on the politics of another, much less another continent.
          Other people come to a LARP thinking that the Storyteller has the responsibility to make it fun for them. Most of these people don't realize that any LARP of any decent size has 20 to 30 people in it, and the Storyteller can't always be thinking about you. They find a comfy place to sit and complain about who’s to blame for them sitting in the easy chair. Some of the responsibility does lie on the Storyteller, but much of the responsibility relies on the individual player. The Storyteller didn't make him sit on the couch. He didn't force him to avoid interaction with other players. If the Storyteller hasn't given you an interesting position in the plot, make one for yourself. Make an enemy if you have to, and start spreading rumors about her. Buddy up to your Clan's representative on the Primogen Council, or start dropping hints to the Prince that your Clan needs representation, even though your Clan isn't an "official" representative of the Camarilla. Stir things up, and things will start getting interesting. If you've sat on the couch all night and not tried to interact with others, you've failed not only yourself, but the other players in the game. Now, sometimes, getting involved can be difficult. Let's say that there are several meetings of various levels of secrecy going on, and your Kiasyd isn't involved with any of them. Chances are there is someone else who's on the "outside" of these meetings as well. Strike up a conversation. Find out their views on what's going on. Pry them open for information. Make an ally or an enemy of them, as is appropriate to your character. At the very least, when the secret meetings are over, you'll have spent some time doing something besides repeating the Generation X mantra on the sofa while munching potato chips.
          Now, lulls in games are sometimes necessary, and even unnecessary ones happen. The Justicar upstairs has set a Conclave for midnight, and the entire Primogen Council is sitting downstairs waiting for him to show up by 11:45. Do something. Anything. Keep in character, of course, but act. If you don't like what's going on, start asking around about others' views. Or take this opportunity to snuggle up to a Primogen and try to get yourself known. Failing all that, sit back and wait. But whatever you do, don't break character. And don't rely on a Storyteller to stir things up.
          Often, long-running LARPs run themselves. Meaning that, once the major plot elements are out there, the interaction of the players is enough to keep things going, and the Storyteller is relegated to the position of rules arbiter. That's the ideal of any Storyteller. A LARP is supposed to be self-running. If the Storyteller has to continually come up with new and interesting plots that involves every single player, he's going to burn out. The problem with this is that many new players, or old players with new characters, may not have a big event in which to show off what they have to offer. Big events aren't necessary to involve yourself. In one recent game, I saw an individual who, having never LARPed before, quickly became a very active participant, while old LARPers were wandering around wondering why they were bored. The character they created wasn't of a strange or unusual Clan, and they had only a brief summary of what their history was. But they were able to involve themselves more than experienced LARPers who'd so burned out on LARPing that they had to rely on concept characters to have fun.
          Basically, LARPing is a group effort, more so than most other types of role-playing games. If everyone isn't collaborating to make the game fun, someone is failing miserably as a player. Converse to what I've said above, other players also have a responsibility to involve those who either can't or won't get involved. If it's within your character, talk to them. Find out their goals. At the very least, you're setting someone up for a Prestation debt. At the very most, you just made yourself another ally. Now, that's not to say that the Ventrue Primogen should go over and start up a conversation with the Brujah Anarch boss, but if they see someone being bored that they would, feasibly, talk to "in character", by all means do so. Only the most die-hard Generation X-ers will refuse an invitation to involve themselves.