How to Protect Your Primogen:
Five survival techniques for your Vampire: the Masquerade LARP
Okay, so you've pondered over the various Clans and concepts,
settled on something you like, and did some number crunching to
achieve the character that you want to play in the next LARP. You
arrive on time, get your information packet from your Storyteller,
and start playing. Five minutes later, you're throwing a fit because
the local Brujah didn't like the way you looked at him and destroyed
your perfect creation.
The natural response to this is to blame the Brujah's player, or
the Storytellers, or whoever else might be to blame...but there's
usually only one person to blame when a character gets axed, and
that's the player himself. Maybe he didn't realize just how
dangerous the game was, or perhaps he didn't take the necessary
steps to avoid unnecessary conflicts. Or maybe he just wasn't in the
right place at the right time. To avoid this situation, a player has
1) Never Walk Alone. This is pretty much the Golden Rule of
Survival in a LARP. If you're not such a tough guy, find friends,
quickly, who will back you up. Clan-mates are best for this sort of
thing, as established characters have, most likely, already learned
this rule, and most of the characters in a LARP are looking for
another ally, regardless of his relative power. If you can't find
allies that are willing to back you, or follow you around while you
wheel and deal, then find ones that are willing to avenge your
death, and make it well known that they'll do so. Often, the threat
of retribution will keep others from eyeing you too greedily.
If you can't find allies fast enough, stay in public places,
particularly Elysiums. Most Licks don't like the idea of trying to
start a fight in an Elysium, and the Keeper of Elysium will, most
likely, either come to your aid or avenge your Final Death for you.
The most important facet of staying around other Kindred is the fact
that, unless you're under the Blood Hunt, you're pretty safe, as the
Prince is likely to get upset if someone decides to take it upon
himself to exercise the Prince's right to execution. Besides, most
killers don't want any evidence or witnesses, and a room full of
witnesses will stop him quite nicely.
This can lead to another problem, though. If you ally with one
person or group, you're most likely going to make fast enemies of
someone else. That means that someone else has more of a reason than
an off stare to ax you. But, if you keep to your allies, they should
think twice about it. Most players will avoid a pitched battle with
several characters involved on both sides.
As a Storyteller, I've seen in more than a few games where
someone walks right into a trap because they didn't bring any muscle
along with them. If you're playing an information-based character,
you've even more reason to make certain that you've got back-up,
even if it's posthumous backup. And when someone comes up to you and
asks to speak with you private, make certain that you are in line of
sight with some allies, or, at worst, within shouting distance. If
possible though, don't go off with anyone who wants to speak with
you in a secluded corner, or who wants you to walk into a large
group wherein you have no allies. Chances are high its a trap.
Of all the in-game deaths I've seen, almost 100% were due to this
rule being ignored.
2) Don't Overtly Piss Someone Off. Unless you are confident that
you can take someone and any allies they might have, don't go
mouthing off to other characters. Subtlety is the key. If a specific
character pisses off your character, start planting rumors among his
enemies, or even among his allies, to weaken his position. Use your
Influences to find out what his are and break them down. Then, when
he's at his weakest and forgets Rule #1, axe him. More often than
not, by the time he's ready to be killed, he's already not a threat
any more. Of course, an enemy who's still living (or unliving) can
still make a comeback, so you'll have to keep an eye on him if you
don't want to remove him from the picture entirely.
3) Tactical Relocation is a Good Thing. Okay, you've ignored rule
one and two. The Brujah's player already has his hand behind his
back, prepared for a fight. You're a Toreador who thought it'd be
better to invest in Auspex than Celerity. Run. Fast. And shout a
lot. If you don't have any allies yourself, run to your aggressor's
enemies. If you've got Obfuscate, use it. The Fair Escape rule is
there for a reason. Most often, you can see trouble coming before it
hits you. If you've already been challenged to a fight, and don't
have the Celerity or Obfuscate to escape, yell some more. If you
don't think a simple "help" will work, shout something like "Oh my
God, the Sabbat!" or something similarly meaningful. Chances are, if
you're off by yourself, your attacker wants to keep your Final Death
quiet. If you throw a wrench into that plan, he might give up
4) Blackmail Efficiently. If you've got something on someone,
tell a Storyteller that you're putting the evidence in a safe
deposit box, and give the key to someone else, preferably someone of
power, like the Prince, Sheriff, or a Primogen. Tell that person
that, if you die, to go to your haven, find the number of the safe
deposit box, and look what's inside. Then go to your prey and make
your threat. If you're subtle about the blackmail, and explain what
he needs to do to get out of it precisely, and that killing you
won't end his suffering, then he'll most likely go along with it.
Never, however, give up all of your evidence. As long as he thinks
you've still got something on him, he won't risk attacking you, most
5) Hide the Good Silverware. If you've got something that's a hot
item, say a fragment from the Book of Nod, or ten pounds of C-4
locked up in your haven, move it. Put it somewhere where no one can
find it, even the Nosferatu. Keep the fact that you've got the item
to yourself until you've decided to whom you're going to sell it to.
Make certain that the person you want to sell it to will be willing
and able to buy it. Then, make the sale quickly. If someone comes
threatening you with Final Death if you don't turn over the goods,
tell them that you've hidden it, and that your Final Death won't get
them what they want. If that doesn't work, tell them that you knew
that they wanted it, and told someone important, like the Prince,
that if you went missing, that he was the reason. It could easily be
a total lie, but it may give the aggressor some pause, at least
while he tries to confirm you're story. During that time, you can
review the wisdom of the Rule #1.
If you've got something that you can wear, but don't need it all
the time, don't keep it on your person. If you've actually got a
prop, hide it somewhere where people won't most likely look, and do
so when they're not looking. It's always fun to show off a neat-o
magic item or toy, but the more people who see the thing, the higher
the chance someone will want it bad enough to kill your character.
Now, there are times to ignore these rules, particularly when the
rules conflict with the personality of the character you've created.
If you've created a Gangrel who's nomadic lifestyle has made him
abhor large groups, then you're most likely going to ignore Rule #1.
If your character likes to "Showboat" his power, you'll most likely
want to ignore Rule #5. And so on. Never, ever break character
merely because you think, out of character, that you're about to
meet Final Death. Never forget Cardinal Rule #1, which precedes all
other rules: Stay In Character.