Disclosure: Reprinted with permission from AwesomeShit.Ninja
As mentioned in my first article, I’m going to talk about my home game quite often and use my experiences as “prime” examples. So I’m going to go through my own character building process and make some suggestions that may help you when making your character a real person (you may think I’m using that term loosely). Before moving forward, I’d like to clarify for anyone reading my writings and those just tuning in for the first time.
I am not an expert in terms of being the perfect LARPer! I’m a graduate student who likes to dress up as an elf
on the weekends. This blog I’m designing is to share my experiences and inform you about some LARP shenanigans you may run into over time. There are numerous blogs, articles, YouTube videos and web series, podcasts, Facebook posts and likes, Tumblr reblogs, favorite’d tweets…there’s just a lot buzzing about LARP in general. LARPing.org is the most well-known and go-to website in our community, but that website confuses the hell out of me. There is just stuff everywhere, but to be fair, it is one of the most informative LARPing sites on the web and a hub of accurately-sourced information. Knowing me though, I’m looking for something direct and I don’t have time to waste otherwise.
Let me tell you how I became involved with this new way of life.
Back in February 2014, there was a show on A&E called Bad Ink. This one episode alone displays two things in the world I care for dearly: tattoos and LARPing. “Show Me Your Tats” from Season One of the show introduces us to Frankie. Frankie has a tattoo that she detests and worst of all, its one-half of the meaning. The other half is on her boyfriend! Tattoo artist Dirk and his friend Ruckus are brought to Frankie’s hotel room, with her man standing across the table as these two gentlemen covered from head-to-toe in tattoos introduce themselves. Once they all sat down, they listened to the story of their matching tats, which somehow led to Zorc, which eventually led to how they met: LARPing.
Fast forward to June 2014, my two friends from high school and I went to a local midnight viewing of Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Home of Happiness. While waiting in the car before entering the theatre, one of them asked me if I knew what LARPing was. I did! Some of their club-mates asked them if they would like to go to the next upcoming event. Well, the following weekend was the next event, but we all agreed that the three of us needed more time to prepare.
Before agreeing to dedicate hours of your time to your new self, I suggest you visit the game’s website you plan on attending and check out some of their event photos, if they have any. It not only tells you about the environment of the game, but it also can spark some ideas for your costume and overall “look.” Every game has a different set of rules from another, but that is what makes each game unique! A few players from Seventh Kingdom IGE visit another local New Jersey LARP, Faeglen.
Instead of creating brand-new personas and looks, some players brought their already made characters over. They saved a lot of time trying to understand the different classes, professions, and races and were able to focus their time on game rules and lore.
For example: My character Ashlynn is a Wild Elf (race), Grey Witch (class and sub-class), and Scholar (profession) at 7K. Luckily if I brought her to Faeglen, the parameters of her original character attributes, by adapting her, wouldn’t vary as much, as a Wild Elf (race), Druid (combat class), and Loremaster (crafter class). Don’t worry if you’re new to the world of LARP. My intention is not to vomit mass amounts of information at you in a confusing manner, but as time goes on you can refer back to this when that “click” moment goes off in your mind.
Many players create their first character that closely relates to their real-life self. It’s fact. In total, it took me a full month to build Ashlynn from scratch, others less than an hour. Again, when I went out with my friends to see Rocky Horror Picture Show for the nth-time, the only thing I knew about LARPing was what it stood for and that you hang out in the woods reacting battles. In some other cases though, players do make characters or adapt them over time personality characteristics that doesn’t necessary coincide with themselves. In terms of being more outgoing, aggressive, submissive, confrontational, etc.
To point out, the majority of that month building Ashlynn had to do with choosing her name.
There are an infinite amount of facets in developing characters. Think of yourself in a book, television show, film, or an Orson Welles radio broadcast, what have you. You are literally the star of your story! Be excited! You are awarded an abundance of creative freedom within all the choices you make in game (or IG) and no one can tell you different…except Staff. If you are ever puzzled, never hesitate to harass Staff with emails. There are players who have been playing for years who still ask for clarifies. There are no stupid questions! You can also be stubborn like me when I first started and don’t ask any questions. Although I’m very happy how Ashlynn was built, a lot of choices I made for her were based off connivance and easy to understand while playing.
The story of Ashlynn began when I went through 7K’s website. Exploring the forums, reading the history of the game, then eventually reading through the rule book. Fourteen months ago I had no idea what I was looking at. As a new player, it was genuinely overwhelming! I felt like I was putting together a dresser from IKEA and the directions were in Korean, but I had to start somewhere beginning with Kingdoms. Kingdoms helps provide heritage, backstory, and connections in the world created within Seventh Kingdom, as well as other games provide within their lore. Oblivion takes place in 23rd century New Jersey, Player Characters (or PCs) can choose to be from local states or “foreign lands” considered in the game.
From the beginning, the easiest decision to accomplish was her class. 7K has seven classes to choose from, and from those three additional sub-classes. There are three magick-wielding classes: Priest, Sorcerer, and Witch. The fourth includes Adept which is a combination of combat and magick-wielding through a totem, but for now let’s not deter into class mechanics for now.
Personally, I love skulls! Ashlynn was almost a Sorcerer, but then I read the Witch class. As a nature-lover, conservationist, and hippie I grew more excited as I continued to read one of its sub-classes “Grey Witch.” I was instantly in love with the idea that my character would be able to commune with nature as much as I personally do when hanging out in the woods.
Another simple decision was choosing her race: Wild Elf. Human in this case wasn’t going to be an option. Ashlynn is now the closest in relation to nature as both an Elf who can hug trees to heal herself and use the powers provided by communing with Earth elements to wield magick. Also, her kingdom of Fir’bolg.
Eventually, I went back to look at all the Kingdoms. There were a few options where Wild Elves could call “home” within Midworld. In the end, it came down to two kingdoms: Pendrakken and Fir’bolg. For a quick analogy, Pendrakken is a place where the Lannisters would live from the Games of Thrones series in King’s Landing and Fir’bolg is a Celtic-inspired kingdom with some fictional aspects. My final decision was to make Ashlynn’s backstory more dynamic and the ability to generate plot. Ashlynn’s parents were from either kingdom but she grew up in Fir’bolg after her mother died.
Fun Fact: “The earliest historic race of Ireland was a pastoral people called Firbolgs, said to be of Greek or Eastern origin; probably a branch of that great Celtic race which, having passed through Europe and round its shores, found a resting-place at last in Ireland.” [www.libraryireland.com]
Learning how the Firbolgs were considered the second dynasty of Ireland, being a part of this kingdom IG made it that more special knowing the historical context.
Since high school, I’ve been working in my town’s community library. I love working in a library so much I decided to make Ashlynn a “Scholar.” Scholars have the ability to perform research during certain time periods during the event, they are able to create ciphers from formulas to “scribing” abilities or spells one can use, identifying incoming strangers to an area (Skill: Lore Keeper), and the abilities to analyze or destroy items (numerous skills).
In the second half of what is to come, we’ll talk about ideas for developing your potential backstory, your character goals and more importantly your needs, networking with other players, and much more!