My character Ceara at Seventh Kingdom IGE

It all started when I put on the mask.

I’d played a dozens of LARP characters before. PCs, NPCs, significant to the story or easily killed. It didn’t matter. Ceara was different.

Aside from having an engaging backstory and a really fun costume that included colors I wouldn’t usually wear in real life, the character of Ceara had something else I hadn’t really used at length before: a mask.

Wearing the mask goes beyond the various feelings I get from other pieces of clothing. It’s not like my best dress or my favorite pair of sweatpants or trying to hide who I really am as a mask might indicate. It’s about another level of immersion.

When I play this character, I know that I don’t have to think about it like I would with others. There’s no pausing while I determine what course of action a person like Ceara would take, nor is there a hesitation as I’d take in real life.

This makes sense, considering what masks really mean to people:

This essential characteristic of hiding and revealing personalities or moods is common to all masks. As cultural objects they have been used throughout the world in all periods since the Stone Age and have been as varied in appearance as in their use and symbolism. [Source: AnyMask.com]

The AnyMask article goes on to explain that the mask is intrinsically connected to identity, power, and drama. Whether you use a mask in a religious portrayal or for fun on Halloween, you do not simply exemplify the look of a character, you embody her spirit.

This convergence of symbolism is particularly interesting regarding my character because she is a (former) faerie, a being who herself enjoys a spiritual connection to her own realm.

Tips for LARPers Wearing Masks

If you’re a shy person but want to play an extroverted character, I strongly recommend a mask. Additionally, you can make masks, and most Venetian-style masks (like the one in the photo) cost under $20.00 – even at faires.

  • Ensure the mask doesn’t represent something already at the game
  • Select a mask that works in all weather – the larger the mask, the more you will sweat under it in hot months
  • Select a mask that represents your character or her history
  • Commit to wearing the mask for the entirety of the game
  • Select a mask that allows you to eat and drink while you wear it

What are your feelings on wearing masks at LARPs? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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