As someone considering LARP for the first time, it’s likely you’ll have heaps of questions – I know I certainly did! In fact, 10 years on and I still have heaps of questions (but shush, don’t tell anyone that).
So with new players in mind, we decided to turn to the Lorien Trust Discussion Group over on Facebook to ask players what their top tips were for first timers, and we got masses of really helpful responses!
In fact, we got so much input that we thought we’d collate everything together, so here it is, our crowd-sourced list, from actual players, of top tips to help you get the most from your first ever LARP event.
1. Join an established group
Try to make yourself part of an established group, it will narrow down the choices available to you as a character which can be helpful when there are so many options available!
Groups generally have their own clear identity, allegiances and purpose too, helping to make it easier to get stuck in.
2. Play a character who doesn’t know much
It’s all well and good joining the game with big aims for your character, but by starting off as a character that doesn’t know much, it can help ease you into the game and leads to you being able to naturally ask lots of questions when you’re IC (In character).
A young Goblin, a Fae who has been asleep for a long time or playing Beastkin can all mean you’ll easily get away with not knowing much and asking lots of questions, learning as time goes by.
“Play a character who isn’t supposed to know a lot for whatever reason. That could be because they’re a commoner who has never left home and is now seeking fame and fortune. They might have lost their family in some war/ raid (there are plenty of wars about so it doesn’t need to be known what group did it), or any other reason.”
3. Take a spellcasting ability
Spellcasting at any level gives you some fun abilities that will mean you can get stuck into combat without necessarily wielding a sword.
Taking spellcasting is a great option for new players too who may not want to invest in LARP safe weapons.
4. Think about the cost of kit before deciding on a character
If you’re keen on playing a paladin tank kind of character it’s likely you’ll need to invest not only in a weapon that looks the part, but you’ll need armour and possibly a shield too. Whether you opt for chain, plate or leather, armour doesn’t come cheap, so do take costs like these into consideration.
To keep costs down, consider borrowing things like armour from a friend, buy it second hand or even make your own (ensuring it meets safety regulartion) if you’re that way inclined.
“Try not to heavily invest in kit that might not be easily re-useable if the character dies early.”
“My first character, I created as ‘a bit of everything’ – so, I took spellcasting 1, light armour, 1 handed, thrown weapons….. then amended the character after the first event to take more of the things I enjoyed and less of the things I didn’t use so much.”
5. Planning your first character
It’s likely that you’ll want to put a lot of time and thought into creating your first character and there are lots of options for you. From deciding on a race through to which ancestor you’ll follow and the best faction for you to join.
Try not to get too hung up on your character build as your core skills can easily be tweaked and changed until you find the right combination that gives you the game you want to play.
Many people start after being introduced to LARP by a friend who will be keen to welcome you to whatever faction they are in, or they might be wanting to create a new group or want to swtich to a different faction, either way, knowing what faction you’ll be part of provides a great basic starting point.
If you don’t already have friends playing, you may want to start by researching the various factions of Erdreja to get a feel for which one would work best for you and use your faction choice as a starting point for building your character.
“Try not to build too much into your first character. Have a couple of key concepts, because the character will develop over time, and if you are unlucky enough to lose a character early, you still have a range of key concepts to work with on your next one. Try not to be “good” at everything – character flaws can be amazing to play with.”
“Pick something they like doing. (Learning, taking, battle etc) and something they’re interested in. Becoming part of the nobility, helping people with the same skills, spreading the word of their ancestor. Something they like and something they want to try. Then go and push yourself. Ask all the questions.”
“Play a character who wants to talk to people – you can be all sorts of personality types but one that wants to engage will get back what is given more. Character makes the kit not vice versa – new LARP kit envy can be daunting so make the costume suit the character – even the simplest gear can suit and stand out if played with.”
“Is your character interested in combat or knowledge-based things? Talk to other players and get the gist of the system, lore and history.”
6. Volunteer and say yes to things
One of the best bits of advice I was given as a new player was to get stuck in and not sit around waiting for the game to happen. So, make sure you’re around at faction musters and meetings and volunteer for things. Keep your eyes and ears open, remember or write down information to pass along.
There’s always stuff going on in each faction, so listen to what’s happening and offer to help. Not only will this help to get you known, but it also gives you an easy way to get involved in the game.
If you don’t know what you can get involved in, go to your faction command team and simply offer your help by asking if there is anything going on that they might need help with.
“Volunteer for anything that you can actually help with. If you know zero magic or there’s a deeply involved lore question, don’t go over your head with knowledge. But if you can help at all, whether it’s just as another sword arm, a contributor, or anything else, go for it even if it’s risky. It’s how you end up with plot, friends, and loot”
“Volunteer, you don’t need to blow your own trumpet just step up and step in. ‘How can I help?’ or ‘What can I do?'”
7. Base your character on existing personality traits
For some, the creative flair needed to transform themselves into their character comes easily, for others though, acting like someone else entirely doesn’t come quite as easily.
One of the easiest ways to create a convincing character is to take an existing personality trait and exaggerate that. If you have a gregarious side, you could inflate that to become a more flamboyant character. If you’re naturally quite reserved, you might want to play a bookish type.
Whatever you do, play something you find interesting. The skills you choose should compliment the character not the other way around.
“Don’t get too ambitious with your first character. It will take some time to learn the ropes you wont drop straight in as the all powerful who whoosit of thingumie and that’s ok you might get there eventually but it probably wont be quick.”
“When someone comes to your faction looking for someone important… Be the person to take the information, make notes then go spread the word.”
“Best to play someone with an interest in getting involved, rather than the brooding mysterious figure in the shadows at the back.”
8. Play the total opposite to every day you
However, don’t underestimate the power of getting into costume, even the shyest of people in everyday life come alive and sparkle and shine when they transform themselves into their character!
As well as exaggerating personality traits, you could choose instead to explore what it’s like to be a polar opposite!
9. Be wary of playing a difficult or an unlikeable character
It can be tempting to play the role of a bit of a scoundrell because let’s face it, that sounds like fun right? But remember that just as in real life, if you’re playing a character who is rude, spiky, untrustworthy or downright nasty, you may find it difficult to endear yourself to people and make friends.
“Don’t play a moody loner. They’re cool in stories, but kind of boring to actually roleplay for a full weekend. The corollary to this is that if you ARE a moody loner, lrp is an excellent place to practice not being one. I think, after 20 years, I’m starting to make progress!”
10. Choosing a character name
Many of us take our inspiration from characters in books, films and graphic novels as well as historical figures. With that said though, if you use the name of an existing character, even if you think it’s obscure, people are likely to make the connection, so make sure you’ll cool with that before committing to using the name.
If you’re inspired by a character, instead think about choosing a variation of the name and ensuring you mix it up by not using the exact same surname for example.
“If you lift the character name wholesale from any canon film/TV/game/book, people WILL get the reference and you may not want that. Learn from the examples of Edmund Blackadder (former Lions NPC) and Attila the Nun (past Incantors guild leader) and be sure that the name you pick is one you want going forward.”
11. Be aware of the ancestors in your chosen faction
Whilst the game allows for a lot of creativity, it’s generally accepted that each faction has their own ancestors (essentially deities) and the ancestor that you choose to follow can have quite an impact on your character and your game.
For example, if you follow a very lawful ancestor, it’s unlikely that you’d want to be a character who actively goes out of their way to flout the rules or acts in a chaotic, unlawful way.
Each faction will have their own ancestors, and if you can’t find an ancestor that suits your character, then don’t forget that there are also often ancient ancestors that existed at one time or another, they may have simply been forgotten over time or be less popular than they once were, so doing a bit of research (the Incantors guild and the library are good places to start) could reveal an older or more obscure ancestor that may be a better fit for your character.
12. Consider taking the ‘contribute’ skill
Having the ability to contribute to rituals gives you a great way to get involved in the game, often with very little effort and with no prior knowledge needed.
Rituals are great fun to take part in, and are lead by a ritualist who will generally need contributors to take part in a 10 minute, theatrical ritual with the aim of achieving certain goals, for example creating a magical item.
Good, reliable contributors are always in demand, so if you do take the skill, seek out the high ritualist of your faction, let them know who you are, offer your services and get stuck in!
13. Join a guild
The guilds are an amazing place to spend time. You’ll meet lots of new people, learn valuable skills and you can make things there too.
Most guilds charge a small annual fee for membership and once joined you can offer to help with guild duty. Its a great way of learning more about the game, giving something back and meeting new people too.
14. Find out the key people in your faction
Joining a new faction and seeing hundreds of new faces can be daunting, but it’s easy to strike up a conversion with strangers. Muster is usually taken care of by members of the faction command team, so afterwards, take one aside for a quick chat, or even feel free to introduce yourself at muster.
Many factions will be aware when there are new faces in camp and will often welcome new players to introduce themselves. If this sounds a bit daunting to you, then quietly asking around and finding out who key people are is easily done and players are usually very happy to help.
“Talk to your Faction, they have a wealth of knowledge that can be imparted.”
“Find out who your NPCs are and don’t be afraid to approach them if you need something, they are there to help out. The same with refs, we are here to assist with getting the game to run. Got a question about a rule or something feel free to ask.”
“Newbie tips, learn character names first. You can talk to everyone. A good talkie thing, talk to 3 different people from your faction but not your group every day, but talk to a member of your command team every day, but talk to 3 people who are not from your faction every day.”
15. Go monstering
What is monstering you might ask? At each of the 4 big events there’s a monster room, it’s where the monsters who interact with players are given their roles, statted up and put into makeup and costume.
Monsters then go out carry out their role and players get to solve problems and defeat the baddies.
Monstering is a lot of fun, and for new players in particular, it’s a great way of learning the combat side of things as players will attempt to take monsters down using a variety of different skills, such as spellcasting, diplomacy, problem-solving and of course, with their weapons!
If you don’t fancy the fighty side of things, then there are often monster roles that are more focused on talking, so instead of fighting players, you might instead need to go and interact with them to share or support some key plot.
“Go monstering for a bit, it lets you experience more of the game rules and for some it’s easier to learn that way.”
16. Don’t freak out if you don’t understand something
As a new player, and even as an established player, occasionally you’ll hear a call that you don’t understand. When it comes to damage calls, if you’re hit with something like decay or bane or anything else you might not be familiar with, if in doubt take the hit(s), drop and ask a healer that comes to your rescue, or later, seek out a ref or martial to gain clarification.
“I’ve found refs and martials happy to explain damage/spells etc, everybody’s there to help.”
“When I started I had the idea of, I want to learn the rules so I will be a really tanky fighty character so that I can get hit by lots of things and ask what they did so I can find out how the calls work.”
17. Visit the Sanctum for player support
The Sanctum is a support resource for LT players with heaps of information about every aspect of the game. At events, you’ll also find a Sanctum desk (usually inside Games Control) and they will be happy to discuss ideas and help you with your character build or character progression.
“When you come to your first event, come to the sanctum desk and we can help you in person with any questions, or even help build your character and bounce off ideas with you.”
18. Take care of yourself
Playing an event means you’ll be camping and at the mercy of the elements, and even in the height of summer adverse weather can massively impact your enjoyment of the game if you’re not prepared.
Ensuring you have a decent waterproof tent, sufficient clothes to keep you warm and dry, as well as bringing enough food and drink is super important.
There’s an amazing first-aid team on-site to deal with any emergencies, but ensure you’ve remembered to pack any regular medication you might be on as well as extras like sunscreen, plenty of water, cash and things like heat packs and painkillers are useful to take care of headaches or injuries.
“Be sure to eat food before the first time in – it’ll help take the initial nerves off.”
“A decent tent that will keep you dry and is big enough to accommodate all of your gear and comfortably get into kit in is a must. Also make sure you have clothing that will keep you warm and dry. Sunscreen too is highly recommended and keep yourself hydrated – beer is not water!”
19. Visit the on-site vendors to complete your costume
At events you’ll find a fantastic range of vendors on site selling everything from weapons to pocket watches. Arrive before time in and go shopping to complete your characters look with excellent quality weapons, armour, masks and loads more available.
When it comes to costume it’s often the little extras like accessories that can make a huge difference, and whilst there are a plethora of online retailers selling LARP kit, there’s nothing quite like browsing first hand and getting the opportunity to try on armour and feel the weighting of weapons in your hand before taking the plunge and investing.
“Practice and refine costume and make up etc for cold wet and sunny conditions. Plan your layers and changes.”
20. Utilise LT online resources
As well as various Facebook groups for factions, guilds and more, you’ll also find factions have their own individual websites too. All of these provide heaps of valuable information that you can read up on prior to hitting the field for the first time.
Some handy resources
- Lorien Trust rules
- Publications, including LT Rune
- The Sanctum – LT Player Support
- The factions of Erdreja
Finally, don’t forget to have fun!! See you in the field!