(Written by Ed Murdoch and Jane Houston)
Here are a few suggestions on how to get the most from a Vampire:the Masquerade LARP.
Talk to People
The simplest way to get involved with what’s going is to talk to the other characters about yourself and about them. Ask questions about where characters are from, why they came to the city and what they are interested in. Also be prepared to answer those same questions about yourself.
If you don’t know something then don’t be afraid to ask for more information (either in or out of character). Everyone will be happy to help fill in the blanks and it’s a good way to keep the conversation going.
One way to gain influence in a city is to be a purveyor of gossip and secrets. Information is the life-blood of plotting and intrigue and those who can supply it are in high demand.
There is more to using props than carrying a toy gun or having complicated prosthetics. A few small touches like posters for in-character events, party invitations printed out with MS Word templates or borrowed brief cases filled with pretend cash are very effective at giving a more immersive experience.
You can get 250 customised business cards from Vistaprint for only the cost of postage and second hand bookshops are great places to find “Occult Tomes”. A bit of imagination and some cellotape can be all you need.
Investigate and submit In-Character News Articles
Your LARP might provide in-character news at each Court with stories from both the mortal and vampire worlds, If anything catches your eye then you can investigate further via your downtime orders.
By submitting articles to the LARP news, you might just be able to make sure that the topic you want to see discussed gets a headline. Write a piece in your own name, anonymously, however you choose, and watch the feathers fly as it is read before your eyes.
Don’t be afraid to cross other players – at least when there is a benefit in it for you! There is a limited amount of power in a city and players will often clash over who exercises it. And most importantly, the best roleplaying is to be had when everyone involved is trying to get the same thing. Conflict breeds creativity, and fun!
Start a Coterie
Coteries are clubs, interest groups or political alliances, sometimes all three. Most are formed with a specific goal in mind and will usually disintegrate once that is completed – or often before. However, don’t get caught up too tightly in a single coterie, betrayal takes but a moment and you may find yourself high, dry and friendless. So stay one step ahead and keep your fingers in as many pies as you can.
Boons are the lifeblood of political intrigue. They are also the primary currency in the setting, so trade them freely, offer your own, do what it takes to get what you want, because a boon unused might be wasted if your character is taken out before you get the chance!
Stay In Character
Tempting though it is to break role and explain something, or make a joke out-of-character, try not to do it if you can help it. The game is improved by sticking with your character. Do your best and imagine you only have one take. No-one will mind if you struggle a little, but it is more fun to roll with the punches and improvise where necessary. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they are often more fun than when everything goes to plan.
Put in Downtime Orders
The regular events at Court are the centre of the game. They are the chance for characters to interact, trade boons, make and break alliances, blackmail each other and make deals of all kinds. But while the monthly events are all about the interactions, the time between Courts is when characters have the chance to change the world they operate in. They do this to expand their power, fulfil their ends of bargains, tackle threats in the world, even to try and kill other characters. Downtime Orders are the way to achieve these things and the more that changes during the month, the more you will have to talk about at Court.
Use online forums
Your LARP might have a website with forums for in-character communicaton. Regular events at Court give face to face interaction. Downtime Orders let characters change the world. The forums are a link between the two. They give characters the opportunity to communicate between games, to coordinate actions. There are public forums where discussions are held between any players who choose to join in. There are also private messaging facilities for one to one conversations. And you can also have a forum for your clan, a forum for your coterie, the possibilities are endless – if you use it, we will make it happen.
Submit a Character History
Character Histories are an essential part of building up the portrait of who you are trying to play. They explain what has brought your character to the city, what has made them who they are, and what drives them forward. This is the best place to identify your character’s long term goals and to set your agenda at the Larp. It is a road map, although the journey and even the destination are subject to change over time!
Remember it is Just a Game
We do take the Larp seriously, that’s what makes it exciting and entertaining. Months, even years of work can go into a character, and when things crash down around your ears, it can feel like a personal blow. But it isn’t! While we play at being monsters, once the game is over, we’re friends and co-players. Don’t hate the player who betrays you or punishes you, but you should feel free to plot revenge if your character survives or learn from your mistakes if they don’t. Anything which happens within the game should be left there at the end of the night.
If you do feel that you have any problems; that you are being victimised or out-of-character elements are having an effect on your game, you should always feel free to raise this in confidence with the Storyteller, who can offer advice from their own experiences. Experienced players can also be a great source of advice and insight, and you should feel free to approach them with any questions you may have.
Most of all, a Larp is about having fun.