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Making a Character, Not a Card

When it comes to LARP, it can be all too easy to look at a rulebook and start seeing all the skills, spells, and abilities you want to start off with and even pick up later on. There's nothing wrong with this of course, one of the most fun parts of LARP is deciding what your character can actually do while playing the game; but let's look at that a little more broadly, shall we?


Choose Your Abilities


Choosing your abilities generally dictates what you can do in certain situations, most often during combat, but not always. Unless you’re at a purely combat war style game where you’re either fighting or waiting to respawn, you’re gonna have times where your abilities on your character sheet don’t actually do anything. I’ve heard from many a LARPer that they are what they can do- or rather, their character is defined by what they can do, and to an extent this is true! But that isn’t the whole story, and it can be a mentality that can actually be detrimental to your enjoyment of your character, or the game as a whole.


Now, of course, if your character is a historian who is loaded up with lore abilities and there is a major shift in the rules to heavily change or outright remove lore abilities, then yeah your character’s identity will be severely impacted by those abilities (or lack thereof). But outside of a drastic (and often rare) situation like that, it is beneficial to decide who your character is and not what they are. Let’s say you’ve decided your character will be a Ranger- awesome- so you likely will have a melee weapon and/or a ranged weapon, possibly some tracking skills, and have some abilities related to wilderness or survival. But those are all things they can do, they are a Ranger, but who is your character? 


What do you do between fights?


Does your character often spend time doing target practice with their bow to keep their aim sharp? You can do this physically at game to represent this! Does your character keep a journal about all the beasts they’ve hunted, or the unexplained strange sightings they’ve encountered while hunting? This is also something you can actually do at game to add depth to your character (as well as give yourself some downtime activities, but that's a topic for another article). Does your character feel more at home or at peace among the trees than in the city or even in towns? Do they travel the forests to avoid large populations due to a criminal past or responsibility they’re trying to escape from? These are all ways to build a character and not just a card.


Larpers sculpting creatures with snow

Maybe you enjoy drinking a certain tea out of game- you can bring it to game and brew it to enjoy as your character, saying you take extra care to find the leaves whilst out hunting to make it. This doesn’t add anything mechanically to empower your character, but it adds a level of depth and richness that can help you immerse yourself in who your character is, so you can be Elomor Thesteros of Ky’dosu’mir, instead of just another Ranger.

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