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Staying in play is really hard

I wish to preface this post by stating that I am guilty of some of the things I’m talking about below. By calling these things out I not only set a higher standard for myself, but I hope to bring about some positive LARP habits in those around me.

Staying in-play during an event can be very hard, and for some people is very stressful. Always remember that every person is at a different stage in their LARP career. While there is a desire to be fully committed to roleplay we all started out as humble newbies afraid we’re doing something wrong. When asking someone to stay in-play, it’s best that we do so quietly, as even calling that out may sound like you’re trying to ruin someone’s fun. If someone asks you to “keep it in play” during an event, please don’t take that as criticism. Take it as the request that it is, and move on.

Do. Not. Pull. Out. Your. Phone. We’re all glued to those tiny argument boxes but pulling those out immediately removes you and anyone who sees you, so far out of game that it’s difficult getting back. Just like a yawn it could remind someone that they’re looking for a specific notification and then they have a phone out. Leave the phone in the cabin or safe space on silent. Trust me on this. Disconnect, enjoy the game. The notification will be there later when you get back to it.

Environment helps. If you find yourself surrounded by everyone in thick roleplay it would be disruptive to start talking out of play. I’ve seen people say “I saw something like this at another LARP” and I’d like to apologize if I was ever that guy. This person in particular is a positive force for LARP, as well, so it was a little disheartening to have such a blatant out-of-play statement during a character defining moment. This is the exception to the rule, though. Often surrounding yourself with people who are already engaged in heavy roleplay helps you slide deeper into character. Encourage those around you to stay in-play. Make a compact with your group that you will all refrain from going out of play, even at bedtime. Some of the best roleplay I’ve had was from across a cabin while myself and my liege-lord drifted off to sleep.

Pretend your voice can be heard across the entire site… because it can. If you’re talking out of play about another LARP, the most recent shows you’ve watched, or even talking negatively about the game you’re actually playing at the moment; You can be heard! As a staffer, and as a player taught to listen to every single conversation going on around me (Thanks Marentha!) I hear so much that is said. If I don’t hear it, someone is going to tell me about it. That means anything you say out of play will get circulated around the entire event very quickly. Keep the out-of-play talk to a minimum, and the trash talk about other players or the game for game off. If you are going to be out-of-play, get consent of those around you, and do so in hushed tones. If someone approaches, go back in play immediately. They may be there to sell you something, tell you something important, or maybe they’re someone you’ve been looking forward to having a private conversation with.

Much like with comedy, timing also helps determine how far into character you can be. One-Day events, which are the norm for this chapter currently, are the most difficult. You show up on site, you get to see your friends, there’s a lot of camaraderie that happens and then you’re in play for several hours before going back out again. It’s not a huge block of time to be in character, and there is some willpower that needs to go into getting there.

Let the out-of-play stay there. If you are an NPC and you have been looted, stay there until the rest of your in-town encounter has died. Don’t talk out-of-play, and don’t hang out with your sword over your head. Let people know you’re down, and hide away when you can. The last thing you want to do is affect a combat or roleplay situation simply by being there. If you are a PC, try to stay out of Monster Town and don’t harass the staff who are doing other things. I’ve been that guy, and it doesn’t work out for you or the plot-member.

Have fun. If you aren’t enjoying the RP going on, take it in-play. Take offense at what your character would be offended by, or just walk away. It’s better than forcing roleplay you aren’t interested in interacting with.

Staying in-play means also not taking things that happen in-game into the real world, and vice-versa. Let’s say I come into town to hunt down your character and kill them. While I’m there I take everything they own, curse them up and down. I know my actions will bring dishonor to you, your family, and your cow. That should not terminate our friendship. While I understand that it could be a hard pill to swallow I wouldn’t do something like that without a good reason, and that reason will always be in-play. Actually, let’s be fair, if I didn’t like you out-of-play I’d ask someone else to kill, rob, and thereby dishonor you so I don’t exacerbate a potentially stressful issue.

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