Larpskill: Awareness

Being aware of the other players, what they are experiencing and where they are going.

It’s both a matter of reading the subtler clues while ingame, but also having the courage to ask up front. And vice versa being comfortable speaking your mind.

Larp is a communal effort. It doesn’t really work as a solo excercise. So we have to work with the other participants. And that’s really where larp exists, in the interactions of characters.

Interaction is what makes larp exciting, you never know exactly which way it is going and what the others are going to do. To get the most out of this aspect you need to be able to read characters, players and situations.

This is one of the basic social skills people are assumed to have, but it varies immensely in reality. Coming from the pale geeky side of roleplaying, this is something I have had to upgrade myself in, so I find it should be on the curriculum for all of us.

Reading people is not hard to learn, but it does take discipline. Mostly in learning to shut up and actually listen. Once you take the effort to actively focus on what other’s are saying you’ll learn an awful lot. Reading people lets you react with more confidence and keep the play flowing.

You also need to be able to read a little deeper and see where the player behind the character is going. If at all possible, this is best done entirely offgame by asking directly, but a sense of it during play is a valuable skill to cultivate.

Getting a feel for more than just you and those immediately next to you is the next step, seeing how the game itself is progressing and how you fit into it, what you can do and not do to make it better.

Improv theatre has a whole suite of fun games that teach how to “listen” to what other’s are bringing to the stage. Most are easy to use directly or adapt to larp use.

Active listening is a good tool too, it’s mostly “fake it till you make it” practice for listening to others and showing attention, but if you make a habit of it, you get a lot of new info.

Communication the other way is also important: You need to be able to clearly tell or show your co-players what you want out of a game and what you can contribute with. It means finding a way of talking about what goes on in games that is understood by those you play with. And knowing how to ask them for information, sometimes the best thing to do is ask offgame and directly. But more of that will come in later posts.

It’s a good skill to have in any circumstances, but for larp it can make the difference between having your own little fun and being part of something collectively awesome.

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