Larpskill: Dramatic sense

Knowing how to structure the flow of play. Both in regards to the overall structure of the game and matching it to those around you for great synergy.

When to start with a bang and when to do a slow build. When to let others shine and when to throw yourself onto the spotlight. 


Larps are unlike any other storytelling medium, because there is not one story, but as many as there are participants. The organizers may have an idea for an overall storyline, may write stories into the characters, but in the end each story is a personal one for each of the participants.


Its an amazing thing, no two larps or even runs of the same larp are ever the same. It means that you as a player have an enormous amount of control over your own story. For good or bad, you decide how it’s going to flow.


A good story is one in motion, the most interesting characters are those that grow and change both inside and in the situation they find themselves in. A good story explores themes from many angles.


You don’t need to know where the story is going to end up, but enjoy where it is right now and strive for where it could be. There’s also no best way of going about it, no one story to fit them all, no monomyth to follow. In larp, it’s what makes sense in the moment, right now, right here.


Some players like to go for a full immersion ideal, to let the thoughts and actions of their character be the deciding factor in decisionmaking. It should be so, but the dramatic sense is also about having an eye on the others in the game, trying to make choices that benefit the game as a whole. Ideally this would mean the same thing, but we’ve all been in situations where you have to chose between the most realistic reaction and what is good for the flow of the game.


It takes some practice to be able to look on your character from the storyteller perspective, but it is worth it. Instead of thinking from inside the head of her, take a look at her story instead. If it was a character in a novel or a movie, what developments would make the story interesting?


The realistic choice is often trying to optimize your own situation. The conservative choices, trying for status quo or sticking to the plan. But real people make idiosyncratic or bad choices all the time. Larps are limited in time and scope, you have at maximum a couple of days to explore everything, so go for interesting choices: Change and the new.


Is your character on top and in charge? Wouldn’t it be fun to take some punches and let other’s get some spotlight time? Are you stuck struggling and fighting for what’s right? How about turning bitter and disillusioned?


If you have the chance to check with your coplayers, chances are you’ll find a new angle that gives everyone a new, better situation to play on, rather than repeating the same scenes. If not, you get to surprise them with your ideas. It adds more to their experience if they have to react to changes in you.


But of course don’t go overboard, keep a line through it all. Don’t become unpredictable if that isn’t a point, keep your character the same so the changes become significant to those that care about her.


In the end, you’ll have more experiences. It’s far more satisfying to come out on top if you’ve been past the bottom first. The ancient greeks knew this, the difference between a tragedy and a comedy is mainly in how fast the change of status comes. It’s fun if the king sudden goes nuts, but a slow descent into madness is tragic.


You can have the same control of your play with a bit of dramatic sense.

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