With the sun beginning to shine, the days beginning to lengthen as the clocks spring forward, the mind turns towards the fest season and all the hi-jinks it is sure to bring. And whilst fest seasons come with chances for heroics, great deeds and grand stories, they can also bring times of sorrow and character development.
Picture the scene – you’ve arrived on the site and swagger into camp in your character kit – all layers and details and marvelous things. You go out on an adventure, you get in a fight, then suddenly find yourself contemplating your character’s corpse. All you have is what you brought with you (and if you have your entire soft kit wardrobe with you then you are a cunning devil). So, what do you do?
Join the monster crew for the rest of the event (which is always an option) or try and cobble together a character to continue the rest of the event? And in the rest of this blog post, I will try help and help you as you make the transition from character to character in a hurry.
First of all, there is no rush at starting a new character. You don’t have to start a new character at that event, though doing so will allow you to continue to play the event and gives you plenty of opportunity for character development – the craziest things can help form a character, and fests are a haven for crazy things! But you can and should take time to accept that your character has stopped existing, and that it’s OK to be sad.
When I go to events I take a bag of character kit and a bag of “generic” monster kit which includes a shirt, tunic, and my armour. Most of this only gets worn when monstering, so it’s rarely included in my current character kit. By keeping these separate it gives me some things that look distinctly different. However, if you are not able to do this, here’s where I hope to help …
As a new character you will generally have an amount of starting money, which will govern what armour or equipment you may purchase to start with (excepting unusual characters like knights, which may have special rules / requirements). Scouts and mercenaries form a good general starting class as they can look as they choose, have what kit they can afford and have a great reason for turning up to an event – there’s a hiring, there’s money, there’s a chance for adventure!
If you have armour and choose to afford it, you can wear it as your new character; or take up a choice of weapon, or simply be a man with a dagger and a small fortune in coins looking for a dream … Its always a good idea not to spend all your starting cash so that you can still buy things in-character, in case things turn up at the event or afterwards. When it comes to your belt or belt pouches (if you’re partial to that sort of thing) then you can probably use one of your old character’s pouches temporarily for the event, which’ll give you somewhere to stash your ooc wallet/keys/phone if you’re worried. If the kit you have already is “generic” it’s relatively easy to adapt things between characters with just the addition of accessories etc which you can collect as you build your character up.
Don’t be afraid to ask the members of your local group (of the society / campsite) for help with bits of kit – someone might be able to help you out with a shirt / sash / tabard / awesome baggy pants / hat / cloak / bracers / greaves / robe … you get the point! LARP is often a circle of friends, who are often more than willing to lend a hand to someone in a tight spot. Given that events often have a pack down period you can always return anything you’ve borrowed before you part company, though if you do accidentally take something borrowed away please make sure its gets back to the original owners. What you might think of as a “spare shirt” could actually be their character’s banquet kit or similar.
The choice of race is always something to consider, and you’ll be likely to find someone willing to lend you elf ears or a temporary dwarf beard. However,if you’re tempted to play another race that requires ears/feet/beard then I suggest you take your own in a bag just in case, so that you have your own from the beginning.
You don’t need to come up with a complicated backstory for your character – choose a name, a reason for turning up for the event (from the local area, a member of the baggage company, someone who’s turned up late to the hiring etc), and maybe a few details of history that might make for choice conversation (are you an ex-soldier? a peasant looking for a dream? a man hunting a six-fingered man who killed his father and wants justice? a man looking to become something more by having his soulfire awoken? Or did you simply got lost on the way and wound up amongst this company of fools? etc).
Before you head into camp as your new character make sure you know your rules. If you need a quick update or want to check details (especially if you’re taking up a religion or are undecided if a certain race is permitted in your guild of choice) then you should probably find a referee and politely make inquiries. Do not go looking for the referee running the event if you have other options – these people are probably already up to their eyeballs in things to do, so let them get on with them! They will thank you for it after the event, when they get to stop to eat / drink / consume hot beverages.
You’ll probably find that as you walk into character, share a few drinks, have a few fights, make a few friends that you’ll have no need of any serious background considerations. These can come after the event, when you have a chance to digest all that’s happened to your character so far. See the event for what it is – it’s a chance to develop your character through character interaction (the best bit of larp in my opinion), or just try your hand at a class you feel like trying. If it doesn’t work out, you can always drop the character.
Either way, a new character is a chance for new adventures and new stories. And whilst it’s OK to be sad about loosing your character, it’s also OK to look forward to see what’ll happen next.
Enjoy your LARP fest season!