Every story has a beginning. This is yours…
Playing in a freeform game can sometimes be pretty intimidating at first, so the following guide will give you a starter for ten. Some of the games have their own slight variants to the rules, but broadly speaking character creation is always the same.
Step 1 – Think of a character concept
The easiest way to start is to think of a character concept you’d like to play. For some larpers that might make you think of the three common areas ‘fighter’, ‘utility character’ (which includes everything from wizards to mechanics) or ‘mixed’.
For others we recommend thinking in terms of a movie or story character that matches to the kind of niche you’d like to play, or maybe the kind of things you enjoy most in a game. If that gravitates you in one direction, then so be it!
e.g. Tanya generally goes to larp events to kick face and so naturally gravitates towards a fighty character. She’s going to Norsemen this week and she’s been watching a popular TV series (Vikings) and decides she wants to play some kind of shield maiden type.
Step 2 – Dream up some background
How did your character get to where she/he is now? What big events made them end up at this event at this time? In storytelling terms that’s the ‘hook’ – the thing that makes your character stand out from all the other mooks out there. It might be a an uber-over-the-top hook that’s high in melodrama, or it might be a simpler more discreet facet to their background. Who are we kidding… it’ll be melodramatic right?
e.g. Tanya finds out that two of her mates, Sally and Bob are also playing shield maidens. Blast. Tanya decides that she’s actually from another tribe/hall and accidentally was involved in the death of the youngest son of the Earl. They’d been playing at casting runes, she entered a really odd trance and the next thing horrible things started to happen (how much of that is in her head or how much is real – that can be somewhere between you and the refs). So now she’s a shieldmaiden with a bit of a wierd occult twist.
Step 3a – Now think broadly about skills (if you need to)
As a rule, you can probably already imagine the kinds of skills your character might have once you’ve started to think through some background. It’s reasonable to assume that certain backgrounds come complete with certain skills – some maybe at a basic level and others more advanced. Keeping in mind the Rule Seven and think logically about what your character is good at, average at or has a ‘basic’ understanding of. Also have a thought as to how ‘tough’ your character is – generally this fits into three categories in movies : Weakling, average or tough. This is also a great opportunity to ‘share the love’ and fit your character in alongside other players’ skills. For example “I can see these tracks but Frank is a MUCH better tracker than me.. why don’t you take a look, Frank?”
Step 3b – Or approach it a bit more like conventional roleplay (if you need to)
Sometimes the above method can feel a bit ‘woolly’.. so another way, for those more grounded in rules, is to think in the following way.
1 – Pick three skills/abilities as your main focus. Skills might include things like being tough, using melee weapons or shields and armour. Knowing your way around Guns, Poisons, First Aid/Surgery, Blacksmithing, Fletching, or Herbalism. If you’re a roguish type, Lock Picking, Trap Making, or Mechanics might be your thing. And of course, if you’re into pointy hats and robes, Occult Wierdness, Minerals, Special Lore might be in your spell book!
2 – Pick a couple of skills that you’re ‘okay’ at from the above (have a basic knowledge of).
3 – This is where it gets a bit odd, so don’t worry too much until you’re at the game, but sometimes it’s nice to add artificial limits or quirks on your skills such as ‘can use swords really well, but rubbish with axes’ or ‘am great with shotguns but cack with long rifles’. There’s no obligation to do so, but it generally makes a more rounded character.
4 – Don’t sweat it if your character logically should have a skill but either it doesn’t exist or you can’t find ‘room’ for it. Chat to refs or allow your character to have it at a really ‘basic’ level. You might get away with really limiting one skill (aka “I can only use knives”) so you can have an extra skill that’s also limited (“I can’t make poisons, but I sure can use them”). That’s the essence of EYE Larp: if it makes sense that your character should be able to do something then go for it as long as you a) roleplay it well b) don’t needlessly overshadow other players (or at least share some game) and c) don’t take liberties by strangely having every skill on the planet.
e.g. Tanya decides that a Shieldmaiden she’d obviously be ‘tough’, able to use melee weapons and shield/armour. She also decides that she knows a ‘bit’ about Occult Weirdness and first aid to patch up wounds – not as much as a proper ‘Skald’ or ‘Surgeon’ but enough to get by.
To further tweak her character though she decides that she can only use weapon/shield combo effectively but is rubbish with a spear or two handed weapon. No reason why, just a signature thing or preferred way of training. In turn she also decides that actually whilst she only has a ‘basic’ knowledge of Occult Wierdness, she’s actually pretty well versed in the casting of stones (see, with some trade off you can justify some bonus!)
And that’s the basics of character creation!
Your character will change and morph over time and you might find after your first game that actually you did less fighting and more occult jazz; in which case chat with the refs and see if it’s okay to tweak your character a bit. There can always be a good story reason why the tough-as-nails Shieldmaiden suddenly decided that she was going to become a Witch or somesuch instead.
Got a character idea and you’re still not sure? Have a look at one of the event Facebook groups and ask away!