You’ve vanquished the villain, marking the conclusion of a grueling story arc in which your character played a key role. Exhilaration and relief wash over you with the realization you’ve won the war. Even as you celebrate your victory, you look towards the future. Where do you go from here?
Moving forward after a major plotline ends is a challenge for even the most experienced players. It is difficult to transition from a lead role to a supporting one; but, this process is necessary for the growth of your character and the game itself.
It’s tempting to cling to the spotlight. You worked hard to get where you are, but there comes a point when you have to let others shine. Equipped with your experience, you are the ideal person to help others step into the role of the hero.
Though we LARP for different reasons, we’re all searching for the same things: action, challenge, appreciation, and the taste of hard-won victory. By using your knowledge to help others achieve their goals, you’re investing in the community. A hero does not stand alone at the front. It takes many hands to build a champion, including healers, crafters, and support roles.
Whether due to a lack of experience, social anxiety, or other challenges, getting involved with plot is difficult. Whatever the reason, other characters (or players) may need guidance to step into the spotlight. By helping them enhance their story you contribute to your own.
As you move forward, keep in mind that all games are different; some strategies will work better or worse depending on the setting and the motivations of the players within it.
Here are 6 approaches you can take to help your fellow players shine while maintaining the quality of your own game.
1. The Party
Teamwork is powerful. Working together to accomplish a goal is far more effective than going it alone. Find a group that compliments your play style. When you need help, ask for it. When they need help, give it.
Supporting each other is a natural way to share the spotlight. Determine the goals of the other characters and help them achieve them, “help” being the keyword. Even if you can solve the issue on your own, it is important not to take their victory from them. Collaborate, don’t dominate.
2. The Kingmaker
Not all heroes lead from the front. By enabling others, the Kingmaker gains access to multiple story threads. Whether they possess knowledge, wealth, or influence, they use their resources to remove their companions’ roadblocks, opening doors that lead to more interesting and rewarding plot.
Kingmakers hold immense power. It’s also a very rewarding play style.
- The noble patron who funds the expedition.
- The spymaster who uncovers critical pieces of information.
- The magus who empowers the warrior to take on a dreaded foe.
By supporting others, these characters make great things happen, becoming linchpins in their own right.
3. The Veteran
All games have veteran players and characters, capable professionals who know how to get the job done. They’ve solved more problems than they can count and the skill “jaded” is on their character sheet.
Ideally, a veteran will help new players understand the game and reach their goals. Often, they will encounter challenges they cannot face on their own. Using their knowledge, the veteran can guide other characters down the right path.
If you fall into this category, it can be hard to step back from the spotlight to help another step into it; but there is more than enough light to go around. Always remember the game is a community.
Use your power and abilities to help others have fun. Build strong alliances and connections. By sharing your skill and experience, you’ll help others have a great time and anchor yourself in their stories.
4. The Good Meta
It most situations, meta-gaming, or the use of out of game knowledge to cheat or gain personal advantage, is frowned upon. Sometimes, however, meta-gaming can benefit the game. Subtle changes and course corrections, such as including more people than are strictly needed, can lead to a better story and a more positive experience overall.
If you are or have been the focus of a storyline, do your best to incorporate others. Willingly take on a support role so someone else can experience the spotlight. As you make choices, remember that the other characters are not NPCs in your story; they are paid participants with goals, desires, and stories of their own.
Stepping into a leadership position is not easy, especially if the individual suffers from social anxiety or related issues. Intimidated by you or the story, they avoid taking center stage. LARP is a great chance to help others gain social skill and confidence. You can create a haven for others to learn and grow by acting as their advocate and guiding them through the process.
5. Once A Hero
Keep an eye on how much ‘screen time’ you are occupying. Your character might be the hero of legend, foretold to save the world, but it is important to remember there are other people at the game.
Playing the leading role in an arc comes with a lot of power, power you should wield to contribute to the experience of the player base as a whole. Make room for others along the way and be ready to take a step back and encourage them to move forward.
You don’t need to do everything on your own. You don’t need to be the focus of every scene. Use good meta to draw players in. When making important decisions, ask yourself the following:
- Besides me, is there someone who can accomplish this task?
- Who can I bring along to help?
- Which characters would make this scene better?
When the arc has concluded, willingly step aside and take on a supporting role in the next character’s journey. Depending on the game, there may be multiple arcs going on at once. You can be the main character in one and play support in others. Try not to block others from telling their story (or worse, take a story from them).
No one “owns’ plot. Even if you are the featured character that the story revolves around, it is not yours. LARP is a group activity and everyone is playing, even the NPCs. It belongs to everyone.
6. Always A Hero
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Whether defeating the vilest of villains or healing the wounded, you are a hero. Being the main character is a point of perspective. It does not matter if you are the main character or the supporting character. You can be someone’s hero. You can be the star of another’s story.
Like the chapters in a book, stories unfold in multiple parts that come together to form the greater narrative. Some of the best stories occur outside the main arc. By focusing solely on the main plot, you can miss out on some of the best experiences the game has to offer.
Find others with complementary stories and add them to your own. By building off of each other, you create your own spotlight. You never know what facet of a backstory or character arc you might suddenly play a major role in. Invite others into your story and they’ll welcome you into theirs. Great plot need not come from the main arc or from the story team. It comes from the hearts and minds of the people you play with.
You don’t have to be the main character to be a hero. You can be a hero by helping others find their way into the spotlight.