Things I wish I could tell myself before my first LARP

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Disclaimer: For those of you who don’t know, LARP is an acronym that stands for live-action role playing. Yes, like from that movie Role Models, with Paul Rudd. Yes, it’s kind of like Dungeons and Dragons meets Renaissance Faire meets improv theater. Yes, lightning bolt, lighting bolt.

Nana Wells: Just talk to people. Shut up, stop thinking you’re supposed to be immediately great at this and talk to people. Ask questions about the world. Find out peoples’ names. Build a rapport with people and don’t remain in your own little clique. Also, bring baby wipes.

Marie Burell: More blankets. And not to be so damn stressed and scared of everyone. They don’t bite… at least I hope they don’t…

Angela Basset: If you have to make a choice between something that’s probably a safe bet, and you won’t die, versus a dangerous mission, always choose the dangerous mission.

Briana Westmoreland: Just talk to people, folks aren’t going to judge you. so don’t be shy. Also, at the same time, no one has any right to touch you and you can ask people to leave you alone.

Kiri Brasseur: CALM DOWN. Use a modern bathroom before you get there. Breathe. Featherlite boning is NOT going to keep the shape of your bodice.

Brandon M Burns: Learn some more folk songs to completion. Approach people with a little caution. Wear more layers. Do everything. Bring snacks. Don’t let people talk down to you/underestimate you just because you’re a cute girl. Accept courtships from no one. Don’t join any organization for at least one year. Stay in character always. If something gets boring, go look for trouble.

Amy Lynn Resele: Every faulty principle that you’ve built your life on is going to crumble. These people will love you for who you are, and not judge you for your size. Let your guard down, you’re finally safe.

Jacci Kaschak: Try not to let others get to you. It’s always scary when you first start and you dont know anyone, but remain strong and true to your character and others will respect you for it, even if not right away.

Stephanie Parmelee: You don’t look NEARLY as stupid as you think you do… Besides, everyone else is here doing the same thing… go get em! No, you’re not expected to remember everyone’s name the first time. Yes, it’s okay that your costume isn’t as frilly/elaborate/extravagant as theirs. Yes, it’s okay that you forgot your name and that your back history is a tale that can be told in 2 minutes. Just jump in. Worst case scenario, you have something to giggle about when you look back.

Sarah Jessop: Your girly friends from school are never going to know how dorky you were on the weekend, and even if they do, who cares!

Chelsea Stoddard: Try picking a character that is not so against the grain of the world.

L.C. Longo: You should pack more socks. That cute guy in the cloak? He’s a dick… Fairy Fire is not as cool as it sounds.

Tara M. Clapper: Bring friends and you’ll feel less nervous.

Stephanie Leigh Twilley: Don’t trip over the fire pit.

Rachel Onca Berleman: Stop taking the world so seriously, and try to bask in a group of people where you feel you belong.

Danielle Sanfilippo: You know how you’re thinking right now that it might be just like Oblivion, but real life? It is. Now kick some ass and have fun!

Jennifer Hartshorn: If you can possibly manage it, take Monday off. You are going to want to sleep for 24 hours after your first event.

JJ Bartlett: Make up a character that has a personality/character quirk/whatever that will cause you to say ‘yes’ to getting involved in things, rather than one who shies away from getting involved in plots. Being a shy/cautious character is all well and good, story-wise, but you are going to want to be doing stuff.

Kiri Brasseur: Yes, this IS just like improv, and the same golden rule applies: never say no.

Erica Tieppo: No matter what your boyfriend tells you, la poste di falcone is only going to make you look kinda crazy during your combat test, especially if you only “learned” it a half hour ago.

Elizabeth Mc Allister: Wander around. Listen to the stories being told around the fire.

Bianca Mason: Be yourself, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and have fun. You are most likely going to make some of the best friends ever.

Jacqueline Whalen: Be more naive sometimes… yes, that NPC is probably leading you to danger, but that’s part of how you get really involved in the game. If you think you are going somewhere dangerous, see if you can bring some other players along who you trust in game, but don’t pass up on plot.

Leslie Stewart: Don’t let that cute boy from LARP talk sweet on you, and flirt with you, in his cute costume, and be all adorable and stuff. You might end up marrying him someday. Oh wait.

Today’s post comes from an epic Facebook group, The LARPettes. If you’re a female LARPer, join up for a daily barrage of fantastic and femme flared LARP chatter.

Please leave your own LARP advice, or join the conversation on Twitter. #GeekGirlAdvice

What Role-Playing Has Taught Me About My Identity

You Are Who You Pretend To Be - Kurt Vonnegut
Image Source: Tom Banwell on Etsy

Have you ever watched a movie, and fell so in love with a character that you wished you could be them, even for a day? Have you ever been entranced by a comic book and imagined the life you’d lead if you took on the identity of one of its superheroes? Or maybe you know someone in your life who positively enchants you, with a super high Charisma score, and you just need to be around them.

I was cripplingly shy as a kid. I was terrified to approach other people for the simplest things, like asking for directions. I had mild low self esteem, and was intimidated by everyone. I mimicked any character I liked on TV, or in a movie, due to a lack of any sort of self identity. And iconic literary characters like Anastasia Krupnik and Harriet the Spy, who kept thorough identity journals, would help me to start my own, and write list after list of who I wanted to be, and who I ultimately became.

At the confusing age of 12, I ended up being thrown under the bus by my mother, who approached a girl and asked her where she bought her shirt. She then told the girl that I was actually the one who liked it, but that I was too shy to ask her where she bought it. The girl then walked up to me, very nonchalant, and said “I used to be shy, but then I decided to overcome it.” This opened a door in my mind that taught me that being shy was something I could not only overcome, but something I could control.

In high school, as many of us do, I struggled with my identity. I found myself, along with my friends, mimicking the trends of the day, wearing what our friends wore, and assembling entire outfits based off of mannequins at the mall. I was swimming in a pool of styles and identities that were a Frankenstein of things I’d seen my friends and role models do. We all struggled to find ourselves in high school, so I don’t imagine anyone has trouble relating to this idea. What I would soon learn would help me to build the character concept I’d always wanted to play.


I began to LARP when I was 17 years old. For those of you who don’t know, LARPing stands for Live Action Role-Playing. It’s sort of like this, and this, but mostly like this. You create a persona, and become them, in an improvisational fashion, in an immersive fantasy world. It’s a real life role-playing and acting experience, mixing the mechanics of a tabletop dice game with the reality of an entire world full of costumed characters, all interacting with you in real time. It’s pretty dorky cool.

In addition to LARPing, I’ve played tabletop role-playing games and online games throughout my teenage and adult life. Classics like Dungeons & Dragons, Serenity, and Star Wars. All of these games require you to design and role-play a character, at a table with other people who are also role-playing, while you play the actual game.

In college, I heard a quote that solidified for me what would soon become me crafting my own identity “You are who you pretend to be,” a quote from author Kurt Vonnegut. This is what our identity is. We decide who we admire, who we strive to be like, who are favorite characters are, and we craft an identity that we role-play throughout our lives. I began developing a personal brand and identity that would give my life a sense of purpose and self validation.

When you role-play, you become absorbed in an idea that you create. I could craft the persona I wanted, devise a perfect character, and become that person. Role-playing is an experience of complete and total mental immersion. It’s a little bit like this.

And the end result is a character we play every day who becomes our own. The campaign setting is your life, and you get to control your stats. I myself knew my character would have a high Charisma score, higher than average Wisdom and Intelligence, a low Strength score, average Dexterity and average Constitution scores. So that’s me. How about you?