Coming Down after Game
So you’ve had a fantastic larp event with amazing roleplay, great fights, and fantastic connections. The moment “game off” is called can be jarring for some players. After all, bleed can fudge the lines between real and fictional, and some may need an exercise or two in order to help come down and cope with their experience- especially one with negative player repercussions, such as death.
These exercises can help ease the transition back into the “real world” and foster community among players.
Exercise 1: “Goodbyes”
Players stand around a circle and take turns speaking about their characters. They mention one character trait and quality they want to take home with them, to help them grow. They also name one trait or quality they want to remain at camp, something to leave behind or hopefully grow from the experience.
For example: Kaza plays a character named “Ran,” a mage known for her silliness. Kaza wants to take inspiration from that character and lighten up in her personal life, letting people in. She DOESN’T like her character’s thirst for power and willingness to do anything to get ahead, and uses this as a lesson to take home, and a quality to leave behind.
This method needs a small group, and promotes growth, community and roleplay amongst your LARP.
Exercise 2: Afters
Many larps have something similar to afters. Even a small get-together after game at a local diner or restaurant can help foster community and solidarity. Eating non-camp food, sharing stories, and approaching people you met out-of-game can help create a sense of conclusion to the game. Meeting with players at these social events can also help prevent in-game conflict from spilling out into the real-world. By addressing our in-game enemies as out-of-game friends, collaboration can be made to help create a consensual form of intense conflict, and further drive the story at your local LARP. (some of the best moments and friends I’ve made at LARP started out as antagonistic in-game relationships).
It can also foster friendships, finality, and help plan for “what happens next,” creating a litmus for what you as a player can do to help utilize your next game, promote fun experiences for other players, and collaborate on fun scenes. Some of my favorite moments at LARPs were born from conversations and ideas held at after-parties.
Exercise 3: Afterwork
Surveys, feedback forms, and other ways to measure how you felt about the game is also great was to air feelings after game. While GMs need their own rest as well, these should be filled out almost immediately after game in order to help create a sense of validity to player emotions. it can also be used to showcase what is going WELL in a larp. While we as a society are more likely to point out what’s wrong, we tend to remain silent about what is right. It can also be used to highlight any mechanical issues players have had, or any other issues that need to be addressed.This also helps STs and GMs come up with story for the next game.
By highlighting NPCs doing exemplary work, Storytellers who have gone above and beyond- as Storytellers often do- and applauding what works, GMs know what the community desires more of, and can act accordingly. GMs, when able, can then look through these as a way to help improve their plot, address any issues, and also correspond with their community, creating a sense of communal ownership and investment with players, as they feel apart of the creation of this world.
This method is best for larp staff, who need feedback in order to grow, but most importantly need positive feedback in order to know what should continue, but also for the fundamental reality that we all want to know if we are doing a good job and genuinely feel positively rewarded.
Remember these exercises on your next visit to the larp world.
Article by guest blogger Michael Kollen.
Find more of Michael’s work here.