Alleged Entertainment


My thing with plot is that I don't have fun just talking to people who are pretending to be other people. I need a reason for it, some goal, something I'm trying to get out of the conversation that is different from normal interactions with that person.
- Nyren Knapp

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Mike Young, on 4/19/2010 at 10:45 AM
I was invited to join a 2-4 hour LARP Friday night. The organizers said that the characters were just in a tavern and there wasn't any plot. I actually considered this quote as I replied that I just don't care for roleplaying for the sake of roleplaying anymore. I want a reason to interact. When it became clear that that I wouldn't participate, the organizers gave me one of the character sheets to review. It really was a well written and clever character history, and I told them so. But without a reason to interact, I felt I would be bored with the character after about a half hour, and hour at the most.

Of course, that's just my opinion. The game apparently ran quite well without me. But it is good to know what you do and do not like in LARP and to communicate it to the GMs ahead of time.

Nat Budin, on 4/19/2010 at 10:51 AM
Interesting, thanks Mike!

The reason I posted this quote in the blog isn't so much because I agree with it. It happens that I do agree with it, but it's also very true that many LARPers can have a perfectly good time "talking to people who are pretending to be other people," as Nyren said. I posted it mainly because I thought it was a really good, succinct summation of that point of view.

One could probably see this as a GNS thing: simulationists would tend to disagree with Nyren's quote, whereas I suspect gamists and narrativists alike would agree with him.

Nyren Knapp, on 4/19/2010 at 11:14 AM
The quote was said in relation to me pondering why I hate playing characters who have no plot at all, except for the times that I don't. I couldn't figure out what the difference was between the times that I hated plot-less roles, and the times that I loved them. It turns out to be just this - the need for a reason to interact. It doesn't have to be a plot or a goal per-say, but there needs to be something I'm trying to get out of the conversation.

For example, I had a plot-less character this weekend, and I had a great time. The entire point of the character was that I was trying to convince people that I wasn't gay, with some strange caveats. This wouldn't have been interesting at all if no one noticed or cared, because I would just be playing a guy who acted gay but tried to convince people he wasn't. I do that all the time, I don't need to be in a LARP situation to have those interactions. However! Several people noticed and cared that I was doing that. People heckled me or gave me advice or played into my act. That gave a reason for the interactions, because they had an effect on the social landscape surrounding my character. Of course, it would have been a lot more fun for me if there were one or two other characters who explicitly cared more. It doesn't have to be goal related, or "plot" related. Caring is enough to change the interactions.

To contrast, in another LARP, I played a character who was amazing, and had tons of plot, but it was all totally unnecessary. The plots that I had didn't directly relate to the action of the game in any direct manner, except the one where I was being bait and I just had to be there to do that. I didn't have anything I really wanted to get from anyone, and I didn't have anything I wanted to do where the game took place. I had to make random connections of "My character probably cares about X!" in order to find anything to do at all, and it turned out that pursuing those tangential non-goals was the only way to fail my main goal. It was really frustrating all around, and not fun at all. No one cared about my character's cover, and no one cared about who my character really was except for one guy who I was supposed to make sure never found out (and he had no way of ever finding out, ever).

So, really, it isn't "having plot" that I look for in games, but "having a reason to interact with other people that they will care about and which will effect the social landscape in the game that surrounds my character."

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