There are couples who always play tightly connected lovers at larps, and couples who regularly end up on opposite sides in an ingame conflict. And then there are couples for which you can never guess what they’ll play on the next event. Nevermind which group you belong to, there are a few things to consider when preparing characters for your next larp – especially if you want to shake things up a bit from time to time – without causing yourselves unnecessary trouble.
#1 Know what you want from the game and be transparent to each other about it. There’s nothing wrong with playing characters who are always together – be it a romantic couple, friends or relatives. There’s also nothing wrong with playing characters who don’t even as much as interact during a game. And all the variants of the spectre inbetween are, too, more than welcome. It all depends on what works for both of you. Sometimes you won’t even know until you try – but don’t be afraid to venture into new kinds of ingame relationships just because you think it won’t work. Try it before you reject it – and definitely keep the roles which make larping enjoyable for both of you.
#2 Invert roles from time to time if your characters’ relationship has any sort of power dynamic (common when roleplaying nobility in fantasy settings etc.). If you play recurring characters only, it might not be possible, but if your characters are one-shot, it’s definitely manageable. It’s a bit harder to explain this one if you’re not usually aware of the dynamics in your relationship as some couples are – but let’s say there are people who regularly take more initiative in their relationships, and people who take less – and it seems sad to me if you always have to keep those “roles” while larping. Of course, the only thing which really matters is – what works for you?
#3 Be careful when roleplaying lovers. Bleed can be a bitch if you play your relationship too close to home, and if you bring either offgame bad vibes into a game or keep ingame bad vibes afterwards. As I vaguely recall saying a few times before, it’s hard enough to work on your offgame relationship – do yourselves a favour and don’t create a relationship you have to work on ingame, too (unless that was it’s purpose from the start). Talk about it and decide in what ways the characters will be similar, and in what ways different from yourselves – and what will differ (and what will not) from your real life relationship. Try to remember the differences and let them stay in the game.
#4 Don’t be afraid to play foes. I’ll never forget that one time the co-alpha and I played members of different sci-fi species whose homelands are in constant war (well, actually, my species sort of tried to exterminate hers, if I remember correctly), and all the shit and chaos and fun which played out during the game. If your relationship is healthy enough for you not to hold grudges over things which you did to each other’s character ingame, there’s a lot of fun things you can experience when roleplaying adversaries. (And no, not all of them include hate sex.)
#5 Communicate your ideas and needs clearly to the GM when playing a larp with pregenerated characters. I’ve seen really stupid things happen because players and GMs didn’t talk to each other transparently enough before the game. If you’re the GM, consult with your player couples and find out what they’d like and most definitely not like for their characters. Actually, player-generated characters count, too – if the GM needs to do any sort of character adjustments and add-ons for a game. Talk!
Bonus tip – Be transparent to other players after a game if your characters had an ingame row or something in front of everyone. You don’t want players to think you’re some psycho couple who likes to fight ingame for offgame reasons. Not all players will understand that – or be prepared to roleplay something similar with their own partner, if they’re larping together – so it’s polite to explain things afterwards, especially if someone asks. Well, do it even if they don’t ask – even more so when you larp with people who don’t know you as a player.
Stay tuned for the last two posts on larping couples, coming very, very soon, and a special treat for next week’s Full Moon – my pack’s anniversary – in the series wrap up!
Photo by Jelena Wehn.