My friend, David Zoltan, recently made an excited Facebook post about joining an ongoing, Werewolf LARP. I jumped on the opportunity to ask him about his personal process of joining a story, currently in process.
The Day of….
CGG: What’s your personal history of role playing?
DZ: I’ve been participating in role playing games since I was 11 years old. I started (like I think most people do where pencil and paper games are concerned) with Dungeons & Dragons, though I quickly got into several other systems after that, including Middle Earth Role Playing and Marvel Super Heroes among others. It has been my most consistent hobby across my lifetime, and it is the one that brings me the most joy.
I started LARPing when I was in college. As a sophomore, I found the Vampire the Masquerade LARP at the local game store at Michigan State University. It wasn’t long after that I found out about the Werewolf the Apocalypse game as well. It started a love affair with that setting that continues to this day. WtA is hands-down my favorite RPG setting of all time and probably always will be. I especially enjoy playing Silent Strider characters. I have even managed the Silent Strider tribal settings material and acted as a player resource for Strider players, and for Storytellers in need of assistance at the global level, for one of the largest global campaigns out there.
These days, I play a regular Iron Kingdoms game with friends once a month. I play off and on with another group in a D&D campaign. I search in vain mostly to find a Hero System campaign to jump in on, because I love that system tremendously for how adaptable and cinematic it is. I try to make it to cons and jump in on various games there as well from Shadowrun to Hackmaster whenever I can.
CGG: What made you decide to go looking for a new LARP?
DZ: Well, in this case, it kind of fell into my lap. A close friend of mine, that I used to LARP with a number of years ago, was talking about the game. I jokingly asked her why she hadn’t told me about it. She thought she had. Suddenly I had rules and character sheets; I was pulling a character that I hadn’t gotten to play more than a few times and get his story out of the mothballs.
A couple of conversations with the Storyteller later, and I’m going to my first game in years tonight, with a character that has existed more in short story form than in games. I am pretty excited about it.
CGG: What do you expect out of a first session?
DZ: First sessions are almost always about getting the lay of the land, both in terms of other characters and what plots are running around that might snag my character. I hope to be able to introduce some plot of my own (of course) as well, to add to the fabric of the game right off the bat, but you always have to play that by ear. There’s a balance between just standing back and observing and making yourself the center of attention. You don’t necessarily want to do either too much right from the beginning before you know the dynamics involved.
That’s especially important in a game like Garou where pack and sept dynamics are incredibly important, and I’ll be coming in alone and without a sept. I happen to be playing a character well-suited for just that, but it doesn’t mean I can steamroll the game either, or want to! In any LARP, there must be a dimension of shared spotlights and knowing when and how to take the stage. Sometimes discretion is truly the better part of valor early on.
I know other people have different approaches on this, and they want to grab the spotlight as early as possible. I know it’ll come my way though, and I play my cards accordingly.
CGG: What red flags do you look for when you start in a new game?
I don’t go in looking for red flags necessarily. However, I generally hope to see the more experienced players taking newer players under their wings. I like to see the experienced players reach out to make character connections and bring them into the game in a positive way, especially when the new player is new to gaming or that particular game system. Experienced players can help new ones to understand what they’re doing and feel comfortable asking questions.
I also hope not to see any one person or group of people that try to dominate all the game time. Even when the spotlight is on you, there are always ample opportunities to share that spotlight and get others involved. LARP is about collaboration and shared storytelling, so these are core elements that the players in any LARP group should embrace. Beyond that, I just want to see people having fun, participating in the game, and not getting too cliquish out-of-character, even if they have in-character reasons to separate out from the group as a whole, and so forth.
One Day Later….
CGG: Well. How did it go?
It was a whole lot of fun. Big game with lots of people. It was great seeing the various degrees of costuming as always. Especially with only a couple of days to throw something together, I felt pretty good about my ensemble. Far from the most extravagant, but not the laziest either, which made me feel at home; if that makes sense?
CGG: It does. Will you go back?
What was supposed to be a moot night turned into a sort of maintenance night as a couple of key players couldn’t come to game due to injury. One of the players found out I was playing a Strider and gave me an instant reason to come to the sept and make a delivery, as well as a contact that I would know. That helped a lot. Huge kudos to that player.
I had a fun, low-key time. Made connections, and yes, I will definitely be going back. I was given some neat plothooks, a bunch of things to look into, and goals to achieve.
I knowingly made a character that was a little more difficult to integrate into a pack off the bat, but I still have other characters to work with on projects, so that worked out very well.
All in all, it was very successful, and I can’t wait for the next game in a couple of weeks.
CCG: What do you think it is important for gamers to remember when joining into a new game?
There are two competing forces at work. One, you want to get into the game, so you want to get noticed, and integrated, make connections and friends, maybe even some enemies and so forth. Two, you don’t want to be so obtrusive as to make the entire game about you and your entrance. Find a balance. Be willing to share the spotlight and get people involved in your story as well as getting involved in theirs.
CCG: How you think STs should handle new players?
DZ: There’s an article in that question all by itself… Possibly a series.