Monday, June 18, 2012

Multiple Characters in a LARP - Yay or Nay?

I once ran a Vampire Troupe Game (Troupe means that it was disconnected from any other LARP games in the World of Darkness) which began with about 15 players who were either disgruntled with the Camarilla LARP or simply wanted an additional and different Vampire LARP game to supplement their gaming experience. Over time, I gained and lost players although as my pool of potential new players was quite low, I ended up with about six players before I cancelled the game.

Anyway, in this game I allowed players to have up to three characters and this had a number of benefits and drawbacks. It's really up to you in your LARP game as a Storyteller, or even as a Player, to decide which one is more problematic than the other.


Helps fill the gaps in court positions.
If you're bored, or have nothing to do that session, you can swap to a different character.
Gives you very different experiences and perspectives of the game and the characters within it.
It can create amusing situations where both your characters dislike each other (generally a good idea to help maintain distinction).
Those situations are all the more amusing if you're skilled at holding conversations with yourself (I've seen two characters played by the same player end up in a scuffle).
It helps fill out the clans and covenants so that no one is alone in any one covenant.
Multiple characters provide multiple plot threads and thus gives the game greater momentum.
Multiple characters provide more motivations for people to play around with.

Someone is bound to need to speak to a character othan than the one you are playing at the time.
Multiple positions can create a conflict of interest.
You will likely end up in the awkward position of knowing plots against your own character.
It is tricky to maintain boundaries between character knowledge as you may forget who knows what.
In attempting to keep in character knowledge separate, you might not realise that you really do have enough information for another character to figure it out.
Other players won't know where you got your information from or why you behaved the way you did and therefore may suspect cheating.
You'll need to divide game time between the various characters.
Both characters may be required to attend the same session at the same time.
A situation may arise where both characters may need to deal with each other.

In the end, my recommendations would be that very political LARP games limit characters to one per player as a player's perspective will colour the character's perspective. Since characters also do the same to players, there is a good chance that all of the characters will come to a similar opinion of another person's character. Sure, one might hate them, one might dislike them, and one might ignore them, but it's rare that one character will love them, another dislike them, and the third ignore them. In a plot-based LARP game, multiple characters per player can make it easier to provide hooks into the game as you can always request they play a character that would work well in the plot.

So there you have it. I hope that helps give you some perspective on this conundrum. Anyone else played in a LARP where there were multiple characters per player? Did you love it? Loathe it? How'd that work out for you?


  1. made epic length post.
    made my peace wit posting wall of text post.
    browser breaks and lose post.

    post this.

    stupid work browsers...


  2. Ok, second attempt at epic comment of posty length.

    I think the ability to have a second "back up" character is fantastic and should be available in all games (politcal or otherwise).
    The basic groun rules I set on myself when creating such a character are:
    -It should have a wholly different concept, why bother if you're just trying to "preserve" teh character you're already playing.
    -AVOID YOURSELF. try to avoid situations which may end up biting you in the arse, by this Imean avoid accusations of meta-gaming aor rules hacks via grey areas.
    -Play your main at least 70% of teh time. Unless situations prohibit your use of your main (ie torpor in a WOD-Vamp game) always choose your main if it's simply a coin toss.

    Things I think every ST/DM/GM should put in place.
    -Make the player prove the differences, 20 questions, a detailed back story document, or a half hour (in my opinion minimum) chat about what the secondary (back up) character is all about.
    -Make the hard calls, if you player is seen to be (this doesn't mean they actually are) bending/breaking rules or playing meta, let them know. Many othe players will simply whine behind someones back, and not tell them they think what's going on is dodgy.
    -Suggest a back up/main should be played depending on the session you have planned. If you know ahead of schedule what you're planning will be much more fun and result in better interactions if one or the other is played, let the player know ahead of time.

    Some of the big bonuses I see in this is the ability to actively participate in more situations, and this shouild be encouraged no matter the size/style of game. An ability to show more depth of abilty in roleplay. Also greater and more varied depth in group dynamic.
    My personal fav, especially in LARP, is the ability to bring forward a Back Up to your Main position should something ill befall your primary Character. It's a much easier transition to do this than come up with a whole new concept, and character, in a short space of time between sessions. Also in game ties (again much more important in larger LARP style games) can be a massive boon to being able to actively participate in storyline from teh get go.

    There are several negatives to this style of play. Character conflicts, player appearences, the strain on an ST/DM to ensure plot doesn't create these conflicts. But overall I feel the pros outway the cons, and would love to see more of this stye implemented into multiple genre's (as to date I've personally only seen active "back up" or "secondary" characters in WOD LARP)

    Punchy Frank the Insane

    1. Well, this just perfectly sums it up, I reckon, especially from a player's perspective as the success of allowing multiple characters per player in-game really depends on how the players manage it.

  3. I always thought a good back up character to have would be the NPC retainer of your current character. This means players would have something to use should their primary be 'busy'. The character would be primarily st controlled meaning less chance of abuse, limited resources, and less chance of conflict of interest. It would also allow for the retainer to 'fill in' for the primary if necessary. It also allows for logical character replacement should the primary character meet a permanent solution. R :)