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Thinking About GMing For LARPs? These 3 GM Tips Could Save You From Angry Mobs
Game Master TipsGame Master Tips

Thinking About GMing For LARPs? These 3 GM Tips Could Save You From Angry Mobs

GM Tips Our series to help Storytellers and Game Masters improve their craft and create memorable roleplaying experiences. Last week, showcased Tarot decks in storytelling and this week we expand further into full Live Action Storytelling.

In early July, I had the pleasure of attending Dragon Thrones; a massive blockbuster hybrid LARP inside Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Leaping at the opportunity to study professional game masters who are passionate about their craft and perform this as a company—I watched everything they did. Being no stranger to running massive LARPs myself, the chance to sit back and learn while others plied their trade reinforced old lessons and showcased some new tricks.

Whether you are running a Vampire: The Masquerade game for an organization or putting on events for a one-shot convention parlor LARP, these tips go across all genres of play. Storytelling for large events is both rewarding and makes you hunt for the nearest bottle of mead, but watching players team up and get excited to pull off a plot of their own design is a reward for all storytellers. With a natural shortage of game masters even if LARP isn’t your cup of tea and you find yourself standing in one—volunteer. A little GM karma in helping others with their event can circle back to yours, particularly since LARP really focuses on community.

Cater To Your Quietest

Dragon Thrones LARP Featured

See this man in the picture above? This was the Prince Consort Cadoc of House Helfarian. If you are running the show at the Game Theater, you can tell just by looking at him; this man makes his own plot. A mover and shaker in the world of Dragon Thrones, the player Joe T. Needles doesn’t every plot to revolve around him, and he showed it by continually involving players around him and helping to facilitate the plot of quieter players.

When storytellers in LARPs ignore the new players or push the “blame” onto quieter or less-active players as the reason they aren’t having fun is short-sighted. What the creators of Dragon Thrones (Evan Michaels and Chris Batarlis) did is ensure the game was built around those players first in the form of opt-in gaming. By tying in board games, solitude puzzle solving, and riddles, with the central political game—even new people could have a meaningful impact on the story.

Dedicating a game master for the sole purpose of handling new players is a valuable resource to both growing and enhancing your game.

Over Decorate

Dragon Thrones Image

Even if you are the assistant storyteller at your local weekly vampire LARP; grab all your decorations and bring them to game. Setting small touches all over the place enhance the immersion value and someone has to take ownership of props. Some LARPs have dedicated teams to handle room decorations, but even adding a few more from your personal stash will be welcome. Be it a clan, faction, house, or roving zombie chainsaw squad you are most likely going to GM for a particular group and setting up a side-room for your team goes a long way.

Eye-candy and visual noise help strip away the feeling that you are most-likely standing inside a college dorm room. Plus, some props might become a fan-favorite and worked into the story-line or used in a pinch to set the mood. Other props you bring from home end up serving as the centerpiece to the very game itself, birthing entire plot-lines that will carry on from chronicle to chronicle and these activities should be encouraged! Don’t be afraid to play a little show-and-tell with all the cool toys you’ve been hoarding in your basement like a red dragon.

Plot ALL The Schemes

GMing Larps Gif

Have you been fortunate enough to have players come running at you with wild imaginations and crazy plot-tracks? Encourage this. Don’t say no. Multiple times at Dragon Thrones either myself, or other players, ran to the nearest storyteller available with a crazy conspiracy theory or random idea to play and every single time the storyteller sat back and a slow grin crept on their face.

Let your players scheme and then plan more schemes around those schemes. Go reach out to other gm’s and enthusiastically share the entire plot with them. Watch it become viral in the game as other players sniff it out and react to it. Then, as the storyteller, have your NPC’s scheme in response and set in motion their own plans creating a sandbox where stories start popping up like sunflowers and everyone gets involved.

After all, in LARP players are the driving focus of the plot with each other. It’s your job to cater to their budding conspiracy theories and let them try to resurrect thousand year old dead pirate ship with skeleton crew members or find your way into a Retro-VR-Videogame based LARP.

Have you run games at cons or big LARPs before? Or do you have a GM horror story to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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Featured Image by: The Game Theater

Rick Heinz is the author of The Seventh Age: Dawn, and a storyteller with a focus on LARPs, Wraith: The Oblivion, Eclipse Phase, and many more. You can follow game or urban fantasy related thingies on Twitter or Facebook.

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