Exploit Your Senses in LARP: Sight
Arguably one of the best things about getting into a LARP is when one completely immerses themselves into game and character to become someone wholly different. We have five senses and using each of them will allow you to develop your character further and help you get more immersed in that character. Let’s talk about each of the senses and how you can exploit them to the next level for a truly wonderful LARP experience. For this first part of the series I’d like to discuss something that is possibly one of the most important senses to a truly immersive LARP: Sight.
Seeing is believing to some people. It is even more important for a role player to get the sense that the person they are looking at is truly someone different than the guy they just shared lunch with a few hours ago. What people need are overt and subtle visual cues of this character so that they can become invested in the person you are trying to be.
A great outfit is a great place to start in this aspect. A rough wood walker, known for their trailblazing, is going to have a some durable, well-worn gear and almost none of it is going to look pristine. The inquisitive journalist hunting down the questions of eldritch nature is going to likely look a bit disheveled, perhaps a bit coffee-stained but still respectable if he needs to ask a few questions to a guard. Even a solid suit, tie, pressed slacks and some polished shoes show that one is a boardroom executive. The point is to dress for your role and wear things that would make sense for the tasks your character does.
With a standard outfit for your character you could take it a step further with accoutrements that distinguish them from the average trailblazer, journalist, woad warrior or other arch type. Minor things like jewelry, ID tags, tribal makeup, colored contacts and so much more are things that visually alter a single aspect of your appearance for your character further enhances that distinction between you and your character as an individual.
Speaking of makeup, don’t be afraid to try some stage makeup out. I may not be stating anything too shocking for you ladies out there, but guys don’t be afraid to get hands on with it as well. There are some great products that can temporarily dye your hair for a night, provide some enduring temporary tattoos that can really withstand sweat and – let’s be honest – there is always something intense about black eyeliner. Can even provide yourself some nasty looking bruises, cuts or scars that can show the world that your character is a true badass.
Keep in mind that a lot of visual adjustments to a character don’t have to be expensive additions. An outfit, with a bit of creativity and possibly some mending, can be found at a thrift shop or yard sale and achieve that worn in look that makes your character seem more real. You don’t have to spend top dollar, even if your character is supposed to be filthy rich. A well-fitting vest, tie and ironed black dress pants or a simple but cleanly cut dress and heels can certainly give off the air of elegance that can be attributed to wealth.
With that said don’t think that the only thing I will be discussing here are outfits and props to define your character. Sight extends beyond items. People can define a person by the way they walk, their stance and sometimes even by the way they sit. Take into example the first sight of an imposing tribal warrior in varying pelts and bits of chainmail, lugging around a massive cudgel and a few bits of trophies from past battles; but, he immediately finds himself a spot away from the group and avoids any social contact. While there is certainly some validity in a character with such an attitude, consider the conflicting signals your body language is giving off. A timid warrior does not inspire fear despite what the outfit might be trying to state otherwise.
With these basics down you can then expand your manipulation of what people see of you and how you act in follow up meetings to really make a fun experience. For instance, imagine how shocking it would be to a group that knows your character to be a hooded, wears various shades of black on black and a pair of military boots but shows up to one gathering in a suit and tie, looking clean cut and out to socialize. A complete contrast that will have some people making a double take to make sure they indeed are seeing correctly before coming to find out what is happening with your character.
The point is that you have an entire canvas of clothing, props and even mannerisms that can be totally explored to make your character’s story entirely envelope yourself and those around you. If you want to go truly ‘hardcore’ and push your LARPing experience to the next level, remember how often you change your clothes and style for any given day or event. Remember that your character can change visually and often that can be as impactful as finding that right outfit.
With all this in mind you are well on your way to mastering what you can provide visually to a LARP experience to make it something truly special.