I’m running Part Two of my London Under event tomorrow. *gulp* As with my stories (or at least, as I attempt to do with my stories), the game is very much character-driven. I don’t write the plots until I have the majority of the character backgrounds in front of me, so I can tie everything closely to the people that will be interacting with them.
Note to new LARP event runners: don’t do this. It’s insane.
What I’ve found quite interesting in this process is how best to get a handle on characters that I didn’t invent. Yes, I ask the standard questions like ‘where do you come from’, and ‘describe your personality’, but those result in summaries that don’t tell me much about how the character actually works. For that, I use six little questions which result in 1-2 sentence answers.
- One thing your character loves
- One thing your character fears
- One thing your character regrets
- One thing your character hopes for
- One thing that makes your character angry
- One goal for the future
The brief responses I get to these questions are the keys to the kingdom because a) they make the player really think about who their character is, and b) they are about emotion, not events. Characters – and people, for that matter – are not the sum of what has happened to them. They are passions and thoughts. Sure, most of those passions and thoughts were formed by past experience but the character is far greater than just ‘I did this’.
I hadn’t realised how powerful these questions were until this game. It got to the point where I was basically skipping over the character background and just concentrating on the six sentences that came after. Imagine how much more important they are for characters in your story, who readers will get to know inside and out, passions and all.
I need to give credit where it’s due, here, as they aren’t questions I came up with. Thank you, Tigermoth, for letting me plagiarise your LARP plot generator!
Next week… nothing. I’m going on holiday, to a land where there is no wifi – Cornwall. The week after that, though, I’ll tell you all about what happened in the world of London Under.