There’s no shame in being a new player or an anxious player. Sometimes LARP and social anxiety overlap. read more about combatting social anxiety and enjoying your LARP game.
Introduction to LARP
Let’s start with the obvious question. What exactly is LARP? LARP stands for live-action roleplaying game. These games are a form of immersive game based off traditional role-playing games such as D&D, Pathfinder, Gamma world and so on.
Like these traditional roleplaying games where one creates you create a character based on the game rules. Then it’s time to roleplay as your character. The difference between TTRPG and LARP is that you play out that character’s thoughts, actions, and progression in live action. you act out the motivations, and actions, roleplaying what your character would do in any given situation.
For example, instead of telling your Dungeon master what your 5th level elf rogue does to sneak past the guards, you do just that. It’s a fantastic way to bring the game to life. You’re able to roleplay as Darcassan Joric, a fifth level roque with a history of drunken disorder likes and a love for the kazoo. From combat to diplomacy to adventure to friendship, there’s all kinds of situations to advance the characters’ storyline.
Joining LARP with social anxiety
Social anxiety is defined by The Mental Health Foundation as a “Beyond the typical sensation one might expect when speaking in public, meeting people for the first time, starting at a new job or school, or giving a performance, when the discomfort or feelings of shyness result in anxiety, fear, or avoidance and have an ongoing impact a person’s daily at work, in school then it could be social anxiety disorder (SAD).”
As it’s different from general nervousness in social settings, ‘jump right in’ isn’t the best solution. For most socially anxious folks, baby steps and social awareness are often the most helpful.
The Mental Health Foundation explains that “How we feel, think, and behave in social situations varies from person to person depending on our personality traits, upbringing, and life experiences. Some people are naturally reserved and shy whereas others might be more outgoing and extroverted, but anyone can have a SAD.”
This can make games that focus very highly on the socializing and person to person engagement like RPGS difficult. LARPS take it a step further by being longer, and more involved as you’re physically acting as the character.
Refuge LARP, a game based out of Calgary adores giving folks a chance to learn and to be comfortable. Their website reads, “Glad you made it! Come on in, learn about LARP, and take a break from the real world. Everyone is welcome to seek Refuge in our fantasy world. Whether you are new to roleplaying, new to LARP, or looking for a new LARP to play, we look forward to meeting you and answering your questions!”
Tips for joining a LARP with social anxiety
Social anxiety can be debilitating for inexperienced players as well as experienced. However, anxiety shouldn’t stop players from enjoying a weekend LARP game. Getting out there is rough but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Here are a few tips when it comes to getting ready for a LARP game with social anxiety.
Join the social media groups and forums.
Even as a lurker, you can get more comfortable with how the players interact with one another. Try asking a question to some of the players either in a DM or a beginners’ forum. Most people will be very open to your curiosity or at the very least, know someone who can help.
You can take this a step further once you’ve figured out your character. Joining Organizations that your character may join provides another way to engage with the material as well to observe the subtleties of the game in game. Take these examples from the Refuge LARP. Depending on who or what your character is, these groups can include The Home Guard 2.0: The Standing Army of Calanda, or The Arcane Sanctum 2.0: The Mage Guild of Calandonia, or The Earth Weavers 2.0: The Order of Earth Casters, or The Silken Refuge: A Hobling run merchant house specializing in the trade of rare Silks from the island of Auric, or The Uruzaries: A High Orc/Ogre organization in servitude to the Oath sworn Shariah of the Edgeland Desert, or the Hammer Outfitters: originally a Dwarven guild for craftsmen. You’ve got options!
Play as a monster
Cory Fliegel, the head organizer of the Calgary game Refuge says it’s easier to get started with non-player characters or NPCS. His Advice for newcomers is to start with the monster camp as it’s easy to start and simple to play. Monster camp is a nickname for the portion of the organizations that play non-player characters (NPCs) or monsters.
“Others jump right into being a PC and again, that is the choice everyone makes. Your level of comfort should be your main guide,” Explains the user guide for Refuge LARP”, You get to learn the game while gaining Experience Points (XP) for a future PC that you may play.
Playing as a goblin, orc, troll, bugbear, hobgoblin, kobold, mimic, beholder, or even an evil npc allows new players to get a taste for the game, and the rules without the stress of an entire character. It allows the fun to come first.
Do your research. Most LARPs have their lore, myths, history, and characters on their website. Take a look at the various options before you.
[Tip for those that don’t want to read the entire website or folks with ADHD – try a browser extension that reads out the page’s text to you. It’s a game changer for reading any block of text. Here’s what I use. And it’s free!!]
Attend with someone
Going with someone that’s been there before is a huge help. They’re able to show you the ropes and guide you through. Make sure you discuss this with them beforehand. They are sure to be an immense help, but they need to know how to help first.
As an added bonus to this, many games have incentivized introducing new players. Refuge LARP organizer Cory F. provides an incentive for bringing new players in with you and explains that “While only one member may benefit for each new player that purchases a membership, there’s no limit to the number of new players you can bring and receive rewards for! Plus, as a thank-you to both players may pick from a list specific magic items!”
Bring a friend
What’s better than one new player? Two new players!! It’s much easier to fumble through the first day when you know you aren’t alone. Chatting with friends, or folks on social media is a terrific way to meet people that are also LARP newbies.
Ask about Out of game (OOG) options.
Many games will have options for folks that want to take a break. Whether that’s a separate area where you can check your phone, have a snack, or go back to being you for a bit. Some games have a visual aspect to them such as a white headband or a hand on your head to tell other players, “Don’t interact with me.” It’s essentially the LARP’s version of AFK. Each game with have a slightly different approach, so it’s always best to ask.
If you are worried about potential panic or anxiety attacks, also ask about the first aid options. LARP games are meant to be fun not a health hazard.
Give yourself some slack
The first game can be overwhelming. There are a lot of new things to learn and stories to hear. Every new player goes through this, I promise you. Nothing you ask is going to be a surprise to the current players. They’ll either know the answer or send you to someone that does. Consider it your first quest!!
Remember that these are games that are meant to be fun. Take It seriously but not so seriously that it stops being fun. Here are some relaxing songs to help you focus and calm throughout the entire process.
Coronation By CIRI
Got more tips to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!!