Character Building

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Sometimes, I am such a nerd.

Now, most of you who know me or have read any of my blog posts here know that I am a LARPer. In fact, I have been a LARPer for about 4 years now. I started with a game called Heroic Realms (which, I still am a part of, but due to ankle injury have not been able to go at all this year). I have played a one shot Star Wars game. I have looked into the possibility of joining various Camarilla games (Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem) and I am an active player in a post apocalyptic game called Dystopia Rising. I love it.

I’m feeling like such a nerd because while I have an active character at Dystopia who will hopefully last quite a few more games, I’m already working on the next character.

Let me explain in a little more detail.

My current character is Jeanie. She is an escaped slave from a location currently known as the Iron works (formally known as the Windy City and surrounding areas). She is a race called the Iron Slave. She is an Engineer and a Mad Scientist. She is a follower of the Church of Darwin and actually the spiritual leader for Darwinists in the town (To the point of having the title of Curie). Despite being free for over a year now, she still struggles with living as a free individual, which is understandable given the 22 years of slavery that she lived from birth til her escape. She is a great character. So many little quirks and such. She is incredibly intelligent and incredibly socially awkward. She is so much fun to play.

However, circumstances have seen that she may not survive very long. Since coming into the town just over a year ago, she has already died twice. You start game with an infection rate. Your character is infected with the zombie virus. Plain and simple. When you die, the Gravemind (essentially the hivemind of all zombies) pulls you to him. (For some reason, I’ve decided that he is male.) The virus takes over. The body is reanimated. Then your mind regains control. For most people it is a terrifying process to go through. It is so difficult that you return from the gravemind with a derangement or a mental illness of some kind. Each trip through the Gravemind makes your infection rate drop. So, when I first died and went through the gravemind, I went from 4 infection to 3 infection. When I died the second time, I went from 3 infection to 2 infection. When you die for the last time (go from 1 infection to 0 infection) the virus completely takes over. The mind is no longer strong enough to handle regaining control. You are a zombie and you now attack the town. (They actually have you stay in your character outfit, put on zed make up, give you a zed type and you attack the town til you are killed off).

As an Iron Slave, Jeanie had an infection rate of four. All characters have infection rates based on their strain of humanity. I currently have an infection rate of two. That means I can return from the gravemind one more time. Now, many people are saying that I won’t die any time soon. Jeanie is the Curie for the Church of Darwin, making her a town leader and most people don’t target town leaders. She is also the Chief Engineer for the Good Doctor Incorporated as well as the adopted daughter of the creator of that organization. She has the entirety of GDI watching out for her. She also has just found out that the entirety of the New Williamspoint Commune is also watching out for her. So, on one hand, people will argue (constantly) that she is very safe in town.

On the other hand, I know (as a player, not as Jeanie) that there are individuals in town who have decided to target Jeanie. They think she will fetch a good price on the slave market (which, being an Iron Slave is very true). They think that going after the daughter of Doctor Henry Thomas will help take down GDI (which is also very true). Plus, she was blamed for the murder of another character in town, which while she didn’t do it, has angered the town enough to make her a target of Murder, Inc (the assassin’s guild). So, for every thing that she has going for her to keep her alive, she has something trying to make her dead.

So what does this mean? It means that I will be very surprised if Jeanie survives another year of game. She has been around for only a year and I will be surprised if she makes it to her second year anniversary in play. I really do.

Because of this, I have started designing a second character (complete with costuming) to play as soon as Jeanie dies. She isn’t completely worked out yet and some of this is still possible to change, but here is what I have so far.

Meet Kira Sheehan. Kira is a “Bay Walker” from an area of The Mass known as Beacon Hill. She grew up with in a family of 5, all followers of the Cult of Fallow Hopes. Her parents were a Doctor and Tinker who spent most of their time and money trying to help others. They would arm others to make sure that the message of God could spread and abominations would be destroyed (cause if they were gone than the survivors were helped, in their mind). Her two brothers became a priest and a Caravan Driver and they went off to continue bringing God’s justice down upon the world.

Now, Bay Walkers are incredibly intelligent people. They learn quickly and they are excellent teachers. They have specific rules and orders that they feel govern society and people need to live by those rules and that society. They look out for each other. They stick together.

The reason I said Kira was a “Bay Walker” with quotations is because, Kira has mutated. Mutations do exist. She has severe learning disabilities. She cannot learn as well as her family can. She cannot teach the way her family can. She despises the order and rules of Bay Walker society. She despises the way her Fallow Hopes family wants to impose God’s so called justice upon everyone. This severely bothers Kira.

Kira’s mutation technically makes her a Remnant. But, as she was born and raised in Bay Walker society to a Bay Walker family, she will always say that she is a Bay Walker. She does what she wants, when she wants. If she wants it, she takes it. She was sick and tired of her family, so she lived her way. She was a follower of the Light of Hedon. The problem with this is that, it got her into trouble. A lot. She would be caught stealing. She got caught cheating at cards. She got caught messing around. She got caught doing all sorts of things. And it got her into a lot of trouble. Her family kept threatening to disown her for her actions. Not to mention the Nuclear Family mob like group in the area was angered enough to put a hit out on her head. So she left Beacon Hill and has since made her way to town.

So, here I am, still happily playing one character and excitedly building another.

I’m such a nerd.

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Why do people stigmatize nerd culture?

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I am listening to a discussion on LARP right now. While the individuals doing the actual interview and calling in to the interview are rather interesting and are highly respectful to those who take part in LARP. However, I am very frustrated with some of the comments on the interview. I understand that they come from the uninformed and from those who refuse to live with open minds, but it is rather insulting and frustrating.

  • LARPing? like al of this hipster Williamsburg culture and the characters it attracts is just plain creepy…
  • Americans fought and died in wars so we could have a class of “adults” 18-28 that could play games for ~1000 hours a year or so, but I digress.
  • I don’t LARP because I live real life.
  • Really, these are adults? And we wonder why the rest of the world looks at us like we’re a bunch of children. We can thank the never wanna grow up Boomers. !
  • Why don’t we skip the LARP crap and call it what it really is: theater geeks indulging in one of their scary hobbies.
  • What ever happened to throwing around a football or playing some softball in the park? Want role-playing? Try covering seond base.
  • Okay, let me temper my last remark. Nothing wrong with an adult occasionally slipping into a costume and acting out – the issue with these LARPrs and others who play a lot of role playing games – it starts to become their persona. These alternative characters and the games start to swallow up the reality of lifee and become the be all in these peoples live, where they atart to view reality thru their characters..

Source for the interview and the comments listed above.

Personally, I find this comments insulting, degrading, and close-minded. Yes, it is obvious that they come from the uninformed who are basing decisions off their limited knowledge of one or two individuals, but in all seriousness, why would people say some of these things?

I know that I should not be asking this. I know that a large portion of me already knows why they say these things. On one hand, people fear what they do not understand and rather than trying to understand it, it is much easier to distance yourself from that fear. On another hand, it is very reminiscent of the bullying that is found in schools all across the country. “I don’t know anything about that person, but I know that they can’t look me or anyone else in the eye. Must be a scaredy-cat!” Rather than asking for an explanation, people assign their own feelings and beliefs and move on, far from the wiser or better informed.

The fact remains that LARP is a highly useful and highly helpful too for any individuals. It has far more benefits than the supposed cons listed by the uninformed.

Roleplaying is nothing new. Schools teach through roleplaying games at times, using them to provide students with an insight into how various individuals have lived and the interactions with each other. They are useful in history classes, literature classes, and any class where you are trying to get a better understanding of the individuals that you are studying and learning about. Many teachers have used roleplaying games to help individuals work through social situations. It is a way to practice various social responses so that people can see and learn about what is acceptable and what is not.

What about our children? No one questions when they go outside and play their own roleplaying games? Were they called roleplaying games at the time? No. Most people just said they were playing pretend or playing make-believe. They became whatever character they wanted, used whatever costuming they could think of, and ran around interacting in a world of their own creation. We never stopped a child from doing this. In fact, we encouraged it. It fostered their creative thinking skills as well as their imagination. It was a crucial skill to helping children prepare for and do well in elementary school.

Then there are those who roleplay for a living. You  have anyone involved in theatre or film making is a part of roleplaying. We don’t look down on actors for their work. We often praise and idolize them for it. If we ever criticize an actor, we criticize the fame getting to their head, but not their profession. We, in fact, applaud them when they can successfully utilize the Stanislavski method (which asks actors to truly become the character, even if the character is a sociopath) or how dedicated they are to try and live life like their character. When Adrian Brody prepared for his role in the pianist, he dieted like crazy, cut off his connections to friends and family, and spent hours a day practicing piano. All to better understand his character. Instead of telling him there was a problem with this, we praised him for his dedication.

Then there are numerous Roleplaying games that people praise and enjoy. Both board games and video games. Settler’s of Cattan is praised for it’s nation building and trading. People spend hours roleplaying in first person shooters and various other video games and enjoying their ability to play it.

Yet, when it comes to table top roleplaying games or LARP, people are referred to as freaks, unhealthy, unable to live in reality, etc.

This feels like a serious double standard to me.

We encourage roleplaying in school to help people better understand people and social interactions, but people who use a LARP for this reason are crazy. We encourage roleplaying in children because it helps critical thinking and won’t acknowledge that it does the same for adults. We praise actors who get incredibly involved in their characters and chastise LARPers who even think about doing so. We encourage people to buy violent roleplaying games and find those who get involved in possibly non-violent LARPs (yes they exist) as insane.

Seems to me like people need to get informed. If they’re going to claim that LARP is bad, then so is roleplaying in any form. But if they’re going to claim roleplaying is good, then they need to accept that LARP is far from evil or making its players crazy. Cut the double standard and chose a line of thinking, but make your line of thinking consistent.