The #1 Way to Make Your LARP Grow:
You’ve spent years building and
developing a new fantasy world. You’ve
toiled over a comprehensive, yet realistic rules system. You’ve posted flyers
and advertisements, attended numerous conventions and fairs, gathered mounds of
costumes and makeup… so why aren’t gamers flocking in droves to join your
LARP? This question has plagued many a
Game Master the world over. The answer
is so simple it may surprise you. After
putting up public polls on over a dozen gaming forums, I found the solution to
this eternal question.
Make your players feel
That’s right. Simply let them know
how important they are to you and your game and you’ll be amazed at how fast
your LARP grows.
People want to feel important. They want to feel
needed. They want attention and
praise. This fact is evident in our
daily lives: we seek the approval of a companion, we strive to improve our
positions at work, we ask for the respect of our children, and we make efforts
to better our friendships. Human nature
dictates that we require validation from our peers. This age-old premise saturates human behavior
in its most basic form. Even toddlers
are commonly heard begging for praise. ‘Look what I can do!’ ‘See
my drawing!’ etc. Especially where
creativity is concerned, people crave recognition for their
accomplishments. So why should it be any
different in our fantasy adventure game?
If anything, it’s even more so since the characters your players build
are sculptures of their alter ego.
So, how exactly do you make your
players feel important? There are some
tried and true solutions that any experienced Game Master should be able to
a new PC arrives, immediately make their character important to the plot. Most new players wont
have any idea where to go or what to do with them selves. They may end up standing around until they
get too board and decide to leave. Even
if they’ve come in with friends, make it a point to single them out and give
them some individual attention. If they
feel that their character is crucial to the development of the plot, they’ll no
doubt, be back for more. Plus, once
other PC’s realize they have information essential to the story, they’ll become
the life of the party.
On the way into town, the new PC was given the
secret password to open a magic door, and only they can speak it at the
The new PC finds a dead guy on the road when
he/she first enters the town. On his body is a treasure map written in a
language only the new PC can read.
neglect their character histories. If a
PC feels that you’ve devoted time and effort into involving their character
history into the main plot, they are more inclined to stick around and see what
develops. Even if it’s a small hint that
you’ve read their history, it’ll spark their hope that there’ll be more to
come. They may deny it, but most gamers
are notorious gluttons for attention.
The anticipation that the wonderful story of their character’s life may
soon become public knowledge will keep them coming. Just think about it. How many times have you been trapped at a
convention listening to some gamer regale you with the details of his 24th
level wizard, Umlock the Destroyer?
Don’t worry; a little hint will go a long way.
A local merchant casually drops a name from the
A mysterious letter from an old enemy finds its
way into the character’s belongings.
them a chance to shine behind the scenes.
Try to give different NPC’s each a chance to play a fabulous NPC
role. Sometimes its fun to be the nasty
villain that everyone loves to hate. Or
the ever-important ruler of a distant land.
Let them wear the nicest costume, and wield the newest sword. They’ll appreciate your trust in them and
will reward your confidence by returning time and time again to play that
special role. It’s also a good idea to
encourage your NPC’s to become Game Masters and run their own events. Having multiple GM’s accomplishes several
things: reveals your trust in them, making them want to come back to do more;
gives you a (probably much needed) break; opens new doors of creativity for
burnt out marshals; and introduces a new flavored story for bored PC’s.
your veteran players AND their characters to uphold a welcoming attitude. The “dark, brooding hero who’s troubled past
has left him with little desire to socialize” is far too common. While that
type of character may work fine for a tabletop or on-line game, it does little
to propagate the inviting atmosphere your LARP needs to attract loyal
players. In a game where your chances of securing new recruits depends on them enjoying
their experience among a group of strangers, it’s important that your old hand
players extend a hand of fellowship.
Also, if your storyline/plot has been progressing for a good length of
time, new PC’s may get a little lost – sort of like tuning into a movie half
way through. It’ll save a lot
frustration if a veteran PC takes the initiative to bring the “newbie” up to
speed. Though it may be slightly out of
character for them to so readily offer up their precious plot info, they need
to keep in mind that it is, after all, just a game, and in order for everyone
to have fun they may need to forgo their characters reluctance to strangers.
up with your players. Remind your
customers that they are still on your list.
People will typically go with the company that shows how much they want
and appreciate their business. You might loose a customer if you don’t
follow-up with them before a competitor does.
Send out a newsletter
Send out coupons
Send out a poll
Obviously you can’t just neglect
all the other aspects of your LARP, but once you have established a safe and
welcoming environment, and have a comprehensive and functional rules system in
place, your next step should be to develop a solid structure of customer
service. That’s the recipe for most
successful businesses. Weather you are
running your LARP like a free and undemanding club or like a well organized,
money making corporation, there are lessons to be learned from companies with
good customer service.
It’s easy to see how customer
appreciation might make your current players come back, but how could this
possibly attract new players? It’s been
proven that word of mouth is the best form of advertising for almost any type
of entertainment – movies, books, plays, etc.
So what is a LARP if not an extensive, interactive, improvisational
play? One of your best assets for
drawing in new members is the review your current members give to their friends
and relatives. Chances are good that one
of your players knows a guy who knows a guy who’s
entire AD&D gaming group would love to come try something new. You most likely have only just scratched the
surface of the vast gaming network.
-Michelle Zumbrunnen, Salt
Lake Live Action Role Playing
People\'s greatest need is to feel
important. And notice how good and satisfied you feel when you do get
reinforcement that you are important. It affects you down to your marrow.
-Writer, Dale Carnegie-
People who feel
appreciated will remain loyal and will become your goodwill ambassadors as they
happily sing your praises to others.
-Director of Action
Principals, Bill FitzPatrick -