Mon
May 14 2012 5:00pm

LARP Insider: The George R. R. Martin Effect

I’ve put myself in quite the predicament, folks! As detailed in my last post, I’ve got a handful of live action roleplaying characters already in use, with more yet unrealized.

Just as I was starting to get the hang of divvying up weekends evenly between each role, Dana — my headstrong, stubborn, militarily active character — had to go and get noticed by her superiors! “What’s that? You want me to prepare for a potential leadership role? You’re going to be watching my every move to suss out my weaknesses? Me?”

There go all my other characters for the next 6 months.

I’m going to call this the “George R. R. Martin Effect,” which I’ll define as follows:

When you want to see each character grow and develop but you can’t be in three places at once; there aren’t enough games in a year, or (in George’s case) there aren’t enough pages in a book.

Photo of Dana courtesy of Michael Codis

If you’ve read Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, you probably know what I’m going through. As the books go on, and the cast grows exponentially, you find yourself missing the voices of your favorite players. Not because something has happened to them (though GRRM is often wont to ruin our lives with character death sucker punches), but because the sheer volume of new voices has drowned the more familiar ones out for an entire book.

As I add on more characters, I find myself prioritizing and picking “favorites” based upon which has the most potential for growth and a compelling story. Ultimately there just isn’t enough game time to play everything I want to play! Kind of puts a damper on the whole “exploring other parts of your personality” journey.

Still, each character has its ebb and flow. I expect that after a series of consecutive months playing Dana I will want a change of pace. I may decide that she has accomplished enough to go on hiatus, or I may choose to send her on a quest of “self-reflection,” so that I can mull over recent events for a time before bringing her back in with a new attitude.

I asked a few fellow LARPers for their opinions on multiple characters and how they choose who to play each month. Fellow Tor.com blogger Shoshana Kessock plays a Zombie Apocalypse LARP in NJ called Dystopia Rising.

Shoshana Kessock: I think anyone who role-plays does it to explore a particular character niche — they want to have a certain emotional experience that only that character can create. Still, sometimes you want to switch and experience something else for a little while. If you’re a dedicated good guy, you might just want to pick up someone a little more morally grey to let your hair down and do some Big Bad stuff. It can also help you get motivated for your character if you feel things getting stale. Switch out the character, try something else for a while, and you can find yourself motivated again for your first character. Variety being the spice of life, it keeps you from getting too bogged down in one or the other.

 

Metal Steve is a plot marshal for a Medieval Fantasy LARP in NJ called LAIRE.

Metal Steve: I am not a fan of multiple characters. I find playing multiple characters either excludes one of the characters from serious storylines or the chance of serious plot involvement, or it just frustrates the player. (But you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you, Michele? Hahaha!)

 

Joe Codella plays three different characters at LAIRE, NJ. An aspiring paladin, a power hungry battle-mage, and a happy-go-lucky dwarf (pictured above).

Joe Codella: Having the option to have multiple characters is really a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you can totally go nuts and have all of these different characters, each with their own personas and costumes. On the other hand, you really have to struggle on when to play which character — it becomes rather difficult to play and progress each one. You’ll find yourself cursing your choice to play character A this month when character B would’ve have a much better time at that particular event. That being said, I do enjoy having multiple characters. I have three and have categorized them in terms of priority. There’s my main, an aspiring Paladin (Mikelus) — the one I want to see grow the most. There’s my alt, a power hungry half-elf mage (Sigfried) — secondary priority due to the fact that he is a “group” character. Then there’s my tertiary character, is a happy go lucky dwarf that has a strong affinity for hats and sandwiches (Thom) — third priority because he has the least investment in the storyline.

Photos courtesy of Michael Codis, Alice Steel, and LAIRE.


Michele Reznik is a marauder and messer who solemnly swears she’s up to no good! Graphic/web designer, social media writer/curator (Mediatronica, Kraken Rum, Hangar One Vodka, Three Olives Vodka), Public Relations/Event Production Associate (with Jeff Newelt AKA “JahFurry” for comics, film, tech, lit & music clients), Live Action Role Player, and hobbiest costumer. When she isn’t writing, designing, or LARPing, she’s usually catching up on comics and sci fi — one series at a time. You can find her at @DarthReznik on Twitter.

3 comments
Mordicai Knode
1. mordicai
Well, isn't the Inverse Correlary to the GRRM Effect that if you ignore a character for long enough...then eventually you get a whole book where they come back from their weird hiatus & wreck everything for everybody else?
Nick Rogers
2. BookGoblin
@1 - mordicai: I'm pretty sure that correlary is specifically refered to as the "Jordan Plot Balance Inversion". It used to be called the "Matt Cauthon Correlary" but then it started spreading.
sparrow hawk
3. sprrwhwk
"George R. R. Martin Effect" -- ooh, this is good. I'll definitely be stealing it.

That effect is also pretty pronounced if you're a GM. Less so in a campaign game than a theater-style game where the characters are pre-written, maybe, but still there. You put all that time and effort into making ten, fifty, a hundred fifty characters who are all the protagonist of their own story, and there's no way to be everywhere to watch all those stories unfold. It requires a certain detachment -- and an insistence that people tell the good stories afterwards. :-)

But, the nice thing is, as you seem to be discovering, you've got many years for LARPing -- you don't have to try everything at once.

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