Most LARPs reach a point where one or more of the PCs, either by luck, purposeful effort, or being in the wrong place at the right time, becomes a leader in the In Game (IG) community. Eventually Plot may want to solidify that position and reward a Player with position in the setting’s nobility. This is a great opportunity for unique role-play and the possible source of substantial conflict. With proper Plot effort, PC nobles can be a huge resource but there is also the potential for that Player to abuse their position within the game. This blog however isn’t about Plot and the PC noble, instead it’s about my experiences playing a PC noble and my suggestions to others in similar positions.
As a noble your Character becomes a face for the town, a beacon for those in need, and a potential guide to those around them. All of this is handy when you want to create a good experience for other Players and it is important to recognize that helping other Players have a good time is part of your responsibility as a PC Noble. Even if your Character is a corrupt despot attempting to gain power by oppressing the people and murdering their way to the throne, you have a responsibility to your fellow Players to help them enjoy their game.
While you should be a good representative for the game, not everything about playing a PC Noble needs to be about helping others or even being a “Good Guy.” It is possible to use your position to shape the story significantly, subtly (or not subtly) leading the other Players in a direction that might not otherwise choose on their own. But remember, other people come to have their own experience, so be careful not to abuse your OOG authority. In order for your Character to be in a position to do any of these things, good or bad, it helps to do a few things on a regular basis.
As a face for the town your Character is in a unique position to welcome new travelers (Players) and assist them in getting the lay of the land (both IG and OGG). As the town noble your Character is also likely to receive more information about the goings on in the Game, allowing you to share information with others and provide them with leads for things to look into (or to pass along Plot Hooks from the Plot Team). Your Character likely also has the experience to help others who are just beginning their adventuring learn unique concepts, like how to be a better fighter, stay in character, and where to start looking to achieve their IG goals.
One of the top things I have found useful as a Noble is getting to know people. In most settings the PC “Adventurers” have a slightly different relationship with those in power than is strictly historically accurate. Even if your setting creates a strong gap between the nobility and others, your Character is likely the link between those two worlds, so it is important that your fellow Players know who your Character is and how they fit into the town. Meeting new Players allows you to see areas where they may need assistance and guide them toward Plot (or manipulate them into being part of your nefarious plan).
It is also important to keep your eyes and ears open for the goings on in the game. If you see a stranger come into the tavern and act hesitantly about approaching the “Adventurers,” it might be a good idea to send some newer, less intimidating, people in town over to see what the stranger has to say. Building relationships with your fellow Players so they trust your guidance and establishing a good IG presence so that wayward Plot Hooks can find their way to an accepting ear are important to being able to get things done. Being observant is also helpful to the noble who wants to take advantage of the power their station gives them. It allows them to direct resources in the direction that most favors their goals and away from tasks that help their enemies.
Another useful tip, and one I did not learn fast enough, is that you cannot do everything yourself. It is important to work with your fellow Players so that while your PC Noble may be a beacon for those in need, you are not forced to spend hours of your game time speaking with everyone in need of assistance. Having mercenaries, mages, code breakers, trapsmiths, and those with all of the other skills in your game handy means that you can focus on the big picture as the local noble. Like any other leadership position, you are doing your best work when you’ve directed others to the greatest efficiency. Establishing your position of authority within a town is important, but make sure that you don’t become the only person who can answer questions, make decisions, or who knows important information.
Finally, remember to have fun. Being a leader generally means you have more responsibility. I suppose it is possible that your PC noble could be indolent and have servants to handle all of their needs, but it seems unlikely that your fellow Players would enjoy that game for a long time. More likely your Character will be regularly called upon to make hard decisions and solve major problems. Try not to get so wrapped up in the world of your game and your IG responsibilities that it impacts your enjoyment of the game. LARPing should not become a second job, your Character’s problems shouldn’t match or eclipse your OOG concerns. If you begin to become overwhelmed, it is likely you need to take some of the advice in this article and look to others for help or to speak with your Plot Team about your responsibilities.
Being a PC Noble is a major responsibility in any LARP, but it is also a great opportunity to learn a lot about the game, leadership, and organization. Many of these things can be learned from other Players or the Plot Team. In my next post I’m going to look at the relationship between PC Nobles and their Plot Team, because working together it is possible for this relationship to have a huge impact on the game, but that impact can also be devastating if not handled correctly.