I’ve been thinking about the increasing diversity of larpers. Not so much in terms of race of religion. Rather I’m thinking about age. Now larpers are nice and inclusive. The hobby always has been and its something it should be proud of.

However we now have people who have been in larp in excess of 30 years. Also we are gaining new players of all ages young to old.

That worries me when it comes to points based character generation. In my experience (and please write in if you have different examples), points based characters all start with the same number of points. From these character skills are purchased. Its these skills that determines what the character can and cannot do.

This is great when we have a fairly non-diverse group of players. When apparent age, ability etc of the player are in a fairly narrow band. If that then gets wider is it fair? Should an 18 year old have the same abilities as someone in their mid twenties, thirties, or forties. What then happens when the negative aspects of age kick in as players enter their fifties, sixties or seventies.

Now before I go on lets put some clarifications in here

  • I completely agree with people role-playing to an age they set. So long as that doesn’t break someone else’s immersion or fun.
  • I agree with points as a valid mechanism for character generation – I play at games where it works very successfully
  • I also agree with the idea that any character needs to be interpreted and played by the player. It’s this performance that perhaps matters most

Still I would like to see something to help people get into character. Especially if you are new to larp.

So what can we do to help a new player faced with list of skills make them feel as if the skills suits their characters or their age.

Here are a 5 ideas

An Age Handicap

Put simply modify the number of points everyone gets by age. Build into this the effects of age so that actual life experience can be taken into account.

Base Skill Resolution on Role Play

You might be old enough to play an expert at something but doesn’t mean to say you are. Where possible make one of the metics that determines character skill success role-palying. Is the role-player drawing on themselves enough to be convincing as someone who is or isn’t great at something.

Set the Skill and let ability shine through

I think this works well with combat skills. You cannot say you are an expert swordsman in a larp without actually having some skill. So let the rules state you have a skill, then it is your ability that determines the outcomes.

Make it part of the character story

The characters skills are the skills purchased. But if you claim an expertise or lack of build up how you got to where you are in your character story and let bits of this out. So even if you are a 40 year novice – explain it. Perhaps your life has just taken a change? You’ve been put on a different path doing different things

Age has robbed you of skills

Superficially this is similar to the last point but instead of any story element we have a central theme that is really worth exploring. The debilitating effects of age. People do not universally get better with age. There are things we get much worse at. What these are depends on the person but I’d call on the two most known – loss or physical ability or impairment of mental faculties as worth taking a look at. Sure its fun playing the unstoppable know all hero. But a person damaged by their age so that they have experience but little working skill. That’s interesting and also something that as a society we all need to learn more about.

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