From newbie larper to writer

Monday, October 25, 2010

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Eleven years ago on the second Saturday of October, I attended my first live-action roleplaying game just one week after my first D&D game. Central Ohio was comfortable to be running around without a cloak. Just a beautiful autumn day, or so I remember it.

My roommate had talked me into giving NERO a try. However, she was on the plot team so would, therefore, be unable to help me much directly. She did help me create my character though, her PC's (player character's) sister: a gypsy healer named Rosa Moonshadow of the family of the Rose. There were only two other gypsies at the event, and they were opposites. Galena Berylstar didn't say much or speak loudly. She didn't have to; people listened to her. Reese Domashay never seemed to stop with the boisterous banter. His voice could be heard over combat. Not the greatest of examples for someone trying to learn the voice.

Due to my underdeveloped social skills, I felt awkward. I couldn't do the accent well, even when I could figure out what to say. Thinking on my feet: not one of my strengths. But I needn't have worried. Most of the players are considerate to new ones, lending their expertise to get newbies involved in the game. Various players came over and introduced themselves; one even took me and another first-timer on a brief adventure. We call it shepherding. Experienced players get new ones involved without overwhelming them with more than they can handle. At the time, I just knew that this big guy actually wanted us to enjoy the game as he taught us a bit about how to use our skills.

Sometimes when the plot shack is shorthanded, they look for volunteers to fill roles in between other mods. I joined a random group to be wolves bounding through the woods for an hour. When we were done and back in our own characters' costumes, one of my fellow wolves joined me at a table. He was playing an elf mage in a bright green robe and a black four-pointed star painted over one eye. With a touch of swagger, he sat across from me and held out his hand. "Greetings, I am Illaren. And who might you be?" Very bold that one. ;)

Now the funny thing is, my roommate had intended to ask this gentleman to shepherd me at the event. They'd known each other for awhile, and their characters had adventured together. However, RM had changed her mind and decided to surprise him, never telling him anything about me. But when the game had been getting started, she'd pointed him out and told me who he was in and out of game. My character didn't still know him, but I did. Part of why I didn't mind grouping with him for the wolf run.

So, with a touch of boldness myself, I looked up at him, batted my eyes, and said, "Rosa Moonshadow of the family of the Rose."

He rocked back. "Moonshadow?!"

"Yes, Moonshadow. Perhaps you know one of my sisters." Bat, bat, bat. I grinned, trying to keep from laughing at the shock on his face. I didn't know I had it in me to be so coy.

He settled. "Yes, I know Kestra. I haven't seen her in awhile. Is she here?" He was still looking at me like I'd turned into something odd. But it was too funny to take offense.

After I'd given him her "regrets," he departed to go find my RM. I followed. She was busy prepping another mod, but he ignored everyone but her. He mock growled in protest. "You had to make her a Moonshadow, didn't you?"

She gave him the same look I had. "Uh-huh!"

A fantastic beginning to a great friendship. Hehe. He stood as a groomsman at my wedding. But more about that on Wednesday.

The main feature of this event was a wedding between a fey lord and a human-turned-fey. The whole thing was hilarious. A dark fey lord came to interrupt the wedding, since the bride was race-changed, not a pure fey. While the fey lords were facing off, Reese was becoming such a distraction with his gabble that the dark fey lord cast silence on him. Hostilities broke off for a few moments while the light fey lord shook his hand in gratitude. It quickly resumed with them two of them shaking their fingers at each as they said, "Don't make me use this." "Don't make me use this." ("This" being a point-cast death spell.) Eventually, another interruption happened, and while the dark fey lord was occupied, the groom's mother laid the broom down and told the couple to hop across quickly. Wedding over.

Going to that event was one of the best things I'd ever done. I made many new friends and found a "safe" environment to practice social skills. I didn't do much of it that first event, but by being "someone else," I could relax my inhibitions and try out behaviors that I wouldn't normally do, like flirting. Everyone knows it's a game, and flirting is normal for gypsies. After all, the NERO motto is "Be all that you can't be!"

In addition to the friends and memories (like getting suckered into helping a kobold to go find his "long lost brother" and getting waylaid instead), larping also reawakened my creative spark. Roleplaying leads to stories. By going to events and more tabletop games, I was seeing stories from the inside. By creating back stories for my characters and retelling the adventures I'd experienced, I was practicing writing skills.

That led to toying with the idea of being a writer. I didn't know yet if I could do it, or if I really wanted to, but story ideas began to drift my way once my mind opened to the possibility. That sample of "bad writing" from earlier this month was from that first story. I'd started it over the summer, then worked on it some more for my creative writing class. If it wasn't for the fact that I'd had the roleplaying experience and been such an avid reader of fantasy, I might have given up after that class.

But I didn't.

I continued playing NERO, got involved with a few different D&D groups, practiced retelling those stories, and created more of my own. And even though I have yet to finish writing any of my stories, I know I want to be a writer now. I have the confidence to listen to helpful critiques. I study writing techniques. I come up with ideas. And it's all because of roleplaying games.

NERO LARP Introduction
Dungeons and Dragons


Jai Joshi said...

I'm also happy that you went to that event because it brought you so much joy and freedom to be yourself. We all need that. And I'm extra happy that it brought you to writing. Because if it hadn't then I never would have met you.


Jaleh D said...

Aww, thanks, Jai. I'm really glad that it led me to all my writing friends. My life is richer for knowing you.

Many of my closest friends are because of gaming, from the friends I made at that first larp event, to the friends I made later because of those friends, to the friends I made outside of gaming because I'd learned some measure of confidence. I am truly grateful for all of them. For all of you.

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