Monday, May 26, 2014

Roleplaying in Belegarth

The following article is my personal opinion about roleplaying. It is not intended to attack any persons or groups currently in Belegarth who enjoy the practice.

The eternal struggle of "LARP vs. Sport" comes down to one thing for many people: roleplaying. In sports, you don't pretend to be someone else. If you've been around Belegarth for any length of time, you know that it has its share of roleplayers among its fighters, and there are just as many who'd happily see it gone from the field.

Our multicolored monsters are the easiest roleplayers to spot. Photo © Ellie Apland.
I admit, I'm mostly on the side of stick jocks when it comes to roleplaying. I'd like to see Belegarth more accessible to the general public, and I think that kind of pretending gets in the way. No matter how many times we say "well, we don't have magic and actually hit each other instead of rolling dice", you're going to be hard pressed to prove this is a serious sport to someone if you're dressed like a ninja but can barely swing a sword. I think there are already plenty of LARPs for the hardcore geeks who care more about characterization than fighting. I'd like to see one for the geek-jocks and the person who likes 300 or the battles in the Lord of the Rings but would never consider themselves a "hardcore" geek.

That said, I can't completely disregard what roleplaying brings to Belegarth, especially off the field. When someone fits their character really well, it's incredibly entertaining to be around them and listen to their lore. One of my fondest memories from an event was when someone playing a monster (a gnoll, I think) wandered into our camp and told tales of his race's creation in exchange for the warmth of our fire. He was a brilliant storyteller. Even more interesting, he didn't wear anything too over the top to show his monstrous nature - just a simple collar and torn clothing. It was understated enough to feel like he wasn't really playing at being some magical creature, and I think that's what makes all the difference.

That's really where the line is for me between "this is pretty fun" and "ugh, roleplayers". If you play a character that is basically yourself with a couple exaggerations, it can be incredibly entertaining for everyone, without becoming a ridiculous sideshow. Good actors and brilliant costumers can pull off something more elaborate, but let's face it, most of us aren't that. If you're going to choose a race or persona, make sure it fits you, and more importantly your fighting skill, well. With monsters, that often isn't too hard, but when it comes to races like elves, there are only a few who can do it without looking absurd. The more of your true personality that your Belegarth persona reflects, the easier it is for people to suspend their disbelief, and the less silly you look.

For my part, that's why I enjoy our great roleplayers, but I don't do it myself. I don't have the personality to cut it as a monster, nor the presence to pull off any of my favorite types of characters. I would rather just be myself than make the poor roleplayer problem worse.

So I think the overall message is this: if you've got a good character going, enjoy it and share it. If you struggle with it, don't force it. If you want to be a badass ninja, learn to become one on the field first. Not only will you get more respect from other Belegrim, but you'll suddenly become someone who draws people to Belegarth instead of writing it off as kid's stuff. Personally, I'd rather see a handful of great roleplayers on the field surrounded by dozens of generic fighters, than scores of Belegrim with mediocre characterization and awful fighting.


  1. It is ridiculous that some grown ups feel the need out down others for their hobbies. There are both LARP and sport aspects to BMCS. Both terms apply and that's a fine thing. We have nothing to gain by putting down LARPers or people who like RP. People on the outside think we are all equally weird which means that when Belgrim divide people up further into 'jock" and "RP" fighters we are only isolating the people who would be our core constituents. My 2 cents on why we don't have to panic about getting lumped in with LARP.

  2. It's nice to see people having fun, whether they like to RP or not. Everyone does to a point - whether it's wearing their 'uniform for the sport', all the way down to 'did that person just say that and giggle away running?!'.


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