Monday, December 23, 2013

Once Upon A Text Prop

by Zoe

Hello everyone! Due to a double load of teaching and classes, plus a full larp schedule, I have been sadly bereft of freetime. As I happily move into my winter break, however, I find myself once more with time for larp blogging. As I was prepping for a larp this morning, a questions came to mind...

Anyone who knows me, as a staffer or players, knows that I love text props. Too much. My strength, in larps, tends to rest in writing, and text props are one of my preferred modes of communication. I enjoy them because they allow me to express things, about a character, in a way that can't happen face-to-face; they also allow me to preemptively "characterize" NPCs before they hit game. Honestly, I could go on and on about how much I love text props. For instance, take the following examples as reasons why I love textprops:

Communicating the Surreal
In larp, it can be hard to communicate the surreal: while costuming and acting, as well as set-dressing and narrative, can go a long way, larps don't have the expressive freedom of text. In my opinion, text props allow for staffers to communicate dreamy, unreal landscapes to their PCs in a way that conditions the PCs towards understanding a specific plotline as surreal. One of my favorite examples of this was Albert's work in Endgame: he and I worked on a range of textprops connected to the mourner plotline. They created the expectation of a very alien landscape-- when players were finally introduced to the characters and settings from this landscape, they already had the expectation of the surreal.

Yes, really. This NPC is mean.
I don't have a hard time producing bitchy NPCs... at all, really. However, when I have them deliver letters to PCs, prior to their onstage entrance, that writhe with acidity, frigidity, and/or flat-out nastiness, it sets a good precedent for when I roll in, and meet them face-to-face: when I've already insulted their morale foundations and/or competence, I find PCs more than willing to enter into thorny relationships.

Unwritten/Unspoken Tensions
As both an NPC and a PC, I play a lot of introverted, frustrated characters. (This should be telling.) One of my favorite interactions in larp is the tension of "things left unsaid": that moment when you both know what you want to say, but, due to character reasons, refuse to say it. Letters, especially, allow me to further those moments. In general, I think there's a human expectation that letters are more revealing than spoken word-- I enjoy the art of making my textual communication with other players equally, if not more, frustratingly vague, but simultaneously painfully honest. I appreciate the knowledge that, post a text-prop from me, other players have more questions than answers-- to me, that's the real strength of a well-used text prop.

Hey, PC. I love you.
One of the biggest problems of larp is the issue of "so many things to do, so little time." Especially as a staffer, I often find myself out as a role that can only interact with individual PCs for so long. Text props-- letters, diaries etc.-- allow me to give PCs a little bit more interaction with an NPC. While this doesn't replace face-to-face, IG time, it provides PCs with some personal attention, and often allows them to use letters/journals to engage other PCs in their plot (in a material way).

Soo... with my unabashed love for text props revealed, I have a question...

What is your favorite text prop (or text props, should you be so lucky) that you have received? Why was it your favorite, and what sort of interactions/player developments did it encourage? Grazi!