The United States is a curious place. There is something about the culture here that makes people want to be ‘Special’. They want to be unique, and important. They want title and social status. You might assume that larp being a creative space where arc and storytelling are important players might not expect to climb social ranks. But unfortunately that is not the case.
Perhaps it’s because players draw inspiration from television and movies, or read elaborate Fantasy novels about the brave adventures of the noble class. Or perhaps it’s something deeply ingrained in our psyche. That desire to be special, or that focus on the few in a narrative of many, causes players to assign themselves the most ridiculous titles. Some anecdotal evidence follows:
This is one story told by one player, but it narrates a larger problem. We larp is a country that has no history of noble birth. We might look it up online and kind of follow the feudal concept. Smart players apply the concepts to themselves, and write a clever backstory that explains how they got where they are. This is fantasy live action role play after all, right? If I can come up with a plausible story for how I am the son of some noble or another, I should be allowed to play that character, right?
No. You really shouldn’t. In larp we’re seeking Verisimilitude; ‘The quality of seeming to be true’. Realism was tossed out with magic and boffer swords, realists join the SCA. If 75% of the player base has some kind of title, does that seem true? Not really, not without hand waiving and creating a correct setting. If they can’t back up those claims and explain how they got that title, does that tell a better story? No.
If you are considering creating your own larp system, be it boffer, theater, con, or other you should consider some form of system of title and peerage. It might be a lot of work, although provided is a template to make it easier to design, but the alternative is the sorry state we often find ourselves in. Negatives aside, creating a system of status and title actually adds fun for the players. Additionally if you build it correctly you can encourage the players to do something that the game system will need. Reward players who bring new players to the game, with title.
So thank GeneralCusterVLX for raising the issue. There is a fun solution which can add to the game instead of detract from it. Solutions to problems in larp don’t have to be restrictive. You can give the players what they want, while getting things done for the game. Do you have any tips, tricks or insight. Particularly if your from a country where the Landed Caste was a thing.