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FAQs for beginners

Even if you’re going with a group of friends, it’s pretty hard to turn up to an event and not know anyone. With roleplaying you can have the added unsurety of not knowing what ‘the right way to do things’ is, whether it’s from what costume to wear to wondering if you are going to have to fight people with a rubber sword. It’s time to set your mind at rest…

What sort of events do you do?
Legion of Dreams does a large assortment of events, from horror to fantasy or sci-fi, with more niche events on occasion (1920s or victorian horror and vampire events are always well-received). We also arrange medieval banquets and corporate weekends.

I’m a beginner. Help!
Everyone at a roleplaying event has started off as a beginner and we all remember what it’s like. You will find players and crew at any roleplaying event to be friendly and willing to explain any aspects of the event to people who have come for the first time, or experienced players who are visiting a new club for the first time. Legion of Dreams has a particular reputation for friendliness.

If in doubt, you can always read the testimonials. As a beginner, you’re already reached the FAQs page and if you follow other links for beginners on the site you should have most of your questions answered. If in doubt, you can always post a question on the messageboard or email us.

What sort of people will be there?
Roleplaying is famous for its eclectic participants. Some people use it as an occasional fun weekend with a difference, to let off steam and tell people they did something different over the bank holiday. Some people enjoy creating a character and watching it grow so they come more regularly to events. A lot of people enjoy the dressing-up and drinking by candlelight. Contrary to popular belief there is probably no such thing as a typical roleplayer.

The people at LRP events have varying professions (designers, doctors, therapists, actors, managers, students) and personal interests (dance music, martial arts, playwriting, bellydancing) and ages (players are mostly in their twenties and thirties but there are also teenagers and people in their forties).

Everyone who has done roleplaying has remarked at some point on the surprising variety of people who do it, and have been impressed (and sometimes surprised) by the fascinating conversations they’ve had with people they didn’t know over the course of an event.

Is roleplaying nerdy?
There are nerdy aspects, but so what? You might as well enjoy the ride. Not everyone who enjoyed seeing Lord of the Rings is a nerd, and computer programmers look very urban-style nowadays. Geek is the new chic and has been for years!

Do I need to stay in character for the whole event?
No – that would be exhausting! Legion of Dreams specialises in events where players can be in-character for a whole weekend, but no-one expects you to be if you’re not used to it. If you go out on an encounter or wander around the site you’re usually in character. At breakfast time you are yourself, unless you want to be in character, but many people aren’t ready for that sort of behaviour before they’ve had their first coffee of the day. Obviously as a beginner you want to test out your character to see how they react to things and what sort of things they do, but you’ll also want to chat to people just as yourself, the way you would at any normal gathering. The rule is – always be a character at an encounter or if someone is interacting with you as a character. If there’s a lull in proceedings and you want to drop the character for a bit, that shouldn’t be a problem.

What should I wear?
If you’re a beginner, people aren’t going to expect you to have full kit. But no jeans, no white or brightly-coloured trainers and no ‘modern’ t-shirts for fantasy! The more convincing your kit is, the more comfortable you will feel in it during the event.

Costume doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or fancy but it does have to be convincing – a shirt waistcoast, plain trousers and belt will do. A costume using natural materials will be much more convincing than a costume using man-made ones – so leather, cotton, wool, canvas and velvet will all fit the bill. Female live roleplayers have been lucky with recent ‘boho’ and ‘military’ fashions which are cheaper than hiring costumes and perfect for many live roleplaying events.

If you are going on a fantasy adventure, try to stick to a colour scheme of brown and green, with perhaps some grey or black, to look convincing. For science-fiction events, if in doubt you can generally get away with head-to-toe black.

If the event is outdoors you’ll want footwear that is convincing and practical – army or walking boots, or dark trainers at a pinch. Leather boots are great, too.

If I come to an event can I get help from Legion of Dreams in creating a character?
Of course you can. It’s never easy figuring out what you need to do at first. Browse around this site and try to pick up some tips for what sort of character you could have, then email us to get your character rounded off.

For instance, it’s a good idea to be a healer, because healers are generally friendly characters (so other players’ characters will be friendly back). Also, healers aren’t very good at fighting but can fix up warriors. So being a healer is a good way to not have to fight anything, and have all the most powerful players clamouring for your attention and owing you favours once they’ve got into a fight.

What is the difference between playing and crewing on a live roleplaying event?
If you’re playing on an event, the whole event has been designed to give you a good time. You interact as your character throughout the weekend, creating friendships or forming feuds with other characters as you see fit, and taking on quests – or avoiding them in the tavern.

If you’re crewing on an event, you have to put up the event infrastructure before the event starts and take it down again afterwards. You have no set character but do cameo performances as various characters (wench, king, assassin etc.) as required by the management team.

Is live roleplaying a male-dominated atmosphere?
There are fewer women than men at live roleplaying events but not noticeably so. The ratio of women to men is about 40 – 60. Women at Legion of Dreams and other roleplaying communities have never felt patronised or held back. If you’re a woman and thinking of attending an event, you can find out what roleplaying is like from a woman’s perspective in this interview with women in LRP.

Is a roleplaying weekend a purely outdoors event?
It depends where events are held. A 1920s horror event might book out a countryside hotel as its venue, in which case you’ll be high and dry. A fantasy adventure event will be a mixture of indoors and outdoors – large entertainment marquees will be erected and there is building infrastructure around that is turned into whatever is required (usually an ancient inn). You will not be expected to be outdoors constantly as live roleplaying is meant to be fun, but you may have to check if there are rooms or if you will need to bring camping equipment. There are usually good bathroom facilities with multiple showers. Legion of Dreams only hosts events where you can get warm and dry again if you get cold and wet.

Will I have to fight with a latex sword?
The play-fighting in LRP is an acquired taste and seasoned roleplayers tend to enjoy it more than beginners do. But you don’t have to fight. Many veterans of roleplaying have been doing it for years without ever getting in a skirmish because they’re not that interested in the fighting. There are plenty of other things you can do if you don’t want to fight – social politics to be had with other players and crewing actors, or information-finding and puzzle-solving quests to go on in the surrounding area.

The combat system has some rules that everyone should learn and as a player you’ll be told before you start, but these are really basic ones and it won’t matter if you forget them on your first game or so. If you find yourself in a combat situation waving a latex sword around, you can hide behind a woman’s skirts if you don’t like the fighting. If you keep track of where you’ve been hit and how often and pass the information onto a ref after the skirmish has finished (this is called battleboarding) then go and talk to a healer character in your group and they’ll be able to fix you.

If you do like the idea of fighting and want to see how good you are with your weapons, never go for anyone’s head – aim for arms and legs, just in case you’re worried about not pulling your blows properly. Treat other people how you would want to be treated.

Is roleplaying safe?
Any fighting is always done in fun, and only with latex (rubber) weapons. Metal weapons or tools are forbidden at any roleplaying event. It is understood that LRP is a contact hobby and that by participating you agree to take part in safe combat and be struck by LRP weapons.

Crew and players make every effort to pull their blows, and only touch other roleplayers lightly with their latex weapons. By its very nature, taking part in any live roleplaying events normally involves physical activity and it must be expected that there will be a fair bit of rushing around, jostling and acted combat.

As with contact sports (rugby, football, etc.) it is quite possible to do all this without causing injury, so long as everyone bears in mind they are partly responsible for their own safety and use common sense. At some point, you are bound to be struck by a physical representation (phys. rep.) of a weapon. While a small amount of light “grappling” is acceptable during attacks, it is not appropriate to resist aggressively, nor for the attacker to respond in kind.

We take safety seriously and have constructed what the club believes to be a safe general set of guidelines for all our Live Role-playing events. All participants are expected to abide by these general guidelines, listed under: Combat safety, Props safety and Weapons safety.

Will the event have catering?
Where an event is catered, you can be assured of three square meals a day on a Legion of Dreams roleplaying event. Meals are generally cooked by in-character staff (so you’ll be served by a proper serving wench), with a vegetarian option always available. If you have extra dietary requirements let Legion of Dreams know when you’re making your booking and you will be catered for. At some events we also apply for a license to sell alcohol and so have a tavern where you can buy lager, ale, wine and an assortment of spirits, which you are encouraged to make good use of. When we have not advertised a licensed bar and the events are not catered, you should bring your own food and drink.

Do I need to learn the rules?
No. Relax. There are plenty of roleplaying rules to learn if you want to, but as a beginner you just don’t need to know them. They will only spoil your enjoyment of the event.

The main area of roleplaying where rules appear is the combat system, which keeps track of the damage players do to each other by either play-fighting or spells. And you don’t have to fight. There are seasoned roleplayers who have done LRP (live roleplay) for more than a decade and haven’t lifted a weapon once because they don’t find the fighting interesting. Fighting is easy to avoid – either don’t go on an encounter where other players think there will be fighting and do another encounter instead, or else go on the encounter and if any trouble starts just run to a safe distance and watch the other players doing your dirty work for you!

Do I need to learn anything at all?
As a player, all you need to do is come as a character (ie have a costume and a bit of backstory). Whichever character you pick might have slightly different characteristics and skills and you’ll be low-level as a beginner so there won’t be too much to take on board. Check our LRP Character guide – the basic rules guide PDF is good to have to hand when you go on an event, and you might want to check the guides for the various characters you can be as a reference, although you really won’t need to know much to begin with.

There is an LRP tradition that if you stick your hand in the air, other people are going to pretend they can’t see you. If you have been ‘killed’ at an encounter and want to go back to the main site without getting ‘killed’ again, stick your hand in the air and people will ignore you. If you’re going back to your tent to pick up some biscuits and everyone around you is acting their socks off with a major encounter going on, stick your hand in the air and they will ignore both you and your biscuits.

There will be some commands you will need to understand throughout the course of the event but there aren’t many and refs and other players will explain them to you. These commands are:

If a ref (crew referee) shouts time freeze during an encounter, everyone stays in character but stands still, stops what they’re doing and pretends they can’t see anything. This is usually done so that the crew can describe what’s just happened or so that they can do a quick scene-change around the players.

Man down means that everyone stops what they’re doing immediately and drop the acting to be themselves again. It’s called by anyone – a player or a ref or crew – if they see someone fall down and not get back up. Basically, if anyone seems to be hurt, play stops and they are taken care of. It doesn’t matter if it is a false alarm, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Time in is called by a ref when play starts and everyone is now expected to be their character. Time out is called when play stops and everyone is expected to be a normal human being again.