Why stick-jocks should NPC and not PC
I’m gonna make the case on why I love NPCing, and why min-maxer stick-jocks like me should embrace it. This is in the context of light-contact LARPs (NERO-clones, Accelerant-mutants, IFGS, and the like), so it’s not really applicable to Amt/Bel/Dag.
I started LARPing back in ‘91. I was a pretty typical min-maxer stick-jock, striving to improve my characters and my fighting, and NPCing rarely. I practiced a lot with a small cadre of the other top fighters, and got to the top echelon of fighting ability for that group.
When you PC in a LARP, you fight a small group of NPCs. As a PC you usually outnumber and outpower those NPCs. All too often, the PCs also outskill the NPCs, since the folks that are hungry to be better fighters tend to be on the PC side of min-maxer. In a battle, certain NPCs are often shut out, CC’d or killed at the outset of a combat by a PC power or spell. The inverse is much rarer. That’s a good thing. PCs are supposed to live, and NPCs are supposed to die. PCing is supposed to be “ez mode”. However, this puts a limit on improving your “game” as a player pretty quickly, as you are not pressed to do so.
Come about ’98, I had written and produced about a dozen games, but had stopped. My friend Katt had started writing and producing games, and I signed on to do the NPC camp coordination instead. I got to fight all day, pretty much fighting to the limits of my endurance. I got to fight everybody in the organization, often several times a day, and playing different roles each time.
Many things were true about this experience:
(1) NPCing was simply more fun than being a PC. It was more challenging and more rewarding. It’s also relaxing, since you have nothing on the line except trying to give a good fight, have fun, and play your role. At least, if you have the right mindset*.
(2) When I was just PCing, nobody really got to know that I was a good fighter except in a tournament. Now everybody knew and feared my foam. The ego boost was enormous. I had and have a huge larp-peen.
(3) I became a much better combatant when I did PC. After those years of NPCing, there were numerous situations I would be playing my PC fighter and could now pull off stunts I would not have dared tried. On two separate occasions I solo’d fights meant for a whole team of PCs, because I quickly spotted that they were all melee goons. I was able to “circle of death” them and put them down. One of those was for RP reasons, and is probably the highlight of my many PCing experiences. I felt like a true hero, and I never could have made that happen without all the work as an NPC before.
(4) It motivated me to get in the best shape of my life. Our bodies are amazing things when you work them right. Everybody should experience being in great shape at least once.
*See another blog entry on proper combat NPC mindset when I get around to writing that.