Playing it dangerous
John Shockley

When we were creating Empire we did a series of meetings all round the country, where we met up with LRPers and frothed at them about our new game. Companies in the real world call them “focus groups” I believe.

One of the most fascinating insights that came out of that process was a player who talked about their fear of messing up. It was very clear that they weren’t remotely concerned about risking their character, what they were afraid of was “messing up” — of doing something wrong or stupid that ruined everyone else’s event…

As LRPers we tend to overly-narrowly define this fear, assuming that it is just a fear of losing your character. That people are too attached — and that that is a bad thing. And that is important, but I think it is only part of it. I remember in Maelstrom, a game I ran for the best part of a decade and which included some characters playing angels and demons who literally could not die; many of them were still inhibited; still risk averse. Not all for sure… but actually the people who took risks were the same people who I see taking risks in other games where their characters can die.

I think we have some bleed of the same kind of fear that affects people in real life. We fear messing up, we fear to take action that we think may go wrong.

But the more you learn to take risks in roleplaying games… the more fun you will have.