Create your own plot by saying “Yes, and…”

There are many stories which take place at LARP events. The staff only directs a fraction of them. The rest emerge from the ongoing collaborative efforts of the game’s players. Like any form of improvisational theater, players can build on one another’s offers using a technique called “Yes, and…“, advancing the story in whatever way is most interesting for those involved.

One of the secrets of LARPing is that  the people who are most entertained at an event are the ones who entertained others. Think of yourself not as the audience to the NPCs’ performance, but as a character in a collaborative story in which everybody is the audience.

When you speak with other characters, pay attention to potential offers, hooks that you can build upon. Any time somebody engages the story, don’t just observe it, react to it and create the next narrative element. Your reaction becomes a cue, an offer for other players to build on as well.

Here’s one example of how this technique can be employed to generate plot over a long period of time:

Frederick writes an article for the local paper about a difficult decision his party had to make during an adventure.

Alora likes Frederick’s article, and asks him if he’d mind writing an article which puts her party in the spotlight.

Frederick decides to tag along with her party as a reporter, and takes notes on how the party behaves.

Alora’s party mate Iago, intrigued by the media attention, begins to act like a celebrity.

Vincenzo and Wintermoon decide that they’ll become Iago’s fans. They ask for his autograph and gush over their encounters with him.

Winden wants to be famous too, so he challenges Iago to a competition.

Winden wins the competition, and Vincenzo and Wintermoon decide to become his fans instead…

There’s an awful lot of plot there, and none of it was directed by a staff member. The Yes, And… technique is one of the most basic ways to create your own plot and ensure that you have a fun event no matter what the staff is doing.

  1. #1 by Bill on July 8, 2010 - 4:57 pm

    I’ve always been a big fan of that. Even in downtime in circles, we’ve come up with some real gems (ask a few of the players in Ohio about “Tablemancy” and see the response you get).

    Another nice benefit is that things like this break the ice both IG and OOG. Through the turn of events in your example, Frederick might now be friends with the players (not just characters) in Alora’s party. The game is always more fun when you’re playing with friends.

    Glad to see you’re back posting!

  2. #2 by Tim Holt on July 9, 2010 - 2:43 am

    Heh I am a tablemancer…

  3. #3 by Lord Byron on July 9, 2010 - 2:11 pm

    I’ll bite, what’s Tablemancy?

  4. #4 by Tim Holt on July 13, 2010 - 10:03 pm

    It is a form of magic that involves flipping tables in the air so that they strike on another…

  5. #5 by Kristin on January 12, 2011 - 8:16 pm

    This is actually one of the top rules you learn when you are learning how to improv. I keep finding LARPing is actually just another form of improvisation–and knowing how to do one or the other will help how you do both.

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