Let’s talk about bleed. No, we don’t mean the fake blood the coats you on a regular basis during a Dystopia Rising LARP event (we like that—mostly when your character is lying on the ground and screaming). We mean “bleed” in the emotional sense—the point when you start taking things that happen to your character a bit too personally.
Bleed occurs when your character’s emotions affect your own. You, the player, may become upset after something happens to your character, or you may think that someone is “out to get you” even though it’s the character that’s the antagonist rather than the player. But there are a few important things to remember when it comes to bleed—and number one on that list is that you are not your character.
At one of the Dystopia Rising events, you may spend an entire weekend acting as your character; this is good, and we encourage it. After all, staying in character is what makes the world come to life. But it’s important to remember that the things that happen to your character aren’t things that are happening to you personally. Your character may be bound up by ropes and tortured by a Gravemind entity, but you’re perfectly safe.
Don’t get us wrong. We like scaring the hell out of you during events. Catching you in the middle of the night as you’re walking alone and having you feel real fear is a joy for any Story Teller. But there is a line; and that line begins and ends when you start and stop having fun.
And it’s not only important to remember this about yourself. It’s also important to remember this when interacting with other characters. At the end of the day, they’re characters—and a player is not their character.
That’s especially important to remember when encountering an antagonistic character. Your characters may not get along; they may hate each other. But at the end of an event, take the time to say “hello” to the player. In all likelihood, the player is a sweet person (even if the character isn’t). Compliment them on the scene you had. After all, a game is far more dynamic with antagonistic characters; a town full of “good” characters can get pretty boring pretty quickly (who really wants to deal with a bunch of heroes all day?). You should thank them for giving you a challenge; bring on the clever thieves and backstabbing politicians.
Now the question is: How do you avoid bleed? Remember to focus on other things between games, for one. That can give you a degree of separation. Getting to know the players outside of game can also help. And always remember: have fun. It’s a game, so don’t take it too seriously (or too personally).
We hope to see you soon!