The No Heaven team have been giving some thought to event drop, bleed and things we might do better to help mitigate the negative impact these can have.
Event drop is the emotional drain that some players feel after an event. Sometimes described as life feeling flat. While this is often just the fact that a player has spent a weekend that is physically and emotionally exhausting it can have a genuinely negative impact upon someone’s well-being so we should do everything we can to address this.
Bleed is when in-character emotions cross over into out-of-character ones and vice versa. This is not necessarily a bad thing: bringing some genuine emotions to a scene can make a character seem more real and add a great level of depth to your role-play. However if your character becomes angry or upset with another character this can have a negative effect when it bleeds over and leaves you angry or upset with a player and not just their character.
It’s not uncommon to show up for an event, get into character and leave again without ever really having much time to get to know the other players rather than just their characters. This phenomenon only adds to the potential problem of bleed as you might never really meet the person you’ve been interacting with for the entire weekend.
Many LRPs informally take steps that help with these phenomena. The telling of “war stories” and various styles of froth posts or meetups help players disengage from the game world, get to know other players out-of-character, and try to keep their spirits high in the wake of a game. Looking at this as event organisers, it’s an interesting to look at what we can do to help with these issues.
One thought we have briefly discussed is having a debriefing at the end of events. The idea here is to spend between half an hour and an hour discussing various points about the game. In particular this discussion would focus on the emotional impact of the game.
This would be a chance to tell an IC rival “no hard feelings” or even “I know it was IC but what you did/said in that scene really upset me.”
It would be encouraged to talk about characters in the third person to help players put down the persona they have adopted for the weekend and set them up for returning to regular everyday life.
Other small rituals to de-role might be adopted, like having every player remove a signature piece of kit and place it in the centre of a circle. Perhaps also stating something about their character that they want to take away with them and something they want to leave behind.
Another, less formal possibility is the post-event party. By creating time for players to interact socially out-of-character you create a good space for telling “war stories” and seeing players as people in their own right rather than as their characters. This idea is less of a concern for us as event organisers however as many players arrange their own meetups. The main reason for us to consider making this something we do as part of the event is to encourage players to mingle outside their usual friendship groups.
These exercises are designed to help players distance themselves a little from their characters after a game and to connect with other players on and out of character level which will hopefully help manage bleed and event drop and make players feel emotionally safer role-playing with the people that attend our events.