creating a character
Whether it's your first time LARPing or you're looking to up your character creation game, we're here to help walk you through a quick guide on how to make a character for Dystopia Rising.
Step 1: Read the Rulebook
The rulebook is offered as either a free download or a purchasable hardcopy. For your first game, don't feel like you need to purchase the rulebook (unless, like me, you just enjoy having this kind of stuff around), but there are a few sections in the book you should focus on for character creation. Opening a 200+ page PDF can seem intimidating, but this isn't meant to be read in one sitting -- it's intended to be a resource and a guide for when you need it. Here's what you should start with:
- Dystopia Rising Basics (pg 14-15)
- Environment (pg 17-18)
- The Player (pg 26-28)
- Attending Your First Event (pg 37)
- Getting Ready for the Event (pg 40-42)
- First Event Tips (50-51)
- Keeping Character Concepts Genre Appropriate (55-56)
- Character Creation (64-69)
There's other useful information in-between those areas, and if you find yourself engaged or interested, just keep reading! But if you're looking to understand our game and community, those are good places to start.
Once you finish, you'll hit the "Strains of Humanity" section. From there, you will find all the different strains of characters you can play. Unlike other LARPs you may have played or video games you might enjoy, Dystopia Rising isn't about "being the best." It's about roleplay, shared storytelling, and engaging with others to meet your goals. You'll never be able to be the best, but you can use your professions and skills to compliment your character's needs and wants. Pick a few that you find interesting -- I suggest those interests be based in roleplay and not necessarily in skills -- and put them aside.
You'll also want to check out our Expectations of Play, New Player Info, Game History, and our local cults and organizations to find out what you can specifically expect at Dystopia Rising: Massachusetts. Every branch of DR has it's own "flavor" and you'll want to make sure your character fits into that.
Step 2: Character Creation & Stereotypes
The next step is to think about who and what you want to be in the world of Dystopia Rising. Once you've decided on your strain and skills, it's time to think about who your character may be. In doing so, we want to be careful to avoid potentially harmful stereotypes. As players, we can unintentionally end up playing stereotypes that are harmful to our fellow players and our community. Here are a couple pitfalls to avoid:
"Happy" slaves. What does that mean? It means that the perspective that being a slave is the best thing ever and you love it is a trope that we do not support in game since it can be incredibly damaging to the real world we come from. This link gives you a good example of tropes that work and tropes that don't. If you're looking to play an Iron Slave, or any kind of enslaved character, you want to avoid "straight," "exaggerated," and be careful of "downplayed." These aren't end-all-be-all rules to follow, but the bottom line is that slavery shouldn't be fun for your character. It can be complex and nuanced, but not happy and willing. Feel free to reach out to us if you need some help on finding a good story angle for your character.
Characters who are physically or mentally under the age of 18. It might be tempting to play a child or child-like character in Dystopia Rising, but that can lead to uncomfortable situations that we want to avoid. Just like the players of Dystopia Rising are 18+, your characters should be too.
Concepts strongly influenced by Indigenous American cultures. These are real world populations with a rich and beautiful culture who have been oppressed historically and into the present day. We would like to request that your concepts respect and avoid directly emulating the native peoples of the United States. For example, Natural Ones from this area are the descendants of survivalists or people of backgrounds beyond indigenous tribe members. The Unborn do not have a known or active connection to Mayan or Aztec ancestors, but instead can draw from New England's history or culture. This includes being thoughtful when designing headgear, wearing face paint, and implementing armor or costuming.
Characters that are a parody or use parody of real world religion, nationality, or spirituality. People of all religious backgrounds are welcome to play at DR:MA and we wish to respect those beliefs. Please do not include caricatures of modern day religions and beliefs in your character concept.
Just like Natural Ones are not ingrained as Indigenous Americans, Genjian culture and aesthetic should stray away from almost all reference to historical feudal Japanese culture, East Asian cultures in general, and is strongly influenced by paramilitary organizations, corporate culture, and more ‘modern’ aesthetics from various and diverse international militaries. Genjian are about protecting their families, their family lies, and respecting the path in which their families followed in the past.
Use of modern military dress uniforms, honors, insignia, and flags. As a community with many veterans of the armed forces we recognize that these items have significant meaning. Use of modern military dress uniforms, medals, insignia, or flags is not permitted for costuming, setting or prop purposes. We define a flag in this context as anything modern or historically recognizable, a symbol or banner whose original intent was to be displayed on a flag pole or guidon. Paraphernalia related to the US Flag (clothing with stars and stripes, etc.) is permissible.
Background concepts that include sexual assault. As mentioned in our Ingredients List, this theme is not one we wish to explore in any chapter of Dystopia Rising. Please do not include this type of experience in your character’s concept or background.
Step 3: Costume Creation
One of the easiest (and funnest) things about Dystopia Rising is creating a costume. For your first game, your costume can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. Keep in mind that most clothing in Dystopia Rising is hand-me-down and has survived as much combat and life experiences as your character has. Think about who your character is and what they may have encountered in the wilds of the Wasteland -- dirt, blood, stains, etc.
Check your local second-hand store for clothes. These are clothes you are going to partially destroy, so don't worry about spending too much money if you're concerned about price point. Cotton or cotton blend clothing is the easiest to work with since they take well to adaptation. Pick up base layers -- like pants, a shirt, or a dress -- but also look for accessories to make your character feel distinct. Would they wear scarves or a bag? Sunglasses? Jewelry? Look around and see what you can find that makes your character unique.
Customize your clothing. You can do this by spraying or spilling bleach, spilling fake blood on it, rubbing dirt in, leaving clothing out in the sun, or adding rips and tears. If you look like you came from a fight inside of a trash can, you're doing it right.
If you want to add armor, there's a ton of different materials you can use (and then 'ruin') in the same ways as the above. Metal or aluminum pans and plates, baseball, football, or lacrosse armor, or faux leather all make great additions to your costume and will provide some basic armor for your first game.
Step 4: Background and Character Submission
In DR:MA, certain types of characters require backgrounds or special submissions, but you can always submit your character's background no matter what. This allows us to use your character's background as a touch point, or let's us have more information about your characters for when you submit personal plot requests.