18 Oct 2019

For a long time, I avoided long-running LARPs, for the same reason that I have always avoided MMORPGs, Second Life, and the Sims:

I have a place where I can invest effort to build relationships, rise in social standing, and influence the world. I have a place where I can grind to improve my stats and slowly gain new skills. Hell, I have a place where I can do things in an unnecessarily heroic and dramatic fashion.

So I’ve always liked my games to be one-shot and context-free, a square wave of “not playing” to “max power” to “might never play again” - just to avoid drawing long-term resources from my First Life, where they’re needed more.

But I missed something. In Empire, as with all role-playing, you’re free to play Something Completely Else, if you want. But what a lot - perhaps the majority - of people do is to play Themselves, But A Bit Better.

If you’re playing as Nearly You, you can align things so that progress in one world is also progress in another. I joined a military unit that focuses on cross-battlefield sprints, letting me both exploit and extend my fitness.

But more importantly, I’ve committed to ten minutes on a stage in a mead hall, solo singing pieces that I wrote myself. As a first public performance with very little musical experience, it’s a huge risk.

I can’t do that. But Magnus can. And if I’m not trained enough, and the result is humiliation [1], that happens to Magnus, not to me.

So what the alternate world provides is a way to test things out on Easy Mode, to build skill and confidence before returning to the Ironman run that is reality. It’s a backup account - a testbed. And I have room for that.

fn1 Entirely unlikely; the other thing about Empire is that the entire world is a “hugbox”. We are all making the experience that we want to have, and so everyone is warm and supportive and open except in the rare situations where it would make a better story not to be - and those are generally by consent.