- 1 Overview
- 2 What is live roleplaying?
- 3 How do you do it?
- 4 What do I need?
- 5 How does fighting work?
- 6 Further Reading
This page is designed to help explain what live roleplaying is for people who are new to the hobby. We've tried to give you a sense of what live roleplaying is by answering some of the most common questions about it.
This section of the wiki is designed to provide an introduction to live roleplaying and to Empire for new players. This wiki is vast and we don't recommend anyone attempts to read it all, especially not new players. But if you read this page and the pages linked at the bottom then you should have all the basic information that you need to start playing Empire.
If you are new to live roleplaying and interested in attending Empire then don't hesitate to contact us after you have read this introduction and we can answer any questions that you have. We also have a small set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for Empire. The new player FAQ is intended to answer questions from new players in particular.
What is live roleplaying?
Roleplaying literally means assuming or acting out a particular role. In live roleplaying we take on a character for the enjoyment that can be had by acting out the role alongside other people. One way to understand live roleplaying is to look at the similarities and differences with related hobbies.
In online roleplaying games and tabletop roleplaying games players create a character who can explore a fantastic setting and talk with other characters in the world. The world is filled with challenges and dangers for the characters to overcome.
Live roleplaying is similar but it is all done for real. You dress, speak and act as the character you have created once the game begins.
Games like Empire have more in common with popular MMOs like EVE Online. The foundation of the game lies in the activities and relationships between the characters rather than in a single overarching story spun by a game master.
In the theatre, actors embody the character that they're playing for the entertainment of an audience. When on stage, they stay in-character, following the script, but sometimes improvising their lines if needed.
When live roleplaying you are both actor and audience, improvising lines for your own character and witnessing the improvised words and actions of the other players in the game. There's no script - rather there's a shared understanding of the kind of things that might happen in the game, and a detailed setting that provides framework and prompts to your characterisation.
How do you do it?
When you are live roleplaying you simply pretend to be your character, then act and speak as your character would. Unlike other roleplaying games, you never describe what your character is doing, instead you simply attempt the action. If you want to challenge another character to a duel, you must call them out, then draw your sword and try to strike your opponent with it. We strive to make the imaginary world feel as real as possible for all participants, so ask players try to avoid references to the real world and instead remain in their chosen role as much as possible.
Who does it?
Live roleplaying appeals to all kinds of people and everyone is welcome at Empire.
Age is no bar to getting involved in Empire. Many families attend and enjoy Empire together, and the Academy is specifically designed to provide roleplaying opportunities for younger players as they train to become the heroes of tomorrow. But it's not just young people who play live roleplaying games; you'll see participants from every generation at the events. There are additional guidelines for children and their families participating at events.
We welcome participants of every gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and background. We've explicitly designed the Empire setting to try to provide equal roleplaying opportunities for everyone regardless of identity and we have strict conduct rules to try to ensure that all participants are treated with respect and dignity.
Live roleplaying can be challenging for participants with disabilities. We strive to make Empire as accessible as we can, and provide advice and information to help you assess the event. If you have specific accessibility needs, then we encourage you to email us so that we can identify what additional assistance we can provide.
Is it difficult?
No. Anyone can live roleplay and enthusiasm is more important than experience. If you can pretend to be someone else then you can live roleplay.
Live roleplaying has rules just like any game, but we've designed the rules of Empire to be as straightforward and simple to learn as possible. Our referees are always happy to answer rules queries on the field and established players are always understanding with new players who are still learning the rules and the setting so don’t be put off if you can’t remember all the details.
There is a short, printable summary of the key rules points available.
Will I enjoy it?
Live roleplaying, like acting, is enjoyable purely for its own sake. Most participants find that by immersing themselves in the character they have created, they can forget about the pressures of real life for a while, but different people get different things out of the hobby. Some live roleplayers enjoy the social interaction, some prefer the thrill of battle whilst others relish the opportunity to create and wear amazing costumes.
There is no winning or losing. Just as real life doesn’t offer clear cut win or lose situations, neither do most live roleplaying games. However live roleplaying presents opportunities that you could never normally experience, allowing you to become the protagonist in historical or imaginary settings. In the end it is impossible to know whether you will enjoy live roleplaying unless you try it.
What do I need?
As with any hobby, you will need some equipment to enjoy live roleplaying. For Empire, the bare minimum you'll need is some appropriate costume, somewhere to sleep, and an appropriate weapon if you plan to do any fighting.
Costume is very important in live roleplaying because you need to dress as your character would. A costume should be appropriate to your character and the setting, so you can't wear modern clothing such as trainers, jeans, or printed t-shirts when you're roleplaying. Our wiki has plenty of advice on costume that is suitable for your character in Empire. If you follow the advice then you can be confident that your costume will look good and be suitable for the game. If you have any questions about the suitability of a piece of costume then it is best to email us and we can give you specific advice.
Some live roleplayers enjoy making their own costume and you can find advice on how to do that on our wiki. If you don’t feel confident using a needle and thread then you can purchase costumes, weapons, and armour from one of the many traders who support the hobby. We have traders at all our events and they sell everything you need for your character. Details and links for traders are also available on our wiki.
Most live roleplaying events in this country use specially made weapons that are constructed from foam and latex and are designed to be as safe as possible. For Empire we have strict safety guidelines and every weapon must be checked to ensure it conforms with the rules before it can be used. As a result it's much harder to create your own weapon than it is to create your own costume, especially if you are new to live roleplaying.
We recommend buying a weapon from a professional live roleplaying weapon manufacturer who is trading at the event. There are traders at every event offering thousands of different costumes and weapons that you can choose from. You can buy live roleplaying weapons online, but there's no substitute for picking a weapon up to get a feel for the weight and the balance, so the best way to find the perfect weapon is to browse the stalls on the day.
But don't forget that you'll only need a weapon if you plan to fight. Lots of characters at Empire don't carry weapons, so you only need a weapon if you're going to use it.
Food and camping
For a weekend live roleplaying event, everyone needs somewhere to sleep, as well as food and drink. While it's possible to book into a nearby hotel, most players bring a tent with them and camp. At Empire there is a large area set-aside for camping that is adjacent to the main arena where the game actually happens. If you have a period tent that is suitable for the setting then you can pitch that in the main arena and use it in-character, but that's not something we recommend new players worry about for their first event.
You will need to think about food and drink for any live roleplaying event that lasts longer than a few hours. You can bring your own,but there are a number of professional caterers at every Empire event who sell a wide range of options.
How does fighting work?
Many live roleplaying games involve combat, with players taking up latex weapons to actively fight against other participants. Our game rules provide a framework for fighting so that you know what to do if you get hit. At the events there are opportunites to take part in thrilling large-scale battles with a thousand participants that complement the social and political conflict of the field at Anvil.
There are important safety rules for fighting, the most important of which is that everyone taking part must pull their blows so that they land with virtually no force. Our new player team schedule an opportunity to try out combat before the event starts, which is highly recommended if you have never done live roleplay fighting before. It only takes a few minutes to learn, and plenty of players will be happy to show you how even if you miss the new player meeting.
Do I have to fight?
Fighting can be exhilarating but it's not for everyone. Many Empire players choose to avoid combat, preferring to focus on the social and political side of the game. Although you can never be sure what will happen to your character, most people who attend our events have little trouble avoiding combat if they make an effort to do so. Our rules make provision for people who can't, or don't want to, take part in combat.
What if my character dies?
It's quite unusual for your character to die unexpectedly in Empire, but it can happen if you go on a battle. But don't worry if it does, you can create a new character at any point during the event and we'll help you as much as we can to get back into the game as quickly as possible. The easiest thing to do is to make a new character in the same nation or even group as before, especially if you die unexpectedly in the middle of an event, but you can use character death as an opportunity to try another part of the game if you are feeling adventurous.