Vampires in Public, or VIP as most of us call it, is a LARP with a bit of a history. In its current iteration, we’re the only roleplaying group running it, but it has in the past been seen up and down the country. It’s had a lot of different refs and a lot of different players. Anything I talk about here will strictly apply to VIP as we run it, and nothing else.
This version of the world has been running since summer 2009, and I joined the ref team in June 2012. I still feel like a massive newbie in many ways, and I’m definitely the least experienced of the two of us, but what I lack in longevity I make up for in insane enthusiasm. I love reffing VIP – it’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I love courts, I love linears, I love downtimes – the whole lot.
So, a bit about the world, then. The setting is current-day. In our world, vampires are pretty prolific – you can usually find one or two in any big city, although not every city has an official Court. There’s no real ruling body when it comes to vampires – a lot of the time, you get the power you have the guts to grab – although if you make the mistake of breaching the myth and threatening to reveal the existence of vampires to humans, well, you’ll find a lot of powerful and pissed-off elders coming down on you like a tonne of bricks. Power is there for grabbing, but don’t grab more than you can handle.
In the UK, the Court of London is the most powerful, although they only meet once every ten years. They rule the traditional way, with a Prince at the top, and the Prince’s word is law. Other Courts, younger and newer, try more modern distribution of power – democracy, or ruling councils and the like. Some work better than others.
The vampires of VIP are pretty traditional – you need to drink blood to live, (human or vampire, not animal), you enter a death-sleep during the day and being exposed to sunlight results in a short, flaming death and a pile of ash. A stake to the heart won’t kill you, but it will keep you from waking up. You’ve got superpowers, though – not only unnatural regeneration but a host of other things depending on your clan, from mind control to inhuman strength.
We run a mix of contact-based-fighting plot, and sitting-down-talking plot. Sometimes the two overlap. Players have the ability to shape the world and change things, and we try to throw a lot out for people to play with, but you’ll get far more out of the setting if you have a character who has personal goals as well as an interest in the wider plot – whether that’s tracking down a sire or working out what being a vampire truly means.
And here’s a guide on how not to write a downtime for added fun: