Roleplaying for Fantasy Faire & Charity

Strifeclaw, the great big panther that accompanies the roleplay group The Children of Stories as their Earth Guardian, gave a roleplay class on Roleplaying for Fantasy Faire & Charity at Fantasy Faire 2021. This is an edited transcript of the lesson, and a wonderful read for anyone considering combining roleplay and a charity event such as Fantasy Faire, or simply interested in how the two can work well together.


Connor Bagshawe:

I am Connor Bagshawe, host, and mascot of these roleplaying classes! Our most esteemed speaker for this class is none other than Strifeclaw, the Guardian of the Earth Stone! She has been a pivotal part in our Children of Stories roleplays since the early Rickety Weasels days, and this evening she will be sharing a wealth of wisdom on how to roleplay for Fantasy Faire, or indeed charity fundraising in general! So, without further ado, I will handover to Strifeclaw!

Strifeclaw:

Speaking of which Connor, you might not know this, but I never play Strifeclaw except at the Faire. This is the only time I am as I am now in temperament or in feeling. If you met me outside the Faire my favorite word is Doom. Quite different to the wise persona I am here.

But we are jumping ahead. Because character is much, much later in learning to roleplay for charity.

Welcome to Roleplay for Fantasy Faire and Charity.

This is perhaps the most advanced class that I intend to teach and is directed more for people who want to organize the roleplay. However, there’s still a lot to learn of the behind the scenes work tonight that you may find interesting.

Roleplay on such a level as large as Fantasy Faire can be daunting or even scary for some, but when you get into it you can make a world of difference in someone’s life.

I cannot count the number of messages I’ve received after one of our finales with the Children of Stories. People have been moved to tears, and I’ve even been told that it changed at least a few lives….and saved some from a very dark road.

But for roleplay to work there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Blogs, radio posts, promo pictures, and all sorts of things that take time and effort. I can tell you more about that in the questions after class. You’re here for the roleplay.

So, the first thing you start with is…what is your story? Where do you start? Some might make the mistake of thinking the first step is your character.

Not when you’re roleplaying for charity.

The first step for such roleplay is to know the setting first. Within the Fairelands there is already a rich mythos, one that should come first when you’re going to roleplay here or at such events.

And the best part is, you can learn as you go. No one expects you to know it all at first. We definitely didn’t know what we were doing in 2014.

But I digress….there is something that is very important to remember. Together, in the Fairelands, we have a mutual enemy in the Unweaver. The bringer of tragedy. An entity that has setbacks but is never fully defeated. We fight his minions, we may defeat them, but he is never fully gone.

Knowing how the rest of the Faire resists them is a good place to start. The same would go with any charity event. Find out about the grand story behind it all and become a part of it so you can resonate with the hearts of those around you. If we have a common foe let us fight them in some way.

This is the most fundamental thing to understanding roleplay for charity. From there we build outwards.

The next thing….still not your character.

Knowing the Lore of the Bard Queen, the Unweaver, and Junction abiding is the start. Now each realm, each sim has its own story to tell. When reading the descriptions, without ever seeing a place, do you think you could tell a story there that has any meaning? Working with the Worldmakers can be an amazing experience and as they say, Junction abides. Junction provides.

So, each year we work with the Worldmakers closely to tell a story. Tearing holes in Poppetsborough, a popup picture book. A gloom of rain that never left a small town, Echtra – very atmospheric, that year.

Sometimes you have to work with many limitations, you can’t ask too much of the Worldmaker. But they can be your greatest allies in setting up a story to tell.

When we’re going to pick the region, we find something that sings to us as having a mystery or a story that needs solving. This year the Amethyst Rift just jumped out at us as a place with a mystery to solve. In fact, the creator told us so. And working with her we have brought the story to some life. And she let us make up a few things to make it interactive, which brings in a little fund raising even.

There are secrets around the sim telling their story and the only way to uncover it is to scan it with a wristwatch. Said wristwatch is in an RFL vendor.

So, the Fairelanders can search and discover more of the sim’s mysteries without ever even having to meet each other on the same time zones.

Last year in Kuruk there were similar story stones, set up ahead of time so people could learn the story. Which is the most important part of roleplay for charity – Interactivity. It isn’t a play where you’re the main characters. Everyone can take part and make a difference to fight the Unweaver.

Which is why the next most important thing of roleplaying for charity is to remember to make the stakes high enough, and the people they interact with ones they care about enough to help them.

Last year there were not many dry eyes when the land of Kuruk was over shadowed by the soul of the killer Yeti. It was cleansed away from the chief. The year before that the Bubo Owls unlocked the ‘wish’ from beyond the Faire’s world….which was a sick child in bed being read to by his father. With the other titles of the Children of Stories lit up around it.

Connor Bagshawe:

All extremely memorable and moving moments.

Nyanka (nyanka.jinx):

I still remember Nat’s sacrifice…

Softpaw Sommer:

I was a sobbing mess that ending with the child and then last year’s. 

Zander Greene:

Me too!

Softpaw Sommer:

Zander, we could hear it in your voice as you DJ’d.

Strifeclaw:

Everyone was already a mess last year, so we took a lighter tone this year. Which is very important too.

So, we have established the basics…fit the mythos. Resonate with the people fighting with you and make a story where they too can fight back.

This year we had been experiencing some magic drain. So those who are usually powerful figures have been quite tired.

But that is just because something bigger than them is going on. And their roleplaying with it adds to the overall story so people can know it’s happening.

So, I thank them when I send out a quick IM and suddenly mention “P.S. you’re feeling sick in that cloud of hate fog. Might wanna get out of it.”

And I’m happy they’re willing to play along with this for the sake of the overall story.

Now we get to it – Character.

I said earlier you would never find Strifeclaw outside the Fairelands. Beryl is a very, very, very different person. And neither of them is me. In fact, except in IM you have probably never met ‘me.’

Roleplaying someone else for the Faire works quite well. It’s the ability to step outside yourself and be someone better in fact. Or worse if you’re playing an agent of the Unweaver, for the story. Being a villain can be hard especially here. Especially when all the world is hecklers.

It works out though. Because the real villain is always the Unweaver. And you never see him. You never beat him. You can only hope to drive him back. So that makes him the perfect focus for all our ire.

I saw a roleplay in the Fairelands once that… devolved. They were using combat HUDs and there were arguments and someone new wanted to kill off the villain and it was a mess not to be repeated.

Not with the children, but it happened. And that is why I don’t suggest weapon meters for roleplay here. IMs and talking with each other ahead of time works out much better.

Connor Bagshawe:

We fight with music and charity, yes 🙂

Strifeclaw:

Yes, we fight with heart and charity and occasionally we roleplay surrounding the enemy and making them give it back or the kids will let the wolfe slobber all over them

So, if you’re going to lead a roleplay here…

Chaos: You don’t have control of the story completely. You know you have a start. You have a few points to reach. But the kids will spend fifteen minutes finding the false shrine you prepared just to throw them off.

To be fair, a lot of roleplay moments come from hunting clues. There should always be a hunt. We often even journey to other sims for said clues and make it a journey. No flying. No teleporting.

Imagine having to roleplay how twenty kids on a journey were going to get across an underwater Junction this year. Or the year where it teleported you into the water below and drowned one of the cubs. That was our first death after the Medicine Bear.

Kuruk was a year that was very, very different for the Children of Stories.

It looked peaceful and beautiful but if you searched it you found a cave filled with bones. There was always darkness hiding in Kuruk.

Again, it helps if you happen to know the Worldmaker.

Nyanka (nyanka.jinx):

I’m still remembering that story Nat wrote after that year’s RP… Drove me to tears.

Connor Bagshawe:

Ah yes, I told it very well, if I say so myself 🙂

Strifeclaw:

Remember what I said at the start about lowering expectations? I ran out of script ages ago. I’ve just been speaking from the heart knowing what was needed would come. This has all been me just talking to you on the spot.

Connor Bagshawe:

The true spirit of roleplaying for Faire – not having a script!

Strifeclaw:

Exactly.

Brinley Taliesin (brinleytaliesin):

You were talking about characters…

Strifeclaw:

The chaos in the center is the roleplay. Because the characters aren’t as important as knowing this:

You don’t need to be yourself, but a better version of yourself or perhaps a better version of someone who lives and breathes in the Fairelands. So, if I were to make a suggestion for roleplay in the Fairelands, it would be to “BE of the Fairelands.”

You aren’t from those other worlds. You’ve never been outside the Fairelands. To you this is your home. You’re visiting the OUTSIDE world. The Faire brought you with it, and that’s where the immersion begins. Because if you act like that and resonate with that, people will follow – if they love the story.

Brinley Taliesin (brinleytaliesin):

That’s the main reason I avoid pop-culture references 🙂

Strifeclaw:

Yes, avoid breaking the world with such things. Others will, but immersion and being another person is the last piece of advice I have for you. If you ever want to get involved or even run your own roleplay with Faire.

Now are these rules hard and fast? Nope.

Play with the formula and surprise people sometimes. But what we do with the children again, is plan three charity fund raisers we anticipate. We have RP kits ready, and such.

Connor Bagshawe:

What sort of roleplaying scenarios have you found work best for drawing the most donations?

Strifeclaw:

Fighting the Unweaver – always – when the stakes are high and people can feel they are punching him in his smug face.

Connor Bagshawe:

Creative scripted environments that change as more is donated are very memorable and exciting too, I think.

Strifeclaw:

Agreed Connor. So….at this point I’ll take questions.

Fauve Aeon:

How do you walk the fine line between writing dynamically for action and writing something that the RP leads…and still manages to be good reading months afterwards, too? That always impresses me so much.

Strifeclaw:

I’m an English major Librarian if you are asking how I learned to write. But if you mean making a compelling story, just go with what feels the most compelling.

Zander Greene:

Guardian, would you say that there is a unifying theme to the Children of Stories from year to year? Not just in terms of plot, but more in the sense of Core Values?

Strifeclaw:

Core Values for them are sometimes turned upside down! One year the Magpies only cared about treasure, and were just looking for that the entire time. But when it came down to it, they care. They cared when the treasure at the end wasn’t treasure, but finding a child with no hair, sick, dying in a cage the Unweaver had put him in. And they helped set him free. Their greed misplaced and set them apart from the other children. But the theme is that they still cared.

Connor Bagshawe:

When it comes down to it, they have heart and determination.

Brinley Taliesin (brinleytaliesin):

I think a recurring theme in the RP is teamwork and working together to solve things.

Connor Bagshawe:

I agree. They learn how to make it work, people start doing what they’re good at.

Strifeclaw:

And that they start off NOT working together at all. We never start off as a coherent unit. Most of us come to each Faire as new people. It’s all new, confusing. But as the story progresses and people start to care, they form bonds. Again, resonating to a common goal goes far. That one goal for which the rest of this is fundamental.

We’re here to raise money for charity to fight the Unweaver. So, let’s knock him down and fight back.

Connor Bagshawe:

Please consider paying the kiosk to thank Strifeclaw for her hard work and wisdom shared 🙂

Strifeclaw:

Throws some in –

ACS FF Kiosk – OFFICIAL v27: Your donation has been recorded! Thank you! 2021 Fantasy Faire total contributions to date: L$7910883

Thank you all for being attentive…and for talking along to help prove my points.

Connor Bagshawe:

Yes, a big thank you to Strifeclaw for all she’s done for Faire over the years! That was an informative and inspiring class 🙂

Zander Greene:

Thank you, Guardian, and Connor and all the Children of Stories!

The Children of Stories 2021 – picture by Softpaw Sommer. Featured top picture of the roleplay finale by Avariel Falcon.

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