Or perhaps more properly titled The Vampiric Wallflowers Have Ears
Last Saturday I went to do my vampire LARP.
Let me be absolutely honest: I did not "stretch" with this character. Max is what I call a "comfortable jacket" character. Like your favorite jacket that you know exactly how it fits and how much warmth you can get from it. I was being a lazy roleplayer when I made it, and I knew it. Sometimes when I create a character, I know they are going to be a role playing challenge or that they will take me far outside my comfort zone. I've hit on everything that moved before or been almost non-verbal and wild eyed, both of which are almost exactly the opposite of me.
Then there was the character with the orgasm gun...
Max, on the other hand, is easy. He's got some tougher aspects to roleplay for me (like psychopathy and thrill seeking) but they aren't always immediately obvious, and it tracks that they will become more apparent as time goes on. I didn't know a lot of people at this game before I went, and I have to admit being more interested in seeing my friends than in the game itself. It's not that Vampire LARPing doesn't have an appeal I recognize (clearly I'm getting sucked back in, pun fully intended), it's just that before I stopped playing in about 2010, I had been doing vampire for just about twentyish years. Larping for a decade, and the old White Wolf tabletop game before that. So I wrote a character that wasn't going to be a push for me. I had a built in, character reason to be timid (I was not yet acknowledged). My character is a journalist (a writer). He's not gregarious or outgoing. I even have a reason to open up my laptop and do some writing with earbuds screwed into my ears.
And I pull a lot of my "writer tricks" as Max. Especially the eavesdropping one. Honestly, it's a wonder I didn't make a blogger named Chris just to turn the lazy up to eleven.
You should know that I eavesdrop a lot. Not on people I know--that seems rude--but on people I've never met, I'm constantly listening into their conversations and trying to hear their stories. Most people in this world are too self-absorbed or distracted to realize JUST how much you can pick up in a room if you take the time to pay attention. Conversations across the room can be focused on without particular trouble. Interesting conversations can be "filtered out" of background noise. Particularly with a computer in your lap, you just kind of blend in, and with headphones in your ears, people pretty much assume that you can't hear them.
Saturday night I heard a number of conversations that were...interesting. Nothing Earth shattering--no plans for praxis seizure or to murder the seneschal or anything--but interesting nonetheless. Lots of status disputes, at least one elder rivalry that is probably going to end badly regarding the wanton disrespect of one character to a couch prince of a small city. There are status bids and boon worming going on. And perhaps the most interesting conversation I heard was regarding my sire being considered somewhat inappropriate as a harpy because of his lowly Malkavian clan status.
Being performative about my "writerly aspects" is a great way to remember that they're there and suggest that other writers put them in their own tool boxes. Writers spend a lot of time working to make rich and detailed characters, believable dialogue, and plausible escalation of conflict. They could do worse than to spruce up their lives with a little eavesdropping.