An Introvert’s Guide to Playing High Status Characters

An Introvert’s Guide to Playing High Status Characters

As someone who is nominally a rather quiet introverted type of person but who absolutely loves playing the complete opposite – big commanding character types, I am often asked for advice on how to do it well. So here is my collection of tips and tricks that I have accrued over 20+ years of larping. I hope they can be useful.

You may think that to be a convincing leader, you need to be loud, charismatic, outgoing and confident in real life. However, I have found a number of strategies that can be used to ‘fake it’. And indeed, it is highly likely that many real life leaders are actually ‘faking it’ by using very similar strategies.

Please note that some of these techniques should be calibrated with other people in advance so that everyone is on the same page and no one gets hurt by your antics!

With that, let’s go!

Goetia, photo by Kai Simon Fredriksen

Goetia, photo by Kai Simon Fredriksen

Take up Space

This for me is the core rule. Many of us in real life (especially those of us born with the curse of being British) are taught from an early age to not take up space. To not be a hassle or a bother. To not get in other people’s way. To not make a scene. So, the golden rule is to throw all of that out of the window. If you are high status, take up as much space as possible. Some simple ways of doing that:

  • Wear big clothing. Obviously costuming will depend greatly on the setting of your larp, but there are always ways to go big. Whether that’s wearing a great billowy cloak, a huge bustle, a ridiculous hat… If your clothing is big, you will look big and people will pay more attention to you. You can also add accoutrements to your outfit to look more extravagant (ie, bling bling bling!), but even a simple costume will demand respect if it fills the room.
  • Move! And keep moving! Don’t ever be static. Use the space around you. Stride across the room. Pace around while talking. Use your hands and arms to gesture. If you keep moving, people have to keep adjusting themselves to watch you, and that means you have their attention.
  • Where possible, be higher than those around you. If there is a stage or podium, use it. If there is a high table, sit at it. Otherwise, try ordering everyone around you to sit while you remain standing. Or reverse that – be the only one sitting while everyone else has to stand.
  • Walk through people not around them. In a typical larp, there will be clusters of people talking. Don’t go around them. Barge through the middle of them, forcing them to move aside for you.

Example: At Goetia – Night of 100 Demons, I played Belial, the King of Pride. I wore a coat with an attached cape that billowed while I kept moving around. I strode about like I owned the place, and people had to dive aside to get out of my way!

Goetia, photo by Kai Simon Fredriksen

Goetia, photo by Kai Simon Fredriksen

Meanwhile at Wicked Hearts, a short American larp about Imperial Russian fairytales. I was playing Old Man Winter. The costume brief was to dress extravagantly for the Imperial court, but I decided to subvert that and instead wore a simple ragged robe and bare feet. It definitely made the desired statement and made me stick out!

Claim Your Territory

A good tactic that has worked for me is to claim a space at the larp – whether that’s a room, a table, or a corner with a good chair – and make it my own. Decorating it adds to the effect, but the main aim is to make it clear to everybody in the larp that this is YOUR space. If interlopers try to move into your space… get them evicted. Use the people under your command to hustle them out.

Use that space. Occupy it. Demand that people come to you. I have spent entire larps in just one place. People who want to talk to me HAVE to come to me. And even if it is me wanting to talk to another person, they still have to come to me, not the other way around. Having underlings helps a lot with this. Dispatch them with the message that you want to talk to someone and get them to bring that person to you. In a good play-to-lift environment, people should be more than willing to go along with this.

Cyberpunk London, photo by Alex Helm

Cyberpunk London, photo by Alex Helm

I used this technique at Cyberpunk London where I was playing a London gangster boss. I claimed a booth in the nightclub and didn’t move from that spot for the entire game. Instead, a constant stream of visitors came to me.

You Don’t Have to be Loud, but You Do Need to be Clear

Having a loud booming voice definitely helps but is by no means essential. As a naturally quiet person, I have achieved much by speaking in a low but ultra clear tone. Be very precise with your language. Make statements not questions. Say exactly what you want and what you mean. Do not hesitate in your language, just demand. Keep it calm and clear, and people will listen. And if someone tries to interrupt you, interrupt them back: “I AM SPEAKING!”.

As another mob boss in Tenement 67 (a British take on Cyberpunk style game), I exuded calm and quiet confidence throughout the game. I never raised my voice once. People said they found it quite intimidating as they began to realise that the quieter I was, the more furious my character had become, and they quaked accordingly.

Cardinal Wolsey at Meeting of Monarchs, photo by Oliver Facey

Cardinal Wolsey at Meeting of Monarchs, photo by Oliver Facey

Be Unpredictable

If people are not paying attention to you, or if they are disrespecting you… get their attention by doing something they are not expecting. Here are some suggestions:

  • If someone disrespects you, calmly stand up, stride across the floor and slam them against the wall (get quick consent first, of course!). Then calmly return to your place.
  • If the tone in the room is serious, crack a joke.
  • Make a ridiculous demand. Call for food or a new chair, or simply demand the people around you shuffle around into a more pleasing arrangement.
  • Walk away mid-conversation. Nothing is more infuriating than someone declaring they are bored of you and leaving you to it. So, infuriate people in this way.

At Goetia (again), the King of Pride was furious for being snubbed by the chefs in the banquet (if you know about the trifle, you know…), and demanded chocolate as compensation. Minions and NPCs alike scurried around to fulfil this demand! Later on in the game, I strode out of the banquet in a fury, screaming that nobody was paying attention to me! (I was the King of Pride after all).

Use Your Underlings

If everyone is playing to lift, the people under your command or beneath you in the setting hierarchy will want to do what they can to big you up. Calibrate with them so they know what you need. If one of them does have a particularly loud voice, use them to announce your arrival or to silence the room when you want to talk. Dispatch your minions across the room to deliver messages for you, to intrude on other people’s conversations in your name, to spy and obtain gossip, or to simply tell everyone how great you are. The more people talking about you, the better.

As a Sith Lord, photo by Alex Helm

As a Sith Lord, photo by Alex Helm

Do Not Tolerate Disrespect

This for me is the hardest aspect to manage. If someone disrespects your status, then what do you do? I’ve found a few things to try:

  • Turn to your underlings and loudly ask them if this person is seriously disrespecting you. It’s a rhetorical question, but signals to them to support you.
  • Be over the top in your reaction. Huff and pant in annoyance. Shake your fist. Throw a tantrum. Make it very very clear that you are annoyed, and other people around will start to notice.
  • Demand an apology or compensation.
  • If you have some supernatural power or equivalent to display your might, use it. Especially if it forces them to the floor before you.
  • If you have some societal authority or similar, then invoke it. Demand they bow or kneel or salute.

If nothing seems to work, then it’s time for calibration. Grab the offending player OC and talk it out. Often they are simply enthusiastic about their character and are not intentionally trying to bring you down, so a quick chat will resolve things. And if that doesn’t work, then involve the game organiser, who will generally be keen to help.

At Mörkveden, I was playing a terrifying 800 year old undead draugr warrior, but was being snubbed by some mortals. This was proving impossible to resolve in character without taking actions that would remove someone from the game, so instead, I asked their group leader for some calibration. It was quickly revealed that they hadn’t intended the disrespect effect and apologised profusely. From there we were all able to work out what to do next to make everyone feel as badass as desired.

Those are my techniques, but I am sure there are more, so if you are reading this, feel free to add something in the comments!


Goetia: Night of 100 Demons by OmenStar. Ingestre Hall, UK, October 2023. There will be another run in 2024/25.
Mörkveden also by OmenStar. Berghem Lajvby, Sweden, August 2023.
Cyberpunk London, OmenStar again! Camden Underworld, London, UK. October 2022.
Tenement 67 by Carcosa Dreams. Oakham, UK. August 2019
Wicked Hearts by Alison Joy Schafer and Kristen Patten, run at Consequences, UK in 2023, but it has also run several times at Intercon in the US.

Photo by Resafey, from Harvest Dance. Image has been cropped.

Become a patron at Patreon!


Alex Helm is a British/European designer of countless larps since 1998. During that time, Alex has played and designed just about every kind of larp imaginable, with their games being run across Europe and the US. Well known projects include a variety of Warhammer 40k larps, chamber larps, Batukh Hungers! and Sins of the Others, and the forthcoming Nordic weekender prison game 'Lockdown' (UK, 2024) These days, Alex is mostly interested in grand scale European/Nordic games, but frequently dips in and out of other kinds. Alex currently lives in Berlin, Germany with their two cats, works in video games, and will sell their soul for chocolate.