Hey kid - wanna see a dead body?
Let's look at those three elements more closely:
Here - have a handy table.
There are two sorts of threats that your character will encounter over the course of a game: Mundane Threats and Unnatural Threats. They both work on the same scale. If you feel - due to your character's background - that it is not appropriate for them to be Threatened by Mundane Threats, you can make the call for them to be unaffected. See more on this under "Being Numb" below.
As described on the table, Refs will only give you explicit directions for Unnatural Threats. Quite simply, this is because Unnatural Threats are the "horror" part of "horror larp" and given their tendency to be on the reality-breaking and existential side, they can be hard to phys-rep! We don't police Mundane Threats - that's for you to role play your way through.
Wherever you see coloured cards which correspond to the colours above with die face patterns on them, your character should react as they are experiencing an Unnatural Threat to their sanity.
Cards/levels are not intended to be cumulative (so two Greens do not make a Yellow). Unless, of course, you feel that your character is sufficiently disturbed by the volume of Threat they're experiencing that they should be pushed up a bit.
Flaws are uncontrollable behaviours, addictions, tics, or underlying personality traits which come to the fore when your character is Threatened. At lower levels, the effect may only be noticeable to someone who knows your character well. At higher levels, however, it's going to be exacerbated to such an extent that it might place them or others in danger.
The Flaw should kick in before a Coping Mechanism can be used. Coping Mechanisms must be employed as a counter-measure. If you have a Flaw which cannot be immediately indulged, then we recommend that you follow one of the four stock responses:
Use these to bring your Flaw in check.
You will have two Coping Mechanisms on your sheet: Active and Passive. Functionally, these do exactly the same, but they provide you the player with more options for role play and dealing with what's happening to aggravate your character. An Active Coping Mechanism will see your character more engaged in the world around them and will have a defined purpose or outcome. A Passive Coping Mechanism will be more internalised. A theatrical character, for example, may have an Active Coping Mechanism of "Perform!" and a Passive Coping Mechanism of "Learn Lines"; a scientific mind may have an Active Coping Mechanism of "Speculate Wildly And Loudly!" and a Passive Coping Mechanism of "Run The Numbers" (i.e. sit off to one side and make sure they've got a solid understanding by reviewing their notes).
The more Threatened your character is - the more they are expressing their Flaw - the more extreme the Coping Mechanism must be.
Flaws and Coping Mechanisms should work together. Alcoholism to Person A is not going to manifest in the same way as alcoholism in Person B. Sure, they both drink, but if Person A's Flaw is Gregariousness and Person B's Flaw is Misanthropy, imagine how they will scale when things start getting messy?
As for how extreme your Coping Mechanism has to be at any one time and how long you have to adopt/perform it for, that's an exercise in role play. Best way to think about it is if you were in the situation and your vice of choice was X, how much would you want to use it until tic Y was out of your system?
It is not mandatory for you to use your Coping Mechanism. It might be outright impractical for your character to slip away for a line, or take themselves out of the game for half an hour to
indulge in quiet meditation. It might be worth role playing through the Flaw in order to keep your head clear of intoxicants (if intoxicants feature as your Coping Mechanism) or not remove yourself
from discussion at a time when it’s started to get interesting.
The bottom line is that it’s up to you the player and the character to decide whether you want to be uncontrolled crazy (your innate Flaw) or controlled crazy (your conscious Coping Mechanism).
(i.e. the more flexible and fun stuff)
Being Numbed affords you a level of established immunity from your Flaw when confronted with specific objects or actions. Once you get your character background, you'll start to get a pretty good idea about the sort of things that will or won't faze them. Players can decide for themselves whether or not their character is Numb to Mundane Threats (such as violence), however, all players must react to coloured Threat cards unless you have been explicitly told that you are numbed to something.
So – you're reading this and thinking “Yup – that all makes sense. Doesn't sound all that fun though. I miss those randomly jarring bouts of full on wall-humping insanity”. Well, fear not, my enthusiastic and slightly strange friend. We've got those in there too, but you have to work for them. Hardening is the wilful exposure of your character to a single item of Threat and, embracing the fear. It is possible over the course of an Event to consciously Harden yourself to something. It might even be seen as a good idea to some greater or lesser extent. Of course, Hardening doesn't happen without a price.
Hardening is a process that needs to happen after discussion between player and Ref. It will not always be possible and circumstances might not be in your favour. Please don’t approach a Ref and tell them “I’ve just spent 3 hours coming to grips with this spell book - what do I get?”. We need to work with you on this.
So, you're stood over the body of something revolting and unknown; it came charging at you up the driveway. You were terrified, but you kept your nerve for long enough to get a shot between its – eyes? Sure, why not – and now it's lying very still and very prone. Your character is someone who has a surgical background. They know how the leg bone connects to the hip bone and they have a pretty good idea of where the arse and elbow should generally sit on a natural animal. This creature, however, is different.
This creature is an Orange(•••) Threat and this isn't the first time it's been seen. Its presence is crippling to people who come up against it. It's somehow... wrong. Maybe the thing to do is take it apart, see how it all meshes and try to rationalise it.
So, you haul it off to a room somewhere – fighting back the nausea as you do so (and, indeed, fighting off the cries of horror and objection from your fellows) – and lock yourself in a room with the blasted creature and a set of very sharp, tough instruments. You are still operating at Orange(•••) Level of Threat which means that, whether you're riding through your Flaw or you're battling it with your Coping Mechanism, you're going to be all shades of Threatened as you do this. Opting to Harden yourself doesn't instantly render you immune to the Threat of the thing you're Hardening yourself to. If your Flaw is Short Temper, you're going to be blowing up at every little thing - God forbid anyone should try to interrupt you. If your Flaw is Sexual Deviance, keeping your mind on the work is going to be very difficult indeed without your thoughts drifting in other directions. This thing sure has a lot of holes...
With that in mind (trembling hands, sweat pouring down your brow and maybe a bottle of something to impulsively take swigs from), you set to work.
Hardening is something that will need to be monitored by your friendly ref team because it carries three consequences:
If you had a character whose Coping Mechanism was alcohol, for example, your need to take occasional swigs with a nervous giggle will become a permanent fixture. Combine this with – oh, I don't know – let's say, a phobia of chickens, then your character's going to be considered a bit.... weird. On the plus side, you won't feel the need to run away and cower in terror when those horrible creatures come staggering up the driveway again. That's useful, right? Shame about the chicken coop next door, like.
One last point: if you should find yourself able to play your character in a further event, you will be provided with a new Baseline. However, as mentioned at the very beginning, the Baseline is what's normal for your character, and what's normal for your character isn't necessarily "normal" for society at large. In other words, those exciting new tics and triggers you might've scored yourself over the course of the event will become your character's new day-to-day demeanour.
Have fun with that!