What is an Antagonist?
A protagonist and his or her story can only be as intellectually fascinating and emotionally compelling as the forces of antagonism make them.
– Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting
Antagonists are not just villains.
An antagonist is any character which is defined by their opposition to characters, or by creating obstacles and pressures for other characters. They can even be allies, but they exist to push a character’s limits or challenge their assumptions. They create growth and story.
The best antagonists are not limited in the physical or political conflict they create. They create conflicts in the minds of others – moral challenges and inner choices. They are the fuel of another’s character story engine. The challenge they present is meant to taken on and result in a better story.
LARP’s Unique Player Antagonists
The traditional role of the antagonist relies on the existence of clear protagonists on a journey for the antagonist to complicate and oppose. The antagonist can be a guidepost for the story, with other characters growing in relation to them. The antagonist can still develop as a character, but they do not grow with the same visible force and focus as the protagonist.
But in LARP, there is no clear single story. There is no camera following about one particular group around. There are often dozens if not hundreds of players involved in a LARP game.
So, every player might be someone’s antagonist, even though they are pursuing their own arc and story. True, a gamemaster might set up a major plot with an explicit NPC antagonist by which all players must struggle against. But there is another type of antagonist in LARP – the player antagonist, the character designed and destined to be a provocative force in a game.