Roleplaying and Character Creation with a Disability.
My second segment on Disabilities and LARPing.
A lot of people assume that in a perfect world there would be no disabilities and so they write them out of comics, books, and fantasy worlds. I disagree. When I first came out to Amtgard I already had decided on a name and backstory for my character, Nerini. (I used my name from World of Warcraft)
It was fairly simple because I understood that in roleplay, you can’t be the main character, you may be the main character in your own story but to everyone else you are a supporting character. Nerini was a wood elf who left home to learn more about the world around her and practice druidry (the first class I played). At first she was a very bubble character and a bit child like, still wide eyed and full of curiosity. As I grew, so did my character.
I’ve had my illnesses since I was young, so they’ve always affected me, but at first they didn’t really play a part in my roleplay. I think because I thought that after my incident with my fistula before I started playing that things would go back to before where I would go on medication and for the most part, my problems would fade into the backstage aspects of my life where nobody else would really see them.
Sadly, that’s not always how life works. Between fistulas, NG tubes, ostomies, and NJ tubes, dislocations and joint pain my illnesses began to claim a huge part of my life. And I accepted that, because I didn’t have any other choice, being in denial of being chronically ill and disabled wasn’t going to make me NOT chronically ill and disabled.
Of course, this was a Grace problem, not a Nerini problem. Except, when I put on the garb and looked in the mirror, I still had the ostomy, still had the NG tube, I still have my NJ tube and have to use a cane. It was really hard to fully feel abled bodied in character when I knew I wasn’t really. So Nerini took on my disabilities.
People in medieval times might not have had the medical advancements we do, but Amtgard is a fantasy LARP, so if I want a wood elf to have an ostomy and NJ tube, the world is my oyster.
Nerini became tougher, she took up archery and grew a harder shell despite her disabilities which kept her from doing combat. She became me, but better. In situations where I would get upset or nervous, she was strong and determined and full of fire. In situation where I would get angry, she was calm. She helped me learn about situational emotions and what they should feel like and how to better channel my emotions in more effective ways.
In a lot of ways Nerini and I were exactly the same person, which some may call lazy roleplaying but it was effective in helping me cope with everything going on in my life. It made me strive to work harder and accomplish more because I felt stronger in character, which led to me feeling stronger out of character.
All of my accomplishments and hard work reminded me that you don’t need to fight or be able bodied to accomplish things. I can still make a difference, I can still craft and help others and roleplay. And I didn’t have to pretend to be abled bodied to do that. I am a disabled regent, a disabled noble woman, a disabled woman at arms, and I am a disabled LARPer. And that’s fine. I don’t need to pretend to be someone I am not, to still be a gem.