Robots and masks


My retro-SF Asimovian robot larp, “Persephone’s Choice”, will be premiering at Phoenix in August. Pretty obviously, there will be robots, who in genre are obviously not human (unless they’re not). At the moment I’m planning to distinguish this by costume and name badges: all robots will have robot names (e.g. R. Daneel Olivaw), and all robots will be asked to wear black. However, I’m also wondering whether to ask the robots to wear plain white masks.

Normally there’s a simple rule for larp and full face masks: don’t. Masks prevent people from properly expressing emotion, which hinders roleplaying. OTOH, limiting emotional expression is exactly why I think they might be a good idea for this game - Asimovian robots don’t have emotions, so blocking them from view with a physical barrier actually seems to work. It also reinforces their non-humanity, which might help with enabling appropriate interactions.

(There is also a player comfort issue, especially for players who normally wear glasses, which is definitely a factor to consider).

So, is this worth experimenting with or not?



(IMO, obviously)


I would wear one, however I think it might dampen the roleplaying aspect a bit? Like I don’t get to roleplay a non-emotional robot because the mask does it for me? Also I have flashbacks to the holes my mask rubbed in my face from Masquerade on Fleet St.

But would wear one.


I dislike masks more for comfort reasons than any issues with roleplaying. After three hours they can get quite irritating, there’s the issue with glasses that you mentioned, and they restrict peripheral vision. I think players can be trusted to roleplay emotionless characters as long as you make that part of the setting clear.

Of course, I’m pretty sure I’m not in that game, so you’re welcome to give it a try. I’d check with your players first and see how they feel, and maybe offer some alternatives for anyone who doesn’t want to (facepaint could work just as well).


Comfort is important, and its definitely a check with players first thing. Also, this is a game which will almost certainly rerun (unless its an absolute flop), so there’s always the option of using another run as the experiment.


It something I’m fine with, as long as the mask doesn’t impede speech, though this can easily be solved by cutting away the area around the mouth.


I’ll take that as a vote for half-masks.


I wore a full face mask for ESPA and didn’t find talking through it too much of an issue - I had to speak louder and slower than I normally would in order to be understood, but it was definitely doable. I did find I got really thirsty under the mask though, so having a space where robot players can ooc take off their masks to drink might be a good plan.

I’m super keen to hear how this goes if you do end up using masks, it sounds very cool.


Or suggest white face paint for people who don’t want to wear a mask?


[quote=“Stephanie, post:9, topic:21719, full:true”]
Or suggest white face paint for people who don’t want to wear a mask?[/quote]

Good idea as an alternative.


[quote=“IdiotSavant, post:10, topic:21719, full:true”]

Actually face paint doesn’t work that well with glasses either


I also prefer half masks. Its easier to keep hydrated (without taking the mask off), and the mask doesn’t end up covered in condensation.

Alternatively, if you have a few people decent at facepainting, painting faces to look more robot like might work? If you have a design that avoids the eye area it can work for glasses wearing folk too.


I like the visual idea of masks.
The standard white masks are normally not nice to wear for long without a break -because of condensation and they are often a different shape to one’s face. The mouth slot is never in the right place.
Half masks are not a bad idea. Cloth (half-)masks might be worth considering too for comfort, although for robots I guess you’d want rigidity.

The awkward thing is that the greatest impact would come from concealing the eye area, where humans are expressive, but that is precisely the area people with glasses want to use!