On behalf of my 12 year old daughter:

My sister and I LARP with a friend based on different shows we watch (Glitter Force, Sailor Moon, and others). We have a lot of fun coming up with different scenarios and games, but most of the time our friend kind of takes over the game.

For instance, I came up with some character names. I told our friend about it and the universe I made up. My character was the Queen warrior and my sister and our friend were my warrior princesses, and we all had our own planets.

Then she used similar character names in our next game, but her character was all powerful, and our characters not only did not have their own planets, but we had to pull her around in a wagon.

I felt really hurt about her taking my character names and making up story lines that wouldn't be in line with how I designed my character - enough so that I talked to my parents about it and our parents moderated a discussion with us. She agreed to come up with her own characters, and I thought it was over, but then the next morning she came to me in private and said, "Oh, by the way, I came up with this other character months ago and her name was actually your character name so really I came up with it before you."

I like spending time with my friend and playing these games with her and coming up with new story lines but it's really frustrating when she takes over my stories, alters my characters, and makes her characters super powerful and our characters super weak.

We both have really strong leader-type personalities, so we both have pretty strong opinions. She's also an only child, so she's used to getting her way.

How can we make it so our games are fun for all of us?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I suspect this question would be applicable over on IPS as well - but there are some pretty distinct RPG elements to it, and I thought this group may have some more specific advice \$\endgroup\$ – Wayne Werner Nov 6 '17 at 19:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, I'm not sure this is the right SE for this question. While the players in question are playing make believe, I'm not sure this necessarily constitutes a LARP in the traditional sense of that tag so much as playing make believe and children needing to learn the importance of fair and cooperative play. I think this might be better suited for IPS as you suggest or maybe Parenting. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Nov 6 '17 at 20:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ RE: "She's also an only child, so she's used to getting her way." Please don't perpetuate this stereotype. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 6 '17 at 20:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SouthpawHare If I legally strike you for enough damage to drop you and your response is, "Nuh uh! I had the super strong star fire shield the whole time," then it kinda devolves the game from the intended goal. And more rules won't help that. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Nov 6 '17 at 20:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm closing this question as off-topic because I'm pretty sure this is not about tabletop RPGs/LARPS -- it is connected to the normal make-believe games kids play, and a solution here will be a matter of how the parent can approach this situation, or how the author's daughter can interact with another playmate. RPG Experts are not the experts in these areas -- we will not give you a better or more specific answer than Parenting or Interpersonal Skills, which are where the experts for this are to be found. (I agree with reconsidering that "single child always gets their way" stereotype.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 6 '17 at 22:25

Formal Rules

One way to help combat that is to move from informal, mostly made-up game systems to more formal, written rules systems. I say this because most such systems help level the playing field.

They do this in part by making character creation part of the rules. If, for example, all of the characters in your game require you to "buy" your abilities from a set amount of points, then no one person can end up with more abilities or powers than any other. Instead, they might be really powerful at one thing or sort of powerful at 2 or 3 things. But the total value of those abilities can't overwhelm your characters, because you have the same point values to spend. (maybe being a queen requires 3 points, a princess 2 points, and a trusted lieutenant only 1 point, for example).

By having equal starting points, it becomes harder to end up with a situation where you're not playing as equals, but as servants pulling around your friend in a wagon.

Talk to her

Another tactic to try is to talk to her, when you're not actually playing one of these sessions. In role-playing, this is often called a "Session 0." It is where you can talk out the concepts you want to explore in the game, and set boundaries. This is where you'd discuss what kind of characters you want, and how powerful they should be relative to the background/imaginary/non-player characters of your games.

During this discussion, be honest but not argumentative. Tell her, straight out, that you want all the characters to be equals, that no one character should be the ruler over the others. Make it clear that you mean not only political ruler (queen vs. princess) but also ruler through powers or resources (like planets). If she asks why you're laying that out before the game even begins, be honest. Tell her you aren't interested in being inferior to her in the game. That doing so isn't fair.

Story ideas

This one is harder, but you point out that she steals your ideas. When she does reinvent one of your concepts, remind her that it's the same thing. "Oh, you mean like yesterday when I..."

It may be that she simply doesn't have any ideas she thinks are good enough. If so, be willing to help her work up something unique from the basic concept she's taking from you.

Worst case

However, it sounds like the friend maybe isn't as interested in playing games as much as in being in charge.

If that's true, then having better rules or more discussions won't solve her issue, because it isn't the game, it's the person.

Generally, I find that talking with a person will either expose whether they need help with good ideas or whether they just want to be in control. If she wants to be in control and is just using the games as a means to boss you around, then you have to make a decision: Accept the imbalance she wants so you can keep playing or force the issue.

If you force the issue, you are basically telling her that this mode of play is not acceptable. You put her on the defensive; she has to either accept that she's not playing fair and adjust or she's going to lash out at you, trying to make it all your fault.

If she blames you, you're probably not going to get her to change. You can't force someone to want to play fair. All you can do is point out the unfairness and hope they value you, your friendship, and the game enough to adjust.

I hope she does.

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Take turns being Gamemaster and Player in your games.

In many roleplaying games, a single person acts as a "Game Master" who controls things, such as the power-level of the world and the direction of the story. They also control all the characters, except for the ones controlled by the other players.

Come to an agreement with your friend where sometimes, they will be the Gamemaster and you will be the Player, and other times, visa-versa. Agree that whoever is the Gamemaster has final say to do whatever they want with any of the characters except the Player's character, and the Player can veto anything that breaks this rule. This is not that unlike what a lot of more formal RPGs do.

You say that both you and your friend "have really strong leader-type personalities". In that case, you should both try out being "leader" of the game sometimes - but not at the same time.

This will be a great lesson for your younger, less experienced friend in either case. Ideally, they will get to express themselves creatively, while also learning to respect the ideas and input of others.

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This is normal and your daughter should handle it the way that feels right to her at the time

Were the people involved adults, the behavior would be problematic. They aren't adults, and this isn't a problem. This is extremely normal, healthy behaviour for outgoing kids in rpg-type play. The first thing I would be worried about, from experience, would be if the same person was leading things all the time and somebody else seemed to always not get to have their character be cool and didn't like it. Other than that, I'd be concerned about people shutting other people's ideas down in hurtful ways, the content moving people in the direction of dangerous wrong conclusions, and people getting hurt physically from doing stupid stuff without thinking about it.

In the situation that happened, your daughter ran a game where she got to be cool and in-charge and the other people were supporting characters, then her friend later ran a game which went the same way. The problem (from your daughter's perspective) is that in the first game everybody got to be cool but in the second game she didn't get to be cool. That problem is best resolved by her talking about it, processing the emotions, and making a plan for what she'll do next time so that it doesn't happen (probably saying "I don't wanna be X" or "X wouldn't do Y" or whatever, once she figures out how stating those desires fits into the social framework she has with her friend, but maybe instead trying to never let her friend be in charge, which will go badly).

Kids do that whole 'talk about it, process emotions, make a plan for next time' thing all the time and they are generally pretty good at it. Assuming everyone involved does a good job of friending, the group will eventually learn how side characters and main characters work and how they feel about being each of those and what's needed to make a character role that their friends will actually enjoy playing and other stuff along those lines.

The only other thing that bears mentioning is the mediation thing that happened. That's really embarrassing and humiliating for a kid, because 1) they aren't normally okay with their stories being shared with adults in a way where the adults get to have opinions/input, least of all negative opinions/input 2) having a Talk with someone else's parents is pretty much reserved for Big Deal things most of the time. In my culture, at least, it's more normal for parents to tell other parents, and then for those parents to tell the kid. 3) Getting told off in front of your friend, on the subject of your friend, is weird, isolating, and hurtful. That's not to say that the mediation was necessarily the wrong move; I don't know the details of your relationship or the situation. But that's why, later, she had to lie about it, because she had a problem where suddenly she was being made to feel like a bad person, she processed the emotions, and the solution she found was for the situation that previously happened to not have been that way in the first place, so then you're wrong and she didn't do anything bad and they're still friends. That's called saving face and, while lying is wrong, it's pretty normal in kids to make up stuff to justify why something they did wrong didn't actually happen after they learn that it's wrong. The solution there is for the child to learn that having done bad things doesn't make her worthless, and even bad people have value and deserve respect and can become better people. That's not an easy lesson, though, and, unfortunately, a lot of people seem to struggle with that all the way to adulthood.

12 is a little old, though

I wrote the above thinking of your kids at roughly 7-11 years of age. The advice is applicable to 12-year-old's, too, but there it is a little more worrying that your daughter's friend hadn't realized that character re-use can be emotionally hurtful, that your daughter hadn't realized bringing you into it would prevent her friend from being able to talk, and that her friend thought 'person who pulls me around in a cart' was a cool supporting role in the first place and she didn't object. Different people develop at different speeds, and if the sister and friend involved are slightly younger then this makes sense, but if it's an older sister and her older friend, then this is a different problem.

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