While LARPs have been a minor sideline at Strategicon, here's a convention all about LARPs. Having heard stories about awesome events like this on the East Coast (WyrdCon has been designated Intercon West), and having missed Wyrd One due to a scheduling conflict, I was damned excited.
Four of us played the titular Steeds, basically organic waldoes but with minds of their own; four of us played the Riders. I ended up playing a Rider, not an entirely unfamiliar role for someone whose day job consists partly of tech support.
We were connected via pairs of laptops running video chat sessions, with the players physically separated into an upstairs and a downstairs room. Oh, and to make things obnoxiously challenging? The Steeds were rendered blind and mute, limited to a half-dozen hand signals. (I think the in-character excuse was lack of time, rather than budget, as at least two pairs were working for megacorps.) They were equipped with utility pouches, guns, flashlights, and two bottles for treating wounds (which had to be used in the right order).
Fun! There were problems, but it was stated up front that this was the game's first run ever, so that was expected. There were several puzzles, and several things adding to their difficulty:
- None of us worked out that doing X and Y would have let us turn the other 95% of the lights back on.
- Many of the props were just red-herring scenery.
- At least two pairs had goals involving ongoing conflict with the other pairs; it was suggested that the goals could be adjusted to encourage cooperation at first and backstabbing later.
Mid-game, my Rider's Steed blacked out for several minutes, leaving him with nothing to do but repeat "if you can hear this, please give some sign" over and over and wonder if it was dead. This happened on three separate occasions. It actually survived all three, but by the end, its equipment had been stolen and we couldn't find an exit. All in all, highly effective at creating emotional investment.
Time Machine (something with elements of Bang, Guillotine, and a couple other simple board games) was canceled for lack of players.
A few rounds of Werewolves of Millers Hollow. Basically the same as at Strategicon, just sitting in chairs in a circle. It was inside a room, so they could actually turn off the lights during the night phases. And it was played without revealing which lynchings were accurate, eliminating the usual "trust those who were right, distrust those who were vocal and wrong" dynamic. (The townsfolk could majority-vote to exercise a once-per-game option to find out how many werewolves were left.)
Gatsby and the Great Race
Early 1930s Cthulhu. Mostly played in the usual tabletop-game style, but the LARP elements were significant once revealed (and the period outfits were excellent all around). As usual for Cthulhu, there was some 'weird creepy things exist', but the game upped the ante by also messing with the characters' sense of identity, memory, and the identity of their mundane surroundings.
A spaceship crew in the style of original Star Trek, with multiple departments - bridge officers, scientists, engineers, medics, fighter pilots - each represented by a few characters. Lots of actual consoles with some switches and lights and timers, and simple loose V-shaped vests as uniforms.
The ship was heading off to answer a distress call when everyone suddenly blacked out, waking up to radiation poisoning and sabotaged consoles and doors. The science stations needed to be repaired by the engineers, whose injuries needed to be treated by the medics, who were locked out of sick bay... Eventually, the captain found an end to the vicious circle, and things got fixed one by one, culminating with about three officers left on the bridge while everyone else got together and released the fighters from lockdown. Then the ship limped back to base for proper repairs, resolving to chase down the saboteurs at a later date.
This is an ongoing campaign, and I'm looking forward to getting in on it again. The only problem I noticed is that some of the props intended for the engineers (distinguishing components, performing console repairs) didn't explicitly say "you need X to do this", so I had to just assume I needed someone else's help.
The afterlife, in the style of a 1950s tiki club. Currency is as important as ever, and in the afterlife, the currency is Soul; mortals can get it by performing for an audience (especially if they're only recently dead), while angels and demons have to wheedle or force it out of others. The big-ticket item, as ever, is real estate.
Everyone had a symbol-tag instead of a nametag, neatly sidestepping the usual squint-at-nametags problem that often comes up in games with lots of named characters. Powers and devices and game mechanics were nice and simple. (Minor quibbles: I wasn't clear on how much Seduction was supposed to depend on mechanics vs. roleplaying skill - you could use it for the obvious, along with other things like "give me some Soul" - and I had to confirm with a GM that the "this costs X Soul" powers could be used as many times as you still had X Soul to spend.) Costumes ranged from street clothes to suits to black-wings-and-heels-and-lots-of-red.
The angels were struggling to clean up after some mistakes before they were discovered, the mortals were struggling to keep the Limbo Lounge in neutral hands, and the demons were struggling for power. Of course. I played a demon with multiple semi-interlocking goals, pursuing them all pretty directly and winning the big one on a pair of all-or-nothing gambles. (Me: "I SUMMON LUCIFER!" GM: "Oh, holy shit.") His two best buds turned out to have been schmoozing all sides at once, including one guy who'd never roleplayed before and was all nervous and hesitant... for a few minutes, until he realized "Wait a minute, this is all about gossip and politics! I love gossip and politics!" and proceeded to sow false rumors like nobody's business. (Amusingly, one of them turned out to be true, and the character in question assumed that someone else who knew from the start had spilled the beans.) Bonus points go to the guy who played Frank Sinatra as a devious SOB, and the woman who spent fifteen minutes talking him down on my behalf. (Too bad my big goal was to backstab her.) More bonus points go to lhriangel, a drop-in player whose character was waiting to get into heaven but was happy to keep company with mine in the meantime. ("My boyfriend dumped me just because I died! You're a demon, can you smite him or something?")
A couple more rounds of Werewolves. I got some special roles and the luck continued to go my way.
Sunday: Brunch, and closing ceremonies (with awards in multiple categories for costumes and props), and catching up with fairyglass who played some different games. (I want to play with her again some time, even if she is one of those Intimidating Alpha Geeks who actually designs games and/or discusses them with a nationwide audience.)