Mythic Consequences

I’m back home from my third Consequences, and like last year, I’m mired in the post-Con blues. Consequences is a LARP convention that runs in late November in the UK (specifically, at a holiday village in Christchurch, Dorset). It’s LARP-centric, but people also enjoy tabletop roleplay games and board games at Consequences.
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This year, my schedule was a bit lighter than I usually make it for a LARP con. I’m generally the “cram as much LARP as possible into my weekend” kind of LARPer (hence my intimidating schedule for Intercon T…) but for Mythic Consequences, my schedule was relatively light — I played three LARPs and ran one. I love LARPing at Consequences, but I also really love getting to know LARPers from other communities, and learning all about the various cool LARPs people are working on and attending. So I opted for the trivia quiz on Thursday evening, as I’ve found it to be a nice way to meet and socialize with new people. I also left my mornings free for the purposes of sleeping in, so that I could attend the parties as late as they went without worrying about being super tired the next day.

My flight was Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning. Luckily, the plane was pretty empty so I had a row to myself and did get at least a little sleep. I was still pretty tired and jet-lagged all day Wednesday, but my travel buddy and I managed to get a little sight-seeing done. We walked around Kensington Gardens for awhile, which was lovely, and met swans, starlings, and some rather bold pigeons. Then we spent a few hours walking around the Natural History Museum. And over dinner, I met up with a couple of British friends from my year abroad between high school and college. It was so nice to catch up.

Thursday evening at Consequences, my quiz team came in second to last, and as per usual, I really didn’t contribute much. (One of the few answers I was able to contribute on was, unsurprisingly, a Game of Thrones related question.) But the context of the quiz offers a good excuse for introducing myself to unfamiliar faces (“hi, I don’t have a team, can I join yours?”) and fodder for small talk. My teammates were very welcoming and I met new people; it made for a fun evening (which also raised money for charity.)

On Friday afternoon, I was one of two GMs for Faustian Speed Dating. I played this LARP at Summer LARPin’ 2019, as one of the demons, and really enjoyed it. It was added to the Consequences schedule late, so I was worried it might not fill, but the last spot got taken about a week and half before the con. Demons proved more popular than sorcerers among the players, but everyone was pretty flexible on casting.

The GM’s NPC role for this LARP is Cambysion, the Blasphemous Union of Demon and Mortal Flesh, and host of the speed dating event where demons and sorcerers have a chance to find someone to make an Faustian bargain with. The writer told me she envisions Cambysion as being literally half sorcerer, half demon, with their makeup and costume split down the middle, Two-Face style. As this run had two GMs, we decided to each dress as a sorcerer and a demon, but tried to speak in ways that implied we shared one mind. (Mixing up “I” and “we” pronouns, and saying things like, “I must go confer with myself”.)

My demon costume consisted of red and black pieces (some from my Sith costume from two Consequences back), borrowed horns, heavy eyeliner, red contacts, and blue lipstick. Part of me wishes I’d done a more elaborate makeup; working on makeup skills was one of my New Year’s LARP resolutions. (Sadly, I failed to get any decent shots of this costume or any other costume over the weekend.)

My fellow GM and I set up five small tables with two chairs each, and decorated with skull patterned tablecloths (post-Halloween sale items purchased on a whim). We also set up a table and chairs for ourselves on the stage by the game space, which seemed appropriate for our NPC role, and gave us a nice vantage point from which to observe all of the players in their one-on-one conversations, without hovering over shoulders.

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A table for sorcerers and demons.

From the stage, it looked like conversation was generally flowing throughout the LARP, which I take as a good sign. I’m pretty sure I heard a sorcerer, the Wanderer, say to the Demon of Desire, “come with me and I’ll show you everything that isn’t Hell” which I thought was a wonderfully delivered line. At another point, I’m think I heard the Demon of Regret try to convince the Wanderer that they had met and made deals in alternate timelines, a nice bit of improv. And the player of the Demon of Protection sent me a little in-character email prior to the LARP, thanking Cambysion for their invitation and signing it with a creative title, “Shield against the hazards of earthly realm”. It was a really nice little surprise for a GM. (I shared it with the writer, who liked it too.)

I think in the end two or three bargains were struck? I hope the players had a good time.

On Friday evening, I played Reading Between the Lines. This LARP is set at a costumed gala at small library which is danger of closing. Meanwhile, the fabled Booklands are also in danger, and characters from well known literature are temporarily possessing the attendees of the gala who are costumed as them. The gala attendee characters are pre-written and cast by the GMs, but their costumes/the Bookland characters are up to the players. This concept really appealed to me; I’ve often enjoyed LARP roles that involve multiple consciousnesses, and I liked the idea of getting to pick a famous character to cosplay as. The GMs offered a list of suggestions, but I asked if it would be alright if I and another player came dressed as Crowley and Aziraphale from Good Omens, and the GMs were on board. I really appreciated the GMs being willing to write new characters sheets depending on the requests of the players.

Aziraphale proved to be a very good match for his gala attendee, both of them being the old fashioned sort, with affable natures and love for books. Crowley was a bigger departure from my sweet and nerdy gala character, though they did overlap in their interest in technology. I really enjoyed swapping back and forth from two very different personalities. I had fun creating awkward moments when people overheard my teenaged character call an adult mentor as “angel” (as Crowley addresses Aziraphale) and trying to convince another adult (who was sometimes Hagrid from Harry Potter) to bring me a stiff drink. I also whined a bit about the idea of some of the library’s books being relocated to a church.

I was feeling doubtful about my portrayal of Crowley, which was heavily influenced by the tv show (which I saw before reading the book.) I didn’t think I managed to capture his sarcasm or tendency to tease, but after the LARP a couple of players complimented my body language — I had been trying to mimic David Tennant’s slouching and sprawling and head tilts — and that really meant a lot to me to hear. Props to the player who played Hagrid, whose voice and accent work made the character swaps apparent, and Ebenezer Scrooge, who found ways to insert “bah, humbug!” into multiple conversations and speeches.

My costume also received a lot of positive feedback, which made me happy. I tried to recreate Crowley’s modern outfit from the tv show. I didn’t do any sewing for this costume, but I did dye a snakeskin belt and snakeskin boots, and created a tasseled scarf out of faux chain-mail trim, tassels, and hot glue. I even tried to style my bangs a bit into an approximation of the swoop David Tennant sports in this role, and wore a temporary tattoo of a snake on the side of my face, just like his. The best part might have been my vivid yellow contact lenses — they received a lot of comments on how creepy they looked. People even expressed relief when I took them off. (That’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned.)

…Sadly, I got no photos, of either me or Aziraphale, who did a wonderful job recreating Michael Sheen’s look with two different colors of hair wax. But I’m sure we’ll reprise these costumes for cosplay at conventions in the future. In the meantime, here is a photo of me trying on the sunglasses, and another of the costume’s accessories.

On Saturday, I played in Better Living Through Robotics, a sci-fi LARP featuring Asimovian robots, written at a Peaky Midwest event. It was a last minute replacement for another LARP I had signed up for that didn’t end up running, and I’m incredibly grateful to the GMs, who stepped up despite being busy as members of con staff (and GMs for other LARPs).

I had recently played another Asimovian LARP (Persephone’s Gift) and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to playing another. Better Living revolved around a CEO’s decision of which of her children should inherit control of her megacorporation. I knew I wanted to play a robot again — I really like non-human roles, so I was happy to be cast as 1UN4 (“LOO-nah”), the assistant to the CEO’s son and head of Public Outreach and Marketing.

I really liked how the human characters of Better Living each represent a very different outlook towards robots, and the robots each have a unique perspective on their existence and their relationships towards humans. I spent much of the LARP exploring my own feelings towards romance, sexuality, freedom, and mortality/immortality. For example, I had the opportunity to inspire jealousy in a fellow robot while exploring the idea of romance with him, and toyed with that idea for a bit (though I ended up avoiding it, when I realized jealousy often comes hand in hand with pain.)

You can read more about and purchase the LARP on the Peaky website.

For costuming, rather coincidentally, I had picked up a pair of tights at a clearance sale for a party store — they give your knees and ankles the appearance of articulated ball joints (they sold under the label, “Creepy Doll Tights”.) I think they were just the right detail for a last minute robot costume (although I’m tempted to also find a version that doesn’t include cracks.)

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I played the magician’s assistant. The magician is her brother, but she’s the brains behind the act, the designer of the tricks. I started out as the resident skeptic of the circus. I don’t want to spoil this LARP for future players, but let’s just say it opens with an atmosphere of tension and wistfulness, and it gets eerier as it goes on. Our run concluded with a very emotional, dramatic scene involving (almost) the entire cast.

For costuming, I spent awhile looking up vintage circus photos online. I ended up wearing a borrowed black tailcoat over a fluffy white shirt and a red corset, with black boy shorts (actually a pair of high waisted knickers from a superhero costume) over dancers’ tights and sparkly Mary Jane shoes. I also put fluffy white feathers in my hair and went heavy on the makeup for a stage look. I liked the tights in particular for this costume; they really look meant for someone who expects to be performing under bright lights and doesn’t want to appear too pale and washed out.

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the magician and his assistant

It only felt a little awkward to have my legs so visible in the context of a circus LARP with lots of fun costuming, but for awhile, I found myself too self-conscious to leave game space with only dancer’s tights covering my legs; someone else had to fetch me coffee. I suppose I was feeling unsure about Consequences’ cultural norms around costuming?

At my previous two Consequences, I found time on Sunday for board gaming, but not this year. But that’s ok — as mentioned above, thanks to keeping my mornings free for sleeping in, I had plenty of time for socializing at the parties all four nights. The parties do get fairly loud and crowded (though they felt somewhat less so to me this year) but I really enjoyed talking with people from different LARP communities. I learned a lot about some of the blockbuster LARPs running, particularly Conscious, a Westworld inspired LARP that really pushes the envelope. (I think I’d like to play a future run!) I also heard a lot of excited chatter about Tutankhamen, the new weekend long theater/freeform LARP running in the UK in February. (Much to my dismay, I hear this LARP is highly unlikely to ever run again.)

I also found time during the Saturday night party to take a dip in a hot tub, which was really nice (and actually an easier location to have a conversation than inside the chalets.) I hear there was a LARP designed to run in a hot tub that ran at Consequences — if I can manage to track it down online, I’d like to run and/or play it in the near future.

And this year I was one of the party hosts, along with my travel buddy/chalet roommate. It seems the LARPers who usually host on Saturday night were not there this year, so we volunteered. I was worried about not having any booze to offer, but so many guests brought their own to share, there was more than enough, with tons leftover. People seemed just grateful to have a place to gather, which I was happy to provide. Really, so long as you don’t have to be up early the next morning, the only downside is the clean up. (A lot of leftover wine and beer went down the sink.) Some folks are saying once is enough to make it a tradition, and I’d be up for hosting… so long as there isn’t LARP the next morning calling my name. (If the Friday night party is the Dutch Party, would that make the Saturday night party the American Party…?)

Instead of board gaming on Sunday, I volunteered for an Ops shift, which was mostly spent dismantling room dividers. On a whim, I bought raffle tickets with my change from buying coffee (it was for charity, so why not) and won three prizes. I didn’t see when the homemade Batman tote I donated was selected, but I hear the person who chose it seemed happy with it.

 

I also made it down to the beach for the first time. The weather was as rainy as one can expect from England in November, but I was ready for it with my Wellingtons and Captain America umbrella. It was so muddy on the path down to the beach that I slipped and cartoonishly flung a cup of coffee into my own face. (Fortunately, it had already cooled.) Still glad I went — the view was very pretty, and there were lots of cute rabbits hopping around.

Now I’m back home in the States and, like last year, feeling those post-con/post-LARP blues pretty hard. At least there is another event coming up later next year where I might see a few of the UK LARPers again… but I’ll wait on announcements before saying more. I should probably distract myself by turning my focus to Intercon… now that open sign ups have happened, I have a very full schedule of LARPs and other events to start preparing for. (…Maybe a little too full…) But right now, I just miss everyone from Consequences.

As a little bonus…
Words I Learned at Consequences
kwtch – Welsh for cuddle
muppet – British slang for idiot
alsjeblieft – Dutch for please

 

Posted in conventions, costuming, LARP, LARP Reviews, theater | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Fall LARP Projects

One of my New Year LARP Resolutions was to write an average of two posts per month. I was on track around August, then started slipping again in September. I’m currently feeling loaded up with LARP-related projects that usually take precedence over blogging… So for the sake of both mental organization and my resolution, here is a summary of my recent and current projects:

1. Usual LARP Prep
Lots of LARPs, lots of prep! September somehow passed without me attending any LARPs, but my October and November have lots.

I played a delightful LARP, (Persephone’s Gift), with the Greater Boston LARP Society, though prep was mostly an above average amount of reading. After that, there was a weekend of three LARPs, all of which involved a fair amount of reading (and re-reading) and costuming prep. Blog post about all of those is in progress.

There’s also Consequences in November, for which I have begun costuming. The first costume mostly involves shopping for items online and in department stores, but I’ve also had my first go at dying faux leather boots and I plan to alter a tasseled scarf. (Sadly, I’m having trouble finding sunglasses that fit my face.) The second costume is a magician’s assistant in a Dust Bowl era circus. I’m looking at vintage photos and circus posters for inspiration. That leaves one LARP for which I’m still waiting on casting (but I expect the costume will involve mouse ears and a tail) and a demonic costume for the NPC role in Faustian Speed Dating. (GMing Faustian also means some amount of reading, printing, and casting.)


2. Nostos
In one of the LARPs I recently played, I was cast as a LARP Blogger (at last, a typecast?) and as such, my character ran a ten minute mini-LARP based on The Odyssey. The writers gave me about a page of writing materials that would have sufficed, but me being me, I expanded on the concept and altered it almost beyond recognition and included a mechanic based around the card game Skull. I also threw together a poster and a little bit of costuming to go with it. More on that in the aforemetioned upcoming blog post.


3. Costuming Organization
I’m sure lots of LARPers reach a point where they look at their costuming collection and realize it’s a total disorganized mess. Besides my overstuffed sewing/crafting/costuming closet, I also had a giant Pile of Costuming Stuff that should never have been permitted to exist in the first place. I managed to sort the Dreaded Pile into categories and fold everything, but there’s nowhere to really put it, and as I pack and unpack for various LARP events, the folded stacks are slowly coming undone and morphing back into the Dreaded Pile.

To address this, I’ve started sewing large tote bags that are thematically appropriate to the costuming categories they will contain. I’ve finished the first one, a Star Wars themed tote, for my Jedi, Sith, and Wookie costuming. One pocket has a print of porgs and R2-D2, the other a print of red and blue lightsabers. Altogether, I have maybe seven totes planned for myself, and another… five? planned that will be gifts and raffle prizes.

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Star Wars tote bag preview

4. Inktober
Inktober is a drawing challenge in which participants ink one drawing per day for the whole month of October, based on a series of one word prompts. It’s flexible, in that one can do multiple on one day, and none the next, and there’s no minimum requirement on time or effort. It’s simply meant to encourage you to practice. I personally decided to put a LARP and Cosplay based spin on it; all of my sketches relate to LARPs I’ve been involved with, or cosplays I’ve done.

I’ve only managed to do five so far this year; I’ve been busy with travel and holidays, and it’s hard to get it done with more pressing projects on my plate. But I do like how it motivates me to practice drawing, so I accept that I will not finish it before Halloween. (Last time, I finished in April.)

5. Intercon 
Intercon T is still months away, but it’s a busy time for staff. The schedule has just gone live, and we always get a flood of bids right before and after it gets published. As a proposal com member and social media coordinator, this is one of the busier times of the year.

I’m terribly excited for the event itself and have my first two rounds of sign ups picked out.

…Oh, and not quite LARP related, (but it’s costuming, so close enough) I put together a Halloween costume. (No crafting involved this year, just online shopping and pulling things from my closet.) It’s Mugman, from the beautifully animated video game Cuphead.
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This photo is a selfie. The lighting combined with my black shirt resulted in this image, which I think captures the striking effect of the mask that my fellow party attendees were reacting to. (A lot of “that’s cute but also pretty creepy.”)

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Intercon S: Part IV

It occurs to me I never quite finished my post-Intercon S reports.
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On Sunday at Intercon, I played in two LARPs.

The first was an Iron GM LARP. Iron GM is an annual LARP writing contest that Intercon runs, where teams of writers are given a group of ingredients (a genre, a theme, an element, plus a secret prop to incorporate) and a weekend to produce a two hour LARP for five to twelve players.

I try to play an Iron GM LARP most years for a few reasons. It’s a project I like to support, even if it’s just as a player in the Intercon runs, because it’s a great way to encourage new LARPs to be written. And there’s something fun and low pressure about having a LARP that is a surprise on your schedule — you never quite know what you’re going to get, for style, genre, setting, or character. It often means I’ll be stepping outside of my comfort zone, and there’s no prep to be done. You just show up at the door and see what happens.

This year, Iron GM needed a few more readers, so I volunteered. This means I read all of the written materials for a number of the Iron GM LARPs, and evaluated them based on a handful of criteria, such as presence and completion of required documents and how well incorporated the secret ingredients were.

I thought being a reader would preclude me from being a player, but then there was some concern over a character in one of the LARPs, and the Iron GM coordinators asked me if I would play that particular role. So I did end up playing an Iron GM LARP on Sunday morning, and, unlike a typical Iron GM LARP experience, I knew my character and a bit about the setting of the LARP going in.

I usually roll out of bed on Sunday morning at Intercon and head straight to Iron GM LARPs in my pajamas (can’t costume in advance, so might as well!), but this year, amusingly, I was the only one perfectly costumed. The LARP I played, The Call, was set at a boarding school, and opens with students responding to mysterious screaming in the middle of the night. The GMs described the costuming aesthetic for the LARP as something like, “3am Fire Alarm Chic”. (I love that descriptor and I’m stealing it.)

The Call is centered around the students, who are still coming to terms with their supernatural sides, unraveling the mystery of the screams and confronting the ancient mysteries of their campus. I don’t want to spoil it here, but I will say it has kind of an X-Men meets Lovecraft vibe. Also, I particularly liked their use of the prop ingredient (a mirror) and their evocative descriptions of the school and its campus in their setting document are really good. One would not think this LARP was written in a single rushed weekend.

My second LARP on Sunday at Intercon was Strangers. I’ve heard really good things about, so I was excited to get a chance to play at Intercon S. (Also, it ran from 2-6pm, and I’m also very happy to see Interconners take advantage of the fact that we have the function rooms until late on Sunday.  There’s no reason for the fun to stop Sunday morning.)

Strangers is a blackbox LARP by Nina Essendrop, the LARP writer behind White Death. (Which has now run a fair number of times in the local community.) Like White Death, strangers is an abstract sort of LARP, without any speaking. Both LARPs explore community as a theme; Strangers also explores culture clash between refugees and native populations.

The LARP opens by dividing the players into two populations, the greens and the blues. (Indicated with colored ribbons pinned to your shirt.) One population will end up fleeing one by one to the other. I should mention I have, since Intercon, played this LARP a second time, and so I have seen it both from the perspective of the native population and the refugee population.

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A room divided by furniture and tablecloths.

Through a series of workshops, the players establish a very limited vocabulary of gestures, and their culture’s daily routines — a series of abstract activities involving interactions with props and one another, cued by short runs of instrumental music, along with brief periods of sleep. After several runs through the daily routines, with each culture operating independently on their separate sides of the room, the GM begins moving members of the refugee population one at a time to the other side of the room during the sleep periods. This migration creates disturbances in both sides’ routines, and it’s up to the players how well (or how poorly) this integration works. Will the cultures blend? Will one get overtaken  by the other? Will they end up still largely separate, even while together in the same half of the room? Or some combination?

It was a really interesting experience both times. The workshops are a ton of fun. It’s playful and not too mentally or physically demanding. Also, this LARP does something most LARPs struggle with — it establishes the baseline of the setting, the routine, such that players have a clear idea of how the routine is getting interrupted. A common problem a lot of LARPs, of all different styles and genres, run into is failure to establish the norms. (For example, how many of us have played a LARP where players are told their characters are among the most powerful or unique in the world, but then run into endless NPCs who are of similar power and it muddies the understanding of the setting? Or characters are meant to think the setting is perfectly mundane, and players aren’t quite sure how readily they’re meant to accept claims of ghost sightings?) It would be interesting to extrapolate the workshops of this setting into other styles of LARP, perhaps less abstract ones.

Like White Death, this LARP’s structure lends itself to lots of poignant little moments that are very much open to individual, equally valid, interpretation (which may or may not be compared during post-game chatter). In particular, trying to understand the language (hand gestures) of the other culture leads to some very interesting moments of confusion, and lead to us all making a series of decisions — when we would we compromise with people from a different culture? When would we try to impose our own culture on them, or let them interrupt our routines, or adapt to include them, or try to stay as separate as possible? It was fun, but also very thought-provoking, and I highly recommend it. In fact, I recommend playing it twice and seeing it from the perspective of both populations.

And that concludes my Intercon S posts! It only took about seven months. Time to look over the LARPs already listed for Intercon T

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A Wicked Wind

Last summer, I played in a Pokémon LARP called Pocket Monsters: The Hunted. Tragically, it ran on the same weekend as another LARP, A Wicked WindA Wicked Wind was created by the staff behind Sunadokei, which I really enjoyed, and it’s billed as a pirates and musketeers LARP. Swashbuckling is my jam. I badly wished I could play both, but I had to choose one.
AWWheaderIn the end, I chose the one I thought less likely to run again, though I knew there was a chance neither would. I had an excellent time at Pocket Monsters, but I mourned my chance to play A Wicked Wind, especially when players came home with such positive reviews. I begged one of the GMs to consider running it again.

A few weeks ago, A Wicked Wind ran again! (I like to think my enthusiasm was a contributing factor.) And I’m so happy I got the chance to play this LARP; I had a really wonderful weekend. It features the crew and passengers of two boats, the pirate ship Ebony Rose and the naval ship Victory at Cala, on strange, island-hopping adventures together.

I’ll try not to include significant spoilers, though there will be some mild ones — who knows, maybe someday there will be a third run! (I certainly think there should be.)
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NELCO 2019 Part III

My third topic of NELCO 2019 was Improving Non-Live Combat Techniques.
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This is a topic that has been covered before at NELCO and Intercon, but I’m glad to see it cycle through again because out community goes through noticeable trends in non-live combat mechanics, and it’s useful to identify and examine them.

For this discussion, the moderator put up four poster-sized pieces of paper, labeled “Why God Why”, “Key Design Choices”, “Awesome”, and “Augh”. Under “Why God Why,” we listed reasons why a LARP designer might include a mechanic for combat in a non-live combat LARP. Under “Awesome,” we listed aspects of mechanics we like, and under “Augh” we listed aspects we did not like. Under “Key Design Choices,” we listed various facets of combat systems to take under consideration when designing them.
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NELCO 2019 Part II

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The second event I attended at NELCO 2019 was Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory, a short presentation about post-game conversation among players, followed by a group discussion. It covered common modes of post-game conversation that can be detrimental others’ LARP experiences (even retroactively) and ways to improve on the language we use in such situations.

You can read the slides here.

My key takeaways:

Players are often in a particularly vulnerable state immediately post-game, (especially if they had a mixed or negative experience) — which is also the time players are most likely to engage in emotional post-game chatter. This post-game chatter can itself be a negative experience, but it can also have a negative retroactive effect on players’ impressions of a LARP. It can be (and in my opinion, nearly always is) unintentional, through innocuous statements or even statements that seem positive on the surface.

There’s a variety of ways this can occur, and the presentation covered three common modes: players trying to assert their post-game headcanons (that is, their personal version of events) onto other players, offering interpretation/judgments of other characters, and comparing elements of a run of a LARP to previous runs. It’s usually problematic when the headcanons, judgments, and comparisons are negative (e.g. “your character is definitely going to get killed soon after the game ends”, “your character was a terrible person” or “your character didn’t accomplish nearly as much as they did in previous runs”) but, as mentioned, even neutral comments or comments intended as compliments can also be detrimental to the other player’s experience when that player doesn’t agree. (E.g. “you were so great at playing a villain!” when the player doesn’t consider their character villainous.)

Even when the chatter is overtly negative, I don’t believe people generally intend to have a detrimental effect on one another’s experience. So why do people do it? In the case of asserting headcanons, I think it’s usually born out of a sense of frustration and dissatisfaction. My clearest personal example is a LARP in which I played the heir to the throne. Post-game, a few players approached me and told me that I should abdicate and/or run off with another character, because they were definitely going to take the throne from me very soon after the LARP’s endpoint. (Even though the GMs had an explicit policy of “what happens post-game is up to each individual player.”)

Why did they feel the need to tell me this? My guess is that telling other players (and having them at least tacitly accept it) makes a headcanon feel more “official”. Without that sense of it being official, the achievement of their characters’ goal is open to interpretation (and denial), making it less satisfying. I don’t think they intended to retroactively damage my experience of the LARP, they just wanted to reassure themselves that they had been essentially successful in their goal.

In the case of asserting judgments and comparing runs, it’s usually just a matter of people finding the analysis interesting, and making (often subconscious) assumptions about what won’t be detrimental to another LARPer’s experience. (And in fairness, such assumptions are often correct; they’re just not always correct.)

So how can we improve our post-game chatter, and reduce the odds of damaging one another’s experiences?

By focusing on our in-game subjective experiences, we can avoid many of the issues surrounding observations about other characters. For example, “my character thought your character was so evil” doesn’t impose a judgement on another character, but rather reflects a truth that actually is up to the speaker. (That is, it’s not your place to assert a fact about another character, but it is your place to decide your own character’s thoughts and impressions.) Similarly, “my character is hoping to get elected soon” is better than “my character will win the next election.”

Other good suggestions from the slides: if possible, choose a setting/audience where the relevant players won’t be affected. (For example, if you want to talk about your characters’ plans to win an upcoming election, avoid discussing it with players playing the other candidates.) Or alternatively, wait to be asked before getting into it. Another good tip: focus on gratitude towards other players for ways they enhanced your LARP experience.

In the discussion following the slides, my question to the group was: we’ve talked about the types of post-game chatter to avoid, but when someone else engages you with one of them,  what is a good way to respond?

My response is typically to nod along quietly like I agree and exit the conversation (read: flee) as soon as I can. The presenter’s response was “I get loud.” I think the most reasonable response was a compromise offered by another person in the audience: to respond calmly, “I’m not comfortable with that.” This would be an improvement on my typical response, which usually does nothing to mitigate the negative effect on my experience, but I’m not sure I’m brave enough for an explicit refusal. I think the response I liked best was, “that’s an interesting headcanon,” which is neither an explicit refusal, nor a tacit acceptance.

Next up, a group discussion on Improving Non-Live Combat Techniques.

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NELCO 2019 Part I

NELCO, the New England LARP Conference, ran over the weekend of July 19-21 in Boxborough, MA, along with the second Little Boffer Con, two tracks of three short one-shot boffer LARPs.
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