Easy Like Sunday Morning

For LARPers who attend all LARPing conventions… and when I say “conventions,” I’m including those weekends at various colleges that have a handful of LARPs (Festival at Brandeis, SLAW, the various weekends of minigames at RPI, etc.)… there exists the idiomatic term, “Sunday LARP.”

Most of these conventions tend to have the 5 slot schedules- one slot on Friday evening, three slots on Saturday, and one on Sunday. And looking back over old schedules (as I’m kind of oddly wont to do from time to time,) there’s a pretty obvious trend- Sundays have a disproportionate number of LARPs that are light and wacky. So when someone says a LARP is a “Sunday LARP” (or a “Sunday morning LARP”) they tend to mean it’s light and silly and possibly shorter than 4 hours.

And when I say “wacky” or “silly,” I mean, it’s comedic, it’s likely a little crazy, maybe erratic.  “Light” here implies it requires very little to no effort on the part of the players before the game (no 10 page character sheets to read and remember) and it won’t ask much of the players emotionally, intellectually, or physically during the actual run. Mechanics are likely to be simple, the characters are unlikely to be angsty or dark, and players won’t be agonizing over which characters to trust, or which heavy moral decisions with drastic implications to make.

Of course, any con-goer (of any sort of con, not just LARPing cons) can tell you (and non-con goers could probably very easily guess) there’s a pretty darn good reason for this. Cons are notorious for causing lack of sleep. People don’t want to get up early and play long games that require a lot of concentration and energy after not having slept much Friday and Saturday night… and probably tired themselves out being rather active with LARPs on Friday evening and all day Saturday.

And some players may even want the option to drop their Sunday game last minute, which is generally less destructive to a “Sunday game” LARP than it is to a more serious, more structure LARP. (Not that I’m condoning it, I’m just saying I’ve heard of it.)

Addtionally, there are sign-out times to consider. It’s perfectly reasonable for a LARPer at a con set in a hotel to want a little extra time in the morning to pack (maybe cram 4 elaborate costumes and then some into a suitcase) and take care of signing out, and either want the time free to do it, or not have to worry about stepping out of character for a minute in order to take care of it.

Except neither of these things should really come into play at a convention that takes place at a college where the Sunday games start at 2pm, which should leave plenty of time to sleep in. (And partying all night long is a little less common without one building hosting everyone.) But I recall just such a LARP convention/weekend where all of the LARPs in the Sunday slot were “Sunday games”… and having trouble filling. And I know a few players who might have signed up for something, but were turned off by the lack of options that weren’t light and wacky.

It’s certainly not the biggest problem facing the LARPing community, and I guess for the most part, an all light and wacky line up for Sundays hasn’t caused any damage at hotel based cons. But does give me the impression that there are self-fulfilling expectations in the LARPing community. There’s kind of an expectation that all Sunday games will be light and wacky, so no one bids a serious game for Sunday, so it’s assumed there’s no market for a serious Sunday game, and on the cycle goes.

Interestingly, boffer LARPs contradict a lot of these assumptions with climactic battles on Sundays, which require an intense amount of energy output from its players, despite the fact that players have gotten just as little sleep, or less! at a boffer weekend than they have at your standard convention. (Boffers seem to like to run around in the woods and fight the “Go to Bed Monsters” until the wee hours of the morning.)

Then again, the structure of a boffer weekend is one long event- people are willing to put out the energy because they want the event to close with a bang on Sunday. LARPing conventions with the 5 time slot schedules don’t need that one climax for the whole weekend.

But in the end, I think variety can only help in terms of LARP choices. And while most people just want to sleep in on Sundays, or else play only “Sunday games”… not all of us do. Some of us get turned off by the “Sunday Game” genre.  I guess we could try encouraging more serious bids for Sunday, but maybe it would also help to re-examine what constitutes a good game for Sunday mornings. Do wacky and light go hand in hand? Could something be light, but not wacky? I know such games exist.

In the meantime, though, I have The Labyrinth of the Minotaur set up for my Sunday slot. Having played another LARP in this series, I can say it’s going to be light and wacky and not unlike a scavenger hunt. And tons of fun.


About Fair Escape

I've been LARPing for years in all different styles, including both boffer and theater. I love classic LARP but I'm always happy to try something new. I have a sort of "gotta catch 'em all" attitude towards experiencing LARPs. I'm currently serve as a board member of NEIL, a member of proposal com for Intercon, the largest all LARP convention in the US, and as en editor for Game Wrap, a publication about the art and craft of LARP. I was also con chair of Festival of the LARPs 2017, and I'm on staff for NELCO, the first all LARP conference in the US. I'm
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3 Responses to Easy Like Sunday Morning

  1. It isn’t just the players…. lots of times Sunday gets filled with ‘Sunday Games’ because those are the game GMs want to be running then. GMs may be low on energy then too, and need low energy games. Or they may be scared off by the fact that lots of players do ditch Sunday slots, so they won’t run more player-critical games in those slots.

  2. Fair Escape says:

    I completely agree about the “being scared off by players ditching on Sunday” thing. It’s kind of an unfortunate aspect of our culture that it’s considered relatively acceptable.

  3. Pingback: NELCO Panel: “LARP Theory 101″ « FairEscape

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