Had a complete blast this past weekend at Brandeis’ Festival of the LARPs.
Friday night, I helped GM Venezia, a Renaissance LARP of 3 Acts, written by Lovers and Madmen (two friends of mine.) I actually have very little GMing experience, so I’m not sure I was that much help. But I did have fun and I feel as though I learned something about running a game. First I helped set up the LARP. It looked good at first, but by the end of the LARP, all of my banners had come down. Clearly, I need a better system than duct tape (which also damages the fabric.)
For the first Act, I mostly played as an NPC, Cristopher Columbo, and ran the system involved with supporting his expedition. Unfortunately, I hadn’t known I’d be playing him, so I showed up in my Renaissance gown. I mostly smoothed it over by joking about dresses being the latest fashion for men. For the rest of the LARP, I mostly helped distribute the new character sheets and observed the players.
GMing this LARP was, for me, very much about trying to find a balance between giving the players the space to play out the LARP naturally without feeling watched… but also getting to watch the story unfold.
Also, the take away lesson of the evening – when making a ruling for a player, be sure to inform the other GMs, no matter how obvious or trivial it might seem. I gave a player a ruling, then another GM gave another player a conflicting ruling… it wasn’t good.
Saturday morning, I played Lt. Uhura in Slash!, which was… quite an experience. Slash! is a raunchy, silly game based on really bad erotic fanfiction. The characters were all from Star Trek, Harry Potter, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer… plus one Mary Sue. The character sheets, notably, contained excerpts from actual terrible erotic fanfiction found online. When I first received my character sheet and it opened with a description of Uhura in the shower, I wondered just what the heck I’d gotten myself into.
The LARP itself had a lot of terrible innuendo and outright vulgarity… awkward, yet hilarious. Definitely not the sort of LARP I use as an example when someone asks me to explain my hobby.
During the LARP, I felt like I wasn’t quite sure where people’s boundaries were (including my own) but in retrospect, I imagine most players don’t sign up for that game unless they’re among the more open-minded and permissive.
Saturday afternoon, I played in Sky No Longer Blue, an sci-fi LARP from the MIT crowd with a blurb that sounded incredibly tense. The LARP definitely held up to that initial impression. I felt incredibly tense, paranoid, and on edge the entire 4 hours. It was excellent.
Saturday evening, I played in High Rollers, a game set in the era of Prohibition, with gamblers and millionaires and international men and women of mystery… all set in a speakeasy called the Copacabana, complete with a lovely showgirl named Lola. (Guess what color feathers she wore in her hair for her costume?) Worth noting was a very cute idea from the player cast as Lola- she wore bright red lipstick and left kisses on the cheeks of all of the boys whom she’d… ahem… spent time with in the VIP room. Seeing the guys walk around with red lipstick on their cheeks was quite a sight.
Sunday, I was supposed to play in a LARP I’ve been meaning to catch for ages- The Difficult Life of the Costumed Henchmen. I was cast and very excited to play when I had to drop… bummer. Long story. But I ended up catching a ride to a spar-b-q in New Hampshire, where I met some cool boffer LARPers and practiced my boffing skills. I tend to just flail around in boffer LARPs, but after the spar-b-q, I felt as though I could actually improve if I got more regular practice than my current 4 or so events per year.
Also, what a difference a lighter core makes! I have got to get new boffer swords with fishing pole core. Luckily, I just happen to be friends with a guy who has a workshop in his basement. And if and when he gets his business back up, you can be sure to find a link here on this blog.
What a weekend! Spending so much time in heels and then sparring… I’m pretty sore!