I just received an email announcing that this year’s Intercon Mid-Atlantic has been cancelled, and I am bummed out.
Apparently, they didn’t get enough sign-ups. And I feel enormously guilty right now, because I’ve been putting off signing up. Life is a bit in flux right now, so I didn’t want to commit in case I had to back out, but really, odds are in favor of me having been able to go.
A quick glance over the LARPs up on their website shows a rather eclectic mix… I don’t see anything in the way of the standard medieval fantasy or classic Victorian era LARPs. A Garden of Forking Paths is one that ran at the last Intercon and I’m very curious to try for myself. And Humans vs. Monsters: Cow Day appeals to me a great deal if only for the chance to dress up as someone dressed up as a cow.
Hm. Maybe if I’d been willing to get the rights to and bid something simple, like Triple Blind. I even could have played, if what I’ve heard about it is true. Now the guilt feels a bit worse.
It’s a great con, and I’m puzzled as to why it seems to be struggling even though the area seems to have a fairly active LARPing community. It got cancelled then revived last year (though I hear it ran at great personal cost to the con staff.)
So in honor of it, here is a post-con report from Intercon Mid-Atlantic 2011, recreated from an old journal entry.
On Friday, I took the train to Washington DC, then the metro to the hotel. Even though I’m the kind of person who has gotten lost on the NY subway multiple times, I got to Bethesda just fine, and having the hotel right outside the metro station was really nice. Going to an Intercon where I didn’t have a ride from someone who lived in the area made me appreciate how much public transportation access matters to con-goers.
The hotel itself was really nice. A lot fancier than I’m used to for conventions, especially when I tend to use the Radisson as a basis for all comparisons. It was probably on par with the Westin, but the soaring atrium made it visually very impressive. Plus the little waiting areas, both in the main atrium and outside the con space were much more comfortable than either the Westin or the Radisson.
It occurred to me that most people didn’t have to make it in when I did, so I ended up spending a fair amount of time on Friday before the first LARP just sort of waiting around, with all my bags, for people to arrive.
I said hello to a few familiar faces- people I recognized from LARPing but probably haven’t really spoken to outside of it. It was kind of a bummer not to have my usual little social group around, but it was also really nice to have a good reason to come out of my shell and meet new LARPers, and get to know LARPers I’ve only met once or twice before a lot better.
Friday night, I played in The Crystal Dome, which is part of the Threads of Damocles campaign setting. It had a lot of the elements of a classic steampunk LARP, enough plot and puzzles and events to keep the game moving and players busy. I particularly liked how they created the set- there were pictures on the wall to represent a portal and the airlock. Plus there was a video projected onto a screen, representing what we saw through the windows of the eponymous crystal dome, complete with occasional sealife swimning by. I love this kind of visual aid in LARPing.
I’m having some regrets about this game- things I wish I’d done, trouble I wish I’d stirred up sooner. I held on to something longer than I should have, and ended up kind of screwing myself… but I still had fun playing, and given the chance, would play more Threads of Damocles, both in and out of cons.
Saturday morning, I played horde in Monday, which was a series of Improv games within the framework of a Mage setting. It’s a good game if you want something light and silly- playing horde meant I spent a fair bit of time sitting on the floor and watching other people be hilarious. There were mechanics involved that allowed the players to complicate the scenes with descriptions on papers pulled from hats. The few we actually used were good fodder for funny improv, but I think it’s to the game’s credit that we didn’t use many- for the most part, scenes didn’t even need more spicing up. There were some minor tweaks I suggested in response to their request for feedback, (a few games went on a bit long, some might have benefited from fewer players “on stage” at once, etc.) but I had quite a few really good laughs during this game.
Lunch was served in the atrium, and it seemed to be significantly higher quality than any lunch I’ve seen come along with LARPs and/or cons. And it was served at well dressed tables, with waiters coming around with coffee and tea while we ate. I had some interesting discussions… I wish I could remember more details and topics, but I do recall some interesting points about roleplaying romance in LARPs coming up.
After lunch, I played in Between a Roc and a Hard Place, which is a hard LARP to pin down. I thought it was going to be straightforward melodramatic fantasy, and it was… but the mood and tone varied a lot over the course of the game. Silly and seemingly out of a child’s fairy tale at times, and other times dark and tragic and bleak. I think the best part of the game for me was the relationship between my character and her brother, (played by a LARPer who has, coincedentally, played my brother in the past.) It evolved over the course of the LARP from a typical sibling relationship to… well, I don’t want to get into spoilers, but I will say that while I was very puzzled when I first got my ability/abilities, I liked how it worked in the context of my character’s relationship.
I do kinda wish my character had a little more to do… I think maybe, like in Crystal Dome, I was too cautious with certain plots… but oh, well. I’m still glad I played. And I liked the sort of epilogue it had- it felt like a video game, where what you succeeded at and what you failed at determined what final cut scene you saw.
And the last LARP of the evening was A Game of Thrones: Blackfyre Rising.
I should mention that this was the second time I have played this LARP. I am a huge, admittedly somewhat obsessive fan of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and ever seen I first began reading his books, I had been dying to play a LARP in this setting. Not only is Blackfyre Rising set in a world I love, but it’s damn well written, too.
It ran with about half the cast, but was still a ton of fun, much to its credit. I always find it interesting to see how a LARP changes from run to run. And this was the LARP that allowed me to finally convince my little brother to give LARPing a try. (He also enjoys A Song of Ice and Fire.) He had a great time and wound up trying out some boffer LARPing in the area afterwards.
On Saturday night, a bunch of LARPers ended up heading out to a late night diner, which is just the sort of thing I love to do at cons- go out for comfort food at crazy hours and enjoy the company of people who love your crazy hobby just as much as you do.
I believe I slept in on Sunday- I wasn’t getting much sleep the nights before and the LARP I signed up for initially (Under the Volcano) got canceled. (In fact, another LARP I’d signed up for, White Wedding, had also been canceled, which got replaced with Monday.)
IMA was a great convention. I’m sad I only got to attend one. I hope it comes back.