And I feel great.
This past weekend, I got talked into PCing (playing a character) at Endgame, the “postapocalyptic heroic horror” campaign boffer LARP.
I have several good friends who play and really enjoy it, and they’ve been trying to talk me into coming for a long time. But it often conflicted with my schedule, and the genre didn’t really appeal to me. I’m more of a classic fantasy kind of girl.
But I had no excuse this past weekend, except for a wedding to attend on Sunday (which contained a LARP! I will be writing about that soon.) I thought about NPCing it, but was convinced to play a PC so that I’d be able to spend time with said friends.
Since it was on such short notice, I didn’t really make my own character. I started reading over the rule book (which I’ve glanced at once before a long time ago) and got a little overwhelmed- so much to read over and choose from in such little time! But luckily one of my Endgame player friends came to the rescue and worked out my stats for me, and helped me with my character’s background.
We started knowing she’d be a Warper (magic user who can alter people’s bodies) because a fellow player and friend of ours had a character who had been Warped (he fights with claws and grows his own armor over his skin) and this was a good way to tie our histories together.
In retrospect, I realize this was slightly ridiculous of me. I put so much thought into how I would rectify the mistakes I made with Taz, my first boffer character (from Lost Eidolons), and then let someone else scrap something together last minute.
I guess I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated to carefully craft a character, for two main reasons. As I mentioned, this isn’t really the type of genre I generally go for. And this LARP has been running for years and years- I’d be starting as a complete newbie very close to the end. It was hard to feel invested.
Looking over my blog post containing list of ways to craft a star boffer character, I realize my Endgame character largely fails. (And an analysis of how she stacks up compared to my list is forthcoming.) In her favor, however, I will say that I will now add a new trait to the list: a memorable name. I introduced myself to everyone as “Sunshine the Third. The first two were cats.” Which got a few laughs. (I really have known two ginger cats named Sunshine and Sunshine II.) The name is easy to remember and prompts people to start singing, “I got sunshiiiiine on a cloudy day…” or “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…” People commented on whether or not it seemed appropriate (she was cheerful. But not an early riser.) And laughed at the notion that it was because she was from California, the Sunshine State… once we remembered that Florida is the Sunshine State. (Oops!!)
I think it’s an incredibly well run game. This weekend, I got to…
…fight spectres, lizard soldiers, androids, plant-creatures, and cultists.
…crawl through a dragon lair full of traps.
…walk through a ship that contained memories lost by characters.
…learn to hunt the plant-creatures.
…observe a magical purification ritual.
…barbecue with friends.
…retrieve precious seeds from an agriculture lab.
…retrieved sap from the plants-creatures and tried to burn the pod that spawned them.
Some things I really loved about this LARP:
–Gorgeous views. The LARP was out in the Middle of Nowhere, New Hampshire, but worth the drive. The tavern where the characters gather between battles faces a small field overlooking the beautiful mountains of New Hampshire and offer really spectacular sunsets. (See the image above!) The night sky is so full of stars, I almost tripped a few times because I was looking skyward. It’s a really amazing place to be.
–So newbie friendly. Other players were really friendly and welcoming. They made sure to include me on modules and let me be the one to interact with the cool items in them. They were happy to tell me all about what was going on in the LARPs. Big important NPCs paid attention to me. And there were mechanics in place specifically to help newbies out (people had various boons they could grant to anyone with the “inexperienced trait”- i.e. had fewer than 50 CP.) It really helped, especially when most people had more than double, maybe even triple, my CP. They also have written records of plots by PCs available to read in the tavern, and I’ve also heard that old radio news stories (see below) are available for listening online, which is a good way to find out about missed plot.
–Interesting and unusual modules. We had modules that involved crawling around traps, solving puzzles, sneaking past monsters, rescuing prisoners, reading recorded memories, and more.
–They tied in plot with character backgrounds. The purification ritual involved character talking about personal matters, and a module on board a space ship involved memories from many different character backgrounds.
–They had a radio! The staff actually wrote and broadcast news stories about both events that had gone on in the LARP and were going on in the wider setting. It was a really clever, in-game way to disseminate information. Plus, in between news stories, they played a lot of great music. Beatles, U2, Aerosmith… it was like the person running it had the same taste as me. I’m not going to lie, I may have been dancing around the tavern from time to time, pretending my boffer weapon was a guitar.
–Safe travel to the bathroom. There was a mechanic to let you “go to spirit” (essentially, make it impossible to interact with you) so that players could travel between the tavern and bathrooms without being jumped by wandering monsters. That said, I do understand and appreciate why people don’t always include it in LARPs- potential for abuse, reduction of the atmosphere of danger, more difficulty with suspension of disbelief, etc.
–Less stress preparing for it. The LARP takes place in New Hampshire, in 2012, so even though it’s post-apocalyptic, any clothing that exists now could exist in the LARP. Costuming was relatively low key- a lot of people had cargo pants, modern t-shirts, etc. I didn’t have to pack or get into elaborate gear. They also provided snacks and a big dinner, so there was less food prep for most players.
–The death toll. Deaths were pretty rare (only one that I know of) and when characters died, there was a bell to ring on one of the buildings. It was actually incredibly creepy and atmospheric- sent shivers down my spine when a group of us were standing in the woods, on our way back from a failed attempt to burn the pod of the plant-creatures, having lost one PC behind enemy lines… and suddenly, a bell rang out, indicating he had died. It kind of reminded me of the canons in The Hunger Games.
–A sense of community. The premise is that the world has been torn to bits with gaps leading to other worlds and/or dimensions, strange anomalies in space and time, and plagues of zombies and aliens and all sorts of terrors now roaming the world, and help needed from the Pathfinders guild to navigate it. I’m not entirely sure, but it seems as though the population of our town (“resistance community”) is actually just the population of PCs, and we actually need to rely on one another for protection because there’s no where else and no one else around. This does mean that there’s very little in the way of mundane NPCs. (In Lost Eidolons, there are local miners and gangsters, and soldiers and such passing through town on a regular basis.) This has both ups and downs, but one of the ups is the really tight knit sense of community between the PCs. And I love that.
A few minor quibbles- I’m used to Lost Eidolons, where they put out glowsticks to help light paths and warn players about hazards in the dark. The field in front of the tavern at Endgame contained a few large rocks and a bell that I tripped over quite a few times during nighttime battles. (And a few times just walking around outside.) I also stumbled into branches moving between the cabins (which don’t have electricity- no lights at night) and the tavern and the bathroom. Some glowstick would have made a big difference.
I regret not being better versed on the setting- I remembered less than I realized, and a lot of plot seemed to go over my head, even with PCs and NPCs being more than happy to explain stuff to me. When I went off to fight monsters and retrieve items, I often had no idea why, other than the fact that my friends and allies wanted to do it. It’s a bit hard to analyze how well written the storylines were, or how interesting the NPCs were when I wasn’t terribly in tune with much of it. Especially since the setting is fairly eclectic- there was fairy tale-ish stuff, demonic stff, sci-fi stuff and more going on.
I think the two factors that really made this such a great experience for me were the weather and my friends. I’m used to boffer LARPs that take place earlier in the year (or late autumn/early winter) so sometimes, it’s tempting to huddle up in my bulky winter gear by the fire in the tavern, instead of going outside to fight monsters in the cold (or even rain or snow.) But with gorgeous, sunny days and warmer nights, the weather never keeps me from running outside and taking on the bad guys. (Although a few times, I found that I just wanted to sun myself in the field in front of the tavern.)
Also, my character was a member of a gang that comprised of good friends. Normally, I’m not terribly interested in playing a criminal. But we spent the weekend teasing one another, looking out for one another on the field of combat, relaxing at a barbecue together. And that rocked.
Pity I had to leave Saturday night, but it was worth it. And as I mentioned, I still got to LARP. At a wedding!