Taking a break in typing up impressions of NELCO panels to write up a report of Dia de los Sobres (Day of the Envelopes- isn’t that name fantastic?)
This past weekend was the second Dia de los Sobres. (Unfortunately, I had to miss the first last year.) I went to WPI to play two LARPs- Alleged Entertainment’s Garden of Forking Paths and Paranoid and Crotchety’s Folding the River.
First of all, the Event Staff got Alden Hall for our LARPs, which was fantastic. It’s a really beautiful building with church-like architecture and pretty stained-glass windows. Inside, it has a big, open main room (with a stage) and plenty of pretty alcoves and staircases. Very nice for LARPing in- atmospheric, with plenty of room for the main action and little out of the way places to go for skulking and covert meetings and trysting.
The first LARP, A Garden of Forking Paths, was unlike any other I’ve ever played. It was inspired by jeep format (though I’m still very unfamiliar with the jeep format, so it’s hard to say just how jeep-ish it was.) Even though I had read the description, I still found it rather difficult to picture what we would exactly be doing, though once we actually started the LARP, it was clear.
There were 12 of us playing frame characters. We divided into three groups and moved to three separate areas to play out short scenes of the same 4 characters facing major life decisions. Each scene lasted maybe 10 to 20 minutes, then the decisions would be made and posted in each of three areas, so when we shuffled around for the next scene, we would know the history of previous decisions for that area and could roleplay accordingly.
…Which all still sounds fairly confusing, I realize. But I promise, it was clear when we actually started the LARP.
There were 8 short scenes, each with its own combination of 4 characters and its own difficult decision to make. I was very impressed with the roleplaying of my fellow LARPers- we were very invested in each scene and it felt incredibly and genuinely difficult to make the decisions. What I found particularly fascinating about this LARP was that I was able to make major decisions for my character, then experience both the consequences of my decision… and what would have happened had I made the opposite decisions. (A common question that arises in Game Wraps and Dead Dogs is “what would have happened if I had made a different choice…?” This game gave us the answers.)
Though I don’t typically play in LARPs that revolve around mundane, modern (well, relatively modern) day lives and its problems, I’m really glad I got the chance to play in this one. It’s good to experiment with the structure of LARP. Actually, this LARP felt almost like it was experimenting with the structure of life and time itself.
That all said, all of the decisions were rather depressing- we were always trying to find the lesser of two evils in very unfortunate and sometimes outright tragic situations. My mindset was a bit blue when I left that LARP. It’s a good thing we had a good sized break before Folding the River.
I’ve been hearing nothing but rave reviews for Folding the River ever since I started telling my LARPing buddies that I’d be playing, so I was quite excited. I was thrilled with my casting (and heard from a few people that they thought I was very likely to enjoy my character.) Reading the character sheets and world descriptions was a pleasure- very well written, with intriguing material for roleplaying. I thought the world was fascinating. (I haven’t played any of the Final Fantasy video games, but from what I hear, there’s a lot in Folding the River that was inspired by it.)
The LARP itself was not what I’d expected. It’s hard to describe without spoiling it, but the plotting was very dense and complex. My character had an interesting blend of feeling very important and central to much of what went on, while at the same time being rather confused and not really sure what it was she was capable of and meant to do. But damn it, she was going to do her best. Many of the other characters looked like a ton of fun of play, too. It all went by in something of a blur- I felt like I was being swept along world-shaking events. Even after game wrap, I’m still not entirely clear on everything that was going on (though to be fair, I missed a part of the wrap.)
If you like sci-fi with a heavy dose of fantasy flavor and complex plots, I’d recommend it.
A tiny tale from the LARP to end on- my character’s background described another character as frequently bringing her little gifts that played to her particular interests. In game, the player actually handed me a gift basket containing a real little present of the appropriate sort. It was a sweet gesture, and it was cool to see someone go that extra step while prepping for the LARP.