Sometime back in 2010, I heard about a new boffer campaign LARP called Seven Virtues starting up. The setting really appealed to me, so I created a character and signed up for the first event. Except it conflicted with my schedule (I had classes on Sundays then) so I missed the first event, and then the seconds, and so on… and eventually gave up. I was already on their mailing list (and various other online groups), so over the years, I’ve still been reading about the LARP. I also have a few friends who play, and it always sounded amazing.
When I heard Seven Virtues was coming to a close, I decided I’d NPC for the final event, so I could be there to see the epic conclusion. I emailed the staff, and then this past Sunday, I drove out to the campsite, walked into monster camp and asked what I could do.
People were practicing a song they planned to sign after the final battle. Someone on staff composed it- it was a rather haunting tune and was remarkably well directed, with different parts for the altos and tenors and such. Then we got into face paint and a little costuming to fight the last battle. There was a very thematically appropriate gray drizzle of rain falling.
(I know I look a little sad in this picture- that’s the face paint. When I do evil face paint, I tend to draw sad-eyes instead of angry-eyes; somehow, to me, it’s more haunting. I think this is why Ghostface from the Scream movies looks the way he does.) Also, I know now just how unwieldy wings can be!)
As it turns out, the big climatic battle happened the night before, and the battle on Sunday morning sort of put the conclusion on the tale, as the heroes cleaned up the last of the evil villains to prevent them from recreating the chaos they’d been fighting throughout the LARP. Once we were killed, we went back into monster camp to quickly put on white masks, black hoods and robes, and picked up lanterns and candles and such. Then we walked back out slowly onto the battle field, this time as some otherworldly spirit-type NPCs, where the players were recovering from combat. We sang the haunting tune as we walked, which players recognized from earlier in the LARP. It seemed to have a deep effect on them. A few NPCs who had been helping them during the final battle moved out of the crowd and crossed the distance to us to join us.
Though I had some basic knowledge of the setting, I obviously was missing a lot of context, but I still got a very strong sense of the epic conclusion that was going on around me. Both players and staff were crying. I’ve heard LARPers tell me that LARPs have moved them to tears (both in and out of character) before, though I’d never seen it personally. I was a bit envious- I’d like to have a LARPing experience profound enough to trigger tears.
After the game ended, I watched the players present their staff with thoughtful gifts, a huge thank you for the incredible experiences they’d had. As we cleaned up the site, I could hear players and staff enthusiastically sharing fun war-stories. I also saw some amazing costuming and props, including some sigils and mottos (such as “True is the Turning Path”- I don’t know what that means, but I just love the way it sounds.) I suspect the players designed them themselves for the groups they divided themselves into.
I’d been doubting the value of driving well over an hour to show up for only the last few hours of a three year campaign, but it was definitely worth it.