This past Friday, I packed all my stuff and headed down to Camp Haiastan for the 12th and final weekend event of Lost Eidolons, the Lovecraftian Steampunk campaign boffer LARP. I ended up missing more weekends of this LARP than I would have liked to- holidays and school and such got in the way from time to time, but I had to be there for the epic conclusion, to see how the tale of Greyhook and my character’s personal tale ended.
The Calm Before the Storm
The weekend definitely had a theme of temptation and difficult personal choices. The staff was clearly trying to give everyone some personal plot and, in many cases, closure on their personal plots- characters discovered their missing names, spent time with their relatives, finally unlocked that mysterious box, etc.
I finally got taken into the Hunting Grounds to meet my character’s patron deity, He Who Moves the Stars. I heard later it was sort of set up last minute, but it didn’t really matter- it was still one of the best moments I’ve had in that LARP. The encounter had a distinctly biblical flavor- the NPC playing the diety spoke in a deep, booming voice while hidden behind a shed, so it actually seemed like I was addressing a voice coming from everywhere and no where. When he called my character’s name, at first I didn’t know what to say. How does one address a god? I borrowed a line from Genesis, when God calls to Abraham- hineini. “Here I am.” He offered me a choice between safety, and going with him into the Hunting Grounds, beyond the reach of the danger threatening our world, or an artifact (a Sign of the Others) that would help us prevent a potential apocalypse at the hands of Zon, an entity of destruction, but by no means guarantee success.
I was tempted. Oh, how I was tempted. I think the “right” decision was pretty clear, but I still really liked the idea of my character vanishing from the mortal realm and spending the rest of time hunting strange beasts with her diety… I told He Who Moves the Stars that I felt like I owed it to the rest of Greyhook, who had helped me so many times, to try and save them… but internally, I was thinking two things. One, I thought my character would be joining him right away and that I would have to NPC from that moment on. (That wasn’t the case, but that’s what I thought at the time.) And two, Taz couldn’t just leave before saying goodbye to Dmitri, her closest friend in Greyhook. I took the artifact.
I went on a few mods on Friday night and Saturday before the Big Fight. One was a tea party, which was nice because it wasn’t your standard fighting mod, and the NPCs actually had long conversations with us in character- they asked me about my mechanical ear, and what it was like growing up as a half-breed. There was a very cute prop- a spider on a remote controlled car- rolling around, that I had fun chasing (and I like to think the person controlling it had fun teasing PCs with it.) Another mod involved us going off with the one good psychic spider (and one of my favorite NPCs), Maxwell, and his human host Barnaby, to destroy his species (who were evil spiders that enslaved humans.) We fought our way through thick webbing and NPC spiders to confront the queen and kill her.
Us ghouls got hungry, and without any human enemies to eat, we ended up ambushing and eating an innocent miner. The next morning, a group of miners lynched us. They waved their torches and pitchforks, cornering me and one other ghoul in our cabin, and knocked us out. Then they tossed a stick of dynamite into the cabin and called “5 damage by fire. It’s kind of funny- some players see this kind of thing as unfair retaliation (how did the miners figure out what happened if we consumed the entire body?) But I thought it was excellent and really enjoyed the ad-libbed extra personal attention.
The best part? We overheard the mob in the cabin next to ours, just before they found us, asking where the “one-eared scrappy girl” was.
They think of me as scrappy. That totally made my day.
The Battle for Tomorrow
The final battle was stage around 5 pillars, scattered around the campsite. If all 5 were lit, the cage containing Zon would break open and he would destroy the world. Cultists, led by the C’thulthu-esque Chelg Ksu (no idea how to spell that) lit them by touching the pillars and concentrating on the for one minute, and we could extinguish them by concentrating, but it would cost us one rank of sanity (permanently lost.) As I had only one to begin with (and going down to zero meant your character’s mind was lost forever, and you’d join the NPCs) I knew extinguishing the pillars wouldn’t be my task.
I was pretty happy with the structure of this big finale- I was expecting a field fight like most of the other Sunday battles- everyone in one space. The scattered nature of this finale meant that we couldn’t just clump up, and it didn’t get repetitive- we had to go running through the dark, try and distribute ourselves and our resources as best we could to make sure there was always at least one pillar unlit. People divided into groups, some focusing on one pillar, some moving between them to keep everyone updated, some trying to sneak around and find which pillars were unguarded and when… it lead to many situations where groups were outnumbered, forced to flee, forced to abandon people who had fallen, and then daring rescues to recapture pillars and fallen friends. I tried to keep myself going by eating as many souls as I could. (People who normally found it creepy and wrong cheered me on.)
It was scary and thrilling when the people I grouped up with got cut off from one another or had to flee. I think the most heart-pounding part for me was when I was killed and no one was able to resuscitate me in time, so I went to Monster Camp (for my one free resurrection but when I went back out to join the living, I couldn’t find anyone. The first two pillars I checked were abandoned by the townsfolk, so there I was, alone in the dark, trying to figure out where to check next and how to get there without getting caught by roving monsters. I did get chased by Chelg Ksu himself, in his tentacle mask and wings, and some of his spawn, which was pretty scary/awesome. There was some nervous sneaking around the lit areas and a panicky sprint through the woods.
Fun anecdote- there was a huge monster circling the pillar in the center of town. It looked like a huge bug, with big glowing eyes and a round toothy maw and was moved around by three NPCs, one of whom swung a giant tentacle to knock people over and do massive damage. When we finally downed it, I performed the coup de grace and ate its soul. The Scion of Masks was amused and granted me a boon for that.
Also, the game’s sanity mechanic has everyone receive a different defense mechanism whenever their sanity temporarily drops to zero. For this event, my character suddenly developed irrational and overwhelming self-confidence, so whenever someone reduced our sanity, I’d charge straight for the bad guys and insist I could handle them all on my own. I got knocked down every time I tried (I think once by a teammate). I think it was a great one to have for the last event.
Only the Beginning
The battle had opened with Maxwell the spider coming to help us and getting annihilated, which was followed by his host Barnaby committing suicide over the loss of his friend. It was a dark beginning to the battle. And after the battle, I went looking for Dmitri, wandering the entire campsite from one end to the other, forlornly calling his name. It was futile- he’d been annihilated after we got separated (along with a few other characters) so that it was a fairly dark ending to the battle, despite the victory. Bittersweet. We toasted the lost in the tavern before going to bed.
In the morning, we gathered one last time in the tavern, with the fallen (who were given a few more hours among the living by one of the gods of the setting) and there were some tearful speeches and goodbyes. A few NPCs came around to grant titles to various PCs. (Taz was proclaimed Chief Scout of the Ghouls. I’m not terribly sure what that entails, but it was nice to have a closing moment with the little tribe of PCs we created when, much to the surprise of the staff, we chose to become ghouls.)
After the game was called off, a photographer (who had taken amazing photos at previous events and I’d really been hoping would turn up again) showed up. So I should have some nice shots of Taz (finally!) to share soon.
Overall, it was a great ending to the campaign- exciting, dramatic, meaningful, climactic. My character’s backstory was basically an ongoing cycle of her belonging to some community or another, the community facing utter disaster, and her moving on as the only survivor. I guess Taz was just terrible luck for everyone around her. (Like a black cat. Except not a cat, I swear.) I saw my time in Greyhook as either the time she finally broke the cycle and found a place to call home, or else just another piece of the pattern. Greyhook survived, so it might have become home, but with Dmitri’s death, I just don’t think the cycle is fully broken for her. So she’ll be moving on. It’s sort of a bittersweet, fitting conclusion, and I’m very happy with it as a player.
What the Future Holds
So that was Lost Eidolons. People talked a lot about what LARPs they’d be picking up next. Occam’s Razor is the next LARP being run by the team that ran Lost Eidolons, so a lot of people were excited about that. (Worth mentioning- the campsite they have lined up for it looks amazing.) I’m already planning to NPC Clockwork Skies, and have high hopes for Cottington Woods. (Plus two more events of Endgame.) But who knows. Maybe I’ll pick up another LARP to occasionally NPC or PC. Invictus sounds great. So does Shadows of Amun. (Both of those two are running introductory events at Intercon, by the way.)