This post is going to be a bit more of a jumble… about everything about Intercon outside the LARPs themselves and the Pre-Con panels.
As I’ve mentioned, this was the biggest Intercon so far. We went from around 290 members at J, to 310 members at K, to around 327 at L, then shot up to well over 400 for M. I was vaguely concerned that the con would feel a lot more crowded and less personal. Intercon is a relatively small convention, and I kinda like it that way. It’s gotten to the point where I generally recognize most faces and can spot newcomers in the crowd. A couple years back, in anticipation of outgrowing our current hotel, the Radisson, we tried a larger hotel for Intercon K with only mixed success. The drawbacks of the new hotel were enough to send us back to the Radisson (who had wisely reserved a weekend for us before being asked.)
And I thought Intercon M’s membership numbers would result in a convention that would convince us to permanently move on to a larger hotel. But I like the Radisson. I have a lot of fond memories there. They’ve been very good to us for years, and it’s not easy to accommodate our convention. As an all LARPing event, we have strange and unique needs. Most notably, we need a lot more space per member than most conventions. As much as I support the idea of Intercon growing, I’d be happy if we never had to move to a larger hotel.
I’m happy to say that I think the Intercon M went remarkably smoothly. The convention rented a bunch of suites to host smaller LARPs in order to give the whole convention more room outside of the function spaces, and it seemed successful to me. (My two Sunday LARPs were well suited to the suites they were in.) And it didn’t feel overcrowded or impersonal to me, which was great.
One of my favorite moments of the convention happened during my first LARP, Serpent’s Spiral. I like to wander the hallways right before LARPs start, and try to catch a glimpse of all of the awesome costuming going on. And there were a handful of non-LARPers — just regular hotel guests — doing the same thing. A handful seemed particularly curious about what was going on in Serpent’s Spiral (the toy rifles might have had something to do with that). Three teenage boys poked their heads in to ask what was going on and if it was too late to sign up. I pointed them towards Ops. I don’t think they actually ended up registering for the convention, but there’s something incredibly gratifying about seeing people who have never had any interaction with the hobby get their first glimpse of it. And decide that it looks fun and exciting and cool and like something they’d like to try.
The parties at Intercon are also worth mentioning. I received two invitations on Friday for parties happening after the evening LARPs ended. One celebrated the 10 year Anniversary of Alleged Entertainment, (a LARP writing group) and the invitation was, frankly, adorable. It took the form of a theater LARP ability card.
Unfortunately, I never made it to this party, but I did make it to a birthday party where the guests were trying out miracle fruit — a fruit that supposedly makes sour things taste sweet and sweet things taste sour. Other guests were marveling at it and having fun trying out various sweet and sour foods. Me, I don’t know what I did wrong — someone even gave me specific instructions on how to get the best effect- but I couldn’t really taste the difference. I bit into a lemon… it tasted like a lemon to me.
Every year, Intercon hosts a dance on Saturday night. (And if they didn’t, I’d probably have played nine LARPs instead of eight.) Despite the fact that my numerous costumes already take up a lot of room (needed two suitcases this year,) I still like to bring a dress to party in. Not gonna lie, my shoes were killing me by the end of the night, but people seemed to like the outfit, so my vanity prevented me from taking them off early.
Incidentally, the DJs played plenty of swing music, which I love, and I think the LARPers at Intercon completely smash the stereotype that geeks can’t dance. I could barely keep up with any of my partners on the dance floor. But I had fun trying.
There’s also a party that happens at Intercon every year (I think) in one of the suites in honor of a con-goer’s birthday, and it’s somewhat legendary for all kinds of shenanigans. I hear about it all the time but this is the first year I attended, and I rather think it lived up to its expectations. I’ve never seen so many people jammed into one hotel suite before. The best part of it, though, was that I had the chance to hang out and talk with some LARPers from the local community that I’ve seen at various events but never really gotten to know. I ended up staying until well past sunrise, just enjoying their company. And if you were there and you’re reading this, thanks for entertaining me. Let’s do it again sometime. There are too many LARPers that I know as their characters, but barely know as real people. I should make more of an effort to attend these kinds of social events outside of the LARPs in the future.
Actually, there were several other instances of great conversation over the weekend. I took a break during the dance and found two of the Californian LARPers in the con suite, and finally got a chance to talk to them. Mostly about LARPing, naturally. There were a few ideas mentioned that I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll end up on Intercon N’s list of LARPs.
A few more random thoughts:
I was posing for pictures in my Serpent’s Spiral WWI-era British soldier costume (aka my “Littlest Cadet” costume), using the standard American salute (palm facing down), when someone pointed out to me that the British military salute was different (palm facing out.) So I corrected it. (Though in the photo, my pinky looks unceremoniously lax. What would King George V say?) Since Intercon, I’ve done a little bit of research on salutes, and it gets fairly complex. Things like whether or not you’re indoors, whether or not you’re wearing a hat, whether or not you’re a prisoner currently under armed guard… these things are all relevant to the etiquette of salutes. I wouldn’t suggest trying to memorize it all for one four hour LARP, but knowing the very basics could give you an extra little boost in getting into character. It could also be used for fleshing out an imagined culture for a boffer LARP. Introducing a unique salute could help make it feel more real, and give a way to call attention to the military’s presence in your setting. Think about how Katniss’ three fingered kiss-and-salute rounds out the relatable-yet-foreign culture of The Hunger Games. Imagine using a secret salute in character to address a fellow member of an assassin’s guild, then seeing a random NPC return it. Just food for thought.
I peaked into the room set up for Devil to Pay, the pirate themed LARP, on Friday night, and I think it looked fantastic. I was curious to see how my flags, East India Company boxes, and barrel of rum would be incorporated into the set dressing.
I think it came out very nice, especially with the beach-themed wall dressings and trees scattered around the room. The picture doesn’t quite do it justice. I’ve signed up to play Devil to Pay at Festival of the LARPs, and I know there won’t be a nice empty hotel room to put it all in. So I doubt it will look this good, which is kind of a shame.
Two things that made me glow during Intercon- one, I received a number of compliments on my various costumes. It never gets old. Second, a number of people let me know that they had found and read this blog. That alone makes me remarkably happy to hear, but on top of that, people had really nice feedback, which inspires me to keep at this. Thank you.
Actually, it came up at the Saturday night party I attended. I was going to say something in response, then promptly forgot what I was going to say… and now I’ve remembered. So here it is.
I think my LARP reviews tend to be remarkably bland and uninformative. There are two reasons for this. One is that I always shy away from potentially spoiling LARPs as much as possible. I go back and forth on the whole spoiler argument (are players entitled to spoilers if they want it? Are GMs entitled to demand no spoilers? That’s probably a good, contentious topic for a future post) but until I figure it out, I err on the side of no spoilers in this blog at all, which can make for some very non-specific reviews.
The other reason is that I am an utterly non-confrontational person, and I don’t feel nearly bold enough to post negative reviews. I’m terribly worried about offending writers and GMs who are friends of mine because they’re friends, and I’m terribly averse to offending random strangers because then I’ve offended strangers out there. And there really aren’t any complete strangers because this is a pretty tight-knit community. I worry the negative feedback won’t be taken seriously, that I’ll develop a reputation as a whiny, entitled player. I think a lot of LARPers feel this way, and I feel this is actually a genuine problem in the LARPing community. A lot of LARPs could be improved and aren’t because no one offers complete feedback, and people are signing up for LARPs they’ll dislike because there isn’t enough genuine information out there and the blurbs aren’t enough.
I realize I’m being a massive hypocrite. I see this thing I consider a problem and I consider myself one of the worst offenders. I think to say this affects my integrity as a blogger sounds utterly pretentious, and there’s really no actual value in trying to maintain “integrity” for a blog that gets a mere 40 hits a day, not when the alternative is offending various members of the community.
I guess the best thing I can say is that when people ask for my private opinions on LARPs that they’re considering signing up for, I offer it (under the condition anything negative not be repeated without my explicit permission.) And when writers specifically request feedback, I take it seriously (although I tend to overuse the compliment sandwich.)
To end on a higher note, one of the Intercon regulars has a jacket that I usually spot at some point during the convention.
How cool is that? All of the patches are cut from past Intercon t-shirts. I love this jacket!