Much like the weekend before, this past weekend had me attending an Accelerant boffer LARP and leaving early to get to a theater LARP (To Be Continued, or TBC) on Sunday. While the week before was the opening event of Clockwork Skies, this past weekend was the closing event of Endgame.
Endgame is (was?) a post-apocalyptic campaign boffer LARP that began in 2006. Prior to the closing event, I PCed it twice as Sunshine, the hippy of the 8th Street gang. I gave it a try because a lot of my close friends were playing. It’s a great LARP, and I had a lot of fun, but never became a regular PC, mostly because it had already gone on for so many years that I found it difficult to invest in the plot, and my CP (Character Points- experience points earned over time that players spend on abilities for their characters) was extremely low compared to the other players, which made combat very difficult for me. There was clearly a lot of thought and effort put into mitigating this- characters with low CP often got boons that helped them in combat, which I really appreciated. (Many LARPs aren’t nearly so newbie-friendly.) But it only went so far.
However, despite the fact that my character’s background was written in a rush and she was poorly developed, I was still rather fond of her and had a good time playing her. And I really loved the sense of community the LARP created. The characters lived in a survivalist community they called Temple, and the concept of Temple was a rallying point for the characters. PCs bored the “Temple” trait. In the Accelerant rules system, traits are tags that characters can be imbued or inflicted with, and mechanics can be applied to all who have a particular trait as a group. For example, shouting, “by my voice, two damage to Undead!” will affect anything with the Undead trait (zombies, ghosts, skeletons, etc.) Endgame battles frequently included the call “by my voice, heal to Temple!” Mechanically, this was designed to allow healers to heal all PCs within earshot at once, but to me it had the effect of implying that all characters included their membership to the Temple community as part of their identity. I recall a magic ritual which involved all PCs pledging their loyalty to Temple and having the Temple symbol (a rising sun over the letter T) tattooed on them (that is, drawn on their skin in black marker- it washed off pretty easily.) Seeing the Temple symbol everyone- on people’s skin, incorporated into costumes and props (especially shields and armor) and on a flag at the tavern, granted a good deal of weight to the idea that was Temple. (My character Sunshine had her Temple tattoo on her backside. It wasn’t visible to other players… but I knew it was there.)
This is why it was important to me to be there for the epic finale of Endgame, and make at least a token appearance as Sunshine. I like to think she was considered a part of Temple even though she wasn’t there very often. At least she was there at the end. (Plus, I got a chance to show off the pink t-shirt bearing Funshine the Care Bear, which is ridiculously appropriate for my character. I’ve also got a pink tie-dyed shirt with a yellow peace sign for this character.)
The worst aspect of the weekend, for me, was the weather. It was pretty hot- not brutally so, but the humidity was intense. Nighttime was nice, but exerting ourselves fighting during the hotter parts of the day was rough- I drank water continuously to avoid dehydration. The bunks were pretty hot and humid over night- I was sweating in my sleep, and woke up with a bad dehydration headache that kept me from doing anything active all Saturday morning. I’m vaguely concerned Cottington Woods will be just as hot and humid next weekend, and my costume will be too hot (even in its summer mode, without the extra layers.)
I spent most of the weekend doing a lot of “crunching”- meaning playing part of the hoards of monsters that exist mostly for the PCs to have fun fighting. I played a thrall to a mind-controlling alien, skeletons, defensive contructs projected by a spaceship, plant creatures (some PC called me “the venus fly-trap”, I think because I was the only girl), and lizard-beings who thought of the PCs as food. I think my favorite was the chaos vortices, creatures who ran around babbling nonsense and randomly hitting the PCs with either beneficial or damaging effects. I think the PCs found us chaos vortices quite amusing. One declared me the Queen of Chaos and one of the PCs my knight. The PCs threw prop-doughnuts at me, which became a running gag. I either hurled them back, or knighted people with them, or tried to convince people to listen to the doughnuts, or peered through the doughnut holes at the PCs, or tried to convince the PCs to chase me to get them back.
The stars were brilliant over the Endgame campsite. While waiting to respawn during my first field fight, I saw a shooting star. It makes for a nice in-character omen.
On Friday night, one of the modules involved a ship creating a scenario from a PC’s memories, and he had been a frat boy in college right before the apocalypse happened. We had a table set up for a variant on beer bong, a keg (full of root beer) for keg stands, a fake bong (taking a hit refreshed attributes and left PCs drained) and a bottle of vodka (water). (Alcohol also had some in game mechanical effect, but I’m forgetting what it was.) Music that was popular right before the apocalypse hit (2006) boomed, and I joined the other PCs as Sunshine to party. We RPed getting progressively drunk/high, and wound up standing in a circle, belting out Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” at full volume. I think in-game parties are pretty awesome. It’s very easy to feel very immersed and natural as your character. And I did my first keg stand (I confess I coughed up a bit of root beer on a religious character named Preacher). One sad fact- I didn’t RP taking a hit from the prop bong (actually an apple with some bits stuck in it) even though as a dyed in the wool hippy, Sunshine probably would have. Honestly, I’ve never actually smoked weed, so I didn’t really know what to do and didn’t want people wondering why the hippy couldn’t figure out how to use a bong.
At one point, while I was at the party module, a group of PCs traveled to the remains of the Marvel Comics headquarter in the ruins of New York City (New York always gets trashed in apocalypses, doesn’t it) and picked up Captain America’s shield. The fact that people looked to it as a symbol of hope and victory granted it magic properties in this setting, and I was amused to see a group of PCs triumphantly returning to Temple with the shield, where it hung in the tavern until it was used for defense in the final battle.
There was also an in-game wedding between a PC and an NPC. It was a casual affair, on the grass in front of the building that represented the library. It started to drizzle just as the ceremony started, and thundering just as it ended. Which sounds a bit ominous, but it was actually quite nice.
I think one of the best moments of the weekend came after the final town meeting (all the PCs gathered after dinner to discuss the final battle coming up) and before the Saturday night battle started. A couple of PCs brought out a guitar and a shield to drum on, and sang songs that were popular in 2006. But instead of party music with heavy base, they picked tunes that had a nostalgic quality. Slowly, the group gathered more PCs until a large crowd of us were collected in the grass around the guitar, singing songs like “Wonderwall” and “Iris”.
The final battle took place in front of the tavern, and again, while waiting to respawn, I often took the time to look up at the stars. I took the battle as a chance to practice more sword and shield fighting, and also tried some polearm fighting towards the end. (I don’t think it’s for me- it’s too hard to control a weapon that heavy.) The fighting went on for quite some time- I took two short breaks to get water and reapply my skeleton make-up.
I ended up finding a ride home late Saturday night after the big finale battle, which seemed like a better idea than sleeping in the bunks again and getting up early to get home in time for my theater LARP on Sunday. So I missed all of Endgame‘s Sunday, though I did hear a bit about what was planned. First, I knew that a ritual that had gone off on Saturday night involved taking the very concept of Temple and turning it into an item to throw at the Theif of Bones (the Big Bad Guy). The PCs had to shed their sense of community because Temple was cursed, and anyone who still considered Temple home would be cursed as well. So the community had to disband and the PCs go their separate ways once the battle was over. It was a very bittersweet conclusion to the LARP, I thought. I heard there was going to be a glimpse 25 years into the future on Sunday morning, where heroes who had found out about the deeds of the Temple community would be able to express their admiration and gratitude for the shining example the heroes of Temple had set.
Right now, I can feel the Endgame final event. I have bruises on both knees and my right shin where I banged it on a stump in the dark. I have sore muscles all over and blisters on both feet. But it’s a good feeling.