My last event of NELCO 2013 was at noon on Sunday. I played in the inaugural run of the LARP written by the Build Your Own Game project that runs alongside the various panels at NELCO. A team of writers (both newbies and veterans) spend Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning writing a new short LARP from scratch. It’s rather remarkable how much they get done in one short weekend. To give a glimpse of what goes on, behind screen, here is a shot I took of their planning board:
Sign-up sheets float around NELCO’s con suite for attendees to indicate that they want to play. (There was also a sign up sheet for another short, small theater LARP to run opposite the BYOG LARP, but it didn’t gather enough sign-ups to run.) Last year, I played in the first BYOG LARP, The Barbecue. This year, they wrote The Night Queen Princess Fluffykins Passed, a LARP about a neighborhood of cats dealing with the aftermath of the death of the dominant cat. The characters, all cats, were inspired by some of the writers’ actual pet cats. That may be the epitome of geek culture right there.
I knew the LARP characters were all going to be cats, so when I went home on Saturday evening, I made sure to find a set of cat ears to bring with me on Sunday morning. Amusingly, a number of other LARPers either had their cat ears with them or brought them from home. So we had some costuming despite the last-minute nature of the LARP and being cast at the door.
I played Fleabag Cohen, a cat who claimed to have visions of how to help improve the lives of the neighborhood cats. I was also an outspoken critic of what I called the “Red Dot Conspiracy”. (The GMs occasionally waved laser pointer around, which invariably interrupted everything going on while we tried to catch that elusive Red Dot.) There was a lot of politicking and argument over who would be the next neighborhood queen, and there were mechanics for hunting small critters and a rather amusing one for marking one’s territory with post-it notes. There was a lot of laughter. We occasionally had the GMs in stitches.
And that was NELCO 2013!
I’m already looking forward to the next PreCon and NELCO 2014 after that.
I’ve discussed the event a few times since it ended, and one thing that comes up now and then is how panels at NELCO and PreCon tend to focus more on the writing/staff side of things, and much less on the player side of things. It can get pretty heavily critical, which has the potential to intimidate new writers and maybe seem too harsh on experienced writers. We talk a lot about how to make better LARPs, but we didn’t say much about how to be better LARPers. There’s a strange sense of entitlement on the part of the players in this community (one that diminishes a bit once players try things out from the other side). I hear GMs sometimes say things like, “oh, I’m happy about my cast list — these are the players I love having in my games.”
I want to know what makes them say that. What makes a good player? Writing and GMing is hard work. How can we make the experience of writing and running a LARP as satisfying and gratifying as it can be for our GMs?
That will be my proposal for a panel for PreCon (and if not there, then maybe the next NELCO.)