This past weekend was the first full weekend event of Shadows of Amun, a LARP of horror and adventure, set in World War I era Egypt. There have been a few introductory events, including one at last year’s Intercon, and a short, four hour or so event a few weeks ago.
Actually, I attended the short event four hour event, but it was kept fairly low key (and I was hoping to get my hands on some photos to share.) Basically, the staff wanted all of the Dom PCs (that is, members of the Dom ethnic group) to really feel like they were part of a large family who all knew each other. The staff set up some tents in a small grassy field and gathered a whole bunch of NPCs, (including yours truly) each with their own little stories and problems to draw the PCs into. Some NPCs played live music, some danced. We brought out a backgammon set and played a few rounds. There were some drinks and Middle Eastern snacks. We all took part in a trial, which resulted in the exile of an elder, and my Juliet-like NPC convinced her grandfather and her Romeo’s grandmother to allow them to get betrothed.
Though it was fairly simple and relaxed, I think it was a remarkably successful event which allowed the PCs to get to know one another and make the Dom NPCs of the LARP really seem like people they personally know. I find that NPCs are often outnumbered by PCs and seem to only exist in relation to the PCs, but having us NPCs largely outnumber the PCs and have our own activities and conversations going on for the PCs to wander in and out of really made it seem like we actually made up a small but thriving community that made up a larger part of the Shadows setting.
Like the last Cottington Woods events, I couldn’t make it to the first weekend event until late Saturday evening. I had a small misadventure when I got to the campsite — it was a site I had never been to before, and the parking lot was a solid 10+ minute walk along entirely unlit trails through the woods from the LARP itself. I found a flashlight and tried to brave it, then had to be rescued by a fellow NPC.
I was only part of one module on Saturday night. I had brought my WWI era British soldier costume, (aka my “Littlest Cadet” costume) originally put together for A Serpent’s Spiral, just on the off-chance they’d have an NPC role for me that could wear it. They sent me out to patrol a warehouse full of artifacts. While I was circling the building, a group of PCs sneaked inside and accidentally freed a giant scarab monster, which chased them out. I confronted them at the door, where they promptly knocked me out. (Word is the bug may have eaten me.)
Speaking of the scarab-monster, it was designed to glow eerily in the dark. Apparently, vaseline can be smeared on costuming to make it glow in blacklight. Who knew.
On Sunday, I arrived in time to get ready for the major field fights, which sort of ran like a large repeater mod. I spent most of it defending a series of weapons that the PCs were trying to blow up. This battle lasted nearly until game closed in the afternoon.
It was a wonderful weekend, with only a few minor lowlights. There was confusion about rules during the battle, and I think that may have contributed to some tension. I saw a few NPCs and PCs snapping at one another out of character, which was a bit of a shame.
Additionally, I admit I don’t love the campground. It’s quite large, which is nice, and I actually don’t mind that the trails are open to the public during events. Some people find the nonLARPers distracting, but I really enjoy it when people who don’t know what’s going on seem interested and think that it looks like fun. We had a small child who was pretending to duck and cover while PCs were getting ready to blow up the weapons, shouting “fire in the hole!” But the buildings, though I hear they’re being updated, are not in great shape (the bathrooms were scary), and the building being used for Monster Camp is much too small, with very narrow hallways and doors. It’s not comfortable.
Despite these minor issues, I think the LARP is off to a really fantastic start. The staff seems capable of running things very smoothly. Modules ran pretty much all on schedule, which is a pretty rare thing. I’m really loving the historical setting and plots so far. Players and NPCs alike seem really happy.
But the absolute best part of this boffer campaign, to me, is the remarkable percentage of theater LARPers (many who of whom have never played a boffer LARP before) who are involved, either as players or as NPCs. I’m so very excited about this. It’s heartening to see people trying and enjoying a style they’re not used to. I don’t think the boffer and theater communities have ever overlapped this much before, and I can’t wait to get more roleplay-focused NPC roles so I can meet their characters and interact with them rather than just attacking them. I’m also very curious to see if their theater backgrounds will influence game, if at all.
I’m particularly keen to create an NPC who can wear my WWI soldier costume regularly, though I’m in a bit of quandary about how to do this. The largely historical setting means female soldiers only exist in very special cases, and cross-casting is much less common in boffer LARPing. During the Saturday night module, PCs clearly read me as female, even in the dark, even at a short distance, even in loose men’s clothing, even with my hair hidden, even after being told I was a British soldier. (It must be my voice and height.) The way I see it, I can either create some kind of excuse for being a female soldier (which screws a little with the gender roles of the setting, which I do not want to do), cross-cast as a male, or play a female in disguise as a male (which, admittedly, is something I love to do in LARPs, but that screws with both gender roles and requires some suspension of disbelief.) Or maybe I will just stick to non-soldier NPCs. I guess I will see.
I’m rather disappointed that the next event of Shadows of Amun (in only two short weeks! The staff must be crazy!) is the same weekend as Time Bubble, the weekend of theater LARPing at RPI in Troy, NY. But you can bet I will be at future Shadows events after that — hopefully, playing some NPCs that let me make use of my Pharaoh Hatshepsut costume from Osiris’ Gate. Fingers crossed!