Under a Clockwork Sky

The third weekend event of Clockwork Skies, the steam fantasy boffer LARP, ran this weekend. I had a blast NPCing at this event. This is the first boffer event that I really played some intensely roleplay oriented roles (unlike what I usually play as an NPC – random “crunchies” – aka the assorted nameless monsters who exist to provide combat for PCs, and minor, one-off speaking roles). Oddly, I was pretty nervous about interacting with the PCs as the various characters — worried I’d play them in such a way that the PCs wouldn’t like, but I think they wound up generally more successful than I expected.

The first role I played was Friday night. At the first event, an NPC went out as an eccentric fortune teller named Young and Beautiful (she’s actually an odd old crone with a mop for a wig and lots of padded layers in the costume to make her look bulky.) The NPC who created her asked me to play a bandit who found out about Young and Beautiful and was impersonating her to bilk the PCs out of money.

This is not one of the roles I considered terribly successful. For one thing, the bulky costuming was extremely warm, so I quickly began sweating under it all while waiting for PCs to hear I was there. For another I guess I’m not great at ad-libbing random wild fortunes. Instead of creating a puzzle for the PCs to figure out, I made it rather obvious right away. And I couldn’t suppress an out-of-character nervous laugh once or twice. When they used a truth ability on me, I stumbled while trying to to ad-lib an explanation for my presence.

I hope the real Young and Beautiful will be back for future events.

Fortunately, my other NPC roles went a lot better. I rolled into the tavern with five other female NPCs, all in girly steampunk gear, playing the vivacious sisters of one of the PCs coming to visit. We made quite an entrance and shrieked and giggled and flirted all throughout dinner.

But it was the third NPC role whose success was most pleasantly surprising — I played a young orphan girl named Molly who had been rescued by an NPC named Elijah who had previously rescued a PC (in her backstory). Elijah died shortly after arriving on the scene, which lead to some very angsty and emotional roleplaying among the PC and her friends. I expected the PCs to then send Molly right off to the orphanage, but instead they insisted on keeping an eye on her for a bit. I sat in the tavern with a few of the PCs while a battle was going on outside, and we talked about our backgrounds, how we were similar and different, and how death had affected our lives. Molly’s background had been written out well before the event, but many of the details were fleshed out on the fly shortly before I went out by one of the newer staff members, and impressively, they worked out extremely well.

I don’t want to risk spoiling it too much here, because I wound up going back out as Molly on Sunday morning (the PCs asked to talk to her again before letting one of the in-game churches take her in). I think there’s potential for this character to work with some of the other plots in game, so the writers may bring her back.

On top of these three roles, I spent a great deal of time “crunching,” as they say, as various monsters. Specters and other ghostly sorts were around quite a bit this event. One of the PCs decided to host a Dia de los Muertos inspired celebration, which kicked off as lot ideas for haunting sorts of plots by the writing staff.  I was quite excited to go out as a spirit painted up like a calavera (or sugar skull) and drift spookily around the PCs as they sat around a mock campfire and drank mock booze and toasted the departed.

A wandering spirit in Solace

Apologies for the low picture quality; I tried to take these in a rush in Monster Camp lightning.

I carried a couple of (electric) candles with me as I made my way through the woods to the campfire.

Other NPCs in Monster Camp told me they liked the make-up job, though it seemed pretty sloppy to me. I think I was unfairly comparing my own handiwork to that of an artist friend of mine who painted my face for a photoshoot a while back.

I also played some illusion-types that attacked the PCs, and there was a recurring theme of the threat of creepy marionettes. When given a choice of what sort of weapons to use, I usually try to pick a sword and shield because my Cottington Woods PC uses a sword and shield, and I want the practice. But on Sunday morning, I gave archery my first real try as a marionette… and I was pretty awful at it. I think PCs were initially puzzled by the way kept getting the tails of the spackets tangled and causing them to land at my own feet. Maybe they thought I was a really broken marionette.

The make up for the marionettes, by the way, is sort of like a really quick and dirty version of my make up for Quill, my living wind-up doll character. It uses face paint instead of make up, and takes a minute in front of the invariably over-crowded mirror in the bathroom (where as doing up my face as Quill can take up to half an hour or more, depending on whether or not I feel like fighting a losing battle with false lashes, or going the extra mile with eye shadow or powder.)

And, of course, the marionette lacks Quill’s soulless costume contacts.

As a little inside joke, I put my hair in the two little buns I wear as Quill when I went out as the marionettes and joked about how I was my own evil twin. One of my fellow NPCs, who also PCs in Cottington Woods, saw me and commented, “typecast?”

Quill the wind-up doll…

…and her evil twin, the marionette.


About Fair Escape

I've been LARPing for years in all different styles, including both boffer and theater. I love classic LARP but I'm always happy to try something new. I have a sort of "gotta catch 'em all" attitude towards experiencing LARPs. I'm currently serve as a board member of NEIL, a member of proposal com for Intercon, the largest all LARP convention in the US, and as en editor for Game Wrap, a publication about the art and craft of LARP. I was also con chair of Festival of the LARPs 2017, and I'm on staff for NELCO, the first all LARP conference in the US. I'm
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3 Responses to Under a Clockwork Sky

  1. I love the evil twin meta-casting. There has been a threat of an evil scarecrow in Shadows for some reason… probably won’t appear.

    Good on you for trying an archer. It is always useful to expand weapon forms.

  2. Albert Lin says:

    I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the Carrington and Molly roles. PELs are still coming in, but I think you were involved in several session highlights. 🙂

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