Over the past weekend, Time Bubble, an annual weekends of theater LARPs, ran at RPI in Troy, NY.
On Friday night, I played two runs of Triple Blind back to back. Triple Blind is a LARP written by Mike Young where characters are randomly generated at the door. There are nine possible public identities for characters, nine possible true identities, and nine possible group affiliations. Each players randomly selects one of each, then play out the scenario over about an hour. It takes place at a modern political function, where two neighboring countries have sent their leaders, guards, and the press for the signing of a treaty.
I’m really quite impressed with the concept – it’s very easy to run, requires minimal prep time for the players (they can receive their sheets for first time and be ready to play in ten minutes,) and does not require a GM. And it’s randomized nature means one player can play it multiple times.
Now that I’ve played three times (my first run was at the last Intercon), I can see that playing it for the first time feels very different from playing subsequent runs, but it is enjoyable either way.
We didn’t have nine players, so we solved it by randomly handing out the leftover sheets, which resulted in two people have two public identities, two people with secret identities, and two with two group affiliations. A standard run with nine people generally gets pretty wacky and contradictory, because there’s a pretty decent chance of illogical combinations, such as the king belonging to a secret group of assassins with the mission to kill the king. Players are encouraged to come up with explanations for these contradictions. Multiple personalities and infiltration are common solutions.
In the first run, I drew both the prince and the journalist as my cover identities, so I decided his royal highness had decided to apply to journalism school. That worked out just fine, although there were much wackier combinations. I believe in the second run, it turned out that the king was both disguised as the queen, and was his own mistress. I actually did try to play it very seriously in the second run, but it proved extremely difficult. It’s strange how incredibly humorous this LARP can be even though it wasn’t written to be comical and there’s nothing really funny in any individual character sheet. But the contrived nature of a room full of dual identities generally turns it into farce.
You can download it here and try it for yourself. It makes for a very fun hour, and doesn’t even require a GM. (In the Time Bubble runs, the GM running it played a character for himself.) And though the description says it needs exactly nine players, we’ve discovered it can be done with fewer. It just turns out that much more illogical and creates wackier shenanigans.
On Saturday, I played in Marlowe2020, which is a Shakespearean cyberpunk LARP. The character sheets were extremely short — mine was less than a single page. I do think a few of the characters were a little too bare bones — one person was playing the cyberpunk equivalent of Juliet’s nurse, and it didn’t look like she had anything to do, but I did like how other characters were translated into corporate business men and androids. I recognized a number of characters and plots from Shakespeare’s more famous works, which was pretty cool.
And on Sunday, I played in the first run of Status: MAGI, an urban fantasy LARP that takes place at a school for magic (unlike Hogwarts, this school is on the moon.) I liked my character’s concept a lot – a noble struggling with living up to who she wants to be on multiple levels. When I read my character sheet, I thought the setting was a lot simpler than it proved to be. The way it combined very disparate elements was quite cool (there were some sci-fi-ish twists that I probably should have expected, given that the school is built on the moon.) The GMs have already sent out a questionnaire for feedback, which I think is quite admirable of them.
I somehow became queen at the end of that LARP, though I hadn’t been trying to take the throne. It rather caught me off guard, but made for a very dramatic conclusion.
I was really great to see some familiar faces at RPI, but even better, there was a pretty good number of faces entirely unfamiliar to me. I’m really happy to see this community thriving. A few theater LARPers also told me about trying out a boffer campaign, and it wasn’t Shadows of Amun. That’s fantastic. It made for a really great discussion in our “con suite” (ie the one classroom set aside for snacks and drinks and dumping coats) Friday night, after the LARPs ended.
Speaking of Shadows of Amun, I heard from a few players that the event I just missed in order to attend Time Bubble was a ton of fun. I can’t wait to NPC for it again next spring. But in the meantime, I still have SLAW, a run of Devil to Pay, TBC, and the next Cottington Woods event to plan for. I’m currently working on a casting questionnaire for a sci-fi LARP at SLAW.
Whew! This is proving to be a very busy LARPing season for me, and I love it.