SLAW, WPI’s weekend of (mostly) short theater LARPs, ran over the weekend of November 15th. I only signed up for two games this year, which is possibly the fewest number of LARPs I’ve ever played at one of these weekend LARP conventions. Of course, I wish I had played more; my lax schedule was caused by a combination of not signing up as early as possible, having played in a number of the LARPs running, and thinking I was supposed to be keeping my schedule on Sunday free for something else.
At any rate, I snagged a spot in two of the LARPs I’d been very much hoping to play, so I can’t complain.
The first LARP I played was Bad Apples, a sci-fi LARP with a setting inspired by Firefly, with a bit of Star Wars (specifically the Mos Eisley cantina on Tatooine) thrown in. It was about life in the slums, with dark themes about abuse and crime and mental illness.
My character was a nun who did social work in the area. This is the third time I have been cast as a nun. I couldn’t find the nun veil that I wore as Sister Flora and Sister Bloody Mary (the pirate-nun) made from this pattern. I put together a last minute veil out of a hairband and a black piece of fabric. I wore it with a new black vegan “leather”jacket that I thought looked vaguely sci-fi-ish.
My goals for the game were rather broad and vague, so I felt content to play this game just simply being in character and letting myself react to the world in-game as it came to me, which was a lot less frenetic than my usual style in game. I spent much of it sitting in the lounge area, listening to a friend of mine, who was playing a musician who performs at the bar, on his guitar. This is, I think, the first time I’ve seen someone play an instrument in-game for a theater LARP, which is something I’ve wanted to experience in a LARP for a long time. I know the game was full of angst and suffering, but I had a fairly nice, low key experience and spent a fair amount of time just keeping my eye on those I considered to be the more vulnerable characters. (That, is, until the guns came out- then things got very hairy, very fast.) I sang along with most of the songs, both because I had heard said friend perform them many times before, and because my character would have heard his character perform many times before.
Bad Apples is running again at Intercon N on Saturday evening, so if you like sci-fi, crime, and angst, you should play it there!
On Saturday afternoon, I played my second LARP, another sci-fi, this one actually set in the Mos Eisley cantina on Tatooine. Wretched Hive is an MIT LARP set in the Star Wars universe, about twenty years before A New Hope, but written as though the prequels had never come out. The Jedi have still been mostly slaughtered in the purge, but the Sith have greatly expanded in numbers and are now working under First Citizen Palpatine. And now an unusual mix of people are stuck within the cantina until the sand storm blows past them.
I’m going to put a cut here, because this post contains very mild spoilers, and I am not sure if people reading it will be able to extrapolate larger spoilers (though it seems unlikely.) Wretched Hive is also running at Intercon N, so if you plan to play it and hate any and all spoilers, you may want to avoid reading below the cut.
I hope no one will consider it a spoiler when I say I played one of the Jedi. There is no one openly admitting to being a Jedi when the LARP begins, but Jedi are referenced on the character questionnaire, and the Sith are tasked with finding any Jedi present. I won’t mention my character’s cover story, though I will say I added to it prior to the LARP in case anyone questioned me about where I’d come from and why I was there.
This casting meant I had a choice when costuming — I could easily wear something that gave no hint of my Jedi identity, which would make it much easier for me to remain undiscovered. But I couldn’t bear the thought of being cast as a Jedi and not dressing as a Jedi. I really love the Jedi uniforms in the prequel triology of Star Wars. They’re austere and understated, yet utterly beautiful, with flowing lines and Eastern influences. I particular love costumes with obis. I actually don’t like the tiny ponytails that padawans wear on the back of their heads, but I do very much like the padawan braid that hangs down on one side.
So I took my make-shift Jedi costume, pieced together from various old costumes and art projects, worn over Halloween for distributing candy to trick-or-treaters, and expanded on it. Jedi like to dress in layers, so I added another tunic. I made a significant mistake around the neckline, so I made sure most of it stayed tucked beneath the outer tunic to hide the mistake. I also tried finding brown riding boots (I thought my black boots looked too harsh), with no luck. It’s still of very pedestrian quality; one of these days, I will recreate it with much higher budget of time, money, and skill.
To hide the Jedi uniform (and my lightsaber prop), I made myself (and one other player) matching hooded ponchos out of a fabric called monk’s cloth, which turned out to be a mistake. It was flexible in its orientation and it had no right and wrong side, which made some aspects of sewing it easier, but the loose weave meant it shredded like nobody’s business. Still, it worked out well enough for the four hours of the LARP, and they looked appropriate for a Star Wars setting. Star Wars has quite a few ponchos throughout all six movies. (Qui-Gon Jinn wore one while trying not to attract attention on Tattooine, much like my character.)
In the end, I think it was readily apparent that my character was a Jedi (one of the GMs commented that he hoped it wouldn’t get me killed.) But the poncho allowed other PCs to act as though they couldn’t tell there was a Jedi uniform underneath, which was how everyone chose to play it. I recognize that people could have decided their characters would assume mine was a Jedi right off the bat, but didn’t in order to let me both enjoy wearing the costume and still act as though I was incognito.
I chose to close the ponchos with velcro, by the way, in case it ever became appropriate to dramatically reveal the Jedi uniform underneath. Velcro would allow us to easily yank them off with one hand and draw a lightsaber with the other. And I am happy to say, this decision very much paid off.
I spent a good amount of the LARP skulking about, trying to find the balance between doing good for those who needed help and not giving myself away. As is more common for MIT LARPs, ranged combat used toy guns (sort of like nerf guns). When tensions rose, it quickly became very chaotic. There was quite a dramatic battle towards the end, which was a lot of fun. I’m not entirely certain what the rest of the LARP was up to. There was some gambling going on, and I think some trading and political dealing, none of which went through my character.
Though I do think a few of the characters could use a little tweaking, I’m quite glad to see Wretched Hive has been added to the Intercon schedule.
All of these Jedi pictures were taken just after the LARP by Kevin Riggle of Northeast LARP News, an online source for LARP news and announcements in the Northeast United States.