I was back at RPI in Troy, NY this past weekend, for Dice Bubble 2014. Dice Bubble is one of the small, free, university based weekends of short theater LARPs that I like to attend. (And sometimes confuse with Time Bubble, which is the same thing but in the fall.) And once again, it excelled at bringing new people (mostly RPI students) in to try LARPing.
I played three LARPs at Dice Bubble — Fungal Coronation, Snugglebunny Ringwraiths, and Together Again, and ran one LARP, Betrothals and Betrayals.
Friday evening was my second time playing Fungal Coronation. I played Captain Syrup last time; this time I was Princess Peach. Fortunately, I have a friend who went as Princess Peach for Halloween (her husband went as Mario), so putting together a costume was fairly easy. I wore a pink shirt over a shirt with little white puffy sleeves over a long sleeved pink shirt, and the skirt my friend made for her Halloween costume out of a petticoat she dyed pink and added a strip of brighter pink with hot glue.
I accessorized with a dollar store toy that I broke within minutes of buying (a happy accident — it served me better broken than intact) and a tiny crown I picked up at the iParty for 25 cents. (It’s meant to be a goody bag stuffer.)
Somehow, without a huge blonde wig, the costume feels incomplete to me.
Playing the damsel in distress of the Mario World was a lot of fun, but it took a lot of energy. I mostly bumbled around, acting bubbly and somewhat clueless (which simplified to process of avoiding meta-gaming with the knowledge I had from my previous run.) The LARP ended quite differently this time. I’m not sure how much was due to editing and how much was due to a new and rather reduced cast. (Some of the less central characters were uncast, including my previous role.)
Costuming is pretty relaxed at Dice Bubble — a lot of people show up in mundane clothes, and it’s perfectly acceptable. Despite this, a number of players went above and beyond. Mario and Luigi showed up very much looking like brothers in matching overalls, white gloves, black mustaches, and hats and shirts appropriate colored in red and green.
But a very special shout out goes out to the LARPer who played Bowser. She cut up and hot glued rings out of orange cloth, and taped two on either side of the hood of a green sweatshirt. She made a spiky orange mohawk out of the same cloth and taped it along the center seam of the hood. She also bought a turtle shell backpack online, stuffed it, and added a bunch of orange rings to it. And then she grabbed a stack of white paper cone-shaped cups (the sort you see by a water bubbler in an office) and stuck them into the orange rings to create horns on her head and spikes on the turtle shell. The look was completed with spiked bracelets, orange contact lenses, fangs, and paper claws on both hands.
I thought it was a really great costume that looked both easy and yet amazing. Said LARPer taught me to make the paper claws, which is a great little costuming trick that can be used last minute. They’re easy to make out of any standard sheet of printer paper, and this youtube video tutorial has very nice, clear instructions if you’d like to try it for yourself.
After Fungal Coronation, I went to go see if there was extra room in Snuggle Bunny Ringwraiths, because I completely forgot I had signed up. Snuggle Bunny is as goofy as the name sounds. It’s infamous for having been written in “negative five minutes” — legend has it that it was written over the hour that gets “sprung back” for Daylight Savings, and it was scribbled on napkins while various distracting shenanigans went on.
We were cast in what the GM considered the”most fair possible method” — throwing envelopes at the players. Amusingly, the envelopes boomeranged back at the GM and landed at his feet. We laughed… then suddenly started a mad scramble for the envelopes, as though it actually mattered who got what. (I caught Hoppy Bunny.)
It ran for about ten minutes, and there was a lot of hopping and hugging and tagging one another with an excess of heart stickers. I’m actually still finding little sparkly hearts on random articles of clothing that shared my suitcase for the weekend. If you think you’d like something very easy to run that creates ten minutes of utter absurdity at a convention or party, you can find the game here for free.
Together Again is a modern, mundane LARP about six friends with interconnected history (some are related, some are dating, some went to college together, etc.) reuniting after having been apart for a year. It’s very difficult to explain without spoilers, so I’ll just say that even though this isn’t usually my genre, it was a really unique experience and I’m really glad I got to play the inaugural run.
And lastly, together with a friend I ran Betrothals and Betrayals, a short New Zealand LARP inspired by the works of Jane Austen and Susanna Clark, written by Donna Giltrap and Debbie Cowens. (Suggested to me by Idiot/Savant — thank you!)
I’ve heard repeatedly from GMs, both in panels at PreCon and NELCO and casual conversation, how players will always surprise you by taking a LARP in unexpected directions. And I’ve aGMed (“assistant GMed”) enough times to know it’s true. I expected the unexpected, and yet the players still managed to repeatedly catch me off guard. I’m not entirely sure what went on through much of the LARP (since I was trying very hard not to hover) but it seemed like there was quite a lot of activity going on, particularly in the “garden”. We were given two classrooms, even though we only really needed one, and we decided the second room represented the garden, and left the lights out, as it was night. The darkness afforded the players a good deal of opportunity for privacy and secret dealings, I think. Players wanted to interact with a minor background NPC, so there was some last minute improv on the part of us GMs going on. It seemed like the minor adjustments we made to the genders of the characters worked out, which was a relief. And there were one or two minor snags — such as a prop I thought I had prepped well but didn’t work out and required GM intervention.
Interestingly, it turned out that a handful of our players… I want to say maybe four? were complete newbies to LARPing, and they had to leave before game wrap. I think it’s possible one or two of them weren’t sure what to do with themselves, but I really hope they had a good time. I feel oddly personally invested in seeing new LARPers have a good time even when I’m neither PCing or staffing games with them, and that much more so when I’m GMing for them.
Now that I’m fairly familiar with Betrothals and Betrayals, and have a decent set of props (some were lucky finds at the dollar store), I think I will very likely be happy to bid it again next time one of the smaller Festivals needs another LARP to round out the schedule.
By the way, it was announced that Lime Shirt’s weekend theater LARP of spring will be MASKS: Superheroes Have it Damn Tough. I have both PCed this LARP when Foam Brain ran it at Brandeis (it was one my first weekend longs) and NPCed it when an updated version ran at RPI. I’m strongly considering NPCing it again.