Two weeks ago, I got talked into taking an impromptu road trip to Columbus, Ohio for the last three days of the Origins Game Fair. To be fair, it did not take much convincing, even though the drive each way was around 13 hours. I like road trips, visiting all 50 states is something of a goal of mine, and, of course, I enjoy attending geek conventions. I particularly like meeting LARPers from other communities.
Columbus, as I learned, is a rather lovely city. (Or at least the area around the convention center was.)
Like my experience at Arisia, the pikachu costume prompted lots of smiles and “pika pika!” from various con-goers whenever I wore the hood with its soft fleece ears sticking out.
The Jedi padawan costume, worn in the past for both for Halloween and the MIT Star Wars LARP, Wretched Hive, remains far from complete. The beige gauze under-tunic was never finished; the sleeves and bottom remain unhemmed, and the back of the collar is missing. The obi is just a rectangle of brown felt, and it lacks some key accessories, like a light saber prop.
And yet the costume earned a lot of smiles, thumbs up from strangers, and random shouts of “Jedi! Cool!” from con goers as they passed in the hallways. A fair number of people requested pictures. Of course, it helps to be accompanied by another Jedi in a much more polished costume. At Origins, I learned the benefits of teaming up for cosplay.
I caught the tail end of the costume contest (enough to catch a glimpse of all of the entries and hear the winners), and a few people suggested that the two Jedi should have entered. I don’t think it’s a prize winning costume, but I’m inspired to at least complete it.
On Sunday, I wore the modified version of Quill’s doll outfit. Like the Jedi outfit, this costume was missing a few important parts and a few things badly need fixing or replacing. But people still seemed to like the key, despite its badly battered state, which was nice to hear.
I wandered the vendor area at Origins and picked up some funny dice for my monthly D&D group, along with some miniatures for myself and another player. (Bird miniatures have proven difficult to find until now; I was pretty excited to spot them in a bin.) I also demoed a new sci-fi themed card game with Foam Brain Games. (Foam Brain used to run LARPs.) And I met a nice couple advertising their youtube channel for board games playable by couples. If you like board games, you should check out the Table for Two Show.
I also got a chance to try out Artemis, a sci-fi spaceship bridge simulator. There have been opportunities to demo it at Intercon, but I kept missing it. I sat in a room with three other con-goers, each of us in front of a computer screen, performing a different task. One of us oversaw engineering (transferring energy from one system to another), one oversaw communication (contacting other ships to ask them to surrender, relating messages from stations asking for help, etc.), a friend played the science officer (scanning space and interpreting energy readings), and I took control of the helm and flew the ship. One of the staff manned the weapons for us, and one played the role of the captain, who coordinated everyone’s efforts.
We fought enemy spaceships, navigated asteroid fields, and refueled at various stations. It was quite a good simulation, I think, and could really enhance a sci-fi LARP experience. It should really appeal to Star Trek fans in particular. I’d really like to try it again and see what the other roles are like.
I also entered a tournament for some Forged Foam weapons, using the Belegarth system (my first real attempt at location based combat, as opposed to HP based combat.) I found it was hard to ignore instincts that come from years of Accelerant style combat. For example, giving up a hit in order to score several hits is a reasonable risk in an HP system, but not in a system where a single torso hit is a kill. Sadly, I lost in the first round. The winner of the tournament, clearly unable to use the prizes (Forged Foam swords) gave them away. I took one, then later wondered what I’d do with it, as the weapon style is not legal in any LARPs I play. Sometime later, someone came over to compliment the Jedi costumes and asked if I played Belegarth. He said he planned to teach the style to his kid, so I gave him the sword. He insisted on trading for it, and gave me a book of political cartoons. I doubt I’ll end up reading the book, but I’m glad the sword went to someone who can get good use out of it.
There was a NERO dungeon crawl at Origins that looked like a lot of fun. They even had costuming to lend the con goers who gave it a try. I meant to join a run, but regretfully ran out of time. I feel as though I really should try NERO at some point, if only because it’s one of the most influential forms of boffer LARP in the U.S. I haven’t yet found the will to dedicate a weekend to a system I’m unlikely to pick up on a long term basis, but trying it out for an hour at a convention seems like a great place to start. Next big con I attend, I’ll look for a NERO event and be sure to catch it.
The highlight of my weekend at Origins was, unsurprisingly, two theater style LARPs that ran in the evening. Both were run by Figments of Your Imagination Games. The first one, Carnival Arcane, my friend and I joined because the title and blurb sounded intriguing. I was cast as Alura the Snake Lady at the door.
The LARP was a lot of fun — mostly low key, with light plot (up until the climactic end), but heavy on flavor and characterization. The best part was getting to meet LARPers from other communities, including some newbies who seemed to really enjoy themselves. I ran into the GMs a few more times over the course of the weekend, and we had some very interesting conversations, especially comparing and contrasting trends in our respective LARPing communities. (I may mentioned Intercon to them a few times.)
The second theater LARP I played at Origins was also by FYI games. They needed a few more players to fill out a run of In High Gear, a steampunk LARP set on board a steam ship (naturally.) I couldn’t say no and wound up playing the ship’s engineer. I actually happened to overhear two con goers mentioning that they planned to play In High Gear on Saturday evening and were excited to play (and that a previous LARP they’d signed up for had been cancelled.) So I approached this LARP somewhat with the mindset of an NPC — my primary goal was trying to help make sure the new players had a good time, and I think they did.
There was also another last minute player brought in to round out the cast list who was a veteran GM of LARPs himself. He described a LARP he wrote about a decadent ball set in the 18th century. I hope I planted the seed of the idea of bringing that LARP to Intercon.
I think both Carnivale Arcane and In High Gear are great con LARPs — newbie friendly and low maintenance to run. It’s rather interesting to see how the venue for LARPs informs design — LARPs typically run at general geek conventions tend to differ from LARPs run at all LARP conventions in a variety of ways.) I’m currently debating bringing one to this summer’s Dia de los Sobres, which seems to be happening this year in August at Brandeis University.
So that was my experience at Origins. My biggest geek con to date, first one where I LARPed. I’m ready to do it again. I just need to work on some costumes first.