I was recently asked about signing up for the various free (and low cost) events in New England. These are the kind of things I’ve probably been just taking for granted that everyone involved already knows, but new people might find helpful. I expanded a bit on the questions. (Thank you Adria for asking!)
To quickly sum up the various theater events in New England…
Dice Bubble and Time Bubble are both free theater weekends at RPI in Troy, NY (which is technically not in New England, but it’s close and the community overlaps a lot.) They are essentially the same thing, but Dice Bubble is usually in February, and Time Bubble is in the fall. They usually host small, low key LARPs, but there are occasionally bigger, more complex or serious LARPs, and they have been quite successful at recruiting new LARPers from the RPI student population. The con staff often offers to arranges crash space on request. There are a couple of hotels (and Air BnB locations) within walking distance. There’s a bus station in Albany that is not too far. Taxis are always available at the bus station, but if you ask in advance, it’s sometimes possible to get rides with the locals.
SLAW (SFS Live Action Weekend) is very similar to Dice and Time Bubble, but it takes place once a year at WPI in Worcester, MA. Thus far, there has been crash space upon request, but Worcester also has hotels within walking distance. SLAW is also free and often looking for more game bids. There is a train station in Worcester, and taxis, but again, if you ask in advance, you might be able to get a ride with the locals.
Festival of the LARPs is the free weekend of theater LARPs at Brandeis University, in Waltham, MA. It runs in the spring, usually April. There is also crash space upon request, though I think it’s fairly limited. I don’t think there are any hotels within a reasonable walking distance, but Waltham does have hotels within short driving distance. Festival is the biggest of these university-based weekends. There are multiple travel options — there are a number of Boston-based bus routes that go through Waltham, and the Brandeis-Roberts train station (on the Fitchburg line) is literally right across the street from the Brandeis campus. (And the Brandeis-Roberts stop is only a few stops from Porter Square, which connects to the Red Line of the subway, or as we call it in the Boston area, the T.)
There’s also Dia de los Sobres, which is the newest and smallest of these events — it’s thus far been only one day, and often has only two to four LARPs. It has run at WPI, Brandeis, and in a private home. Thus far, it’s been quite informal — it tends to be put together in an impromptu fashion by a few GMs emailing one another, and information passes mostly informally through LJ and Facebook posts.
Intercon is the large, sort of central event for this entire community. This all-LARP convention happens in late February or early March in New England. (It has run in MA for many years, but is moving to RI for 2017). There’s a pricing structure where the price runs from $25 to $35 if you sign up in advance (or $10 in the last week or so before the event, up to signing up at the door.) These days, it has over 80 events to choose from each year, in a wide variety of styles and genres (including boffer), and over 400 attendees. Most people stay the hotel, and I think the con is currently working on improving transportation from the train and airport in Boston.
(And while it’s not a LARP convention per se, but is still awesome and LARP related, I’m going to include a link to NELCO, the annual all-LARP conference, which runs in MA. It takes place in the summer.)
How to Get Information and Sign Up
I do check the websites from time to time, but this isn’t the most efficient way to do it. I believe I was added automatically to the various mailing lists the first time I made an account on their various websites and/or the first time I attended events, but if that hasn’t worked for you, try emailing the con chairs, and checking your spam filters.
(Note that for any of these that are specific to the year, you can usually just put in the current or next year to get the most recent information. For Intercon, each year is the next letter of the alphabet.)
If you get stuck, the population at these events overlaps a lot, and posting a question on the Intercon Facebook group will often get you the answer.
Also note that I usually find out about the weekend long theater LARPs at RPI through the Dice and Time Bubble email lists, but you can also email Lime Shirts and ask to be put on their mailing list to find out about future events.
With regards to signing up…
SLAW, Dice/Time Bubble, and Festival have all adopted Intercon’s method, which is a tiered sign-up system. Usually, everyone can sign up for one LARP when they first open, a second LARP between a day and a week later, and as many LARPs as they like on the third round, and it’s First Come, First Serve. (The sign-up dates and times are posted on the websites and in the emails from their mailing lists.) The idea is to ensure everyone gets at least one or two LARPs that they’re excited about — it’s unlikely for any one attendee to get shut out of all LARPs they’re interested in if people can only sign up for one LARP at a time.
For Time/Dice Bubble, SLAW, and for most of Festival, signing up right on time is not really a big deal. A few games will fill the first evening, but very rarely do they fill within minutes of the first sign up, and many will remain open at least until the last round of sign-ups.
With Intercon, it actually does help to be waiting for sign-ups to open, and to jump on the button the exact moment they do, especially if you think the LARP you want to play is fairly popular. (Veteran Interconners develop a sense of which LARPs are likely to fill fast — some authors are relatively popular, and certain genres, formats, and popular source material may also lead to quick filling. The Friday, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening slots tend to fill faster than Saturday and Sunday morning, too.)
Most years, my first round pick of LARPs literally fills in the time it takes the new page to load when I click on the sign-up buttons (I guess my taste in LARPs tends towards the popular ones.) I find it’s often worth staying on wait-lists, especially for the first few weeks of sign ups, since people tend to shift around and LARPs sometimes experience last minute drops. Technically, I’ve never not gotten in off a wait-list, but sometimes it doesn’t happen until it’s too late to do any costuming and taking a dropped slot often means you don’t get much, if any, say in your casting; you just get offered whatever role opened up.
If you’re not picky about what LARPs you play, and the idea of playing a sort of roulette with what LARPs and roles you get, you can always sign up at the last minute for the lowest price of $10, and just fill in for whatever last minute drops there are. (There’s usually a big white board near the Ops desk, where GMs write what roles need last minute filling.) There are always at least a few games that need or want one or two more people in every slot. (And the GMs will be pretty grateful!) I know someone who used to do this and had a great time.
I hope this helps people who are new to the community and interested in free theater LARPs. As always, feel free to ask any questions, either in the comments below or by emailing me. I’m also happy to help anyone get on the mailing lists if any of the links I shared stop working. And I have also been to a few LARPs with MIT’s Assassin’s Guild and Harvard’s annual sci-fi and fantasy con, Vericon. I know less about them, but I might be able to help point you in the right direction if you have questions about them.