I played in two LARPs on Friday at Intercon O. Shadow Over Mars ran Friday afternoon, overlapping with the last four hours of PreCon, while Resonance ran for six hours over the evening.
Initially, Shadow Over Mars had one full run on Friday afternoon, but not long before Intercon, the GMs added a second concurrent run, in part for the considerable number of people on the waitlist. I hadn’t thought to get on the waitlist, but I’m glad I got into the second run.
Both runs of Shadow Over Mars ran in the suites on the fourth floor rented by Intercon in order to have more space for LARPs. When all of the players first all gathered, there were duplicates of each of the character milling about. It was rather interesting to see the different interpretations of costuming side by side.
The LARP is planned to be part of an ongoing series, set in the world of the Space:1889 RPG. I was unfamiliar with the setting, but it sounded like a neat concept involving space faring Victorians and Martians. I was cast as a Martian member of the ship’s crew, who served as both surgeon and carpenter. In this setting, martians have gold colored skin and pointy ears. Sadly, I didn’t have my elf ears, but I used the gold face paint provided by the staff… not gonna lie, it didn’t look very good, but at least I was obviously one of the aliens. I spent much of the LARP trying to figure out what to do about a MacGuffin and whom to trust. The various ways the writers sowed distrust between various characters were very well done. It’s hard to walk the line between suspicious enough to distrust but not so much that characters will simply refuse to work together, but it worked out well in this LARP. And once or twice, I spotted players from the other run of Shadow Over Mars moving between their suites in the hallway, which was somewhat surreal — like catching glimpses of a ghostly version of events on our ship playing themselves out as though certain pivotal decisions had gone differently.
The second LARP I played on Friday was Resonance, by Alleged Entertainment. It’s a post-apocalyptic storytelling amnesia LARP that I’ve been meaning to play for a long time. The plot involves fifteen people waking up in a bunker with no memory of how they got there or why. The memories arrive in the form of short scenes which the players play out, and the story of how the worldwide disaster happened unfolds. The decisions the players make as their temporary characters in the short scenes retroactively determine their main casting, i.e. who they were when they woke in the bunker. I’ve been very curious to see how this unusual change from the typical structure of a theater LARP plays out — usually, even with amnesia LARPs (a genre unto itself), casting is prepared in advance by the staff. The players just don’t know it yet when game starts.
I think this LARP is easily spoiled, so I won’t go into too many details, but I will say that Resonance is unlike any other LARP I’ve played, and it uses a few clever methods to ratchet up the tension and fear in our last scenes in the bunker that I found to be particularly successful. Resonance is definitely one of those LARPs about which I’m very curious to know how other runs went and how various choices by the players, especially with casting, affected the outcome. Our run was pretty exciting and tense, but there was no outright violence between the characters in the bunker. I hear other runs had a lot of combat.
By the way, it’s available online for others to run.
After Resonance ended, I went to see the room where What Price Human had run. What Price Human is a cyberpunk LARP set within an online social network’s virtual reality space. The space was entirely lit with black light, and the room was decorated with all sorts of neon and white and glowing things. I spotted a number of the costumes as players were exiting or helping clean up or hanging around to discuss their experiences in the LARP, and they looked amazing. Even the GMs looked fantastic with glowing, moving images in light on their black shirts. And they graciously left the room in its cyberpunk, black-lit state so that Intercon could have a party there. I would love a chance to play this LARP in the future. I stuck around on Friday night to chat and dance in the atmospheric set-up for awhile before heading off to a hotel suite to celebrate the recent marriage of two Interconners. I stayed up much later than I should have, considering I had a boffer LARP early the next morning, but it’s really hard to pass up social time with LARPers I don’t see enough of in the community in favor of mere sleep.