Unlocking the Gate

This past weekend was the first event of a new boffer campaign, Fifth Gate. Fifth Gate messes with the traditional structure of the typical New England boffer campaign (and, I suspect, campaigns in many other regions as well.) The average campaign around here has four weekend events per year, two in the spring and two in the fall, and one continuous story with a single cast of PCs throughout. Fifth Gate is actually comprised of two sub-campaigns, Silverfire, which takes place in a more traditional fantasy setting, and Wrathborn, a post-apocalyptic steampunk setting. Each will have two events per year (one spring event, one fall event each) and there will be one giant event comprised of both Silverfire and Wrathborn PCs once a year.

I took this breaking of the traditional structure to be a good sign, and signed up for Silverfire. (Almost) all of the PCs of Silverfire are Champions, warriors who fought in the century long rebellion against the evil Ebon Order, often fighting alongside other champions as part of a warband. Five years after the war ended, the champions are gathered at the site of the final battle, called Ebonfall, once more to reunite, celebrate, and honor their victory.

The PCs are all magic users that belong to one of six Orders, each of which has its own philosophy, aesthetics, and path to Power. There are the Celtic/Viking-like feral Servants of the Horned Goddess, who all grow horns as a sign of their Goddess’ blessing, the mathematically inclined, academic Order of the Arcane Circle, the Middle Eastern flavored undead Veiled Ones, the Maori-like elementalist Primarchs who replace an arm with solid, living stone, the Aztec themed paladin-like Order of the Golden Temple, and the Asian flavored ascetic Disciples of the Tempest.

(How freaking cool are these Orders, by the way? I’m sure other LARPs have included Maori and/or Aztec inspired cultures before, but this is the first time I’ve personally encountered them in LARPing, which is pretty exciting to me, even though my character is not from either of those two cultures.)

I haven’t created a new character since signing up for Cottington Woods, well over two years ago… which doesn’t sound like a very long time now that I think about it, but it feels like it’s been ages, and the idea of PCing a character other than Quill seems weird to me. I struggled with character creation for a long time before finally coming up with a concept for a Disciple of the Tempest. On Friday, I debuted Lady Sabri, aka Cricket (aka a couple other nicknames she seems to have already acquired.)

Introducing…. Cricket.

I’m still very much in the process of figuring out who my character is, how she fits in to her warband and the world of Silverfire as a whole, and how I want to portray her. There is at least a small part of her inspired by Rabbit, the character I played in Welcome to the Dragon Palace. (Uncoincidentally, that is Rabbit’s white kosode in the photo above.) She has one little quirk I’ve worked out that I’m already fond of acting out– during lulls in combat and after its over, she often pulls out a pocket mirror and fixes her hair. (Disciples of the Tempest are, after all, frequently getting their hair mussed by the nature of their stormy path to Power.)

The story of the first event centered around two main plotlines: signs of resurgence of the Ebon Order and the Silverfire King’s proclamation that all champions must give up their Power and forswear allegiance to their Orders. We refused, of course, and now a new war is brewing. We spent much of the weekend skirmishing with the Silverfire Knights.

The highlights of my weekend included three modules focused on the Disciples of the Tempest. In the first, we trained with the Crane Abbess, which involved dodging storm spirits while balancing origami cranes on our open palms. (Some of us also danced like cranes by the lakeside.) In another, we trained with the Tiger Abbot and fought one on one duels over an orb representing our greatest desires. In a third, we held a tea ceremony in the eye of a storm as part of an oracle ritual, represented with blue storm clouds (made from cotton and blue lights, similar to this project), a rainstorm sound effect, and storm spirits circling the tea ceremony.

Other high points of the weekend include costuming; both the PCs and the NPCs of this LARP look amazing, across the board. (My own costume was something of a disaster for a few reasons that I think will be its own post, though I think the version I wore on Saturday and Sunday looked ok.) I think my favorite piece was a dramatic, feathered headdress one of the Golden Temple champions wore.

Combat was also fantastic–intense and exciting, I think in large part thanks to the unusually high NPC to PC ratio. (A lot of the Wrathborn PCs came to NPC for us.) I’m trying a new combat style; I’ve never used archery as a PC before, only once briefly as an NPC. I’m terrible at it, but less terrible than I was the first time I used it. I find it be very frustrating when my aim is very poor (or when NPCs simply don’t realize they’ve been hit; it’s no one’s fault, but it happens from time to time, especially when its dark and the target is wearing thick, soft costuming) but also extremely satisfying to tag a bad guy with a well timed shot, especially when it’s the hit that takes them down.

And of course roleplaying with my wonderful warband, the Eyrie, was another high point my first weekend with Fifth Gate. We’re a diverse bunch, large enough to be technically two warbands (we call our two groups the Talon and the Wing; our banners are in the photo above.) Some of the Eyrie are people I’ve been LARPing with for years, others are LARPers I met for the first time at this event, I think we’ve got an excellent dynamic developing.

I’m excited for the fall event, which seems so far away, but even more excited for the crossover event; two worlds will somehow collide, and I’m confident it will be unlike any other weekend of boffer LARPing. In the meantime, there’s always returning the favor the Wrathborn PCs did us by NPCing at Silverfire.

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About Fair Escape

I've been LARPing for years in all different styles, including both boffer and theater. I love classic LARP but I'm always happy to try something new. I have a sort of "gotta catch 'em all" attitude towards experiencing LARPs. I'm currently serve as a board member of NEIL, a member of proposal com for Intercon, the largest all LARP convention in the US, and as en editor for Game Wrap, a publication about the art and craft of LARP. I was also con chair of Festival of the LARPs 2017, and I'm on staff for NELCO, the first all LARP conference in the US. I'm
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10 Responses to Unlocking the Gate

  1. Kat Davis says:

    Archery is fascinating, because the ways in which it differs from spellcasting. It’s like melee on a packet! You have to look for openings instead of throwing your packet at the giant packet. But if you miss you get to try again. I really enjoyed my experience with it as an NPC that weekend.

    • Fair Escape says:

      Yeah, it’s tempting to just keep chucking packets, but coordinating your timing with either other ranged people or melee people is an important part of it. Sometimes the most useful thing you can do is get someone to move their shield out of the way for someone else, or distract someone so they’re too busy ducking your shots to throw their own.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    A minor note, but, I don’t know that New England’s system of four to five events per year is normal. Legacies has more or less one event per month – even in summer and winter – and has plots running on six-month cycles. I want to say it’s because the Pacific Northwest has mild winters (December at Legacies was only somewhat colder than April at Cottington), but Knight Realms runs monthly year-round as well.

    • Fair Escape says:

      Yeah, technically what I actually meant was 4 weekend events (and sometimes one or two one days) is standard for New England Accelerant LARPs. Outside of that, I’m not sure what the mean/mode is, but I think 4 weekends per year is not terribly outside of the NE Accelerant community. And I’ve never heard of another boffer campaign that brings two separate games together once a year. (Though I have heard of theater one shots with a similar concept.)

      • Alon Levy says:

        I suppose it requires multiple games to run with compatible worlds and mechanics. I think one of the innovations of Accelerant (which, granted, is largely cribbed from Nero) is that it makes it possible to do so. The self-contained long-runners – Legacies and such – are kind of hard to merge with another campaign.

        • Fair Escape says:

          I’m not super familiar with the creation story of accelerant, but I don’t think “cribbed” is the right verb here. But any system could do it, so long as the intention to have two worlds that merge is there from the beginning. It’s not about taking two pre-existing games and bringing them together. These larps were created with the crossover event in mind.

  3. Tara says:

    So are you planning to NPC Wrathborn? I’m considering going for Friday night and Saturday through the afternoon, and then coming back home for a friend’s birthday party Saturday night. Let me know if you want to carpool.

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