This past weekend, Ye Olde Commons hosted LARP-a-Palooza, I believe the first event for Ye Olde Commons, but hopefully not the last.
Ye Olde Commons is a LARP-dedicated sites in Massachusetts. I believe it used to be a horse riding camp, until it was bought by LARPers, and now it hosts LARPs nearly every single weekend, year long. (I hear it’s booked solid through the end of 2016.)
I was hesitant about attending as I didn’t really know anyone going — a few faces were familiar from various boffer LARPs, but there was no one I had yet spent any time with outside of LARPing. But I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to get to know more LARPers from the New England boffer community. On Friday evening, maybe 30 or LARPers gathered in the tavern to play board games and enjoy a few drinks (and combine them in the form of drinking games, like battleshots.) I learned a new game called Skull (historically called Skull and Roses), which is a really fun bidding/bluffing game. I particularly liked the artwork, and now I’m daydreaming about creating my own version using characters and in-game cultures from one the LARPs I PC. Between drinks and rounds of Skull, I learned about various local boffer LARPs, including Lione, Knight Blades, and COR. I want to try them all! Lione in particular has a masquerade this winter I would just love to NPC; sadly for me, it conflicts with the crossover event of Fifth Gate.
On Saturday, I missed the beginning of a round of boffer Capture the Flag and a module or two. I went out into the woods to observe the game and try to get to know the paths a bit before the nighttime run of Capture the Flag. (Dubbed “Capture the Glow” because the flag was a ball of glowsticks.) Then I participated in each of the small boffer tournaments — single sword, polearm, sword-and-board (sword and shield) and florentine (two swords.) I fared best in single sword, to my surprise. Didn’t win any, but other fighters had encouraging things to say about my combat skills, which was nice to hear. We followed this up with a large free-for-all melee with “Black Knight” rules. (Any limb that gets hit goes out of commission, three torso shots is defeat.) I don’t think I took anyone down by myself, but I contributed to some early demises before going down during a legless standoff.
I also went down to the field to see the various vendors. Calli of Callicocrafts had lots of great stuff, including animals ears and tails (there was a beautiful snow leopard tail I wish I’d seen when I was finishing my costume for The Tattered Veil) and horns (which she can make out of foam, which makes them perfect for boffer LARPs, if any Servants of the Horned Goddess in Fifth Gate are looking to upgrade!) Dawn of Stitchworks had some really nice cloaks. I particularly liked her little charms that are meant to hook onto the tails of the hoods. Another table displayed a lot of pretty knitted goods, including some adorable stuffed animals (I can’t seem to find an online link.)
Phoenix Swords was also out by the vendors, performing demonstrations of combat techniques found in historical manuscripts on demand. Very interesting and fun to watch. I personally requested demonstrations with two hand scythes and sword and bucklers. The techniques for the latter came from the oldest book on fighting we have from Europe, and some of the illustrations featured nuns. (A nice little tidbit to share if anyone ever doubts the historical truth of women warriors.)
The Pheonix Swords website has some photos up from the LARP-a-Palooza event. You can see them here.
Other fun activities on Saturday included some sparring, a bonfire, and using rubber bands to make a watermelon explode. (It was a fund raising thing — you could buy rubber bands, and if one of yours was the one to finally make it explode, you won half the pot.) If you’ve never heard of this kind of thing, try searching youtube for “watermelons with rubber bands.” Here’s a video that nicely demonstrates it.
The nighttime run of Capture the Flag was fun, though running around in the woods at night proved somewhat hazardous. The game was called after an hour or so of stalemate, but I think the concept has great potential, and I wonder if my Awesomenauts boffer LARP might be best done as an extended version of Capture the Flag with more complex mechanics and some roleplay fodder tossed in.
The night ended with a rave in the barn, and more drinks and games in the tavern.
Definitely glad I made it to LARP-a-Palooza, it’s always great to meet more LARPers and learn about the other campaigns going on in New England. One of these days I’m going to fulfill my dream of traveling the world and LARPing in other countries, but until there, there’s still tons more to experience right here in New England.