I recently attended a casual get-together, hosted by one of the PCs of Shadows of Amun, a boffer campaign LARP originally set in WWI-era Egypt, but has twice involved game-wide time traveling to the era of the Crusades and, most recently, Cleopatra’s Egypt.
The get-together was advertised as an evening for PCs to “floon” (a word that means, as best as I can tell, indulge in emotional excitement over a LARP; it can also be used as a noun, as in “There is so much floon!”) But NPCs were welcome as well, and I was curious to hear about all of the various elements of the LARP that I haven’t seen as someone who has mostly been playing bit roles and crunchies.
As noted by some of the PCs and NPCs in attendance, these sorts of out-of-character gatherings are excellent for community building, which is something that the local theater community seems to do a bit better than the local boffer community. (This is, of course, based mostly on my Intercon-based theater perspective and my heavily Accelerant-based boffer perspective. A LARPer who plays in two local Be Epic campaigns, Second Dawn and Steam and Cinders, tells me their boffer crowd is much better about hanging out out-of-character and getting to know one another as players.)
It’s not mere coincidence — many of the theater events run short LARPs back to back with breaks between games and opportunities to socialize at night when the last of the games have ended, which enables us getting to know one another at weekend-long events like Intercon, Festival, SLAW, and the Bubbles. By contrast, Accelerant boffer events follow the “in-character 24-7” guidelines — good for immersion, not as good for community building among the players and staff. And of course, when events end on Sunday, lots of people are very keen to get home as soon as possible and have a hot shower and possibly a meal and nap.
Which all means that I was quite happy that NPCs were invited and I could meet and chat with some of the Shadows PCs outside of game. I didn’t hear as much about the various plots and timey-wimey shenanigans of Shadows itself as I was expecting (though there was a fair amount of it going on, and I hear I missed a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, with an entirely homemade, customized Shadows of Amun-centric deck.)
But I did hear a bit about a few upcoming Accelerant campaigns (always nice to get an inside scoop on campaigns in the works), chatted a bit about LARP theory (mostly things revolving around Accelerant mechanics), discussed ideas for combining theater and boffer LARPs, and listened to quite a bit of smogging. (Smogging basically means sharing LARP “war stories”.)
I think the theme of the evening’s smogging was the most outrageous experiences people have had in LARP. Here are some of the best of the stories I heard, and let me be clear that this post is in no way meant to imply that I recommend putting PCs through such experiences in your LARP.
Warning: Some of these are dark.
- Players searching through baby dolls, representing… yes, babies, which were stuffed with raw cornish game hens, for a key.
- A PC tucking his real hand into his sleeve, then replacing it with a fake hand made out of cookie, so that his character’s hand could be cut off in game and force fed to him.
- Unexpected nudity
- A player thinking he was about to get peed on by another player.
- A player unexpectedly cutting her real hair with a steak knife, as an expression of her character’s mental instability.
- An NPC making use of her talent for folding up into extremely small spaces by playing the bloody body of a PC’s fiance, being delivered by package to him
- Players jumping out of the back of a moving truck along a dark road to simulate parachuting into enemy territory
- Creative use of real roadkill to attract circling buzzards
I might be forgetting some of the wilder ones. My own LARP experiences suddenly seem tame in comparison!