This past weekend I was back in Troy, NY, for Time Bubble, RPI’s fall weekend of theater LARPs. I played in 1493 late on Friday evening, then Blue Archangel, followed by Sentinels Comic Issue #404: Lock Down, and The Ten Worst Stories in the Hundred Worst Minutes late Saturday night. On Sunday, I played in This Time For Sure: Boris Badenov’s Gulag for Unrepentant Children. I also put together a brief presentation I called “More LARP is Best LARP!” about all of the various theater LARP events in the Northeast area, along with a little about some of the local boffer LARPs.
1493 is a historical LARP, originally written to teach a room full of sixth graders about this particular period of European history, so character sheets are fairly short and simple and focused on the political side of their lives. Much of the background content is historically accurate, though there is some amount of fudging with the timeline. For example, my own character, Beatrice de Luna, was not yet born in 1493; she was included because she played a significant role in saving conversos from the Inquisition. The Inquisition is obviously a major topic in the LARP, along with the succession of the Spanish Throne and exploration. The major mechanics in the game are sending expeditions to India and the New World and commanding armies to determine the outcome of all armed conflict right at the end of the LARP.
Beatrice de Luna ended up pretending to convert to Catholicism — one of the most difficult in-character decisions I’ve ever made in a LARP, despite making it in a hurry — in order to marry a Medici and gain control over Florence and the Medici bank, so that she might be able to use Florence as a safe-haven for people persecuted by the Inquisition. I may not be a sixth grader, but I think I learned something about this historical period from this LARP. It’s running at Intercon P, and if you’re interested in European history, I recommend it.
On Saturday morning, I ran my “More LARP is Best LARP!” presentation. I talked about Time Bubble and Dice Bubble, SLAW, Festival of the LARPs, Dia de los Sobres, Intercon, NELCO, the weekend long theater LARPs run by Lime Shirts, the Double Exposure events, and some of the various boffer LARPs in the area. (Much of the information on local theater stuff can be found in this post.) It was better attended than my previous Dice/Time Bubble panel/presentations, but most of the audience was already aware of most of the information. Bit of a pity most of the new folk were busy in a LARP at the time, as I had specifically bid it because RPI is quite good at bringing new people into LARPing, and at the last Dice Bubble, a few people suggested this topic would be a very practical one.
Blue Archangel was billed as inspired by The Final Voyage of the Mary Celeste, which is considered something of a classic staple in the local theater community and a LARP I quite enjoyed. Like Mary Celeste, Blue Archangel has some wacky, supernatural plotlines, but it differs in that Blue Archangel had more characters who were mundane people that at least started out with strictly mundane plots, and they mostly fit into the genre of science-fiction. Mary Celeste, by contrast, deliberately combines many different genres.
I played an alien who is described as a reclusive famous actor, and like the rest of her species, thinks humans smelled terrible. I don’t think I quite managed “reclusive” — my portrayal would be more accurately described as “openly boastful” and “blunt”. During game wrap, we heard about some of the replacement characters available should anyone be killed prior to the end of the event. It’s not often I feel that it’s a shame no characters died in a LARP, but some of the replacement characters sounded really interesting.
Sentinel Comics Issue #404: Lock Down is based on the Sentinels of the Multiverse board game, a popular superhero themed cooperative card game in the local community. (Combat in the LARP in particular was very similar to a few rounds in the card game.) It was written under the SNOPLW (Support Network for Organizing and Promoting LARP Writing) initiative, and I think it’s really exciting to see see some of this project’s products. Lock Down takes place in the Freedom Tower, the headquarters of the Freedom Five (the ersatz Justice League), where tourists are enjoying a tour when an alarm sounds and the Tower goes into lockdown mode, trapping everyone inside. The LARP makes extensive use of the canon backstory from the Sentinels card game, and puts some clever twists on the original materials to stay loyal to the source while still allowing for lots of surprises and secret identities. Like other games by these authors, Lock Down is what some might call a “crack-ed out” game — there’s a lot of weird supernatural shenanigans, or “wooj”, with superpowers and super-science devices and time travel and more. I tried to talk the GMs into bidding it for Intercon — I think fans of the superhero genre and/or the Sentinels game, especially if they like complex supernatural plots, will enjoy Lock Down a lot.
As one of the tourists, I didn’t do any costuming for this LARP — but I was really impressed with some of the costuming I saw on the some of the well-known superheroes.
After Lock Down, I stuck around to see if there were any drop-outs from The Ten Worst Stories in the Hundred Worst Minutes. Waiting for drop-outs proved unnecessary — I had completely forgotten that I had signed up for a slot in Ten Worst Stories. I think it slipped my mind because it didn’t involve casting or prep for the players in advance, unlike all of the other LARPs I played. The structure was very much like the 10 Bad LARPs series by Alleged Entertainment. We played through ten short scenarios, each more ridiculous than the last. I don’t want to go too much into detail here, because while this isn’t a format for which spoilers are a significant problem, I do think one of the best parts of the Ten Worst Stories experience is the initial shock and laughter as the ridiculous concepts of each scene is revealed. I think my favorite scenarios were the ones involving a obscenely funny use for pool noodles, and one with a very creative way to interpret fortune cookies. There was also an impromptu musical I wish we could have recorded. Some of the content is intentionally very offensive humor — I bowed out of one scenario, myself.
In this Time for Sure: Boris Badenov’s Gulag for Unrepentant Children, I was cast as Alvin of the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise. On the casting questionnaire, I wrote a short paragraph explaining how Alvin had been a significant part of my childhood — I think I felt a very personal connection to him growing up as a middle child, because middle children are almost never the focus of stories, but Alvin was the middle child and the main character. I had several Alvin dolls I used to carry around everywhere.
While reacquainting myself with the franchise in preparation for this role, I made a terrible discovery — Alvin was not the middle child in the old cartoon! He was the oldest of the chipmunks, and I had only mistakenly assumed he was a middle child like me because he was shorter than Simon and taller than Theodore. I felt so betrayed! But it was still really nice to get to play a childhood love of mine.
Nonetheless, I’m really glad I got the chance to play This Time For Sure — it’s the only LARP written by the NELCO BYOG program that I hadn’t managed to catch at NELCO. My favorite part was art time, where we all got to use crayons and construction paper, which Alvin used to express his love for Miss Piggy.
One thing I learned from this LARP… girls are bossy!
My one regret for this LARP was that I had planned to purchase helium balloons beforehand, then inhale from them from time to time in order to recreate Alvin’s infamous high pitched voice, but ran out of time beforehand to buy the balloons. What a shame.
Now, the schedule for this year’s SLAW has gone up, so it’s already time to start planning for the next theater weekend.