The Oncoming Storm

A week ago, I was in New York City to join LARPers from the HRSFA crowd (some of whom were new faces to me) for a Doctor Who themed theater LARP, The Oncoming Storm.  Most of the characters in The Oncoming Storm were canonical, taken from a wide swath of seasons of the (incredibly long running) TV show. Unlike many of my friends in the LARPing community, I’m not actually terribly familiar with the source material, but I did watch a few episodes to prepare.

I played Ohica, Sister of the Vision, who originated in the thirteenth season, back when the universe was being saved by the fourth doctor.

Ohica’s costume was a strange, 1970s sci-fi look; a loose sienna red dress with large, gathered sleeves and a gathered skirt. She also wore a hat that looked to me a bit like a 1970s lampshade, embellished with trim from the home decor section of a fabric store. If I’d allotted more time to costuming, I might have really enjoyed trying to recreate that absurd hat. Instead, I decided to give the general impression of her dress with my favorite last minute costuming method — a (modified) chiton. I also found some beaded home decor trim that might have worked well for the hat. Instead, I used it for a belt.

I also attempted a toned down version of her red and gold makeup. I used a few different shades of lipstick for red eyeshadow and gold eyeliner for lipstick.


Ohica, Sister of the Vision

The costume stood out — most characters were dressed in modern suits (though I thought Romana‘s costume was particularly adorable and Innocet‘s costume particularly beautiful) but I think that was appropriate, as Ohica was distinctly dedicated to her Order’s archaic ways.

The Oncoming Storm was set in a time lock, where Time Lords, along with an army of the evil Daleks, are stuck. The Time Lords have just evacuated from their home planet of Gallifrey, which has just been destroyed by the Daleks. Key figures among the Time Lords have gathered to decide how to move forward. Meanwhile, two Daleks have entered the time lock to propose a peace treaty, and the Seventh and Tenth Doctors have also appeared, simultaneously.


The Tenth Doctor


The Tenth Doctor

We spent much of the LARP in political debates, arguing about the future of the Time Lords and over elements of the peace treaty proposed by the Daleks. In between our arguments,  we used our TARDISes (and SIDRATs) to go on side-quest-like missions, mostly structured like brief choose-your-own-adventures. The character sheets were long, and contained a lot of depth and complexity for the characters and their relationships and roles in society, and the situation was complex and dire enough to keep conversation flowing freely for hour after hour. It was a very engaging experience, and I had a lot of fun.


10th Doctor and Ohica

Interestingly, the structure of the LARP was very similar to a previous LARP I’ve played, one of my favorites, Be Not Afraid. In Be Not Afraid, angels who have just been cast out of Heaven, meeting to determine the future of their society, as well as meeting with two demonic ambassadors from hell to hammer out a treaty. And between political meetings, we went on various side-adventures to complete various projects. As we played, I spotted more similarities, but I will leave them out here for spoiler reasons.

It’s a fascinating idea — take the structure and much of the premise of a successful LARP (and I think the Be Not Afraid has a very solid, successful structure) and “reskin” it with a new setting and new characters.  This strikes me as particularly useful for settings with narrow but devoted audiences, and I wonder what other franchises with devoted fan bases might want to use this particular formula to create a theater LARPs? And maybe LARP writing communities could experiment more with creating bare bone structures for LARPs, for others to use as building blocks?



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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7 Responses to The Oncoming Storm

  1. Balioc says:

    “It’s a fascinating idea — take the structure and much of the premise of a successful LARP…”

    This has been done several times with The Dance and the Dawn, which spawned two actual expansions/sequels and two separate related speed-dating-type games in different genres (wuxia, Arabian Nights) that borrowed a tremendous amount of the structure and flavor.

    • Fair Escape says:

      I’m unfamiliar with the Arabian Nights one, but my impression of the wuxia-themed sequel (based on one player’s description of her experience) was that it had some significant structural differences.

      Regardless, you’re right — there probably are a handful of other examples. Wishing Well is running at the upcoming Intercon, and it takes it structure from Triple Blind (which I think is excellent — the concept behind Triple Blind and it’s ability to produce new games with random generation has so much potential and I’m really happy to see people experiment with it in other genres.) I guess Oncoming Storm struck me in part because it didn’t have any authors in common and the structure was considerably more complex than Dance and the Dawn.

      • Alon Levy says:

        My understanding is that The Song and the Sunrise has a similar structure to Dance, but has more involved combat mechanics that apparently nobody can remember except Warren. Normally it’s not a problem (Crown of Hearts is impossible to run without Tory), but at HRSFA it’s very common for GMs to run Dance rather than their own games.

        As for Oncoming Storm vs. BNA, well, Tony and Aili are both HRSFA people. I’ve seen it at another place: West Eros High School, Jason and Weiyi’s what-if-the-ASOIAF-characters-were-prep-school-students comedy, is very clearly influenced by Warren, especially Soul of the World. Many Warren tropes are there: plot-relevant NPCs, game theory mechanics, jockeying for voting power, prescribed scenes splitting the characters into smaller groups.

        • Fair Escape says:

          That’s interesting — I didn’t know West Eros was influenced by Soul of the World. I’m having difficulty imagining those mechanics moved into a high school setting (I’m guessing their voting on class president or prom queen or something?)

  2. idiotsavant23 says:

    So, who do I talk to about getting a copy? (plenty of Who fans here in NZ)

  3. Pingback: Intercon Pirates: Thursday at PreCon Part I – Fair Escape

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