A couple years ago, I signed up for an international ARG-like LARP based out of Croatia, called Izgon 2. I had so much fun playing it that when an opportunity to play a reboot of the original Izgon came up, I jumped at the chance.
The premise of Izgon 1.1 involved several races of extra-dimensional energy beings crashing on earth and inhabiting the bodies of humans. Earth has much less mana in its atmosphere for casting magic, so the aliens need to find nodal points where mana gathers and collect enough to create a portal back home. They can only survive on earth for five weeks before dying, so time is of the essence. In the meantime, there are other factions of aliens trying to collect the mana first, and a variety of human factions to contend with — prophets, hunters, and other mysterious organizations. Some of them are openly hostile, and who knows if the others can be trusted?
I opted to play the character I played in Izgon 2, a librarian named So’haya of White Pillar. Last time, only one other LARPer from the Boston area signed up, and only one other besides us in the Northeast, a LARPer in New York City. We ended up taking a road trip to NYC to collect mana, and then all three of us went back to Boston to collect more mana and make sure we could build a portal from Boston back home, if need be.
This time around, we recruited two more LARPers in the Boston area. We named our community “Three Mountains”, in honor of Boston’s history. (Before it was renamed Boston, the settlers called it Trimountaine, after the three hills they saw when they first arrived.) Finding mana spots without help from human factions was far more difficult in Izgon 1.1 than Izgon 2, as we weren’t given free hints (after the first mana spot). Instead, we spent a lot of time going from landmark to landmark in Boston (as well as Worcester), testing them out to see which produced mana
The landmarks were associated with various Aspects, some of which served as hints. For example, when we found out there was a mana spot with the aspect of “Running” in Zagreb, it lead us to discovering that the start line of the Boston Marathon was another mana spot (which lead to our one run in with the police, who seemed curious about what four people were doing at the start line at midnight.)
While searching for mana spots, we also had to deal with the complication that one of the Boston human hosts was also a hunter, and we had to perform magic rituals to ensure she did not force the alien out before we could safely go home.
One of the human factions referred to themselves as the Shadow Brokers, and they created a really nifty website to serve as a market for trading mana for information. The website also contained forums, short pod-casts with interesting in-game information, and a challenging game.
The Shadow Brokers also had information regarding various threats to the world, and asked for our help in conducting rituals to create a weapon and slay a dangerous Lovecraftian being before it woke. The brokers gave us a prophecy alluding to various locations in Boston (there were corresponding rituals in Hungary and Croatia), with instructions for what to do in each spot. We spent some time working out which locations the prophecy described (for example, “a pond not deep; Amphibian water, not too steep” was referring to the Frog Pond in Boston Common), then spent a day traveling around the city, lighting candles and chanting and drawing symbols on ourselves.
Together with our Croatian counterparts, we saved the world from the Mana Beast. Not long after, we built the portal and went home.
Much like the previous game, without enemies in the US, things were a lot calmer in our portion of the game–it seemed like there was a lot more tension, action, and drama over in Europe. I think our primary role was to use our relatively safe position to accumulate mana for our faction.
Thanks to the additional human factions and their more complex role in the LARP — providing the game, and the rituals, and the fact that some human hosts were actually members, Izgon 1.1 had everything I loved about Izgon 2 (touring the cities, roleplay, and art) and then some — more puzzles and challenges, more magic rituals, and more drama. I’d love to see more ARGs/ARG-like LARPs run in the future!