I spent the first few days of the new year down in New Orleans with members of the HRSFA crowd, exploring the Crescent City, especially the French Quarter, trying out the local cuisine, listening to jazz, going on walking tours, and enjoying attractions like the Frenchmen Art Market, the Voodoo museum, the World War II museum, the aquarium and insectarium, and the last days of the Celebration in the Oaks, a spectacular holiday light festival. We also found time one evening to play Drink Me, the short Victorian horror themed LARP for three players.
There were so many locations in the Big Easy that I thought would make an excellent stage for LARPs. I would love to run an ARG-like pervasive vampire or ghost themed LARP in the French Quarter, of course (maybe even stage a scene right outside a building where scenes from Interview with a Vampire was filmed.) One of the restaurants had a room upstairs designed for seances, and thus an ideal atmosphere for small theater LARP; it had red lighting, plush velvet couches and pillows, a crystal ball on a stand, strange deco art, and two Egyptian sarcophagi. (We couldn’t resist checking. They were empty.) The lights in the Oaks would make an excellent backdrop for a surreal or fae-themed LARP. (There was even an empty ballroom-like function space there, I’m sure it’s available to rent…)
Traveling to LARP in far off cities is one of my personal LARPing goals, and technically this trip was the farthest from home I’ve ever been for a LARP, though I don’t think Drink Me really counts; it was written by a LARPer from the Northeast, played by three LARPers from the Northeast, and run in a hotel room. But it was still a really great experience. I love that it’s small, with minimal set-up/prop and space requirements, and has a short, flexible run-time that pretty much allows the players to set the pace and bring it to a close when they’re ready.
The premise involves three characters, the adventurer Vesper Von Eternity, the Dorian Gray-like libertine Alexander Clay, and the mad scientist Edgar Eakins, who all find themselves in the Cave of Elixir, with six unlabeled potions before them.
Drink Me is a tense and emotional and dramatic LARP, with the options laid out clearly but the consequences obscured. It also seemed like it would be excellent fun to run; it’s available for sale online, and I plan to buy a copy for myself.
After the run in New Orleans, the players, the GM, and some of the observers discussed Drink Me. I think it makes a particularly good introductory LARP for beginners — it’s a popular genre, with classic, exciting character archetypes that newbies can easily recognize and get into. I find one of the most difficult problems with newbies who don’t quite know what to expect out of LARP is that they’re not really sure what to do with themselves during a game, but the options for actions one can take in Drink Me are pretty clear: one can talk, or drink (and then react to the consequences.) The low buy-in is another plus for people who are curious but hesitant — players don’t really have to do any prep beyond reading the character sheets and rules if they don’t want to, it can be run anywhere so that travel doesn’t have to be prohibitive, it will only take an hour or so of their time, and it’s a very small game, which is good for people who may feel shy role-playing in a larger crowd.
Not everyone agreed, though; one player pointed out that there’s a darkness to the game that isn’t for everyone (especially not younger kids), there’s a decent chance of an unhappy ending for any and all of the characters, and the characters aren’t all the type of heroic protagonists that many people are eager to play when they first decide to try LARPing. The unusually small size and length also means it doesn’t provide the clearest possible picture of what more typical theater style LARPing is like. Nonetheless, with the right crowd, if I had a few non-LARPer friends who wanted to see what LARPing could be like, I would likely run Drink Me for them. Or if I had a few boffer LARPers who wanted to give theater a try. I would also definitely run it at the various LARP cons, such as Festival, SLAW, or the Bubbles, to round out the schedule for any time slot that needs just a few more player slots, or has a time slot where I’ve already played all the available options.
Drink Me is running a couple times at Intercon P. (Both runs are already full, of course — I hear there’s going to be a third run for the people currently on the waitlist.) I’m looking forward to hearing what the players think of it, and how the runs compare to our run in New Orleans.