A few weekends ago was the final event of Shadows of Amun, a time traveling LARP of horror and adventure that started in WWI era Egypt, moved to the era of the Crusades, then Cleopatra’s reign, before it returned to (post) WWI. The finale saw the defeat of the worst that Egypt’s pantheon has to offer, along with a Lovecraftian horror and a few villains that had begun as mortals and risen to epic levels. And the players got to shape the new world by determining which gods got to be the heads of the new pantheon and what roles they would play.
I’ve been NPCing this campaign on and off since the first event. More off than on, to be fair; I think I’ve been present for maybe four events total. Out of all of the boffer campaigns I’ve PCed or NPCed, it has the most unusual setting, by virtue of being set in a real world location, in real historical eras. The idea to have time travel as a major feature and surprise the players by changing up WWI for the Crusades was a huge risk; “bait and switches” are unpopular enough for LARPs only a few hours in length, and the staff lost a few players over it, but I think the risk paid off in a huge way. I often find myself wishing I had PCed this campaign and gotten to experience the shift in setting and time travel plotlines for myself.
The weekend began with the death of Ma’at, the goddess of time and order, at the hands of one of the aforementioned villains — he found a way to steal her divinity to give himself god-like powers. Ma’at has been one of my absolute favorite NPC roles so far, so it was nice that the players opted to let Thoth, her consort, sacrifice himself to revive her, though I honestly wouldn’t have minded if they’d chosen to keep Thoth around. If Ma’at had remained dead, there would be no risk of me screwing up any roleplaying with players and ruining their final event.
I went out as Ma’at once more, in mourning for Thoth. Besides that, the only other speaking roles I had were the Owl of Athena, a spirit fluttering around the afterlife, whose purpose was to pose philosophical questions to PCs should they speak to it. (I also had a role as the child of a virgin birth… long story… that I accidentally slept through.) The rest of the time, I spent crunching. There were a number of townwide battles, all PCs and all NPCs on the field, which was exciting because for once, the NPCs actually outnumbered the PCs. The forces of Good prevailed in the end, but I like to think us monsters gave them hell along the way.
The final fight on Sunday was a fun one. Tindalos, a Lovecraftian entity, made his way into the world and was ready to wreak havoc with his mooks. As monks of Tindalos, we came out with big, creepy grins painted on our faces. To drive Tindalos back to… wherever it was, from whence he came (I think it was an Outside of Time and Space kind of deal), the PCs had to throw Orbs of Light down his maw some given number of times. The Tindalos monster costume was enormous, with a big hoop for a maw… so basically, the PCs were playing Battle Basketball.
The monks were allowed to throw the Orbs back for massive damage when the PCs missed their throws, but when the balls rolled past me, I opted to let them go and see if a PC would leave the safety of their front line to chase it, then I tried to pin down individual PCs with ranged attacks and Root effects. I never quite caught any, but I gave a few of them a merry chase, shouting things like “I WILL CONSUME YOUR SOUL” as I ran. In the end, the heat and humidity did me in, and I had to call a gasping “Death to Self” to get a water break.
I think there’s a lot about this campaign that will serve as inspiration for future campaigns — the exploration of real history, the massive setting shifts, their system of creating modules based on player requests during events, to name a few. And Shadows really had a lot of great props–I’m sad to say I won’t be around for the post-campaign yard sale where all the props and costumes and weapons and set dressing will be available for cheap, but maybe I can get a sneak preview and pick up a few neat pieces before it does.
I’ll have to pick up more games to NPC to fill the void Shadows is leaving. I’m planning to NPC Threshold, but that’s not starting up for a bit. Fortunately, there are no shortages of LARPs to NPC for in New England.