Falling behind in posting on recent LARP events in my life… so to play a little catch up for the sake of a sense of completion…
Over the end of October and beginning of September, Fifth Gate: Silverfire ran its fourth event.
The weekend opened with dire news. The situation with the ongoing war was getting worse considerably. Our various homelands had either been completely overrun, or were actively under attack and likely to fall soon. There was an ongoing theme of terrible choices, trying to decide the lesser of various evils, and the consequences of those decisions. For example, at the previous event, we’d chosen to save the Ivory Gate, and as a thank you, a Servitor of the Ivory Gate came to offer us his services in using dream magic to determine answers to our various questions. But the Burning Gate had fallen, because we’d chosen to protect the Ivory Gate over it.
And things continued to deteriorate over the weekend. We continued to lose ground, and we lost various allies, including the leaders of some Orders, along the way. In some cases, it was a matter of deciding to which enemy a stronghold would fall, not whether or not it would fall, and how much we could salvage before it did.
At one point, every PC who had died at the last event (many during the that Saturday night battle that went horribly wrong), aka the Burdened, went off to deal with the price of death and resurrection. Those of us left behind were asked by a member of the Sacred Trust, an NPC, to guard him while he performed a divination for a wealthy client.
To me, there was something distinctly off about this whole thing. It didn’t appear to be in our interest, just the interest of the mysterious client, whose allegiance was unspecified (the most the NPC would tell us was that the divination wouldn’t directly harm us), yet there was no specific reward offered. My character is very much not the sort to haggle over price (how base!), so I didn’t vocalize these thoughts. I’m not sure why no one else thought to ask a price (I have theories ranging from the various concepts baked into character creation to meta-reasons for avoiding questioning hooks.)
On top of this, the diviner insisted that the Sacred Trust was neutral and would not be in danger of being attacked by any side in this war, so we weren’t clear on what kind of dangers we might be facing while guarding him, or why the divination had to be in a certain location, rather than, say, the safety of the tavern.
When we got to the location and the diviner began his ritual, we came under attack from Silverfire knights, which was again odd — if the Silverfire knights wouldn’t attack the Sacred Trust, then the PCs were the only ones in danger, and the diviner was not in need of our protection. The Silverfire knights did seem to attempt to attack him a few times, but I’m not sure if this was because the diviner had lied about not being in danger from them for an unknown reason, or because the NPCs couldn’t quite see who they were attacking in the dark, and had confused him for one of us.
When the divination was complete, we returned to the tavern, where the diviner gave us a reward — a valuable token that could be used when facing the consequences of death and resurrection. (I’m not clear on what the coin does, as I’ve been avoiding learning about the death and resurrection module/mechanic so that I can learn about it for the first time when I actually encounter it.)
We spent some time debating about what to do with the coin (excellent strategy for giving PCs something to discuss, that — rewards that can’t be evenly distributed), and some of us mulled over the questions the encounter had posed. My favorite theory was that while the Sacred Trust remained officially neutral, perhaps for their own safety, perhaps for other practical reasons, secretly, they wanted us Champions to prevail over the Silverfire King. So they were arranging to assist us in ways that could be claimed to be simple matters of business so to maintain a veneer neutrality. By pretending to need bodyguards from some vague, unspecified danger, they could hire us and give us helpful items of great value while labeling it as payment in a business transaction, and perhaps the location of the divination was chosen deliberately near a base of Silverfire soldiers that they knew we could defeat.
Besides speculating over the motivations of the Sacred Trust, other highlights of the weekend including receiving a letter from one of the Survivors of the Wrathborn world. One of the docents wrote to my character, Cricket, describing what the Survivors had learned about a trapped Thunder Dragon that we are attempting to free. There was something special about heading out to the gate and finding a letter for me from a PC in another world. I wish I had time to write back, but the next event is the capstone event where we’ll see one another in person, likely in a location without the magical communication system, so writing a letter doesn’t really make sense.
Another highlight was a module where the Disciples of the Tempest performed a ritual involving kata for the various styles of training we had learned (crane, tiger, viper, etc.) then facing various spirits of the storm, which enabled the other Order from Stormcoast, the Hosts of the Maelstrom, to summon and slay one of the Silverfire King’s loyals baronesses.
The weekend ended with the Silverfire King leading his forces into Ebonfall. After a difficult battle, we were forced to flee through the gate, setting up the second capstone event where the Champions of the Silverfire world and the Survivors of Ebonfall will come together again.
A few weekend after the Fifth Gate event, I NPCed a second time for Madrigal 3. At first, I was planning to be there, but then that Sunday turned out to be the best day for running The Final Voyage of the Mary Celeste for some students at Brandeis University, so I thought I’d skip Madrigal. But when one of the writers on staff told me he had two face roles to play, I couldn’t resist. So I made sure to have Mary Celeste ready before the weekend, and NPCed up until Saturday night.
The two roles proved to be a lot of fun. The first was Lady Jane Waverly, a high ranking noble of the kingdom inspired by Victorian-era Great Britain, Blacktallow. My job was to chase down some rumors, chat up the PCs, and drop some hints to lead them to a conclusion about another NPC. But the moment I brought up the other NPC, the PCs immediately started sharing the exact theories I was supposed to lead them towards. Well, that was easy! A lot of the PCs from Blacktallow are fun to roleplay with. I really hope I can reprise my role as Lady Jane Waverly again.
On Saturday evening, the PCs from the Silken Call, an elven kingdom featuring spider motifs commonly in its culture, hosted a soiree in the tavern. I’ve always thought the tavern of Madrigal 3 was particularly well dressed, as are many of the PC spaces; even moreso than other campaigns I’ve PCed or NPCed, the players of Madrigal 3 really seem to go all out in making their cabins and tents and the tables outside of their sleeping spaces well decorated and immersive. And the tavern during the Silken Call party looked especially nice.
I attended the party with a group of other NPCs playing nobles from Dremasque, a nation known for a madness that inflicts its nobles and its harlequin and Venetian Carnivale inspired fashions. (Per the website, “[t]o say their clothing is theatrical is an understatement,” which is the line that convinced me, were I ever to PC Madrigal 3, I’d definitely want to play a noble from Dremasque.)
As I entered the party, a herald announced me, “Lady Phaedra of House Indigo,” which I thought was a lovely touch that I wish more LARPs set at swanky fetes would include. I mingled with the PCs and tried to drop hints about various political and sinister goings-on among the nobles of Dremasque. As my character was unusually interested in religion, I had a number of interest chats with religious PCs, some of whom were (strictly in-character) under the influence of spirits served by our Silken Call hosts.
Besides the Dremasque and Blacktallow nobles, I crunched a bit as undead, and went out once as a patient in a sanitarium whose treatment required assistance from the PCs. And thanks to a chatty PC, I even had a great time roleplaying as a completely random farmer during dinnertime.
I’m sad to say I’ll be missing the next Madrigal full weekend event, but I plan to be back to NPC for Madrigal again.