Intercon P Part VI: The LARPs

Intercon Q starts in less than 24 hours, and I never finished my Intercon P posts. I got bogged down in details over PreCon panels, then procrastinated… Well, here are the LARPs I played at Intercon P, only about a year after they ran.

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On Friday night, I NPCed for Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. I would have happily PCed it, of course, but I knew if it wasn’t my first choice, I was unlikely to get in. A boffer one shot with a pirate theme was bound to be a popular choice. But I also really enjoy NPCing, so it wasn’t a large sacrifice.

During the LARP, I crunched as British naval sailors, random pirates, and some undead. I also briefly played a tavern wench in one non-combat scene. I had only the barest familiarity with the plot and the characters so I feel as though if it ever ran again, I’m unspoiled enough to play. It was “elevator style,” meaning the players return to small, separate area between scenes, which could represent a literal elevator stopping at different floors. In Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, the players returned to their pirate ship and sailed to various islands. I think all of the characters seemed fun — it’s hard not to be when you’re all pirates! — but there were a few in particular that I’d like to play, including one creepy character who started the LARP with her mouth sewn shut. There were also some neat mechanics, including one that represented single shot firearms and prolonged reloading time. I have no idea if this LARP will run again, but I would love to sign up if it does.

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two British naval sailors (in awkward lighting)

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ran late, so I was late to my next game, which I feel bad about. I played in Reunions, a LARP with a simple premise: a small group of friends hanging out at convention deciding what events to attend on the schedule, and then again getting together again for a second scene at a birthday party. Each of the characters has one aspect of their history swap between the scenes. I signed up for this LARP because I knew it was written to collect data for a linguistics paper by a linguistics PhD student, and linguistics is one of my passions. I was very interested to hear about the research, but I wanted a chance to play the LARP first. After the LARP, I got to hear all about the data collected, which was focused on the character who is male in one scene, and female in the other, and how we express gender through our language. Reunions offers a neat example of LARP contributing to science.

On Saturday morning, I NPCed again, this time for a LARP called Syncretism: A Coming of Age RitualSyncretism: A Coming of Age Ritual. Syncretism is a cyberpunk LARP, which uses a new combat system (still in development, at least when it ran at Intercon P.) This was another LARP where I mostly played crunchy enemies for the PCs to fight, and I had very little idea about what the PCs got up to. It seemed like they had a fun and emotional experience, so I’m glad that it’s running again at Intercon Q.

The system was definitely different from Accelerant, which is what most of the boffer one-shots running at Intercon use (and the boffer system I’m personally most familiar with.) There were some neat effects that I really liked, including one that forces your opponent to take a certain number of steps back (depending on the number you call) and a version that can affect everyone in the battle at once. They’re similar to the “disengage” effect of Accelerant, but more versatile with the addition of the number of steps, and the version that affected everyone simultaneously provides a really nice breather for NPCs when they’re grossly outnumbered and swamped by PCs.

Another interesting aspect of the system used for Syncretism: after each successful strike with a melee weapon, a player has to “reset” — some action (or inaction) that creates a pause in attempts to attack — before they can score another strike. It definitely changes the flow of battle and makes it less frenetic. I found that while trying to adjust to the system and remember the “reset”, I found it difficult to remember at first, and then overcompensated by resetting even after unsuccessful strikes, which quickly became a very difficult habit to break. I worried that I was basically sending the message “I think I’m scoring hits on you” every time I performed the reset motion, even when I missed. I think I personally need a little more time getting used to the system, but overall, I liked it. Like Devil, I would sign up to PC Syncretism if it runs again.

After lunch, I played in Congress of Vienna, a LARP set during the eponymous historical event, as French mathematician Sophie Germain. All of the characters were real historical personages, though there’s also a great deal of ahistorical supernatural shenanigans going on around the politics. I really enjoyed this game, as I’ve enjoyed a number of games by this set of authors in the past. I loved the complexities of my character. I was kept very busy enjoying politics, romance, and magic for four hours. I would highly recommend it if it runs again.

Sadly, my costume, which was probably the most difficult thing I’d ever sewn, did not come out very well. The skirt bunched awkwardly and the trim was held on with safety pins. If I ever play another Napoleonic era LARP, I’ll probably scrap it and start over. (Though I do hate scrapping costumes. I get so sentimentally attached to them, especially after wearing them in a LARP I really enjoy.) On the plus side, I do feel like I learned quite a lot about creating gathers and sewing overlays, though it was an expensive lesson, considering the fabric I wasted.

On Saturday evening, I played in a LARP called The Always Waltz. I think this LARP is highly spoilerable, so I won’t say much, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The blurb really called to me. I could never resist a LARP with a description that contains keywords like “horror,” “mystery,” “intrigue,” and “romance,” especially when the costuming requirements are as compelling as “[a]s close to decadent masquerade as you can get– mask is REQUIRED”. Also worth noting , the set dressing for this LARP was quite nice. There were drinks and dancing and mysterious dark magic afoot, and the players really took the costuming guidelines to heart. It was a very visually appealing LARP all around.

I had a lot of fun (and more success) preparing this costume — I made a skirt to go under a dress I’d found on clearance (so that it would look like a floor length dress) and put together a mask and wreath out of fake flowers and butterflies. (The necklace was borrowed.)

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My costume for The Always Waltz. Photo by John Kammer.

On Sunday morning, I signed up for the latest installment of the G.I. Joe series of LARPs, G.I Joe: Pirates. I sign up for this series whenever I can — it’s guranteed to be a fun, lighthearted note to end the con on, even if your brain is fuzzy from lack of sleep, thanks to the ridiculous, adorably poorly animated source material. It was another madcap adventure, with over-the-top shenanigans and silly challenges with playful mechanics. I was cast as the Baroness this time around (I’ve played Snake Eyes, the mute ninja, in the past) and had fun trying out her ridiculous unspecified Eastern European accent. (It wavers between Russian-ish and German-ish in the cartoon.)

This costume was a lot easier — all black with a Cobra Command decal stuck to my shirt.

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The Baroness of the early AM run with the Baroness of the late AM run.

And those were my LARPs of Intercon P! Eventually, I’ll get back around to finishing my posts about PreCon, but that will probably wait until after Intercon Q. I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t procrastinate again this year like I did last year.

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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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