On Sunday morning at Intercon Q, after a long night of dancing and partying, I stumbled into one of the Iron GM LARPs. It was the 11am run, not a 9 am run, but after a late Friday night of packing up the Orgia set and an even later night on Saturday night of dancing and suite parties, I was extremely groggy when I arrived at the Iron GM rooms and got assigned to play the maiden run of Snugglebunny Apocalypse, written by Team Galimatius.
Iron GM, for those who are unfamiliar, is an annual contest run by Intercon. Sometime in the weeks leading up to Intercon, teams of writers are given various secret ingredients (a theme, a genre, an element, and a prop) and a single weekend to produce a LARP that includes those elements, to run on Sunday of Intercon. There are various other rules, such as it must be suitable for all ages, and it must be runnable with a limited set of supplies. You can find a full list of the rules here. (And there are cash prizes for the winners.)
One of the more interesting, and I think creatively challenging rules, is that the LARP must be able to run with anywhere from 5 to 12 players (inclusive). This requirement was a major contributing factor to the development of “horde LARPs” — theater LARPs where some percentage of the players play a revolving cast of small parts (examples include Time Travel Review Board and An Unconventional Odyssey). It’s fairly easy to make the cast size flexible with a horde — players can simply rotate through them faster and play more roles each if there are fewer of them.
This year, the secret ingredients were:
genre: Parallels Universes
theme: Hope or False Hope
secret prop: 10′ foot strand of green LED lights
Sungglebunny Apocalypse is, as one might guess from the title, a rather lighthearted silly game, in which the characters are attempting to stave of the end of humanity at the fangs of the bloodthirsty snugglebunnies. (I’m sure this LARP takes inspiration from Snugglebunny Wringwraiths, a LARP that was infamously written in negative 5 minutes on napkins, and is the reason I still, years later, occasionally find small heart stickers among my LARP costuming.) Based on my willingness to wear a silly hat, I was cast as Little Sam, a small child who fails to grasp the danger and wants a snugglebunny for a pet. I spent most of the game making a massive nuisance of myself, a small children characters in silly LARPs featuring overwhelming danger tend to do.
This LARP is surprisingly spoilerable; there were some secret identity style twists in this game that I did not see coming (although, to be totally fair, my sleep-deprived grogginess may have played a factor — you’d have to ask the other players not in on the secrets to know if they were actually obvious or not.) I really liked the three snugglebunny characters — they have traits that I really enjoy in a LARP… obvious enough that’s it’s probably not a spoiler to mention here, but I won’t because it’s more fun to discover in the early moments of the LARP, and I’m sure it will run again. There was one particular snugglebunny who was played by a LARPer whose deep voice and august performance makes me unable to imagine that role played by anyone else.
I also really liked the short sketch acted out by the two GMs that opened the LARP and explained the origin of the eponymous threatened end of humanity.
Snugglebunny Apocalypse came in second place, by the way.
And that was my last LARP of Intercon Q! I hear Tales of the Cradle ran on Sunday afternoon or evening, since so many LARPers got stranded at the hotel thanks to the second snowstorm. The odds of another blizzard extending the stay of many attendees again isn’t high (though given our typical dates and location, it’s not that low, either) but there is a decently sized contingent that stays late on Sunday (some until Monday morning), to socialize with LARPers they see no more than few times a year. I think there’s a market for LARPs later on Sunday, and I know there’s a least on team of GMs planning on proposing a LARP for Intercon R to run Sunday afternoon, after closing ceremonies. (Our contract with the hotel gives us the rooms until Sunday night, after all.) I really hope this catches on so I can keep on LARPing on Sunday. More LARP is best LARP!