Despite my best intentions, I’ve been neglecting this blog again. I got caught up on my post NELCO posts, because I really wanted to cover the various panels and discussions I attended in depth and in order, and then I got hung up on the first post (about our discussion running games for newbie players)… And never managed to finish it. (I especially want to talk about the Hour of Controversy before that fades too much from memory.)
This is a pattern with me, I know — I didn’t manage to report on past NELCOs and PreCons for the same reasons, though I have a slew of half-finished blog posts on them in my archive, too. I fear if I don’t prioritize them above other posts, they’ll never get done, which is a shame because I think NELCO and PreCon are very important and deserve coverage, but the alternative seems to be a month or more without any posts, and that’s not really better.
In case anyone is wondering, we did get some of the NELCO events recorded on video this year. I’m sure they will eventually go up.
In the meantime, in order to get myself back into the swing of writing blog posts, I want to talk about a LARP I recently played over Skype called The Council of Oramvand.
The Council of Oramvand is an hour and a half long theater LARP for four players. It is very much a classic high fantasy and diplomacy LARP; it features the representatives of four magical races (elves, centaurs, dragons, and merfolk) meeting to set the course for the future of their world after emerging victorious from a ruinous war.
The Council of Oramvand is a Paracelsus Games LARP, and much like many of their LARPs, it features a well developed and detailed setting, and extremely difficult moral and political decisions to make, with no right answers. The characters also have projects on their agendas — both major undertakings of interest to their entire race as well as smaller, more personal projects, which may earn the disapproval of the other characters and their people. Much of the conversation focuses on which projects should take precedence when allocating limited resources.
Thanks to the complex moral and political dilemmas, along with the detailed history, serious conversation flowed for the full hour and half of game-play. In fact, I think the length of the LARP is fairly adjustable — players are likely to regulate themselves according to how much time is available. (Our run ran a bit overtime, and I think we easily could have talked for an additional hour.)
I think the structure of The Council of Oramvand makes it a particularly useful LARP — there’s high demand in the local community (and, I’m sure, other communities) for small, easy-to-run theater LARPs that require a minimum of space and prepwrork. I wouldn’t classify it as a pick-up game, as there is a ton of reading for players prior to the game, but it still works well for bringing in newbies who are wary of high commitments for their first LARP experience, especially if they’re familiar with tabletop and enjoy classic fantasy.) The flexibility on space in particular makes it great for LARP conventions. Intercon, for example, could use more LARPs that can run in private hotel rooms. And some hotels (and other locations, like WPI’s student center, where Summer LARPin’ ran) offer conference rooms with tables that occupy most of the space, but not many LARPs can run in such a space. (And for added flexibility, the characters are all gender neutral.)
The fact that it can run so easily over video chat is also a really cool feature. Maybe an international run could be arranged?
I do want to mention the costuming from my run somewhere in this post. All of the players did some basic costuming from the chest up for the cameras. I liked the merfolk diplomat’s last minute improvisation — he took his shirt off and draped a towel with an aquatic print around himself like a tunic.
As the representative of the dragons, I decided to attempt horns and scales. The horns were a bit of a disaster. I looked up some polymer clay tutorials online to try and learn some techniques (try looking up polymer skinner blends and canes, it’ll blow your mind what people can do with the stuff,) but I only ended up with a very subtle marble blend (the easiest technique). I also failed at properly shaping the base of the horns, so one wobbled terribly against my head. I threw them out after the LARP. One of these days, I’ll try again.
The scales did not come out perfectly either, but I think they were more successful than the horns. I think most LARPers have heard of the fishnets technique; we all should try it at least once. It involves stretching fishnets over your face and dabbing makeup on over it, so that when you remove the fishnets, a scale-like pattern remains. (Here is a video of some makeup artists using it to create mermaid looks.) I tried dabbing the makeup on with my fingertip, which I think was a mistake. The surface of my fingertip is too small, so it’s easy to apply unevenly, and it can shift the netting slightly as you poke, which smudges the scaling.
But most of the scaling came out visible, which was nice. Most of the artists in tutorial videos on youtube use really big makeup brushes (or makeup sponges) with broad, flat surfaces, which is what I’ll try next time I use the fishnets technique. I hope I get cast as another character with scales soon!