My annual retrospective on my life in LARP.
A look back at 2017…
LARP Count According to my LARP List, I PCed, NPCed, and aGMed 47 LARPs this past year… which means I unintentionally set a new record. (It was previously 44, in 2015.) My year opened with a LARP at Arisia (a Boston geek con), there were road trips to NY and NJ, and I played a weekend long theater LARP about superheroes during the Renaissance. I even tried LARPing over video chat. I think playing Kingsword at Festival of the LARPs has been one of my best theater LARP experiences to date.
Events I attended six LARP cons over 2016 (which helps explain the record breaking): Dice Bubble, Intercon, Festival of the LARPs, Summer LARPin’, Time Bubble, and Consequences. I also attended NELCO (New England LARP Conference) 2017. The Winter’s Revel, an event put on by Incantrix Productions, may or may not have technically been a LARP, but it was a lovely evening of fairy politics and dancing and puzzles (and raising money for charity), and is definitely worth mentioning. I hope there will be more opportunities for Revels in the future.
Campaigns Fifth Gate, the LARP in which I played Sabri/Cricket came to an end in 2016. I also PCed Threshold as DEXEMBER, or DEX, an AI. And I reprised my character Quill for one more event set in the Cottington Woods (one of a series dubbed, “Tales of the Cotting House”.) I also played one more event in New World Magischola, though I’m not quite sure I classify it as a campaign; I’d probably label it a series. I’ve been NPCing for Madrigal 3, and I also NPCed the After Dark playtest. (I missed the first After Dark weekend event, but I am still hoping to give After Dark a try as a PC in 2018.)
Contributions I continued to serve as a board member of NEIL and as a member of Intercon’s proposal committee. I helped staff NELCO, served as the coordinator of Festival of the LARPs, and was an editor for Game Wrap Volume 2 (yes, it’s coming out soon!) I’ve also volunteered as Housing Coordinator for the Living Games Conference. Early in the year, I created a series of banners for Kingsword, representing the royal and knightly heraldry of various characters in the LARP (along with painting a few other props.)
Additionally, I wrote and ran Cry Havoc and Let Slips the Elves of Yule, which I hesitate to call a LARP for two reasons — it’s more of a long, complex module than a full LARP (though I did write characters, a history, and a plot line), but more importantly, the run was just so chaotic, and I’m not sure it actually accomplished what I intended it to. I wanted to enable the players to get a feel for what a typical boffer experience is like, and to learn the basics of the Accelerant system. I think if I could polish up the structure (for example, instead of having all of the challenges at once, set it so that the players can focus on one at a time) I might call it a LARP.
Travel/Other Communities I finally ticked off a big item on my bucket list — LARP in another country! I went to Consequences in England this past November, had a complete blast, and met lots of LARPers from all over Europe. Additionally, I traveled to Virginia for Magischola, Pennsylvania for Under the Mask, and made several road trips to NY and NJ. It was a good year for travel and connecting with new communities.
Blogging Once again, I missed my goal of increasing my number of posts from last year. I tried to do a bit of a push over December, but sadly my laptop crashed, so I missed my goal by one post. I also failed to get into the backlog of PreCon and NELCO panel/discussion posts, which bugs me because I believe NELCO and PreCon are important and warrant being recorded and shared. My twitter and instagram accounts continue to gain followers, though the latter is mostly just a bit of visual interest for the blog, and the former… I could probably be using for promotion of the blog more, but I just hate self-promotion.
Much to my surprise, the blog post that garnered the most attention and response was my recent post about nametags, which I thought was just a tiny topic I dashed off to try and help meet my self-imposed yearly post quota. I figured everyone who prefers to use nametags already knew everything I had to say, and everyone who didn’t wouldn’t bother reading it. But I was way off. There were people who found the topic useful, and others who had a surprisingly impassioned negative response. But the primary reason I started this blog was to kick off interesting discussion about LARP, so all of the responses were a pleasant surprise, and also reminder to do more posts about LARP in general, and not just posts about the individual events I attend. (And not to assume I know which topics are worthwhile.)
I still feel surprised and get a kick out of people, friends or strangers, mentioning that they’ve read my blog.
Costuming and Other LARP Related Art Projects The largest projects of this year included my outfit for the Fifth Gate masquerade ball, my costume for playing Olwen, the daughter of the giant king, Ysbaddaden, for Kingsword, and my Sith costume for Grasp for the Senate.
The cream colored top for the Fifth Gate masquerade was a hot mess, but the skirt came out beautifully and it was the project through which I learned to install zippers. (Thank you, lisefrac!) My costume for Kingsword was inspired by a Scottish doll I found online; I developed an interest in Scottish culture through this LARP and a love for tartan in particular. My Sith costume involved a lot of pleating, which proved very difficult for me. The end result is flawed, but I still enjoy wearing it and I learned a lot about pleating through this project.
(I also made my fifth pair of hakama pants this year.)
My other major sewing project for LARPs this year was finishing the set of banners for Kingsword. Simple in structure — long strips of fabric with velcro loops and iron-on charges, though it was a time consuming process. I’m proud of this project; I think they add a really nice touch to the Arthurian atmosphere of the LARP.
I also made a set of prank banners for New World Magischola (a Harry Potter inspired LARP,) copying their house crests into a cartoonish style (complete with famous cartoons replacing their mascots) with fabric markers onto large pieces of muslin. I went sneaking through the house common rooms at night, covering their banners with the silly versions. They caused quite a stir, and I received a lot of compliments after the LARP. I’m quite proud of this prank.
I worked a bit on my costume makeup skills this year. I tried the fishnets makeup scale trick (and improved on it for my second attempt) along with fawn makeup, and experimented with bright weird colors and unusual styles for LARPs like Threshold, Fifth Gate, and a few theater LARPs.
I had a number of failed projects this year — dragon horns which I threw out after one use (and considering my costuming hoarding tendencies, that’s really saying something), and two hoodies for Threshold that function, but I’d really like to remake. But I did learn something about sculpting with polymer clay and sewing with fleece and knit fabrics thanks to these projects.
2017 Resolutions As mentioned above, I fell one post shy of my number of posts written last year and failed to write about NELCO panels. I did get to one boffer practice in Boston Common with a local Dagorhir group, though I do wish I had made it to a few more. I learned a few new things about sewing and makeup this year. I like to think contributed to the local community through things like the NEIL board, Intercon volunteering, Game Wrap, and Festival. (And GMing and aGMing a few times, which is rare for me, including writing and running Cry Havoc.) I believe I got in my PELs on time (with maybe one exception) and thanked my GMs after LARPs, whether through emails, post event feedback requests, or PELs. But best of all, I made it to the UK for Consequences.
And a look forward into 2018…
2018 is already shaping up to be a busy year. I have a bit of breathing space in January (other than our NEIL board meeting to elect Intercon S’s con chair). I’ll be spending the month finishing up some costuming projects and a new banner for the next run of Kingsword. But then February kicks into high gear with Dice Bubble (which I hear has some exciting changes underway), a Threshold event, Shogun (a weekend long theater LARP set in 17th century Japan), and then Intercon R!
The rest of the year, I’ll be PCing Threshold, and I’m hoping to try After Dark, and then there’s Hellcat Jive starting in the fall… Haven’t yet had the opportunity to play a dieselpunk LARP, and I already have a character concept brewing, inspired in part by Commander Frankie Cook from Skycaptain and the World of Tomorrow.
There’s also a Pokemon based comedic horror LARP running this summer called Pocket Monsters: The Hunted, and as a long time Pokemon fan (and current avid Pokemon Go player) I am extremely excited. I’m having a hard time figuring out which pokemon to play. I spend a lot of time daydreaming about the costuming possibilities.
I’m also looking forward to helping out with NELCO, Festival of the LARPs, and the Living Games Conference (and Intercon S, of course). Haven’t yet decided if I’ll run for NEIL board again.
2018 Resolutions I’m renewing my resolution to increase my number of blog posts, get stuff written about past NELCOs and PreCons, and again, to write more posts about general LARP topics, not just descriptions of events I’ve attended.
Also, sadly, this past year, Photobucket, where I used to store my photos for this blog, decided to no longer allow 3rd party hosting. This is why, if you’ve been looking over old posts recently, you may have seen my images replaced with that hideous photobucket “please update your account” ad. I’ve started downloading and then re-uploading images to WordPress, and then editing my old posts, but it’s a very slow, tedious process (in part because Photobucket’s website has become miserably bogged down with pop-up ads — it’s practically obscene. I finally had to install an ad-blocker just to be able to use the website.) One of my resolutions for this year is fix my old blog posts that have images that used to be hosted on Photobucket.
I’m also renewing my resolution about continuing to work on and improve my costuming/set dressing/prop making skills, and to try at least one pattern that I find challenging. (Since all sewing skills end up relevant to LARPing for me, I will consider it valid if my sewing skills advance through non-LARP related things, like cosplay.) And similarly, I want to keep up my streak of timely PELs and thanking GMs. I’d like to keep up dance practice, but more importantly, get back to boffer practice. Maybe arrange a few gatherings in the park when the weather warms up again. And I’d like to continue to contribute to the LARPing community in other ways. Perhaps if an opportunity to run it appears, polish Cry Havoc into a real LARP and run it again. And when the opportunity to travel for LARPing and connect with new communities appears, I resolve to take it.
So, how about you? Any resolutions for LARPing in 2018? Any exciting LARP plans for the new year?
(I’m going to reuse an old toast because I found it in an old New Years post and it still makes me laugh.)
Here’s to 2018 being fun of LARP! May your spell packets fly true, may your contingency envelopes contain shocking revelations. And may your character go through the resurrection mechanic a full half hour before the lead GM knows you’re dead.