On Saturday at Intercon R, I ended up NPCing in three different boffer LARPs: Bound in Blood, Stop That Moon! and Rabbit Run.
Bound in Blood is a new boffer LARP that ran in the morning slot. I put myself on the wait-list just on the off-chance there were some drops and last minute no-shows, but I fully expected to NPC it. The GMs were ok with me sleeping in a bit, then showing up to crunch (read: play nameless mooks for the PCs to fight) about half way through.
I avoided learning too much about what was going on so that I can still PC this LARP in a future run. So unfortunately I can’t say much more about it in this blog post other than there was a lot of nice fantasy costuming on the PC side, some nifty tabards on the NPC side, the LARP will appeal to high fantasy fans, and PCs can expect to fight some cultists.
Stop That Moon! is a superhero themed LARP featuring a cast of sidekicks on their own on a mission for the first time. It first ran at Intercon O, where I played Mach III, a speedster superhero, so this was the one boffer LARP at Intercon R where I didn’t feel I should be trying to avoid spoilers. I played mostly crunchy robots who made “ERROR” noises when struck, and a villain who had somehow escaped after being captured at the Intercon Q run of Stop That Moon!
To be more precise, Stop That Moon! is a series of LARPs, each with the same underlying skeleton (the PCs face a series of challenges, the mechanical structurew of which doesn’t change from year to year), but the characters are written anew for each new cast of players, the setting changes a bit (this year, it reflected Intercon’s theme), and there’s some amount of continuity building going on; some of the characters represent the offspring or predecessors, of characters in previous runs. (There’s often some sort of time travel shenanigans going on, so sometimes figuring out the proper tense when writing about Stop That Moon! can be difficult.) The writers clearly have a lot of love for the superhero genre.
Intercon seems to have become a venue for long-time theater fans trying out boffer LARPs for the first time, and Stop That Moon! has been a large part of that. Each run, including this year, has had a number of newbies, and as far as I can tell, they really enjoy themselves. I know of a number who have opted into trying other boffer LARPs at Intercon after playing, and some have even gone on to play boffer campaigns.
Also, worth mentioning, in the first run, when I PCed, one of the players was pregnant and the writers worked with her to create a character and adjusted the mechanics who would be involved in the mission while still being non-combat. In this latest run, a player using a wheelchair played a similarly non-combatant role.
Additionally, I feel compelled to mention this LARP involved superheroes fighting dinosaurs. Any excuse to use those bizarre inflatable costumes (which I have fought both in Threshold and danced with at a previous Intercon dance) is a good excuse to me. I’m just waiting for my turn to NPC in one.
My last boffer LARP of the day (but not my last of the weekend, which would be Breadcrumbs on Sunday) was Rabbit Run. Rabbit Run has been running at Intercon since Intercon N, where I NPCed the first run. It has developed something of a cult following since then — I frequently see threads on social media and overhear conversations at parties where players gush over this LARP and its emotional intensity. It has inspired a large collection of fan fiction, and I’ve seen at least one conversation where people discussed creating an online forum where players from different runs can gather to talk about their experiences without worrying about spoiling prospective players. I don’t know of any other four hour one-shot with this kind of response.
Needless to say, as I mostly avoided spoilers when I NPCed the first run, I’ve been hoping to play for five years — but this LARP tends to fill within literally a second after the first round opens, so it’s difficult to get a slot. But I’ve also specifically been hoping to PC with a friend of mine, since this LARP is notorious for moving players to tears, and being moved to tears is a goal of mine in LARPing. (Haven’t managed it yet.) I thought playing with someone familiar with my RP style, who is comfortable pushing my buttons, might make a difference. In fact, last year, I got in to Rabbit Run, but my friend ended up on the waitlist, so I dropped so that we could try again next year.
This year, a few minutes before first round of sign ups was supposed to open, sign ups got opened accidentally for a short period of time, and a bunch of people starting signing up before staff realized and closed it again. By that time, Rabbit Run had half filled, and I ended up on the waitlist, though my friend got in. I sat for months as number one on the waitlist. My friend offered to drop so we could try again next year, but I decided to chance it. I’ve had extremely good luck with waitlists thus far — in fact, I’d never been on a waitlist for Intercon before and not gotten into the LARP. It seemed like a low risk.
Well, there’s a first time for everything, I suppose. I’d been compulsively checking the website since that first round in November, hoping to see a drop, and never did. I even planned and packed a costume that was generic enough to suit a number of roles in the setting just in case there was a last minute no-show. I confess I went into Intercon a tiny bit bitter and mopey over this. (I was also first on the waitlist for another LARP, A Winters’ Ball, which certainly didn’t alleviate my feelings for various reasons, including watching several males below me on the waitlist get into the LARP ahead of me… but that’s another story and the issues involved will likely be rendered moot by the introduction of Intercode 2.)
But there wasn’t anything else in the Saturday evening timeslot I was particularly keen to play (that had room/last minute drops, anyway) and I still wanted to contribute to the experience of the various new-to-boffer players who were playing Rabbit Run, so I NPCed again. I played a lot of dangerous robots over that weekend. (Additionally, for the first scene in the LARP, there were only five combat NPCs available, six including me.)
Rabbit Run, being much darker LARP than any of the other one-shot boffers I’ve seen run at Intercon, with a much more brutal setting and premise, has more intense fighting than, say, Stop That Moon! or Bound in Blood. (Although I can’t say that with a high degree of certainty about Bound in Blood, which had PCs with a lot more boffer combat experience, so it’s very difficult to compare.) It also seemed like an unusually high percentage of the PCs were completely new to boffer fighting (or damn near close)… whereas the NPCs were all regular boffer LARPers.
The result was that it felt to me like most of the fights seemed pretty brutal to the PCs, with them frequently getting divided up or backed into a corner too tightly to properly defend themselves or get out of the way, or some grueling combination of both. I worried we were being too harsh on them, possibly to the point where it was having a negative effect on the fun — I think it’s difficult to fully grasp the system initially, and doubly so if your first fights are intense, and I could see this effect in the combat. But I checked in multiple times with the primary GMs in Monster Camp, who seemed to think it wasn’t excessive. Post-LARP, plenty of the PCs were gushing over their intense emotional experience, in person and then later online, so I guess it was right to trust the GMs. I hope my crunchy robots contributed to their enjoyment. (I will say I think this run of Rabbit Run may have the dubious distinction of the highest body count at the end.)
Amusingly, in the first run of Rabbit Run, the PCs had to take down a robot, then trace them with masking tape, and they traded another robot for me, while noting I was smaller and therefore would be faster to trace. It happened again during this run… but then I was discarded in favor of an even smaller NPC.
Sometime after Rabbit Run, I went to join the dance, which was well attended this year. It’s always nice to the dance floor full, because it’s one of the public events where people can go post-LARP; otherwise, everyone would vanish into suite parties, and that can make the con seem a bit empty to newbies who might not know how to find the parties. (I also appreciated the publicly announced pajama party and Alleged Entertainment party the night before for this reason.)
Speaking of non-LARP content, we also had one of those games where posters with QR codes that kick off a series of puzzles are scattered around the con space, and any attendee can try to solve them to win a prize. It was created by Evil Overlord Games as a tie in with Sussurus: Season of Tides. I thought it was a really cool thing for Intercon to boast. I wanted to attempt it, but ran out of time. I hope they do it again next year.
I had an excellent time on the dance floor (adding some more wear and tear on my poor leg muscles before my last boffer LARP the next day), I went to attend a party in the basement and later hung out in one of the suites until the wee hours of the morn.
One thing I noticed throughout Saturday was a number of people commenting that it already felt like a full con had gone by, as a fair number of attendees had begun participating in LARPs as early as Thursday evening, and continued playing all day Friday. By Saturday evening, I had PCed, NPCed, and aGMed six LARPs (not to mention the three discussions/panels and NPCing an extra final fight) which is already a very full schedule by any normal account. I’m quite glad to see Intercon expanding early into Thursday and later through Sunday — more LARP is best LARP.