Festival of the LARPs 2018, Part II

Picking up where I left off

On Saturday of Festival of the LARPs 2018, I played three LARPs, Snowrise, Aether, and Aes Sidhe.

Snowrise first ran at Intercon R, and when I first saw the description, I was intrigued. Can’t say I’d yet played a LARP in the genre of Sumerian mythpunk. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I knew I wanted to find out, so I jumped at the chance to play at Festival.

I would say it felt a lot like cyberpunk with a heavy dose of Sumerian mythology in the cast. It’s set in a virtual reality chat room, with all of the characters existing in the form of avatars. Many of the characters are hackers or programmers or wealthy shareholders in tech companies… or else appear to be Sumerian gods wandering about it virtual reality.

I don’t want to say too much about my own character for spoiler reasons, but I loved my role. It’s one of those roles that knowing what I know after the LARP concluded, I would have picked that casting for myself. There was a lot going on in the LARP that I never quite got a handle on, but I had a lot of good role playing moments with the characters my character wanted to protect, and had some unexpected good moments with others who turned out to have surprising connections to them. I feel like I could play again (perhaps as one of the gods?) without spoilers being too much of an issue.

I do wish I had done a bit more for costuming — even though as online avatars, there was really no wrong way to approach it. Some players went very cyberpunk, others more historic. (I went for very plain black, with pink eyes and an Egyptian beaded collar that I thought resembled a Sumerian necklace I saw online.)

One thing I particularly liked about this LARP was its take on technology interacting with mythology. A lot of LARPs play with the theme of the progress of science, technology, and reason contributing the downfall/destruction/fading of the fantastical and mythological elements of the world (in fact, that was a major theme of my evening LARP, Aes Sidhe) but in Snowrise, the rise of powerful virtual technologies and humans reaching their innovative potentials was what allowed mythology to return (but with humans on more equal footing with gods.)

My second LARP of the day was Aether. I was pretty happy to see a boffer LARP on the schedule, which indicates a form of variety that most of the other small LARP conventions (such as Dice Bubble, Time Bubble, and SLAW) haven’t dabbled in yet, and it’s nice to see the excess of space and spring weather that Festival usually boasts put to good use.

We were invited to create our own characters, so I chose the humanoid feline race for the costuming opportunity it presented (I wore tiger ears, a tiger tail and a generic sort of animal snout), and the brawler class because it had an ability that intrigued me — hits to the lower arms and lower legs didn’t count. The system is a hit point base homebrew system (I believe this was the second event run using this system) and it bears a fair amount of similarity to the Accelerant boffer system I’m used to. This meant it wasn’t too hard for me to get into the swing of things, but I also frequently made mistakes such as confusing the meaning of “Maim.” (“Maim” means simply extra damage in Aether, though in Accelerant it means loss of the use of the targeted limb, which tripped me up a number of times.)

The premise/plot was classic urban fantasy — in a modern setting, a rash of mysterious occurrences, including some murders, have lead a local law enforcement official to pull together a temporary militia to get to the bottom of the problems and deal with them. We fought cultists and wild animals affected by a strange necromantic goo, investigated various crime scenes, and eventually tracked the problems to their source, where we prevented a dangerous ritual for a forgotten evil god from going off. Reaching the ritual involved solving a series of puzzles and bypassing some traps in classic dungeon crawl fashion. My character mostly wanted to hit things and make cat puns.

We had the entire first floor of one of the academic buildings, along with the surrounding area outside, and we moved between them for different scenes. At one point, when we were outside, I spotted someone (likely a student) standing nearby and aiming their phone’s camera lens at us. Normally, I’m not embarrassed to be seen LARPing in public, but I was acutely aware that our small group with a casual blend of urban and fantasy costuming looked a little silly, especially me with my tiger tail, ears, and snout. So I stared pointedly at the person until they sort of guiltily put the phone away and walked off. (I like to think they slunk off.) In retrospect, I wish I had actually asked them not to take photos (or maybe video?) without permission and maybe even asked them to delete what they already had. Dwelling on this and regretting not being more direct distracted me for a while.

My last LARP of Festival 2018 was Aes Sidhe, another LARP that ran at Intercon R that I was disappointed to miss. (There was a last minute drop I nearly filled, too.) Aes Sidhe is about a conclave of fae meeting to figure out if and how to adapt to the modern world with its decreasing belief diminishing the fae.

I played a member of the Seelie court, Laethe the Leanan sidhe, a type of fairy known for inspiring their human lovers to great accomplishments, consuming their creative energy, and shortening their lives. (One part muse, one part succubus, one part vampire.) For costuming, I decided to take inspiration from the muse element of the character, and wore the light blue chiton, leafy wreath, and white lacy sash that I used for Orgia. (The look was more Greek than Celtic, but I like to think it was sufficiently fae-ish to work.) I also tied a blue sash around my face to hide my character’s scar, acquired from an attack with cold iron.

Going into the LARP, I rather thought my character’s role was primarily about being a victim, and a generic supporter of the Seelie court, but my story line through the LARP took some very unexpected turns, involved various forms of betrayal, and came to a very dramatic climax and conclusion. It was probably one of the best romance plotlines I’ve ever played in a LARP, which started out as bitter resentment and became increasingly complex, until Leathe got caught on the wrong side of a combat, thanks to a delightfully foolish sacrifice of her True Name that she made in vain attempt to protect some of her dearest friends. (These kind of bad deals and interacting with fae magic like True Names and unbreakable bargains and being unable to directly lie is the stuff I’m hoping for when I sign up for fae-themed LARPs.)

The drama was reflected in my makeup and costuming, as the scar on my character’s face got healed, then recreated when Leathe slashed her own face in response to betrayal, then later was healed again. I was very happy I took the time to put in different colored contacts (pink for a uninjured eye, black for an eye damaged by cold iron); I thought it had a nice effect when I gave other characters a peak at what was beneath the blue sash.

 


But my costuming, while functional, didn’t compare to most of the other costuming in this LARP. Like Thicker Than Water, the cast was extremely well dressed (and the set dressing, with lots of fake plants and Celtic wall hangings, was also really nice.) Mab had a dramatic and sparkly dress, snowflake cape, and large wings, the Great Spriggan had a really amazing tree costume with a tall headdress of branches (and a tiny bird’s nest with an egg), a fetch character had really nice wooden doll makeup, a brownie had tech cleverly integrated into their look, the lord of death looked dramatic in a tux, with antlers emerging from a blindfold… and there were lots of other great makeup jobs and outfits besides.


Sunday I had a tabletop game scheduled, so that was the last of my Festival this year (though I’ve heard good things about the LARPs that ran on Sunday.)

 

Ok, back to work on the Shogun post…

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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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