My annual retrospective on my life in LARP.
A look back on 2018…
LARP Count This year, I’ve PCed, NPCed, GMed, or aGMed 46 LARPs (which is one shy of the personal record I set last year at 47.) My first LARP event of the year was Time Bubble. I played a weekend long theater LARP in the UK towards the beginning of the year, then returned towards the end of the year for Consequences. I took a road trip to New Jersey for two LARPs, flew to Chicago for a new convention, played another weekend long in New York, played a LARP over video chat, and PCed and NPCed in two one-shot live combat weekend LARPs.
Events The LARP conventions I attended this year included Dice Bubble, Intercon, Festival of the LARPs, Summer LARPin’, Little Boffer Con, Be-Con, Time Bubble, and Consequences. (That’s four different states, two different countries!) But even cooler, I attended four different conferences dedicated to discussing creating, running, and playing LARPs — the Living Games Conference, NELCO, TheoryCon, and the PreCon programming at Intercon. (If I tallied up the numbers, I suspect I’d find that I broke a personal record on number of talks, panels, presentations, and workshops attended in one year.)
Campaigns This was the second year of Threshold, the cyberpunk LARP in which I play a chipper Artificial Intelligence. I also attended my first event of After Dark, though sadly, that was my only event of After Dark so far, so I can’t really say I’ve been PCing that LARP. (Sadly, I didn’t manage to NPC any campaign events this year, though I did NPC a few one-shots.)
Contributions In 2018, I continued to serve on the NEIL board, and I served on both Proposal Com for Intercon S, and on Bid Com for Lucky Consequences (the boards that review proposals/bids for LARPs at the conventions). I’ve also been an editor for Game Wrap (NEIL’s publication on the art and craft of LARP.) I chaired NELCO 2018 and helped bring about the first Little Boffer Con (though I made some mistakes for NELCO, so I consider it less of a contribution that it sounds like.) I did some Housing Coordination for the Living Games Conference, and did a little volunteering during the Week in Boston events. I also ran a few of the discussions at PreCon and NELCO.
It’s funny, I consider GMing to be one of the biggest ways people can contribute to LARPing communities, and yet I realize in previous years, I haven’t mentioned GMing here, possibly because I associate GMing with writing, and I do essentially no writing. So I’m going to mention it here — I aGMed two LARPs at Intercon, ran Drink Me at Living Games (and some of the players had never LARPed before!), and then aGMed and GMed two LARPs at Consequences. (In all honesty, though it sounds cheesy, GMing at Consequences and hearing how much the players enjoyed the experience and feeling like I contributed to their weekends was probably my highlight of Consequences.)
Travel/Other Communities As mentioned above, I made it back to the UK for LARPing — twice! — and, I like to think, strengthened my connections with that community. I also met some LARPers from the Midwest at Be-Con.
At some point this year, I had a revelation: I realized that I felt very much like part of a bridge between various LARPing communities — between the boffer and theater communities, between the New York and Massachusetts communities, between the US and the UK communities, between the New World Magischola and Intercon communities (and possibly the Be-Epic community?)… but not actually a member of any of them. There was something slightly melancholy about this realization… but I’m also very proud of being a bridge. And that’s something I want to focus on — helping different LARPing communities connect, if I can. (Someone once phrased this as being conduit, or a catalyst for LARP styles and communities blending… I like those terms, too.)
Blogging Well, I entirely failed at my resolution to beat my number of posts from last year (29). My number of posts continues to decline from my first year of really blogging (2012, when I wrote 107 blog posts… I’m not even sure how I managed that)… but I did hit the readjusted version of this goal… 24 posts, or an average of two per month.
On the plus side, this means actually achieving my resolution of reversing the decline in posts per year got a little easier for 2019! But more importantly, my number of visitors per post and views per post is still rising, which is nice. I think this blog continues to be an important part of being that bridge/conduit/catalyst I talked about, and I suspect it played a role in me being asked to join Consequences’ Bid Com, and possibly other some other opportunities that popped up… so I’m still proud of this blog and inspired to keep going.
My LARP-centric twitter account passed 500 followers this year, which I guess is kinda cool? And my Instagram account… continues to exist. I tried the drawing challenge Inktober this year, and focused on a LARP and cosplay theme… which was an interesting experience I will probably post about when I actually finish it. Looking over the sources of my hits, though, makes me think I should be making better use of twitter, and Instagram… and Reddit. I really hate engaging in self-promotion, but if I consider this blog a part of acting as a bridge between communities, and if I mean it when I say being a bridge is important and meaningful to me… then maybe I should follow through.
Costuming and Other LARP-related Art Projects I’ve been lax recently about sewing, but the first half of my year was pretty busy with sewing and other creative projects. I tried new patterns, used unfamiliar fabrics, and tried some new tutorials. There were several pieces for a friend’s Shogun costuming, a skirt for Slayer Cake, a new dress for Dreamlands, a scuba knit hoodie for Rabbit Run, a beholder hood for Dungeon Owners Association, and a bunch of Pokémon costuming for Pocket Monsters, not to mention a couple of large geeky tote bags as prizes for the Bubbles’ raffle and the Consequences charity raffle.
Of these, I’d say I’m most proud of the beholder hood and the Sandshrew costume — both took a lot of time and effort and involved getting creative with unfamiliar materials, and the end results made me feel proud.
And while the sewing for Slayer Cake was a just a simple circle skirt, and I did no crafting at all for my 1920s look for Thicker Than Water, those were two of the costumes I really enjoyed wearing the most. Thicker Than Water was the first time I ever got my hair and makeup done professionally for a LARP, which was an item on my LARP bucket list.
2017 Resolutions As mentioned, I missed my blog post goal (…I notice there’s a distinct pattern of me saying that in my retrospective posts) and I failed to put a lot of my experiences from PreCon/NELCO/Living Games conversations into my blog. (I think I did slightly better on that than last year, though.) I pushed off my resolution to move all of my old photos off of Photobucket when they allowed third party hosting again… but I should get back on that, because who knows if that’ll change again. I also failed at getting back into boffer practice, and I know I missed a few PELs for Threshold. I think I thanked most of my GMs after LARPs, but there is a chance I missed one or two.
But! I did keep up dance practice, I did try new patterns and worked on my sewing and other costuming skills, I did jump on opportunities to connect with different LARP communities, and I did contribute to the various conferences. (I even helped a random new LARPer who found me over the internet join a LARP community during his post-high school year abroad.)
…And a look forward into 2019.
My 2019 already has a bunch of LARPs scheduled, including trip to NY/NJ for a weekend of small one-shot theater LARPs in January. I’ve got a full schedule for Intercon, which includes a presentation for Forum@Intercon, aGMing one or two LARPs, and a bunch of games I’m really excited to play. I’ve got costuming in the works for myself and another LARPer for Intercon, plus some set dressing projects. I’ve signed up to play A Wicked Wind, a one-shot weekend boffer LARP about pirates and musketeers on the high seas. It’s running this summer, and I’m particularly excited about it, as I missed the first run in order to play Pocket Monsters, and I had thought there was a real chance it wouldn’t run again. (And I just love swashbuckling LARPs!)
This will be the concluding year of Threshold, which promises to be rather dramatic. Not sure yet what campaigns might replace it for me. Maybe I’ll manage to get After Dark back into my schedule, maybe I’ll give Thaumatrope a try. I’m hoping to do some NPCing, some combination of Invictus 2, Madrigal 3, Shadowvale, Crossover, Hellcat Jive, Cottington Woods… maybe one of the Be Epic LARPs? We’re so spoiled for choices in New England.
I’ve still got some lingering post-con blues from Consequences… here’s hoping I’ll be back in 2019.
As for Resolutions… I read over my resolutions from all my past New Year’s posts, and I think I need to approach them a bit differently this year. Rather than just listing a bunch of stuff I’d like to do, regardless of whether I’m certainly going to, or almost certainly not… I’ll try focusing on things that I’m actually more likely to do if they are mentally framed as resolutions. This means tweaking the ones I check off every year to be a bit more difficult, and tweaking the ones I don’t to be a bit easier.
I’m renewing my resolutions to thank GMs post-LARPs. (Framing this as a resolution pushed me to email some Consequences GMs even after a bit of time had passed.) I’m also resolving to get my PELs done, even if they’re short and rushed. I’m expanding this to include “respond to all requests for feedback from writers.”
I’m renewing my resolution to keep working on my costuming and sewing skills — but in particular, to try to improve my hair and makeup skills. Even if this means just attempting a few tutorials on YouTube.
For blogging, I’m resolving to at least match the number of posts I wrote this year, and to at least write a short summary post of any conferences I attend (even if I don’t go into detail about all of the topics.) Forum@Intercon, NELCO, TheoryCon (this is the year off for Living Games)… they’re important and deserve to have some form of record of their occurrence.
I’m also resolving to plug my blog… a minimum of three times, even if it’s just in tweets.
And lastly, I’m going to finish my article on registration systems for LARP events, which is almost certainly too late for Game Wrap Volume 3, but not too early for Game Wrap Volume 4.
If anyone has any LARP related resolutions of their own, or just exciting LARP plans for 2019, feel free to share in the comments!
Here’s to all the LARP in 2018, and all the LARP yet to come in the new year!
May your spell packets fly true; may your enemies’ packets feed birds. May your bubbles of combat last no longer than bubbles of soap. May your contingency envelopes surprise you, may your costuming last until the final Game Off call. And may your characters go through the resurrection mechanic a full half hour before the lead GM knows they’re dead.