A little over a week ago, I finally checked off one of the most important items on my LARP bucket list — LARP in a foreign country.
A little over a decade ago, some British LARPers were inspired by Intercon to run their own LARP convention, and thus Consequences was created. (Fun fact I learned while in England: it was named Consequences because it ran about nine months after another convention called Conception.) I finally made it to Consequences this year, where I played in six LARPs, but even better, I got to introduced to a new community and met lots of LARPers from the UK and all over Europe.
I was also lucky enough to get in a bit of sightseeing before and after the convention, which included the Tower of London (a favorite — all three times I’ve been to London, I went on the Yeoman Warder guided tour), St. Paul’s Cathedral, a walk through Piccadilly Circus and Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, three separate henges, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, and Oakley Manor, where some of The Rocky Horror Picture Show was filmed. (Some of these choices were influenced by my enjoyment of tv shows like The White Queen, The White Princess, The Crown, and especially The Tudors.) One major highlight was getting fish and chips with some friends from my year abroad, whom I hadn’t seen in years. I also had a particularly long layover in Paris on the way home, which provided enough time to see Notre Dame and walk a bit along the Seine.
Consequences runs at the Naish Holiday Village in Christchurch, a vacation spot on the southern coast. Con attendees rent some of the cabins, which proved to be quite nice two-or-three bedroom structures, each with a kitchen and living room, which lent themselves both to the late night party culture and created useful spaces for smaller LARPs.
Check-in was an ever-so-slightly overwhelming process, I suppose because I was meeting a lot people and trying to remember a lot of new names and faces and wasn’t 100% sure if I was hitting all of the check-in steps, let alone in the correct order. I think it was a good reminder of what it’s like to be new to a relatively small con, and is very useful to re-experience if one wants to work on making a convention newbie-friendly.
I think overall Consequences did an excellent job of making their convention newbie-friendly. When I registered as a first time attendee through the convention website, a staff member reached out to me and offered to assign me a con buddy; I was a little greedy and requested two. My buddies were both very helpful, answering questions over email about the con and making suggestions for shopping and packing, explaining the late night party culture, and helping me figure out an appropriate donation for the raffle. (I ended up making a Dr. Who themed tote bag.)
In addition to assigning buddies to newbies, there was also the Tea Party for new attendees. We gathered in one of the cabins, where we were able to meet some of the core staff of the convention in a more personal atmosphere. They introduced themselves, explained some aspects of the con, and answered questions. We also got to meet one another and find out which upcoming LARPs we had in common. It was really nice and very helpful; something other cons could take inspiration from.
I was originally tempted to try out the series of micro-LARPs that were available for walk-ins after the tea party, but I ended up at the trivia contest instead. I’ve always wanted to try a trivia night. (I joined the other Americans on Team Colonies.) Later that evening, I went to my first late night party in one of the cabins.
My schedule of LARPs wound up being three on Friday and three on Saturday, which is a bit denser than most long time attendees of Consequences would recommend. But it wasn’t too bad — I’m used to a dense schedule at Intercon, and a number of my LARPs were shorter than four hours (the typical length for a LARP at Intercon) and afforded breaks of several hours between them.
My first LARP of Consequences (thus my first LARP in a foreign country) was It’s Everybody’s War. I noticed a fair number of LARPs set during World War II on the schedule, and I thought that might mean this setting is a significant part of the Consequences culture, and as I was determined to take in as much of the Consequences culture as possible, I made sure to sign up for one of the World War II LARPs. (Specifically, I wanted one not set in any territory controlled by the Axis.)
As it turns out, World War II LARPs are not particularly common at Consequences and it was a bit of fluke this year, but I have no regrets signing up for this LARP. I really liked my character, an engineer temporarily back at her family’s farm while recovering from an injury sustained in a factory. In the weeks leading up to Consequences, I started watching and enjoying a BBC series called Land Girls to get a sense of the culture (and inspiration for my costume, which also had a little bit of Rosie the Riveter in it.)
I could easily tell a lot of research into this historical era and the efforts by Brits on the home front to do their part went into It’s Everybody’s War, though we were warned before the LARP started that we shouldn’t assume anything about our characters’ futures based on what we knew from history. (I actually learned a fair bit through prepping for this LARP, from reading the blue sheets, and also reading up on some unfamiliar terms on wikipedia.) I particularly liked the telegram mechanic, which punctuated the LARP with poignant, emotional moments as characters received updates about the war or information on loved ones in other parts of the country or other parts of Europe. I also really enjoyed the humorous and extremely well ad-libbed streams of speech from the LARPer playing a plucky evacuee trying to save the community’s pig.
On Saturday afternoon, I played in Noble Cause, a LARP set in the universe of the Dresden Files books. The books are modern urban fantasy with a heavy noir flavor. I read the first three books to prepare for the LARP. I can’t say I became a huge fan of the series (I hear the books get much better after the first few) but I do think it makes an excellent setting for LARP, and one definitely need not be fan or even familiar with the setting to enjoy Noble Cause, especially if you like the idea of magic and politicking at a fae masquerade, as the blue sheets explaining the setting are more than sufficient.
My character’s goals included convincing far more powerful magical factions to allow her underdog faction, the Paranet, to join the Accords. I got into a lot of political debates with dangerous supernatural beings but didn’t make much headway, and ended up being responsible for the results of a very dangerous ritual, though it only got her one out of the three required sponsors. No regrets though!
Since the LARP was set at a fae masquerade ball, so we were welcome to come dressed as our characters or as our characters costumed as anything other than themselves. I decided to try fawn makeup, since I’d long wanted to and this seemed like as good an opportunity as any. I combined it with a modern dress, as my character was among the most human of the guests.
On Saturday evening, I played in Pirates of Skull Cove, which is as it appears on the tin: a classic pirate LARP. I played Tenacious Dave Flint, a pirate captain known for being a clever bounty hunter and investigator, and spent much of the LARP trying to track down a few different stolen treasures (in exchange for a reasonable amount of gold, of course). I also made sure every pirate captain present had a ship and thus a vote in the election of a new chief for our guild, in between cheering on the candidates while they proved themselves through grog quaffing contests and bouts of fisticuffs. It was an evening of classic piratical adventures.
I probably shouldn’t have stayed up so late at another party on Friday evening, as I had three LARPs the next day (including one starting at 10am) but I didn’t want to miss out on this aspect of Consequences culture. The bar was also open an hour after the last games got out, so there was a nice bit of socializing in the main building between the LARPs and the cabin party.
My morning LARP on Saturday was Grasp for the Senate (listed as “Game which needs a new title set in a Galaxy Far Far Away” on the website). It was set at a political event for the election of a new senator on Alderaan, during a tense ceasefire between the Republic and the Sith Empire. I played a Sith apprentice, there to help my Sith master protect the empire’s interests and encourage the proper outcome for the election. I can never resist a LARP set in this franchise, and I’m always happy when I get to play a Force user character, especially of the padawan/apprentice variety. I didn’t manage to keep tabs on how the political activity in the LARP developed, as I was too busy with other plots, including an unlikely team up with one of the Jedi.
This was the LARP I spent the most time and effort on to costume. I wanted to update the costume I wore for Sith Lords. I used the same red and black ao dai, but made a new black pleated robe and red sash to go over it, using a pattern for Dr. Strange cosplay, with some minor tweaks. (A hood and an extra panel of pleating.) The pleating was a real struggle for me, and I came to regret my choice for the pattern, but I learned a fair amount from the process and the red sash covered the worst of the errors.
Surprisingly, the lightsaber (a cardboard tube with some foam and duct tape on it) aroused suspicion at airport security in Paris.
On Saturday afternoon, I played in Coffee with AlIce, a cyberpunk LARP. I was really happy to be cast as an AI. I liked how this LARP handled costuming, which was to first cast the players, then ask the members of each faction what they’d like their standard fashion to be. (Or, at least that’s how our faction did it, which is how we ended up with formal historical military looks… Threshold players would have recognized Sunday Zazou’s outfit there.)
I admit that the lack of sleep had gotten to me at this point, so I don’t think I quite managed to do my character justice. Gist 1.4 was supposed to be very Sherlock Holmes-like (their programmer was a murder mystery fan), but instead I defaulted to portrayal that was a lot like DEXEMBER (my AI character from Threshold) and failed to solve any mysteries. I did, however, enjoy the unique setting and had a very good time bonding with my fellow AIs and dreaming up what kind of physical bodies we’d like for someday operating outside of the Grid.
My last LARP of Consequences was After the Shadow. If you’ve ever heard LARP described as “Dungeons & Dragons, standing up,” this LARP actually fits that description, so it was a lot of fun for me as someone with a background in the classic fantasy tabletop RPG.
I played a dragonblooded cleric, which should have been my opportunity to try making dragon horns again after my first failed attempt, but I accidentally bought the wrong kind of clay and didn’t have time to replace it before my flight to England, so I borrowed a pair of horns and retried the fishnet scale makeup trick, which came out much better this time around. I also used colored contacts and random bits of costuming from other fantasy LARPs (Kingsword, Cottington Woods) to complete the costume.
There was a fair amount of debate going on about how to handle various conflicts and new laws from the political summit aspect of the LARP, and teams of adventurers going on mini dungeon crawls together (mechanically, mostly handled through narrative descriptions with the GM) that were fun, but I think my favorite part of the LARP was the conversation during downtime in which we learned about one another’s culture. I talked a lot about the religion of the old dragon gods, our unusual cold blooded biology, how we related to the modern diminished dragons, and the revival of some of our odder traditions (like consuming the bodies of our fallen enemies.) The LARP ended on a rather dramatic note that I did not see coming.
And then, more partying! I stayed up rather late in an extremely crowded cabin, discussing things like various blockbuster LARPs, the upcoming inaugural run of the weekend theater (or, as the Brits call it, “freeform”) LARP, Shogun.
On Sunday, I stuck around after closing ceremonies. There were about thirty con-goers who hung around after the con to play board games, which was a nice way to wind down and still be social. I learned two new games, Azul and Takenoko, and quite enjoyed them both.
So that was my first Consequences! I had a really wonderful time, enjoyed all of my LARPs and all of the non-LARPing activities, the parties and trivia night and board games, and found everyone to be very friendly and welcoming. I really, really hope I can return next year. In the meantime, I’m dealing with my post-con blues (and a bit of remaining jet lag) by picking out LARPs I’d like to run there next year if I can (Drink Me is the first that came to mind) and looking forward to Shogun, for which I’ll be returning to England in February. I can’t wait!