Union is a linear system. One weekend a year it braves a full weekend long event. Me and the other two gents who make up the head ref team have been working on it for months but ceaselessly over the last week.
Before I left to site I had a post in mind. Something catchy. ‘We are the three soldiers. We are every mastermind you’ve ever faced. Every trap you’ve ever triggered. Every ward in your way. We are the friends you make and foes you vanquish.’
This weekend could not have proven me more wrong.
We put our hearts, souls and mind into writing linears. Documents that tell people how to act and where to stand. However, there are agents beyond our documents. There are living and breathing people who fill out every roll. People that frequently took my writing to a place better than it had any right to be.
So: to the Prince of Sirens and his conniving servants, to Judge Farsight and her eerie ways, to the cackling eyeless in the night, to the trolls that lumbered and the lurking Monks of Whispers, to Lucky – may she rest in peace – to the Scorned themselves, to our monsters in all your roles. Thank you.
Moreover, our players breathed life into our world. They struggled, thought and dared this weekend. And, driving home, I was blinded by the Sun and I got to think of what they’d achieved. Light Bringers – you magnificent band.
So: the most important lesson I learned writing and running a weekend with two dear friends? We are not just three soldiers. We’re an army. As players, monsters, logistics, caterers, committee and refs we are a Union. And we’re a damn fine one.
To everyone who helped and attended our weekend: thank you. We hope you had an excellent time.
At your finger tips you have a world of dragons. You have the ultimate sand box. Somewhere safe where we can come to. Where swords and wizard robes are allowed. Where we can be kids and run away from it all.
You can have villains and they can be bad. They can be awful. They can hurt us and hurt out friends and they can steal what we love.
But when bringing them to life: take care with us. We are here to run away, after all.
The ways they hurt us should be with foam swords and trixy acts. They should make victory hard and make us angry. Sometimes you stray off this path. You bring them just that touch too close to our lives – our real ones. A death of a father, a disorder or fear, an expression of worthlessness, an observance of failure.
Victories cost you very little to give us. Sometimes we need them.
So we have a mission statement for our home Larp: everything on the stage. The idea that anything important should happen in uptime. For the L in Live to mean anything everyone should have to react to the best moment on that stage. No preparing yourself for the news the army has destroyed your home. Only panic, action and reaction.
There are limits to this. Certain things we prefer prepared – mainly rituals and, if you know you’re going to have to give it, a good speech. On the most part this rule governs anything that should be an emotional reaction – those explosive moments that define and mould a character.
So, to another world now: a tale from Outcast LRP. The ex-Baroness of Solaria (the realm of Knights and gallantry who are loyal worshipers of God of the Sun and winds, Sol) has a pair of demon tainted twins (in a world where demons are indisputably bad news). A savage monster broke the lines and managed to bludgeon a child (they’re plastic dolls, don’t panic). They were magically healed and, because of the way the Gods love children in this system, the spirit of the land ruled the kid was healed. Excellent, if you ask me. Canonically it made sense and there is still the opportunity to mess about with the fun of SHE GAVE BIRTH TO DEMONS.
In Downtime in Outcast you can submit a written action to the story team. These are useful for staging off screen wars which you would be unable to physically represent. Unfortunately in downtime the refs of the world decided the Babe would die of brain damage. The player appealed against this. Thankfully, in my opinion, the refs did overturn this initial call. I like this for many reasons. Largely because it makes sense but also hugely because I had a monster role coming up at the next event and an opportunity to make this much more interesting…
The Child of Sol, a child foretold to be great bastion of the Gods on earth, had been captured and was due to be wed to a demon. The heroes busted her out and fought Gwethyr, the demonic fiancee, to a bloody standstill. When back at camp it turned out the Child of Sol was tainted with demon magic now as well. Any attempts to remove it drew out the worst in her and it seemed that, despite being in a wedding dress, she was not out of fight just yet. Her insanity seemed to increase over time and as it peaked her fiance burst back through the nearest gate to our heroes and another ruck ensued. The heroes managed to get the better of the Demon Lord this time with a young knight binding his soul to the cause of killing him. He shattered his soul, life and legacy in order to do the same to the demon lord.
Queue a bitter sweet rejoice. The Demon Lord dead but with it a hero. The Child of Sol saved but inexplicably still tainted demons. As Sir Francis of Sol began to talk of strength, sacrifice and the noble efforts of the Knight the Child and her sister, the Baroness, were embracing on the outside of the circle. She had her twins with her. Due to her being kidnapped the Child has never seen them before. She asked if sometime in the future she might hold one. The Baroness was shocked as her sister was known to not be maternal and gladly passed her one and they listened to Sir Francis speak.
At the end of the eulogy the night was quiet. Sir Francis asked if any others would speak. The Child of Sol took the floor. Walking slowly away from her sister she spoke of family. The honour to hold her niece, the be reunited with her sister and father. Then she spoke of cost and the dead knight before her. Next she spoke of abilities. How this man that was just a man defied demons and bested Gods. Finally she spoke of their enemies: of demons, of flesh crafters and of Gods. (This last bit was a new idea. From being chosen of the Gods I was now calling them enemies. It’s almost like I’d been waiting 2 hours for the right moment to announce that I’d gone rogue.) Intentions announced the Child took this moment to welcome any who would join the Army of Man and teleported off twirling her mustache.
And carrying the baby. Queue a brilliant emotional response from the Baroness and declarations of War.
Now: what is the net change outcome from the Baroness’ perspective? The difference between death in downtime and the abduction of her babe in uptime? In both she loses a kid.
Well, there is hope – I haven’t killed it when she last saw it. There is an enemy she call still fight – not some spod demon but a named and dangerous villain for her to drive against. Also, there was a chance to react, for people to rally around her in comradery and people who secretly hate the demonic babes to not stop me. This is why we do things on the stage. Real life isn’t a well edited series of perfect responses. It is a messy, honest and glorious story. Let the actors misstep and forget their lines. Tell a sincere story on that stage.
(A quick aside here: the fact I was a traitor is not the cause of my excitement. The Mother and baby were. I should have a new blog up soon called ‘No More Heroes’ please check that out for details)
Every get stressed at LARP? And not the good type of IC stress – but the crippling ooc nausea that comes from investing in your goal that hard?
Well, I do. Near enough every event I put some kind of strain on myself to be the best at X. I’ve lead people to fight for their lives and I have risked everyone brave enough to contribute while I open up our souls to cosmic powers.
And here we are on the evening before the event that will determine if I can bash out one last trial and put myself in contention to earn one of the rarest skills in the game. I am a little nervous. Now, I will take plenty of ‘me moments’ and I have a guy whos literal job it is to remind me everything is going to be fine but that is not my greatest weapon. Oh no. My top tier tip for keeping your ooc self calm and functioning at events is this: bright pink pants.
When I lead my first Gathering battle as field marshal on home turf. When we went and somehow won a battle on paper we were destined to lose. Pink pants.
First ritual. When I have snuffed out another hopeful to get the chance to be there and a lot of people are expecting greatness from me? Pink pants.
I could go on but I don’t want to sully too many of my greatest roleplay moments with the admission I was thinking about my underwear. Why? I hear you ask. Well, it helps me take a breath and remind myself it is a game and under the face paint and mask I am a real person who needs real underwear. Some people struggle getting into a game but there is another other half of the spectrum. Those, like me, who really live the game: we need help too. Enter what I like to call a grounding device. Something to take yourself out of the moment.
It can be as simple as your ooc keys in your pocket or eating a kit kat and making no appologies for the wrapper. I like the pants and it makes me chuckle every time. That moment of relief is critical.
So, as we enter the biggest LT event of the year and the highlight of my LARPing calanedar I look to everyone of my friends in this boat. Let’s not take it so seriously we make ourselves sad, ill or stressed. Let’s not play such a dark dickhead that we forget the characters around us are real people. Let’s not be so obsessed with perfection that we fail to see the joy in getting to second place standard.
Let’s rock it.
You will have it.
That moment where you dig in. Where you don’t run. Where you don’t stand down or where you do. Where you apologise or shout or are silence. Where you intervene or you don’t.
This is the peak of roleplay to my eyes. That snap second decision where you yield or dig in.
I have the pleasure, year on year, of playing with new LARPers. And every year I get to see it. Their first time where they dig deep. It is the most beautiful overcoming of self and my favourite thing to witness; when an angry man finds their calm or when a timid lass finds their voice. This year in our non combat sessions I have had the pleasure of seeing people dive into our game and hit that exact moment.
Today I saw people moved to tears by a decision. To accept the help of their rivals to make victory easy or to suffer the consequences that came with standing alone. And although some abstained from the decision no one truly was neutral.
The first time I ever lived this sensation was when my old sword teacher was charging me down. I knew I couldn’t outrun him. I could die fleeing or die fighting. I remember the way my ankles tensed. I remember blocking the first blow badly: fists clenched.
Whether it is social or physical don’t let your notion this is just a game subtract from this sensation. There are consequences to actions and when you invest in them the world gains a whole new dimension.
Still bouncing between more things than I know what to do with. Will return to the series soon. Just had to take a moment to share a moment I had last night
A quote from a dear, zealous friend of mine:
I tell myself: never get complacent, Phil. I am dressing up and telling stories. How could you ever get tired of that?
This chap is a bastion of verve and excitement and I think he really hit the nail on the head here. If you’re getting disenchanted with your game or the hobby just take a step back and take a breath. See the wonder and scale in what you do. Take a second to smile at who you do it with. Look at yourself and what you’ve become Larp: if it makes you laugh at yourself, laugh with yourself or even proud who cares? I bet it makes you feel.
And do that: feel. Lots and often. Just whatever you do: don’t get complacent.
I do promise to get back to the Fighting 101 series asap. Life is hectic (bridesmaid this weekend- very excited. Also got the job. Hoozar!) This post is a quick ‘I’m alive’. When I have more time I will tell you about this fab homebrew system I went to recently but until then…
Night vision is a fickle beast. She doesn’t hang around if you see the light of life nor does she some back quickly. There is nothing worse than trying to fight while dazzled.You’re unsafe and unsure.
It was when my Ent was trying to keep two beloveds apart, being rended to pieces by the local Slayer, I had a realisation. Red lights are amazing.
Due to the all of nothing of the moment the Slayer had charged me with his head torch beaming forwards instead of taking his normal care to dip it. That said, red light didn’t take out my night vision nor his. Top idea by a top roleplayer.
More about the Buffy Larp I went to and Fightan as soon as I can 😀
Dear Rumour Mill,
Gathering is so close I can taste it. It’s the biggest event of the year for the Lorien Trust (LT) system but this one is set to be a little special. There has been build up for 2 years about traveling to a very far off and dangerous part of the world as unliving pour out. If you believe your hype you need 14 sets of character kit, there will be 200 monsters at time in and George R R Martin wrote the plot.
You’re is the best double edged sword. I have seen glints in people’s eyes that have been dimmed for years. Old salts are unpacking their back up char kit and newbies are preparing to learn the meaning of fear.
This is not bringing out the keen in everyone. Some people are turned off by the event’s alleged lethality. LT is a cruel mistress for challenge. It is a fest system where progression takes years. For those who cannot deal with paralysis (by blow: stand still for 60 seconds) this is going to be like vogue in slow motion. Also, it is not a realm of warriors. Most people have a weapon but a fair number have but one or two hits. These unliving are on home turf so will be pretty dam chunky. I have heard some people say it is not worth them trying as they’d take a quarter of a healers daily power to take out one mid level enemy… And then that enemy will respawn…. With his 20 mates….
That said, my friend, you can stay. For every person that has the courage to break their fears there will be reward (at worst an opportunity for a new character or some roleplay). Thanks to you everyone who goes outside will get their ‘Yeah, well, were you at Al’Quifar?’ badge. If it wasn’t for you it wouldn’t mean anything. And I guess for everyone who doesn’t join in my monster room will be that much fuller.
“But what about the guy you just mentioned: the guy who will spend a load of healer’s power?” Firstly, if you’re not about fighting find another way out! Play possum, flee the scene, get back up, barter, halt the guy next to you and run. Work out the story you’re telling: we’re not all warriors and we’re not all good guys. If you want to get involved in the fights: do. I have only see one guy die to an absolute lack of healing. When we absolutely need the thames we find them. Don’t be an unnecessary liability and trust if you play with the team then the team will back you up as best they can. Critically If you’re nervous about your ability then ask other people for help before it is life and death*
The only people I would ask you ease up on are the tent huggers. They need incentive to come out and play – your forecasting monsters 24/7 (or 16/4 I guess). We just need to reassure them this isn’t true and there will be safer times to go outside. Otherwise they may as well be camping. We don’t want to scare people off: just scare people.
Thank you again for getting me excited over the last month. I’ve been practising my spells, working out a back up character and a survival plan. I’ve spent days talking about this. You help my hobby a lot.
*If you want to run through fighting I will be at the Unicorns from Thursday at 4pm. Happy to teach anything or spar if you’re new or nervous.