Jan and me shared a lodge with Iris and Simon, who got along swimmingly. Great setup for a good con!

Inside: Sad Mary’s Bar and Girl, Sign, Villains Anonymous, Toil & Trouble, Born this Way, Spring River, Critical Path, Naptime, Primordial Soup

Sad Mary’s Bar and Girl

I got to play an Over The Edge game!

OTE is my favorite setting ever, but I hardly ever get to play in it. I was happy to see this on the game lists, and even happier I would get to play what was clearly a tulpa!

Jenny told us this was a bit of a dated game, and she advised us to not hold on to our secrets, but play it fast and hard. Thus this game became an excellent exercise in putting stuff out there! I was greeted with “Hey, girl, you’re not real!”, asked why I’d killed so and so and made fun of my bad facial expressions right from the start. I was actually a very nice way to play! We breezed through the scenario, which includes a group hallucination and a cultist ritual. I had a great time with all the weirdness. A good start.

Sign

Sign is a LARP inspired by kids in the first school for the deaf in Nicaragua developing their own sign language. It’s an inspiring story, and the LARP that commemorates the events is equally poignant. I choked up reading the character cards multiple times. I really empathized with these kids that had lived in isolation for so long, finally met kids like them, and created a language together that allowed them to speak their truth.

My character loved soccer and had a heartbreaking truth she wanted to tell the other kids. There was some palpable frustration at not having the words to tell them in the first half of the game. But we got to make up our own words, and we were encouraged to use our background to make signs. Thus the sign for parent became the sign of someone blowing on a whistle: just like my soccer coach dad would do. At the end of the game, we could have fairly good conversations in our own language. It was pretty damn awesome!

The LARP was great, it was my favorite game of the convention and I can’t wait to run it again back home. The design is so clever and the play is so evocative. I also enjoyed learning about this particular corner of history. I wish more LARPs would be this educational.

Villains anonymous

Super villain support group. “Just because I’m bad guy doesn’t mean I am bad guy, you know?” I was Hades, had a beautiful blue haired wig, tried to be as funny as possible. I played up my burn-out, my family issues and my LDR relationship. “It’s been a looooong six months, if you know what I mean”.

Dave did a great job of leading the support group and shining the spotlight on all of the characters equally. Claire was hilarious as Gaston. Nice game. This would have done great as a Thursday opener as well!

Toil & Trouble

Three Witches, three heroes. Three fates to be decided for the good of the realm. I’m always a bit weary of decision-making LARPs, as the discussions can get mired in boring technical details exactly two players find interesting.

But this game had a great setup, with great character links, lots of drama and tense interplay between all the characters. I enjoyed almost making my betrothed cry, stunning the Witch Hunter with my marriage proposal, and pushing the burden of deciding onto the person who would suffer most for it.

Cameron & Adina went all out on set dressing, creating an entire witches coven! So pretty!

Born this way

Queer These are the days of our lives from the 80s to the 10s. Rei provided a great historical infosheet on queer lives throughout the decades that made this game very educational. The decade appropriate playlists were a nice touch.

It was a very intimidating to play stories of vulnerable minorities, because you really don’t want to fuck things up or be insensitive in any way. There were some character options I stayed away from, because I felt I didn’t have the knowledge to portray them anywhere near properly. Much love to the other players for bravely taking on some challenging stories and portraying them beautifully.

 

I played a lonely gung-ho lesbian activist who seemed to fare relatively well under the hate and repercussions she received in the early decades, but couldn’t get used to the changes the decades brought. “You are still stuck in the 80’s, aren’t you?”, Malcolm said and I cried as he finished my story arc for me.

What a nice game. I’d love to run this myself.

Spring River

Experimental LARP where we play different aspects of a character, inside out-style. Linus, Elizabeth and me were Noah’s Hedonism, Idealism and Competitiveness. We were all stuck together with string & carabiners.

Noah was generally considered to be kind of a dick. But we really enjoyed each other’s company as we ran around, tried to bang people (Hedonism) and tried to become captain (Competitiveness). It was great fun to interact with other people, and shove the best aspect forward. Or push yourself forward and make everything worse. Or get asked a difficult question like “Do you like me?” and go into crisis mode to yell at each other.

When sometime died, their death would inspire other people and they would get the deceased’s aspects. We got someone else’s Controlling aspect and totally fucked our our relationship!! When a child was born, we would give it one of our aspects. Really interesting!

There were a few design choices that didn’t work. The character sheets weren’t very consistent. People kept remarking on Noah taking stray cats home and doing chores badly, but we knew no such things! Odd. Still, a good time was had!

Critical Path

Critical Path is a game that inspires a cult-like devotion in anyone who’s ever played it and a compulsive tendency to hide spoilers from the uninitiated as to not spoil the experience. Since I am now in the Critical Path Cult, I won’t say too much here. It’s a wonderful sci-fi game about the maiden voyage of the spaceship Victoria.

It’s a very angsty game full of drama and remarkably low on puzzle solving. The few times that we did try to engage in hard scifi deduction, a GM Brian subtly appeared by our side and whispered “Trying to solve the puzzle” into our ears in a non-judgmental reassuring voice. It would be useful to have that in real life :-)

I played the ship’s physician and psychologist, and even though she had her own share of personal drama, a lot of my play was mentally supporting the other characters. In game, that had great advantages, because it gave me the license to drop in on any kind of intimate conversation without breaking the interaction. It was a fun job to try and keep everyone going without intruding without squashing their own personal angst.

It was pretty quiet after the game. Most people were very affected by their drama from the game. I was pretty affected myself, though that had nothing to do with the game’s many dramatic twists. I was already pushing caretaker fatigue in my real life, so playing a counselor in a hectic game was pretty on the nose. Instead of talking to someone, I excused myself, went to my own lodge and ugly cried while listening to The Last Shadow Puppets. I should probably talk to someone about that, huh?

Nap time

It’s the time of day for the sleepy five-year-olds in the nursery to settle down for their daily nap. They eat their milk and cookies, hear a bedtime story and a lullaby and then settle down to sleep. This is a soft and comforting style game, where nothing happens and the players simply inhabit the characters and live the experience of being a sleepy five-year-old. 

Nap Time is a joke that turned into a very interesting LARP! I was massively looking forward to playing it all convention. To fully prepare for my part as a sleepy child, I stayed up until 6 am, slept only four hours, and then dragged myself out of bed to nap in character. Anything for a game!

It was an interesting experience. You’re not expected to interact as your character, or even be very expressive, play happens all in the experiencing of your surroundings and in your own thoughts. Taking the performative aspect out of a larp was surprisingly relaxing! Inner experience is a huge part of my regular LARP style, and it was fascinating to only play with that part for once. I would play more head larps.

We were encouraged to think 5-year old thoughts as we were trying to sleep, so I thought a lot about space. What if our preschool was in a spaceship and the spaceship was hurtling through space? Then we’d be in space too. But we are on earth and earth is also in space, so we are in space RIGHT NOW!! This got my 5-year old far too excited to sleep, so instead I tossed around violently and got labeled as “the unruly child” by Simon and Elina, who were silently making up stories about us as our school teachers.

The game was very evocative for some (to tears, even), others thought real person thoughts or simply napped. Either way, people had a fun nap. Then I went back to my lodge to go back to bed.

I would also like to run this!

Primordial soup

A game about primordial single cellular organisms evolving over five epochs. You play it in a hot tub! Mo bring all the good games.

The epochs were all really distinct and interesting to play. The ocean started off very warm and comforting as we floated around, developed flagellae and brushed each other with our tendrils. But then we had to compete for food, locations and sexual mates, much more aggressive and confusing experiences. Finally, we crawled out of the sea, and onto the cold harsh land.

It was really fun and silly to play. I hope to run this myself in a hot tub near you!