“Why should I listen? What makes these people worth defending over the others? Huh?”
“They are one of us. THAT’S why.”
In the world of Dystopia Rising, only one thing matters: Survival. Players are the pieces in an endless game of death, betrayal, and emotion. The Dystopia Rising: Massachusetts Branch takes life in a frontier town and twists it into a horror movie classic. Playing a resident of this fishing, farming town at first does not seem like much that one would need to be afraid of, but that is not the case. Here in this town people learn very quickly that the world attacks from all angles and nothing is what it seems. The Post- Apocalyptic Zombie Genre truly brings out parts of us that we never thought possible. The calm and docile learn to be loud and strong. The selfish become the faithful that fight for their fellow survivors at the cost of their own lives. The weak and cowardly see just how far they will go to save their own hide.
In my three years as a player in the Dystopia Rising system, the one constant is that to truly enjoy the genre you need to lose yourself in it. Morals, pride, and fear all need to be twisted to match what one might feel in the world after the fall of modern society. The idea of personal strength is replaced by the truth of violence and the concept that strength of word, money, or raw power can replace morals. Fear becomes paranoia and doubt. That new comers are treated either with a false smile and greetings as you gauge ones true intentions or with hostility until one has proven themselves in the eyes of those at the top. Unlike other LARPS one does not need to play a character of high birth or stature to become a legend or power player. Money and reputation have their place, but so does the violence and the cleverness of the low-born nobodies. Those who stand high and strong may call respect and power to themselves, but it is at the expense of becoming a target for those already on the top.
“Those who fight monsters would do best to not become them.”
This quote is in fact the opposite of the perspective of Dystopia Rising. Sometimes to fight monsters, one must truly become one. This is one thing I’ve seen; people tend to sway away from their personal moral compass to explore the other side. You have those who hold tight to the moral high ground and a strong will. They believe we can return to the days before the fall where man was civilized and generally good. The other side is those who embrace that have grown beyond human; That the strains of humanity are not so far from the zombies and the raiders against which they fight to hold onto life as they know it.
A few things to remember when trying to decide what type of player you want to be are:
- What strain are you? How does this strain interact with others? And is that interaction good or bad?
- Do you have a religion? How will others react to that? Will this affect you positively or negatively?
- What do you see as your role in the Apocalypse? Crafter? Healer? Fighter? Politician? Entrepreneur?
- Do you want to focus on combat or character interactions?
- Do you want to be “Shady” or “On the level”?
- What matter more….Strength and Power? Or Duty and Morals?
Players in Dystopia Rising have to survive not only the constant threats of raiders, zombies, rabid and mutated animals, but also their fellow survivors. I find it amazing that every time we all come together to start another weekend that we can drop that façade of the real world and fall into a place where generations before us, mankind destroyed the world. That we can replace our logical mind with real fear and disorder to allow the setting to devour us. To really enjoy Dystopia Rising, you have to look at everything, really look, and just let go. Only after you have given in and believe your life is truly at stake can you feel that the world has ended and you are what remain. This game lets you tap into parts of yourself that you normally cannot. The strength of this genre is that players use the strength of emotion and fear to expand the illusion of theatrical disguises to make it real. We become survivors. Through the corruption of the undead infection, we have become stronger in faith, mind, and body. Instead of the monsters and wonders of the world of Fantasy, we see the nightmares and horrors of the apocalypse, and the ghosts of the modern era. We are the spawns of pop culture and horror movies, and the players take these ideas and shape them with the concepts of zombie survival and survival horror.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran
Players grow each game with life and death situations and the loss of those close to you. A large element with this genre is that we see death differently. Each strain of humanity has a different Infection level. This represents the amount of times we can die before the infection takes us and we join the undead. Because of this, one death does not tend to affect people too much. However, as we continue to die we become more and more deranged and disconnected from life and the people around us. We look for reason to continue on and we lose faith in the world. It is in the culture of the world that once was that helps bring us back and give us reason to pull back from the grave and rejoin the world of the living.
- Doctors and builders do all they can to fix both the people and the structures that keep us safe.
- The fighters and gunners use creative skill in making weapons out of rusty debris, or scrounging functioning firearms and ammunition to use against the undead. We are unique in that we can use Nerf weapons to portray guns for a weapon that is rare in a world where one’s ability to use a firearm can drastically shift the balance of power in a fight.
- Farmers and Fishmongers pull from the land and turn it into produce and Herb to make into Medicines, brews, hooch, and other miscellaneous products.
- Priests and other faith healers of the end of the world give hope and purpose to the lost and help guide them to a life of meaning and devotion.
- Some have evolved to develop psionic abilities and alter the world around them with a thought. The psionists are capable of doing great harm to their enemies or great good for their allies, depending upon the abilities they develop.
At Dystopia Rising Massachusetts we are mainly farming and fishing town. That means that players often dive into the roles as providers. Our game specializes in raising crops and animals as well as brewing medicines and providing food from the animals and creatures that live around Ripton Falls. But there is another chapter in this story. Most who have ever seen a film in a small town know; we are a family through and through. We are those that live together and die together. We are those who, even in the darkest times, rally together, forget our squabbles, and stand as one. This in-game truth becomes an out-of-game camaraderie that unites our players. In either world we bond as a family that stands strong against anything. Three years of Dystopia Rising has shown me this is not an observation but a fact. People bond through such emotional role-play and become closer in both worlds.
We just finished off our second season and I have to say that I cannot wait for next spring. I will say that there is so much more I could get into. Whether it be the black market or maybe the constant battle over the value of our currency (The chuck buck, the Charlie, etc) and its worth in other settlements. I hope this was enough of a teaser to get you to look deeper. The end of the world is not a portrait, it is a box, with a dark hole you must reach into and feel what is really there.
So come join us. Die with us, play games and fight…Live and grow with us as you learn what it means not to just play a character in a LARP, to play a role but to survive one. To survive in a world which will constantly try to kill you and drag you back to the Gravemind. We are waiting. All you have to do is grab your shovel or bat or rusty sword, throw on that old football armor painted for war with the markings of a long lost religion, and leave your morals at the door.