April 2018

Author Archives Tara M. Clapper

About Tara M. Clapper

Tara M. Clapper is a professional LARP designer, editor, and writer from Philadelphia, PA, USA. She’s also the founder and publisher of The Geek Initiative, an online community celebrating women in geek culture. Tara created the feminist LARP “She’s Got a Gun” and runs various immersive digital LARPs in her CHARIOT LARP system.

When I volunteered to put together a comprehensive safety and consent document for Dragon Thrones, I had something specific in mind: a way to present players and game masters with a specific set of guidelines and policies that would enable us to take our role playing to the next level – centering physical and emotional safety. I aimed to include workshop outlines and a discussion of bleed in a way accessible to new LARPers and veterans alike.Dragon Thrones Wedding

What I encountered instead was a wider need: I had to address competition very specifically. The Game Theatre bills Dragon Thrones as a “LARP hybrid,” as the event includes a MegaGame, escape rooms, mead tastings, performances, night missions (which involve Jenga towers), and other entertainment. They’re right to set this expectation – even though immersion permeated a surprising amount of non-LARP elements at the first Dragon Thrones event, it included an ambitious gamut of entertainment.

I first attended Dragon Thrones during its July 2017 debut in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA. I served as a GM for the Ardmore team and went on to run digital events for Dragon Thrones players in my own system.

I used my standard safety and inclusion policies for the online events, as well as out-of-game signaling. During online events, I encourage players to communicate via Discord, especially when we’re streaming our sessions. This ensures participants can check with the GM and and each other regarding consent, scene planning, and more.

(Please note that this is not an academic article in nature, and my observations are subjective and based upon what I have seen as a member of the Dragon Thrones community and as a years-long participant in international LARP community discussions online.)

Each Game’s Culture is Unique

By the time I offered to create this documentation, I had an in-depth sense of the gaming culture at Dragon Thrones, as well as the backgrounds of the participants. DT includes new gamers, renaissance faire goers, and experienced role players – a diversity of experience that strengthens the game.

I quickly learned that while I can use (and credit) safety techniques used in blockbuster LARPs and salon games in North America and internationally, every game has its own culture.

And competition is an unapologetic facet of the Game of Thrones-inspired Dragon Thrones.

In international conversations in particular, a focus on competition is often looked down upon for several reasons:

  • It is associated with the culture of the United States, and competition in LARP is often seen as an expression of an attribute acted upon negatively in an international socio-political context;
  • Competition in games (even outside of LARPs) often results in hard feelings;
  • In some parts of the United States, competitive LARPing is affiliated with fantasy boffer combat games perceived as heavy on combat and light on role play (this is accurate only in wildly varying degrees)

When you have a LARP hybrid inspired by a book and television series that is quite literally cutthroat, it’s understood that house-versus-house competition is serious business.

There is no way you can simply transplant best practice safety mechanics from other deliberately inclusive and empathetic gaming cultures to a deliberately competitive game without addressing competition; furthermore, it’s disrespectful to individual LARP communities. Each has its own culture which will evolve over time.

Campaign LARPs and Competition

Like any event in its first run, Dragon Thrones 1 (DT1) needed some improvements. The upcoming second and third games (as well as the online missions I ran) have evolved as a result of player and GM feedback and the adaptive nature of the event team. When it became immediately clear that Dragon Thrones would have multiple events, most community members (including me) assumed we’d reprise our initial roles.

This felt pretty natural, as someone whose LARPing career originated in the land of monthly fantasy boffer LARP campaigns prevalent here in the Northeastern United States. I’ve also had some limited exposure to other LARP cultures though – and in the Nordic LARP community, it’s common for people to play the same LARP again, but as a different character.

This has created some confusion and tension in communities like the North American New World Magischola (in which I am also a devoted participant), where players wish to play through their characters’ experiences at wizard school, sometimes to a degree that feels in conflict with the game’s Nordic roots.

In NWM and its predecessor, College of Wizardry, characters are grouped into houses that compete against each other. Feedback on this has been mixed (and likely varies by run), though I understand it’s generally accepted in both the European game and the North American one.

For Dragon Thrones, though, the instinct to play the same character has always been very much assumed by most involved.

Dragon Thrones wonderIs this problematic? Maybe. In discussions I initiated (asking for help!) about this topic in LARP Sanctuary, LARPers BFF, and North American LARPers BFF Facebook groups as well as on my personal page, participants noted that bleed and competition in campaign LARPs is worth addressing. Unlike a one-shot LARP, unresolved emotions that linger (positive or negative) can carry on indefinitely as players portray the same characters.

From my experience in a campaign setting, having played the same character for over five years, I certainly feel that this risk is real. Yes – you’re getting together with your LARP family as often as the game plays. But yes – in-game animosities can become out-of-game, or they can linger in a way superimposed onto the player, even permanently. To this day, I’m still thought of in my local LARP scene as bearing particular attributes of a character I no longer play, even when those attributes do not apply to me.

Add in the very competitive nature of a campaign event like Dragon Thrones, and it becomes very necessary to address the topic of competition with the community.

Online Gaming Culture, Communities, and LARP

Anyone who participates in any form of gaming online understands how online communities facilitate communication – but also bring with them a set of challenges. Some groups traditionally experience negativity and exclusion in gaming communities, especially online. As one of two female GMs at Dragon Thrones, I’m acutely aware of this, even though I have been welcomed, included, and supported in my efforts every step of the way.

The Game Theatre, its GMs, and its players post the kind of hype and information you’ll see in many LARP communities: cool costuming suggestions, clean jokes or puns about the game world, and just general enthusiasm for the setting. It’s a really positive place to be.

However, we also have those discussions about the game world and its politics. They might start out as a question, but end up as a conversation that rolls into an in-game conversation. This nebulous transition from player to character is often simply an eagerness to role play and negotiate or antagonize: but there’s a danger in it due to the competitive nature of the game. The meta elements of the event structure, particularly the MegaGame, leave me a bit concerned about whether this flippant transition might occur frequently at DT2 in January.

Dragon Thrones WyndonThis requires a specific measure of communication on the part of community members – and their buy-in – all of which I will address in the safety and consent documentation (and will likely continue to refine in its updates).

Do you think competition should be a necessary part of safety and consent documentation in a game like Dragon Thrones? Continue the discussion in the comments! 

Disclosure: As mentioned in this post, the author is affiliated with The Game Theatre as a game master and consultant for Dragon Thrones. She has attended events in exchange for her work and has been compensated for running online missions in the Dragon Thrones setting of Cambria.

All images courtesy of The Game Theatre and used with permission.

Want to learn more about blockbuster larps mentioned in this article?

* indicates required
Mar 16, 2018

From the moment I received my Armistice Arcane character blurb, I knew I’d put the pressure on myself to inhabit this character deeply. Her name is Moira O’Connor, a woman devoted to Cernunnos, the Horned God. Originally from Ireland, Moira emigrated to Pennsylvania (United States) after a supernaturally long life and a complicated relationship with magic, monster hunters, and her god.

Born in the early 1700s, Moira experienced the tragic history of her people. She carried the resounding grief and anger of personal and cultural losses in a lengthy way that she felt only her god could understand – until she determined he didn’t.

Playing Moira, I explored many themes that touched not only on my own culture as an Irish American, but also many sensitive themes.

I am writing this less than a day after the conclusion of this dramatic, Penny Dreadful-inspired live action role play experience, and I find the nature of the bleed (emotional spillover between player and character) I experience is significantly different from any I’ve had before.

Content Warning: This post includes discussion of food-related issues, suicide, extreme grief, patriarchal oppression, and infertility.

Additionally, while I enjoy ‘chasing bleed’ and heavy immersion as a LARPer, that’s not the only way I enjoy this LARP or LARPs in general, nor is it the only means by which we should generally measure the success or enjoyment of live action experiences.

armistice arcane larpHow Was This Character Close?

I played this character close to the heart, as we say in LARP, purposefully exploring my sense of self and my heritage through the portrayal of this character. While I’ve been growing used to empowering myself by playing through arcs that provide my characters with agency, no experience has been quite as personal as this one.

In real life, my superficial similarities don’t stop with heritage. My Irish ancestors came to the United States through the port city of Philadelphia (a central point for the Irish American characters in the game), which is where I live today. As of late, this community has been largely coopted by white supremacy and “Irish pride” has become an unfortunate synonym for “white pride.”

I have a fair amount of stories of my ancestors, though Irish oppression is a careful topic to approach when it’s often used as a tool to justify white supremacy and defend racism in a modern context. However, it’s still very much part of the immigrant experience and who we are today.

I’m left with an exiled pride for my heritage very much reflected in this character’s journey, and I went full force with my immersive capabilities in this game to enjoy and explore what it means to be of Irish descent – without worry of this journey being coopted by white supremacists.

I did my best to be sensitive but fearless in my approach to play an oppressed individual, and felt that it was permissible to do so as I was exploring the richness of my own heritage, and examining stereotypes through the lens of a historically pertinent pain that permeates culture, songs, and other practices.

Moira and I have many things in common. Here’s what I’ve been dealing with since the game.

Players and characters bond at Armistice Arcane. | Photo: Alicia Trisciuzzi | Used with permission

Religion and Fertility

I don’t speak terribly often about faith in my life, but I was never baptized as a Christian. In my twenties, I took a neopagan spiritual path, and find myself connected to the goddesses Epona and Athena.

My Armistice Arcane character began the game as a devotee of Cernunnos, or the Horned God, who (as a general ‘hunter god’) also has a place on my real-life altar at home, though not a central one.

Like Cernunnos, Epona is a deity of fertility. She often appears in dreams for me, and I’ve a complicated relationship with this aspect of the goddess. Life likely isn’t going to work out for me in a way that I’ll be a mother, even though I wish I could have been. I’ve had a sad past with relationships, and on top of that, I have multiple chronic illness issues. It’s a regret that people don’t like to hear about; one you’re not supposed to discuss. Instead, I’m expected to be an independent and empowered woman completely satisfied with life. Anything else upsets people close to me and is counterintuitive to what I’m supposed to represent in various communities.

Grieving the inability to have children is not a privilege often granted to women, especially divorced ones.

I’ve come to accept Epona’s fertility in the form of creativity. I am grateful for such gifts, but the grief of having no children still persists.

Moira and fertility worked a bit differently, but her issues and grief were nevertheless the same as mine. After watching her own parents fall at the hands of the Sentinels (a group that tracks down those they deem magical miscreants) and nearly dying herself, Moira made a choice to kill instead of be killed. This set her on a constant cycle of revenge with the Sentinels, and a power that gave her youthfulness through a cycle of sex, fertility, and death.

Cernunnos was a voice and a presence in her life, encouraging these actions.

Eventually she grew tired of running and hiding. She fell in love, married, and became pregnant. But after her husband died as the result of a curse, her son was born, and she gave him up. She left him on the doorstep of wealthy folk decades before the game takes place, and had to mourn the chances that she’d never have with him. This grief was her strongest, and one I connected to and internalized.

Moira spent decades wondering about what happened to her son. She’d often dream of him, and I found that during the event, I would wake up with a dream and a worry. “Is my son okay?” was a more intrinsic thought than any power or practice Moira otherwise had.

Moira eventually found her son Aldous (this happened during the event, early in the game). It was the strongest relationship I played in the game, but it was also personally so very painful to me since I may never come to know this type of maternal love.

In real life, I’ve lost loves, just like Moira. But Moira was reunited with this most pleasant reminder of her deceased husband, and her care for her son was rather pure. The worry over him was constant, mutual, and comforting.

This made her feel a joy so occasional in her life, but one so strong she didn’t even know how to identify it or express it.

In preparation for the game, I’d asked parents, particularly mothers, to describe their bonds to their children. I received many powerful stories and expressions of emotion. When I was fully immersed as the character, though, with Moira protecting and being protected by her son, all of those feelings were quite natural. His different interests (scientific) opened her mind to viewing magic in a different way. Her trust of him was immediate. And in the purity of that relationship, it didn’t backfire.

I am about to get on a plane to return to an empty room. Every time I nap, I still wake up wondering that: Is my son okay? And it’s heartbreaking that I don’t have anyone or anything to really worry over. Even my dog passed away in October. And according to all those magazine articles, there’s totally something wrong with me if I don’t feel like my life is complete without the burden of a child and a husband.

But that’s just not true. I feel how I feel, and it’s not simply a matter of being conditioned by the patriarchy. It’s not a weakness to want to lay your head down next to someone, and that’s where I am, and that’s what I don’t have.

As the positive interactions increased between Moira and her son, I knew that I would have to face my own difficulties: desperately experiencing and internalizing a selfless love I’ll never give or receive. That alone furthered the tears and the protectiveness the character demonstrated towards Aldous.

In addition to these concerns is another matter of spirituality: tarot.

I’ve always deemed it inappropriate to use my real life tarot deck (I use Wildwood Tarot) at a LARP event. The call to use this deck this time around was very strong. I did use it; it felt natural and lighter than it does when I use it for real-life purposes, and it also felt easier to read in-game. As I portrayed a character who embodied intuition, I learned a great deal from her spiritual confidence.

Spirituality, Sex, and the Hunt: Cernunnos and Moira

I’m still humbled by a particular scene at Armistice Arcane. About halfway through the event, Moira was summoned to the main room – because her god was present. This powerful scene resulted in the most interesting reflection and post-game bleed, primarily due to the decisions made.

Half of the power in the scene resulted from the fact that Cernunnos didn’t give a flying fig leaf about who else in the room heard what (which made for a great scene, too). What just a few characters had previously known was then revealed to many: that Moira’s dealings with Cernunnos had a rather intimate component, and that she had done a great deal of hunting for him.

In a previous LARP years ago, I had been called ‘a cougar’ in game (though the slight was most obviously meant out of game), even though I wasn’t interested in anyone at the game, and my In a previous LARP years ago, I had been called ‘a cougar’ in game (though the slight was most obviously meant out of game), even though I wasn’t interested in anyone at the game, and my character was intensely interested in just one specific character. Most of the players at the game were five to ten years younger than me, and the stinging comment has held me back in pursuing various relationships, platonic or romantic in nature, in and out of game at many LARPs since.

It makes me feel like I have to hold back a part of who I am, or only discuss sex in very specific circumstances, while younger women are permitted to embrace their sexuality as part of a more open feminism from which I feel excluded. I should be hitting my stride when it comes to sex; instead I’m still ashamed, mostly due to age and relationship status and that shaming comment that still hangs in my head even though I should know better.

Playing out this scene was exceptionally transformative. Generally, the player age at Armistice Arcane was a bit higher than I am used to, so at 36, my age was about average, and I felt less awkward about playing a character who worships a fertility god. In fact, Moira was honest with some younger folks about such matters in a very no-nonsense way.

The scene itself wasn’t inherently sexual in what was performed, but the elements of power exchange and possession were on display for all to see, laced with knowing language and interactions. The scene and Cernunnos’ intentions towards Moira cast my character as a sexually powerful and desirable person; an embodiment of the Ireland she represented, starved but wanting. And although it was a god who wished to take her away – possibly as a permanent sacrifice combining deaths both petite and eternal – she still had the power of the choice.

Cernunnos and Moira at Armistice Arcane

Cernunnos claims Moira. | Photo: Alicia Trisciuzzi | Used with permission

I can only guess at what the other characters and players were thinking during that particular scene. The language between the locked gaze of Cernunnos and Moira spoke louder than anything either of them said. She trembled in reverence more than fear; she stood up to him; she gave in. Whatever the others were thinking, I don’t think it was ‘ew, I can’t see Tara or her character in that way, she’s disgusting,’ which is what I had been previously conditioned to believe. I know there are individuals who feel that I’m attractive (or at least not disgusting and/or nonsexual), but that’s never been an assumption I’ve had of a crowd before.

My scene partner as well as the other characters who had a part in that scene played true to character. Nolan, a character charged with protecting Moira, sacrificed himself, offering his heart to Cernunnos so that Moira would not have to go with him. (She has mixed feelings on that, though is primarily appreciative since she wanted to stay around to get to know her son better.)

Armistice Arcane scene

Nolan sacrifices himself to the horned god.| Photo: Alicia Trisciuzzi | Used with permission

As a pagan, I feel that we permissively crossed a spiritual line with that scene: like some greater power was amused and appeased. I felt like I was LARPing and not necessarily being inhabited by a higher spiritual force, but near to that, I was playing a part in a way that deeply married spirituality and drama. On top of that, New Orleans has the feeling of permanent Samhain for me, as though the veil between worlds is always lowered.

It doesn’t feel like a coincidence that my tarot readings, in game, were effortless and ridiculously accurate.

I’m sure this may make various individuals and practitioners uneasy, but it felt more like a pagan passion play that we were spiritually permitted to perform. While I haven’t spoken with them about this yet, I know that there are others of a pagan path who participated in the scene. I look forward to getting their read on it, as the line between spiritual and fictional felt comfortably blurred to me. Of course, to me it is all about the sacred duty of storytelling.

To portray Moira, I had to embrace the fact that “the Hunt” in all ways was not good or evil, but about balance, and I did a great deal of work on myself to get to that point of empowerment. It was instrumental in me being able to have Moira play her part during this scene.

Not a shred of clothing was removed, but I stood there naked, and it felt powerful.

Relationship to Food

Like many Irish Americans, I have a complicated relationship with food. I’ve had lean times, when there isn’t always enough nutritious food to eat, and I’ve experienced binge eating when there is. Throw in the anxiety and unpredictability of a new environment (like a LARP), and the availability of food is often a concern that breaks immersion for me. If you’ve ever been at a LARP event in the middle of the woods with just $3 in your pocket when they run out of food, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

At Armistice Arcane, the availability of food wasn’t a problem. We had goody bags with snacks on top of the regularly scheduled meals and snack buffets, and the hotel had a peanut butter and jelly hour nightly, per La Pavillon’s tradition (it was a rather agreeable venue).

While I’m not suggesting any of my experiences are remotely comparable to those of a person who experienced hunger and watched others starve (as my ancestors and my character did), I found it necessary to examine my own relationship to food before taking on this role.

Dancing and fine fare at Armistice Arcane. | Photo: Alicia Trisciuzzi | Used with permission

I thought considerably about what it would be like for someone like Moira to experience the constant availability of food at the hotel. During the gala dinner, I took two plates, including two of the mini desserts, and made a comment about how guilty I’d feel over wasting a bite. Internalizing the magnitude of the suffering this character had experienced during the Great Hunger was specific; due to her age and being foreign, it was also something she felt very alone in. The Irish Americans knew about the event, but there was no way they could internalize the experience as she had. It was one of many aspects of grief that Moira buried.

Immigration and Restarting

Moira’s been around for a long time, and due to the difficulties in her country and her complications with the Sentinels, she’s moved around a lot – from Ireland to England to the U.S. Each time she hoped to find something fulfilling, but her chance at happiness was either taken away or simply not present.

This was one of the difficulties of preparing for this character, for it applies to me as well. I’ve moved for many jobs and relationships that haven’t worked out, and I often find that a search for a ‘new start in a new place’ is an attempt to fill a hunger, which is not unlike that of a literal hunger. That emptiness is something Moira attempted to learn to live with.

Knowing she had a son provided her with an opportunity to take a new start – she even ended up changing societies to join him and to enjoy a respite. However, the emptiness remained for her.

Departed Family and Suicide

On top of the serious and traumatic losses Moira experienced (and caused), she had so much loss, which piled up over her long life. The saving grace was the son that arrived in her life again. When it came time to possibly go with Cernunnos, to make that sacrifice, she was ready to go. And if she hadn’t an earthly reason to stay, she would have gone with him as an additional sacrifice.

The uncomfortable truth is one that hits home hard: Moira isn’t really living for herself, she’s living for others. She knows their world would be more difficult without her. She knows it’s otherwise her time to go, but that people benefit from her existence and don’t want her to leave.

I remember about a week before my dog died; it was clear the little guy was just miserable, and starting to have real problems with his pain. I looked at him and said, “I love you, Odin. It’s okay if you need to go. I love you and I understand.” And a week later, he did. Sometimes, when my chronic pain and related struggles are at their worst, I wish people would say that to me; sometimes I’m glad they never have. As for Moira, she sought a reprieve.

By the end of the game, Moira’s Order of Cernunnos had reorganized and scattered based upon their reactions to the god himself. Prior to the god’s appearance, Moira had confessed matters of her past (that she had killed, and even without intending, had pretty much done blood magic in their god’s name). She had been told she’d go on trial within the order, and at that moment, she reached out to Aldous to seek protection within the Esoteric Institute, where he had a leadership role.

Cernunnos prepares to take Moira away. | Photo: Alicia Trisciuzzi | Used with permission

Following the presence of Cernunnos, it was obvious that she should stay this course. While Moira will be active at the institute, both in being a subject of study and in researching a scientifically combined way to stop any occurrence of potato blight in the future, she sees it as a sanctuary from the intense loneliness she’s felt for decades. In this way, at least one person’s death has meaning – since Nolan sacrificed himself to Cernunnos, Moira feels that she must live life with a purpose to honor him.

On Questioning Grief

One thing I can’t stand about real life is the way in which I’m constantly questioned for having an occasionally negative outlook. People need to understand that sometimes things aren’t okay, and sometimes attitudes need to temporarily shift accordingly. I’m not going to smile while I drown.

Moira, however, has been so much. All she had to do was simply allude to what the English had done to her people, and others would stop criticizing the depth or intensity of her grief. Some even opted to experience it to a slight degree. Generally, especially within the Order, she did not need a justification for sadness. The cultural association was more than enough for anyone to question her.

I found that grief was much easier to process when given the space to do so.

Heritage, Feminism, and Armistice Arcane

One of the greatest challenges of any historical LARP involves the treatment of people who were historically marginalized. I noticed that there were several players of color who received characters reflective of what was likely their own heritage and origin.

In real life, my Irish American heritage is extremely important to me. I took my research and portrayal of an Irish character very seriously, particularly when it came to the Great Hunger and to drinking, as those events and customs are so tied up in stereotypes. My goal was for Moira to embody Ireland; to exist regardless of what happened; to give of herself to better the world no matter how much it hurt her. Thinking of the character as Ireland herself was especially empowering, specifically during the scene with Cernunnos. Out of game, it functioned to provide a bit of distance between myself and Moira without losing immersion, and allowed me some control over how much I internalized her grief and anger at any given time.

Regarding the treatment of women, there were some comments, in game, about equality and rights and sex that left me with mixed feelings. These things probably wouldn’t have been said were the game in a modern context. That said, I felt that my character had an interesting means of agency, being one of three women of spiritual importance to her community, and being important enough to be one of the people assigned hired gun-style protection. Within my character’s group, she was certainly powerful and respected as such, though she appropriately deferred to the spiritual and political leaders.

armistice arcane characters

Raquel portrays an icy character. | Photo: Alicia Trisciuzzi | Used with permission

I played with the idea that both Moira and her mother had been hunted for worshipping as they did, and that at least in her mother’s time, it was possibly a way to subdue the power of women – particularly the power to heal the island and its people. This was my way of pointing out the patriarchal nature of England’s oppression of Ireland in terms that my character might have used. All of this, Moira had to reconcile with her worship of a male god, running immediately to her male child for protection, and choosing her (male) date to the ball with particular calculation regarding her own safety. (He still attended the ball with her, for the record, even after a fertility god claimed her as his own.)

An interesting point that came up within our Order group was written versus oral agreements and laws. Our group strongly respected the importance of agreements in the tradition of Brehon (early Irish) law, and on an out of game context, this stirred an unexpected amount of pride resulting from a respect of this tradition. It felt wonderful to experience this without having to second guess whether the intentions of the others in my group were geared towards focusing Irish American nationalism towards a white supremacist agenda, as in real life, that is so often the case now.

RP Armistice Arcane

Intense role play at Armistice Arcane. | Photo: Alicia Trisciuzzi | Used with permission

Tools for Bleed and Immersion at Armistice Arcane

I carefully entered this experience knowing about these similarities between myself and the character, and realizing that these topics would come up. So much of the process was solo, unlike my experiences at other games, which rely heavily on character connections. (There is not a major difference in game design; rather, depth of character.) I used the following methods to prepare:

  • A full day in character, alone, not interacting with anyone else, reflecting only on how to embody Ireland and her grief and hunger. This was meditative as much as it was method.
  • The Irish History Podcast by Fin Dwyer, which helped me refresh my knowledge of Irish history and adapt the accent as I paused to repeat certain phrases.
  • An eight-page character sheet provided by Peculiar Crossroads Productions, and weeks to prepare.
  • Whiskey, imbibed before and during the event, not just as a cultural convention for Moira but as a coping mechanism for the character. For reasons of health and emotional and physical safety, I remained responsibly ‘buzzed’ almost the entire time, but I was not inebriated before or during the event. I found that the alcohol added a sepia overtone to the entire affair, and using it, I could control the amount it dulled or exposed the rawness of Moira’s emotions and experiences. (Note: While I’ve gone through periods in the past where I might have consumed alcohol more often than was wise, I do not have a drinking problem and would not advise this method for anyone who might. It isn’t something I would have done if the event was any longer, either.) When I imbibed after the event, it felt important to switch to rum to further separate myself from the character, even though I typically drink whiskey myself.
  • Two major revelations in the game – seeing the strand of fate between Moira and Aldous, and the interaction with the Horned God – were both surprises. The lack of planning increased immersion. I feel that I could have performed better in both scenes with more planning, but would not prefer a do-over because the level of immersion was so raw in both instances.
  • Victorian Conventions (and violating them) – the formality of introductions and interactions served as a baseline for violating norms. It was easy to accomplish a small offbeat goal due to the formality of the occasion.
  • Our embedded GM played a character who was our driver, Pat. He was in and out of game there to help us. I spoke with him briefly about furthering certain plots, but most of the time I utilized him in game by asking him to find someone for me. In one instance, I requested a pen and paper to write a note which he then delivered, which allowed me to focus on role play and to make an important scene come about quicker. Even though I played a mentor role in the group, I didn’t feel responsible for every other player or character’s emotional wellbeing or activity, since the GM was there to step in.
  • Costuming was a challenge for this game, but it was also a helpful tool. I dressed ‘old school Irish’ but also Victorian, and wanted to avoid looking typical medieval fantasy. The one piece of clothing I wore with almost every outfit was a black high-collar blouse. The slight tightness of the collar was a constant reminder of the era and the restrictions my character faced. Once the game was through, it was the first thing I unbuttoned to help separate myself from Moira. The petticoat isn’t something I usually wear in general or at LARPs, so it was also very specific to the era and to Moira.
  • Available counseling wasn’t something I used, but I went as intense and immersive as I felt comfortable doing, pushing boundaries only because I knew that help was available to me if I needed it.

I didn’t expect to use some of these tools to control the volume or intensity of the emotions I experienced during the game, but they definitely helped me play very deeply without entirely losing myself.

My resulting emotions remain as I described them in game: an ocean of grief, stretching from the old world to the new. I feel honored to have been able to explore these feelings in such a different way.

Photography by: Alicia Nicole Trisciuzzi

If you've read this far, you have to join us for the 2019 event!

January 4–6, 2019 | New Orleans

Jan 28, 2018

We often discuss LARP drop, or the feelings of sadness and loneliness you might experience following an event when you’re alone for the first time in a while. But there’s also LARP hype, which happens on the early end of LARP planning.

We mostly associate LARP hype with excitement and positivity, but the rush of LARP hype, your interactions with other players and their expectations, and the time crunch at the end can produce some valid feelings of anxiety.

If you’re new to LARPing, here’s a look at what you might expect. If you’ve LARPed before, enjoy the gifs and know you’re not alone.

Image: https://gph.is/1lfXF3c


1. Sign Up Social Hype

Whether you’ve signed up for a new blockbuster LARP or the same monthly campaign game you’ve attended for years, hype begins when you click the RSVP and payment buttons. It only escalates once you share your attendance in your game group or on your Facebook wall. LARP attendance is usually a substantial commitment of time and funds, and it can represent the majority of your entertainment budget.

What better way to experience entertainment than with your friends?


Are you not entertained?

Image: https://gph.is/146ahJd


2. Character Adoration

The anticipation of that character sheet only adds to the hype. It’s definitely one of the most intense points of hype between the sign-up and the LARP itself. If it’s a new character, there’s some anxiety about what you might get…



Image: https://media.giphy.com/media/prhumXOHcR5tK/giphy.gif


…as well as hopes about the potentials for costuming if you get cast in the group or faction of your choice.

Peculiar Crossroads Productions, creators of Armistice Arcane, sent out short character blurbs (complete with faction affiliation) prior to the full sheets to allow players adequate time for costuming preparations. It was enough to start prep, but it also fueled the hype.

For campaign LARPers, this can mean updating your character materials and selecting new skills. Now’s the time to think about what you’ll do and how you’ll accomplish it.

3. Perfect Planning and Character Connections

Once the LARP is closer to approaching and you have your new character (or your character upgrades), it comes time to plan for the event with your players. While some of the best moments of your story may happen by chance, now is the time to define and refine character relationships and potential interactions. It’s also an ideal time to begin conversations about consent, especially concerning intense interactions like fighting, arguing, or romance.

Of all the things that hype me up the most about any LARP event, it’s the process of connecting with other players and developing intense character relationships (especially the antagonistic ones).

4. Purchases and Creation

For many LARPers, the creative phase of character preparation is the most rewarding. During this time, you can purchase, customize or create the many elements that make your character unique.

While everyone is familiar with the need to acquire or make the right costuming and props, the details go far beyond that. Many LARPers memorize rules, learn songs or poems, make playlists, and practice accents in preparation for taking on their character’s role. The process of creating and assembling props and costume pieces can feel like you’re putting a bit of yourself into the character, and that only enhances the hype.


Making some LARP crafts

Image: https://media.giphy.com/media/1463o17ejELYqs/giphy.gif

It’s also genuinely exciting to finish a project, and LARPs naturally allow you to break tasks down into smaller ones (the process of “chunking”).

5. Packing and Panic

Have you ever stayed up to complete a project the night before the LARP? Have you ever worried you’ve forgotten something – or worse, have you actually forgotten important items? Welcome to the ‘packing and panic’ stage of LARP hype. Here, sleep deprivation contributes to general excitement and a feeling of dread, thanks to the natural deadlines LARP events create.

packing for larp

Image: https://media.giphy.com/media/l0HlGTJmgaz2nVdHW/giphy.gif


Is it possible to be nervous and excited at the same time?

Absolutely, and that’s yet another stage of the preparation and hype.

6. Straight Up Anxiety

If you’re used to spending a lot of time alone, the adjustment to being in a large crowd all weekend can also create some anxiety. LARPs present a lot of opportunity for expectations and disappointment, and it’s only natural to internalize some of that.

7. Sleeplessness

You know how it feels as a kid on the night before your birthday or a major holiday? That’s kind of how LARPing is for adults. I never slept the night before Christmas. When you need to fly, drive, or just generally be awake the following day, failure to sleep is not optimal, and in some cases, not safe. At this point, I just embrace the fact that it’s going to happen and plan accordingly.

This is the stage of LARP hype you can find yourself running on even through the first day of a multi-day event – but don’t forget to take care of your body.

You can also try some standard tips for falling asleep when you’re excited.


What stages of LARP hype do you find yourself feeling the most? Let us know how you cope with the pre-game excitement in the comments.

Dec 22, 2017

Have you ever considered getting a booth or display space for your larp at a convention? After all, it’s a great place to meet local gamers who might be interested in attending your game. It can be an opportunity to work with other larpers in your game to present a positive impression of your game in particular and larp as a hobby in general. However, attending a convention isn’t without challenges for larpers. After you find one that permits larps, there are several pros and cons to consider:


Pro: Vendor Pass – When you attend a convention as a vendor, you usually get a vendor pass. While this might not mean much at a large con, at small or mid-size cons this comes with extra perks, like after-party invites or hanging out with some of the well-known guests. Take advantage of this. Networking with the right person can really pay off. If just one person says something positive about your game to her 700 fellow geeks on Facebook and she brings two of her friends to your game every month for the next three years at $40/game, it represents $4,320 for your game in admission costs.

Con: Not cost-effective – Many larps find that vending at conventions isn’t necessarily cost-effective. Depending on the convention you go to, your booth can cost $25-$5,000 – yes, some of the larger shows do charge that much. The investment of your booth, vending space, transportation, and other expenses can be a gamble. However, if you attract just one player who returns to your monthly game consistently, it may pay off in the long run.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPro: Exposure – Your larp will get some exposure by being at the convention. You’ll meet other gamers, vendors, guests, and members of the press, all of whom can generate buzz about your game. Additionally, you may have the opportunity to do a live demo at the event. Always offer this when you sign up to vend at an event.

Con: Another obligation – If you are one of the people in charge of running a larp, you know how easy it is to experience burnout. Adding another weekend event to your calendar can add to that problem. You can make some more money by selling physical items or tickets to your game at the event, but you must allocate time and resources to manage the finances in the convention environment.

Pro: Out-of-game bonding – Heading to a convention can be a major bonding experience for your group, especially if you share transportation and lodgings. This camaraderie encourages your staff to work together more effectively and can promote player retention. This is a great way to break up the cliques that usually exist in larps and allows new and old players to form friendships out-of-game.

Additionally, meeting others at conventions gives you the opportunity to hear what people are saying about the games and larping in general. It also gives you the opportunity to correct any misconceptions people have about your game or about larping overall. If it’s in the game’s budget, vending at a convention is definitely worth a try.

продвижениесайтаtopodвзлом вконтакте бесплатно по idаквалоо отдыхмикрозаймы красноярск отзывыtragamonedas gratis sin descargar y sin registrarseiranian sex girlsbedava casino oyunlar? oynaRiverboat casinoкилиманджаро ронгаипримеры оформления ванной комнаты

May 21, 2013
  • Join the Larp Community

    larp rss larp tumblr
  • April 2018
    M T W T F S S
    « Mar    

Your Cart