Wednesday, November 23, 2016

LARPs in Limbo

Many years ago, I was involved in the live-action role-playing (LARP) community in New England, and attended Intercon, an all-LARP convention, several times. It's been many long years since I last played this kind of game, and I do miss it from time to time.

This past March, my wife Erika attended Intercon again because a friend who's still very active in that scene had persuaded her to co-write a LARP for the con. They are now writing another one for 2017's Intercon. Coincidentally, they started working on it just before NaNoWriMo--and a well-executed theater-style LARP scenario certainly involves a very similar effort of writing and revising!

Back when Erika and I were still regularly involved in LARPing, I had started working on a handful of scenarios--one in collaboration with her, others on my own--that never saw the light of day. I've always wanted to go back and finish them so that they could be run at Intercon or some other venue, but never got around to it. Now that Erika is working on her second in two years, that might be the push I need to dig out those old notes--or to work on more recent ideas that never even got that far.

Here are a few brief notes about those projects that are currently languishing in development Limbo (i.e., boxes in Tim's garage):

Miskatonic Regional Elementary School: A day in the life of a third-grade class made up of junior spacemen, kid superheroes, and the eldritch spawn of local cultists. I helped write and run this game at a Build-Your-Own-LARP Workshop at Intercon back in 1998, and still have copies of the characters sheets and other material we produced for it. It was a fun little game that was all role-playing with no game mechanics, and it deserves a second run. But it also needs a heavy-duty polishing first (which I've taken a first stab at, but need to do more work on).

Albuquerque!: A LARP based on the works of "Weird Al" Yankovic--and especially inspired by songs such as "Midnight Star," "Everything You Know Is Wrong," and "Jerry Springer." He's released at least two albums since I last worked on this, so I'll need to work as many of those songs into the fragments of characters and plots that I already have. My family went to see Al's Mandatory Fun tour this summer (my kids' first time seeing him live, my and Erika's second), so my interest in this one has definitely been rekindled!

Caravanserai: Travelers from Arabia, China, and beyond meet in a caravanserai on the Silk Road in central Asia, circa the 1300s. Erika and I had worked out most of the characters and plot, but need to go back and flesh out character histories and "blue sheets" (handouts that give characters additional background that their character would know, such as the history of a place, or their faction's identities and agenda).

Narnia (untitled): At one point, I tried to sketch out a scenario set in C.S. Lewis's Narnia, but was never satisfied with the result. If I ever go back to it, I'll probably mine the most recent movies for additional ideas, since they invented a great deal more action and visuals for the various battles.

A Lazy Sunday Afternoon in Freeport: I've been a fan of Green Ronin's Freeport: The City of Adventure setting ever since its birth back in the dawn of D&D Third Edition. I would love to develop a set of LARP rules tailored to the setting, but in order to do that properly, I also need a compelling introductory scenario suitable for a large group of LARPers--each with their own agenda and secrets--rather than a standard party of dungeon-delvers. My working title is a joke about the fact that most of the adventure titles in the product line follow the format of "[Something Horribly Depressing] in Freeport," starting with the original trilogy of Death, Terror, and Madness.

Those are the games that come to mind right now. If you are interested in hearing more about any of them--or better yet, want to play them if and when they are completed and get run near you--please let me know in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I loved Miskatonic, and would love to see it back again. The others also sound interesting, and Intercon always needs more LARPs. I encourage you to pull them out of storage and work through them. Even more, I encourage you to come back to Intercon - to see the diversity of new role-playing ideas and styles, to meet with the amazing new players that make a larger, wider community. We have a lot of fun, and we also have some LARPs that are accessible to younger players, to involve the next generation of LARPers. You might even consider coming up for a NELCO in the summer, when we've been running Build Your Own Game seminars, that have produced some fine new LARPs.

    I'd really love to add a live link at to a revived Miskatonic LARP!