larp: limbo

At November 19, 2014, I run the larp Limbo created by Tor Kjetil Edland at the OCAD University black box theatre, thanks to Stuart Candy. In a nut shell this game is about people who are hovering between life and death, and they wake up in Limbo. All the characters remember what happen to them, but they have no idea where they are or who is the other people around them. Limbo is a game for 6, max 15 players, and we had 9 players other than me. The total game duration is 3 hours including all the steps, and the game play is about 1:45 hours.

All the players create their own characters with an aid of a form where they answer questions about themselves and the characters they want to role-play. Also, there are   death cause cards, and the players can draw one to inspire them create what happened to them; if they want to, they can re-draw. The available cause death cards were:

  • Bicycled off a bridge
  • Hit your head in a swimming pool
  • Took too many pills (by accident or intent)
  • Got lost in the mountains
  • Injured by someone close to you (by accident or intent)
  • Fell asleep outside in the winter
  • Malaria
  • Heart attack in an elevator
  • Extreme allergic reaction
  • On a bus that drove off a cliff
  • Involved in a bank robbery that turned violent (as victim or criminal)
  • Inside a burning building
  • Struggling to get to the lifeboat of a sinking ship
  • Ill with deadly flu
  • Crashing at full speed into a store window
  • You are sure it was something you ate
  • An accident with electrical equipment in the bathroom
  • An accident at a construction site
  • Whatever it was, it happened because you tried to make things right again
  • In police custody
  • Falling out the window
  • Bitten by a snake
  • Bitten by a spider
  • Drinking bad hooch
  • Hit by lightning
  • On the operating table in a hospital
  • Swimming
  • Attacked by a wild animal

Also, the players can choose two “achievements” in life among the following options:

  • Green: You saved someone’s lifeIMG_2859
  • Red: You found a true love in life
  • Grey: You sacrificed friendships for your career
  • Pink: You had more than 50 sexual partners
  • White: You are still a virgin
  • Black: You ruined someone’s life
  • Blue: You gave up a dream to help someone else Purple: You swam with the dolphins

I choose only six since I used coloured pipe cleaners, and there were only six colours available. The ones I chose were: black, blue, white, pink, red, green, but didn’t follow the same colour-code.

the hostThere are basically two rules: Cut and Break. When someone says Break it means the person need some space, could be physical or mental. Cut means something is not right, and the game has to stop.

There is a special character in this game, The Host. I role-played The Host, and every 10 minutes I got into the game and offer one destination ticket. The tickets are places where people who bears it will go when the time arrives, the end of the game. The places available in the original game are:

  • Return to lifeticket
  • Reincarnation
  • Oblivion
  • Dreamlands
  • Gates of Heaven
  • Gates of Hell
  • One with Nature
  • The Purification Institute (formerly known as Purgatory)
  • Ghost in the Machine

The designer also provided tickets ready to print as you can see above.

Other than the original destination I added a couple more.

  • ticket example-04R’lyeh
  • Neverland
  • Gardens of Eden
  • Shambala
  • Nirvana
  • Shangri-la

Since we had nine players, I choose only eight tickets to be used in the game. I want one player to stay behind in Limbo when all the others move one. The destinations I choose for the game were: Return to Life, Reincarnation, Gates of Heaven, Gates of Hell, The Purification Institute, R’lyeh, Neverland, and Gardens of Eden. As you can see above I designed a more simple ticket.

The original game suggest the players start the game lay down, and the organizer read aloud a poem. Since English isn’t my first language I decided to start the game a little different. I asked the players to lay down, and then I used a progressive relaxation technique while a nice and calm music were played in background. After the relaxation, I used a metaphor of climbing down a stairs, and each step down the players became close to his character and distant from themselves. Also, during the climbing down exercise I suggested them to get in contact with different aspects of his/her characters such as: loved ones, job, friends, family, and etc. Once the exercise was done, I stopped play the background music, so the players know was time to start the game. Soon after players started to interact to one another, I started to play an Eerie play list, as suggested by the game. I didn’t used the original soundtrack provided by the author due there wasn’t any internet connection at the space.

The game last for 1:45 hours, and it ran smoothly. Every 10 minutes The Host entered the room with a new ticket. Different from the original version, as The Host I didn’t tell what was the ticket’s destination, although I gave some hints.

All characters were people from nowadays except for one character who came from 1984. Other than different time there were characters from different countries. Also, all the players followed the idea of close-to-home characters, which is basically role-play a character they are familiar with.

The character who came from the past, 1984, through exchange tickets got the ticket to return to life. It was interesting because the other players started to ask him/her to change their lives, since he/she came from years in the past he/she could meet them and change their lives. One of the players used the “Achievements” in life to create connections with other characters, and he/she role-play it as he/she was able to see someone’s aura and get a sense of what characters had accomplished in life.  Another character had a story of being sick for long time and not able to move freely, so it was excited to be able to move around, to talk, and have fun.

There was a very beautiful moment when one characters shared his/her life story, where every year the character celebrates the death of his/her cousin who died because his/her irresponsibility of drink and drive. At this time the character jumped from a bridge. The player was very sensible and almost cried, I guess at least wet eyes were there. Two other characters support him/her giving sincere hugs.

The group came up with different ideas about why they were there. Some ideas were related to be in a sadist game. Others were fixed in the idea of what they achieved in life was the reason for them to be there. But most of the time characters believed they were somehow not alive.

I planned the experience with a supernatural flavour, so I decided The Host should not resembles a human figure, since his is an entity. When The Host appears in the game I could see, even though my face was covered, players moving away from me, which gave me the feeling of being a powerful entity and the players were afraid and cautious.

During the game nobody invoked the Cut or Break rules, which is a good sign that people were comfortable. We had few people who never larped before, and I think they did pretty well.

The space was perfect for the larp, it was a black box theatre with light control. It provides an ambient without connection to the external world just like the game suggest. Also, the light control contributes a lot to the game. As the game got close to the end, I started to dim the lights until all the lights were off, and then the players were invited to come to the light and face their destinations.

It was an amazing experience and I want to say thank you to Stuart Candy who allow me to run the game.

IMG_2855 IMG_2918

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One Comment

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  1. I really like how you used your strengths to overcome your lack of confidence in English. This sounds like a great game, I look forward to playing it next time it’s run.

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