Larp-stravaganza

December was a busy month I attended 7 different events related to larp. On Dec. 27th I played two games in the same day. The event called Holiday Larp-stravaganza was organized by Mark Harding, and three games were played in total. Two games of Juggernaut by Jason Morningstar, and The Hirelings (more info) by Håken Lid and Ole Peder Giæver.

Juggernaut is a game for 6 players, and it doesn’t need a facilitator. The game is  about the first test of Juggernaut a super computer that is capable to predict the future. The characters consist of three scientist, a soldier, a politician, and a special agent. The game happens after the second world war, and the nazi tension still present.

The set up for the game is simple, one device able to play music and a deck of special cards. The cards are predictions emitted by Juggernaut after someone activate it. So, every time someone uses the super computer s/he plays a very short sound effect and then draw one card. Every card says something that is 100% true and is going to happen. Players are responsible to execute whatever the card says. As a player you follow the instructions on the card, but as character it is interpreted as a prediction.

Our first card was drew by one of the scientist, and it said that he lost his special pen. Other examples of cards are: someone is going to get hurt severely, someone is going to confess their true feelings, Kennedy will be president, tell a terrible joke to relieve the tension, one of the character’s mother is going to commit suicide. I used the computer few times, and the cards I drew were: touch everyone in the shoulder, try to escape by using a special protocol and failed, and gas will be released and everybody lose consciousness and wake up without memories about what happened during the test.

My character was from the army, and he had a problem with one of the scientist because s/he was German. Since he fought at WWII, he was careless about his/her life. The first card I drew, the shoulder touch, was interesting because one of the scientist challenged to me to not touch him in the shoulder, and my character became really pissed because he understood it as confrontation about his authority and self-control. Eventually as the game went I started to touch people in the shoulders and increase getting mad about it. I also drew a card about the failed scape. The card only mentioned the protocol name, so I was responsible to create a meaning for it. I decided the protocol was the last alternative for escaping, and it can only be used in case of the complex is locked due an attack; so, the protocol will open doors that supposed to be locked. This moment was a turning point for my character. He wasn’t believe that Juggernaut was able to predict the future, but since the protocol was a top confidential information, there were no chance someone had programmed Juggernaut to predict it. Furthermore, the protocol was the last resource, and if it won’t work, something was really wrong. My character was concerned to use the protocol, but when he did his mind changed. The protocol obviously didn’t work, which leaded my character to believe that Juggernaut was actually able to predict the future.

I drew the last card, and it said that gas will be released in the room and everyone will fall asleep and when wake up nobody will have memories about the test. As soon as I read the card I fell on the ground coughing and telling them to not breath. Other players as they read the card they did the same.

In the room beside another 6 people were playing too, so we had two Juggernaut games happening at the same time. After the game, both groups debriefed together. I heard from the facilitator that there are extra cards and only few cards are necessary to be in the deck, so it is possible to play again and have a different outcome.

The second larp of the night was The Hireling facilitated by Ashleigh Patterson and Hans Messersmith. The game is about a group of hirelings hired by a paladin to loot a dungeon. The game intends to be comic, and make a parody about tabletop RPG such as Dungeons & Dragons. You can find more info about the game here.

The game started with a walking exercise where players were encouraged to walk around ignoring other people and occupy different spaces. As the people walk around one of the facilitators handed out characters sheets and personalities. I was the paranoid halfling, so the whole world was after me. The walking exercise continued, and now players tried to incorporate the personalities of their characters in the way they walk. The next step was to notice the other people on the room and if suitable greet them.

Other than personality characters also had relationships with another characters. Players stood up in a big circle, in my case I was on my knees, and introduced their characters with a couple sentences. Cards with relationship were handed out, and it described the relationship with the person on the left. So, players now have to tell a  brief monologue about their relationship with the person on their left, and then the person also responded with a short monologue. And that was the conclusion of the workshop. The available characters were:

  • Thief
  • Barbarian
  • Elf
  • Dwarf
  • Wizard
  • Fighter
  • Halfling
  • Bard
  • Monk
  • Cleric

The available personalities were:

  • Emotionally unstable
  • Selfish
  • Addict
  • Incompetent
  • Feeble-minded
  • Has-been
  • Whiner
  • Naive
  • Narcissist
  • Paranoid

The available relationships were:

  • Crush
  • Jealousy
  • Prejudice
  • Former friends
  • Sucking up
  • Payback
  • One-night-stand
  • One-upmanship – you always can do better than the other person
  • Secret club
  • Family

Act I was: Team Building. The first step was the interview, and the Paladin, a  facilitator character, leaded it with questions about each character. The answers could be based in the character sheets or just created on the spot. The questions are similar to:

  • Could you tell me a little about yourself?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What expectations do you have of this adventure?
  • What motivates you?
  • Describe your skill set.

After the character introductions, we started to talk about the legends of the Wazir Catacombs, the dungeon we were getting ready to explore. The Paladin started to ask questions about the legends the characters knew about the dungeon. We came up with few legends such as:

  • Gravity trap
  • The deadly kittens of cute
  • Finger and face melting disease
  • Elf spirits

The next step was to define the marching order. We had to decide what will be the line order when they get into the Catacombs. After a couple of discussion, we determined characters order based on their abilities, then we set up the line. I was the first one because I was small and agile.

The funniest part was the Battle Cry where characters had to create a battle cry or  team chant for the group, and the funny part was because the barbarian character suggested the chant was just a scream similar to grunts. The Paladin made e          everyone do it, 10 people scream like animals in harmony, can you imagine that?

Everything were ready, so the adventurers went to loot the catacombs. The actually dungeon crawl happened through a guided meditation lead by Ashleigh. During the meditation the treasures were put in front of each character. The meditation is the second act: The Dungeon Crawl.

The third act: Dungeon Therapy, happened right after the meditation. After character got off from the dungeon, The Sage a professional Dungeon Therapist who helped many adventurers before overcome their traumatic experiences came to talk to us. The crawl was traumatic and terrifying, and also the Paladin died. We sat down in a magic circle where we can’t scape and violence was impossible. This act worked as therapy group session starting by characters describing what kind of dangers they faced during the crawl and how they got the treasures. The next step was the discussion about the loot and whom is going to receive each treasure. I brought an old dead body out of the catacombs, and ended with a ruby worth lots os gold. The treasures available in the game were:

  • Paladin’s head
  • Dagger of Righteous – it slice though steel
  • Bag of sticks
  • Ruby worth a king’s ransom
  • Finger face melting disease
  • Wonderful potion capable to heal any wound or disease
  • Dead body
  • Treasure map
  • Old book wrote in a strange language

After treasures’ ownership were determined the game ended. The last part of the game was the XP distribution. The facilitators decide how much XP (Experience Points) they want to give for each character. I got around 800 xp.

Few comments. First of all Ashleigh and Hans did a very good job facilitating the game. The game don’t allow much space for interaction among characters. Every act is lead by one of the NPCs, so I felt the game could be run as a tabletop game instead of a larp; most of the time we were sitting or standing still.

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