So tired…

Not a lot of sleep this week. I’ve only had Monday night to recover from the weekend, and then I’ve had date night Tuesday (dinner at Rye & Thyme with the hubby; predictable but not boring), RiffTrax Live last night, and tonight, dinner with a friend in Waltham.

Friday night is still open, but then I had the genius idea that, hey, Witchwood is this weekend! Witchwood takes place close to my house! Witchwood has a CP exchange with Fifth Gate! I want to be at season cap for Silverfire 2! I should NPC for Witchwood on Saturday!

Of course, Witchwood is also not an Accelerant game. It bears some resemblances, but there are a lot of different rules, which I am busily trying to cram into my brain. Also a really in-depth culture, which I do not have time to absorb — sadly, because I usually love detailed world-building.

I suppose in some ways it would have been easier to NPC Madrigal this weekend, since it’s at least an Accelerant game (run by the creator of Accelerant, I believe?), but the 20-min drive to Camp Stairmaster vs. the hour drive to Camp Mormon won out.

That said, I’m getting more exercise than I usually do thanks to spring boffer larp season, and despite the inevitable muscle soreness (fuck you, statins), I feel great, and I want this to continue.

Sometime this week — Friday and Sunday, probably — I need to get some writing in, if I want to stay on track for the Codex Novel Contest. I admit I have lacked both time and focus to accomplish this lately. I’ve been overcome by 5G prep, followed by 5G floon. Instead of writing the adventures of Yfre, diplomat and spy extraordinaire, I’m more interested in coming up with playlists for Ianthe (send me recs! my music collection is sad), planning out new costuming for her (didn’t I say NO MORE SEWING for a while??), or imagining how she would react in certain situations.

I’m having fun, though. Life is good. Can’t complain too much.

Things I learned about sewing while making my 5G costume

As always, I continue to be amazed how little I know about sewing. I’ve been doing this for over ten years, and I still am learning new things with every new project. I truly believe the only reason that sewing isn’t valued as a skill is because it’s classed as “women’s work.”

Mitering corners with ribbon. I used the video below to teach myself how to miter corners with ribbon. This is the treatment around the neckline of Ianthe’s underdress.

How to make a cloak. Believe it or not, I had never made a cloak before. For Reasons, it was important that it be a circle. I used this full circle cloak tutorial.

How to work with velvet(een). As my cloak was made of velveteen, I needed to learn how to work with fabric with pile and a nap. This article on Sewing with Velveteen helped. The main thing I learned? Don’t apply the iron directly to it, but steam from a short distance from the non-plush side, over another plush surface, like a towel.

More about full bust adjustments (FBAs). I had originally read how to do an FBA on Sewaholic and knew the basic theory, as well as when one should use an FBA. (I am the perfect candidate for one, as I am generally small-framed with a large-ish bust). Unfortunately I found the Sewaholic tutorial didn’t work for my particular case (I forget why — did it have darts?), but I found some other ones that did:

Narrow shoulder adjustment. This is an adjustment I did not do, and now I really wish I did. Having made a few of the Simplicity costume patterns, I must conclude that whoever the size 20 fit model is, she must have impressive shoulders. The next iteration of this dress that I make, I will take guidance from these articles:

The joys of Fray-Check. Not really much to say here, except that Fray-Check (or other seam treatments) is something I vaguely knew existed but had never used until this project. There were a lot of seams that I couldn’t hide with binding or double up material without adding unwanted bulk in this project. So I bought some Fray-Check, and holy hell is it awesome. How have I done without it before?

Iron-on studs. Another thing I knew existed but had not worked with before. They are basically bits of metal with a reservoir of something like hot glue in the base. You apply heat for 15 seconds to each side, and they’re on! No idea how well it will hold up in the dryer, tho. (I generally Dryel most of my larp garments).

Using large washers as pattern weights. I’ve dithered on buying pattern weights before, but keep not doing it because I find something wrong about spending money on unitaskers. However! The aforementioned Curvy Sewing Collective FBA tutorial uses plain ol’ hardware washers as pattern weights, and, as it turns out, pattern weights are essential to doing adjustments that pivot the pattern.

Fifth Gate Silverfire Game 1

First game of Fifth Gate – Silverfire this past weekend! I hardly know where to start! Exclamation points!

The most important thing first: I had fun and was never bored.

I regrettably have no photos from the weekend itself, but here, have one of me as Ianthe on the way to fight practice the weekend before.
I regrettably have no photos from the weekend itself, but here, have one of me as Ianthe on the way to fight practice the weekend before.

The Site

I’m not sure how important this is, since we won’t be back to Zion’s Camp again for a while. But…

This was not the nicest site I’ve been to. It was about on par with East Boston Camps — the cabins were nastier than East Boston, but the main buildings were better overall.

The cabins — at least, ours, in the “Priesthood Pavilion” — had just been opened for the season, but had not been cleaned out, and were full of mouse nests and squirrel caches. (I greeted members of my group when they arrived with “Welcome to Camp Hantavirus!”) The bed I slept on might have been better used as a tetanus delivery device, and was in no state to have anyone on the top bunk. The bathhouse in Lower Staff was non-functional, since water hadn’t been turned on yet (This is a recurring theme this spring larp season). Walking to the main bathhouse, while not terrible, is no fun at 6:30am when it’s 38 degrees out.

Our campsite was also large — plenty of room for tenting, which is good, but so large that you would have to shout to be heard between cabins. Which, when you’re being attacked at 10am, is not so convenient.

The dining hall — our tavern — was fine, although it did have creepy things like photos of Mormon Elders (I assume? Three old white dudes, at least) next to a painting of Jesus, and signs on the bathroom that said “NO YOUNG WOMEN ALLOWED.” The bathhouse had low water pressure, which made flushing the toilet an exercise in frustration. (I never found them prone to clog, as the cutesy signs — with rhymes — warned, though). I never managed to check out the showers, since (see below) I was perpetually afraid of attack.

The site, in general, is just REALLY LARGE and spread out. The most distant place they did mods was the rifle and archery range, which was about as far as the walk from the parking lot at East Boston Camps. The site was also more hilly than East Boston and Frank A. Day, although I suspect it is nothing compared to Camp Stairmaster in Ashby.

But really, my major regret about the site is that I didn’t get housed in the cabins called Virtuous Women.

Our Warband

Our warband — actually technically two warbands, encompassing a group of sixteen or so members — is great. It is largely composed of theater-style larpers who also do boffer larp, and we seem to have common goals of having a high-roleplay experience. We also took the time to create a shared history, which means we always have something to chat about IC.

I bunked with Megan C, playing Namei Nu, a Disciple of the Tempest, as well as Matt, who is playing my brother Rolant. We decorated our cabin (dubbed Squirrelstown); Megan hung scarves over the rafters as her “lacy underthings” and put Japanese art on the walls, and Matt and I added electric candles and a big glowing, color-changing orb.

I know other games have de-emphasized the group aspect, but coming in with a group of people with shared goals and history has, I think, made a big difference in my enjoyment. It also seems crucial to be part of a warband for gamist reasons; there are many benefits that accrue only to one’s warband, including mitigating the consequences of death (more about that below).

Matt's Rolant shield, in progress
Matt’s Rolant shield, in progress

Bear is For Fite (and Death)

The game felt heavier on fights than I am used to. I wasn’t sure of my impression, but I asked some more experienced folks afterwards, and they confirmed that on a relative scale, this game is very fight-y.

There are amazing fighters on both sides, though, so I’m glad that they get the chance to strut their stuff. It also means organizations of fights is strong — the front line mostly stays together, people call out if they need someone to take their spot or if they need healing, people call out incomings and numbers, etc.

We had… maybe four large field fights? Three on Saturday, and one on Sunday; Friday was mostly just skirmishes. Speaking of which…

Part of the overall fightiness was constant roving pain, i.e. random NPCs harassing you on the roads or in your camps any time stuff is running. Cottington and Shadows only use it sparingly, so it was new for me to not know if I was safe traveling to the bathhouse. I didn’t mind so much; it added to the sense of danger.

Another aspect of the fightiness: seems like almost all the NPCs were deathstrike-active, and would readily kill PCs. This is odd to me, because I’m used to Shadows, where there’s a big sign on the wall of Monster Camp, saying, “You are not deathstrike active!”

Several of our warband were killed over the weekend as a result of all this. While death happens more readily in this game than in some, it is not meaningless or without cost. Several people who went through the gates of death came back with burdens of some sort. Then again, many had favors from their warband members to mitigate the effects, and several lucked out and ended up with the boon that allows you to ask Death a question.


Despite the Accelerant rule being “Always in character,” people seem to vary tremendously in how dedicated they are to this. Megan, who shared a cabin with us, was very committed, and we even chatted IC until we fell asleep on Friday night/Saturday morning. OTOH, on the walk to a mod at the firing range on Saturday night, two of the gentlemen walking beside me were discussing a wrestling gym(?) they were part of.

I try to stay IC at all times, but I trip up, too. For some reason I always want to insert pop culture references. I caught myself more than once saying “Bueller? Bueller?” when no one responded to my queries about who needed healing. Clearly someone needs to call me on it, so that I can respond that Bueller was a fellow student of mine at the Academy, in a class with a particularly droning teacher 😉

Matt and I had fun improvising our shared history as siblings — his reminding me of my abysmal table manners as a kid, my covering my ears and saying NAH NAH NAH I’M NOT LISTENING whenever he was flirting with Nu.

When things did slow down (rarely), I wrote in my journal, which quickly turned into my IC journal. Ianthe really likes to CAPITALIZE THINGS she finds IMPORTANT. And doodle interlocking circles and triangles.

Ianthe's Orb of Battle, her focus for her offensive powers. It lights up in different colors!
Ianthe’s Orb of Battle, her focus for her offensive powers. It lights up in different colors!

Arcane Circle

This is the Order I belong to, which determines what headers and skills I have access to. I’ve jokingly heard us called “mathletes,” since we are basically math mages. Members are called Scholars, the central focus of the Order is the Academy, and unsurprisingly, when we introduce ourselves to each other, it’s by our Exegesis projects (i.e. the thesis-like project we must do in order to be allowed to access Power)

Funnily enough, of the eleven members of this Order at the first game, eight were in sibling pairs! I think I bonded especially with Kein and Kallum Vyland, with whom I was defending the tavern and the Gate before the big field fight on Saturday night, and Nacera and Kaaelin Umber, another Halo of Deflection/Circle of Enlightened Invocation pair, like Ianthe and Rolant. The player of Nacera actually advised me on a bunch of stuff over emails before game, since she is an experienced Accelerant larper who was also playing a healer.

There were definitely mods aimed at each Order. The first Arcane Circle mod was a repeater involving solving puzzles (framed as “balancing counter-equations” of an explosive incantation that needed to be defused) while being attacked. As it turns out, the in-game mathletes were not at all OOC mathletes (and those who were, tended to be front-line fighters!) Also it is really hard to do math-based sudoku-type puzzles by the light of glowsticks.

As a final note on my Order, this exchange, from my warband:

“I’m glad to see we use decimal currency in the Silverfire Kingdom.”
“We must not have let the Arcane Circle design it. They wanted a base-pi currency.”

Crunchy Game-y Stuff

I wasn’t — I don’t think! — as incompetent as I feared. The fight practices really helped, both in terms of correcting weaknesses in my build, and in getting familiar with my incants and verbals. I still blanked on my incants occasionally, or mixed up similar ones, or did a few things incorrectly, but mostly it went smoothly and no one told me I was doin’ it wrong 😉

(Though if I was, please give me feedback!)

Skills I am so glad I took: Resist Fear. (So nice when they were calling out BMV Waste Vitality by Fear in Sunday’s field fight, even if it did cost Mind). I also used Endless Circle of Magic, my event/Power skill that allows me to rest inside my Circle for two minutes and refresh my attributes, as much as I could.

(Waste seems to be used differently in this game — it was just meant to be damage that bypassed armor, rather than lowering your total until rested off. Which is good for the healer with only two Vitality 😉 )

Skills I found less useful: my Cure Metabolic — everything I saw that was curable was Mental (Fear) or Elemental (Fire). I thought there would be a lot of Poison and Disease, but so far nothing. I also never used my Inscribed Circle (allows me to cure twice for the cost of one); there were plenty of field fights where it would have been safe to set it up, but I never really needed it.

Verbal I probably said the most over the weekend: “Diagnose Damage.” I always felt a little uncomfortable walking up behind line fighters and doing this, afraid I would distract them or they would back into me or kick me, but I was told this was okay? Most of the line fighters were good about getting off the field to repair their armor before their Vitality red-lined, too.

As I suggested above, if anyone has feedback on how I did as a healer, please let me know. I felt a little useless walking the back of the line just waiting for people to take damage, but that was what a lot of other healers seemed to be doing?

As predicted, even though I took the Melee Weapons skill, and carried a staff, it was continually set aside and forgotten 😉 I will probably keep it, though — it’s good if the line breaks, and I did manage to use it in the final field fight. But I will get The Rod and the Will so I can hold it while casting, which will at least make me less likely to leave it somewhere.

(Also, Matt assures me that Rolant kept reminding me about it for totally in-game reasons. Totally not because it’s the staff he uses as Johan in Cottington Woods ;))

Oh, and I suck at the “deathblossom” — holding multiple packets tucked between your fingers, with the tails held in your palm and the heads out. I can only do a three-packet blossom for any length of time, and that’s with ones with relatively long tails. But I have sore spots between my fingers on my left hand from trying 🙁

Related quote:
Me, when I dropped one of my packets: “My aura is more powerful than my hand is big.”
Kallum (I think?): “It’s good to have a powerful aura.”
Rolant: “No, it’s more that she just has a small hand.”


If you wish to remain “unspoiled” (not sure that is really a thing for boffer larps) for Silverfire, you can stop reading now. But I do want to say, first, that the heavy combat element of this game IN NO WAY interfered with the emotional intensity of the plot. In fact, it enhanced it.

Random photo interlude! Rolant's hair decoration.
Random photo interlude! Rolant’s hair decoration.

It was brilliant how expectations were subverted sixteen hours into game, in a way that was game-changing yet not entirely unexpected, and emotionally wrenching, to boot. At the gathering early Saturday afternoon, where we were supposed to greet the Silverfire King, my train of thought went something like, “Oh, huh, the king isn’t here, he sent this baron with a boring speech…. yay telling us how awesome we are… wait, what? You want us to do WHAT??

Then James, the game owner (playing the baron who was the King’s messenger) started confronting folks in the front of the crowd, demanding that they renounce their Order, their warbands, and Power. They refused, one by one, all the while trying to talk him down, convince him that the Ebon Order was still a threat. But it was to no avail; the baron named us outlaws, and ordered his warriors to kill us all. In that moment, Rolant yanked me behind him, always the protective older brother. I spent the first few minutes of the fight wandering around in a haze, being unsure if I should attack these Champions I had revered my whole life.

Later, there was the nightmare where we saw the Silverfire King rip off Jarlath’s horns and sever him from Power. That was… intense. It helped that Jarlath was painted so well as a character, both before and during game — in the Silverfire Sunday blurbs, and in James’ portrayal of him as this light-hearted Horned One who tells goofy stories about his lack of pants.

Oh god, and the Horned Ones singing Jarlath to his death, after he returned as evil!Jarlath for Sunday’s field fight….

And Selaine (sp?), the representative of the Ivory Gate, trying to cleanse Ianthe’s nightmares, and finding something unexpected…

Andand doing the ritual to replenish the land the Harvesters had claimed, with Teph/Heddie on Sunday…

And, and, and everything. Seriously, I wanted to hug James (the game owner, who I suspect writes much of the plot, and who played Jarlath, Selaine, and the Silverfire baron, to name just a few). If you see this, James ::virtual hugs:: And to Robin, and the staff and NPCs, and alllll the many Wrathborn players who showed up to NPC for us. I’ll return the favor in a few weeks.

I will, needless to say, be back!

Fifth Gate is nigh

I finished pretty much everything I spelled out in this earlier post, but there’s more to do for Fifth Gate!

  • Finish overdress (I’m on like step 7 out of 42)
  • Finish cloak/invocation circle (see: featured image for this post)
    • Fix the gnarly hand-sewing bits
    • Attach hood
    • Cut lining fabric
    • Apply lining
    • Hem
    • Apply closure
    • Scotchguard it (since it’s going to be on the ground and I’m going to be standing on it, I’ll need something to protect the intricate embroidery and painting)
  • Acquire some sort of belt
  • Acquire/make some sort of pouch to hold packets (could use the leather purse I use for NPCing, but it’s pretty small. Then again, I don’t have that many packet attacks)
  • Finish Orb of Battle (Matt is helping with this)
    • paint the remaining symbols
    • second layer of paint on all symbols
    • attach chain to orb and to belt
  • Figure out what I’m wearing on my legs (black fleece leggings? buy leggings to match brown overdress? Wear brown costume pants over thermal underlayer?)
  • Try on full outfit
  • Memorize my incants! Or, more generally, my abilities (how many Heal by Magics do I have? What costs Spirit, how much Spirit do I have, and how much do I have left? If I’m casting, what the heck do I do with my staff, since I didn’t buy the ability that allows me to cast with a staff in one hand?)
  • Acquire some appropriate-looking note-taking supplies. This could just be the notebook I use for the same thing while NPCing, I suppose.

Other things I’d like long-term, which I won’t get to for game 1:

  • additional outfits
  • a full-length cloak to go with the small one that doubles as my invocation circle
  • better belt and pouches, to match my costume
  • fancy hangings to go around my bunk? The “old sheets” method is less than attractive.
  • incorporate an Orb of Battle into a staff (can’t use the current one, alas, as it’s not boffer-safe)

Our warband, the Eyrie — the “team” I belong to in 5G Silverfire — had a fight practice on Sunday, organized by the lovely Fair Escape. Some Wrathborn players also showed up, as well as a bunch of random Festival of the LARPs congoers who wanted to learn about Accelerant. Together, they provided convenient mooks for us to fight.

The two Wrathborn players, who are very experienced larpers, even created fake mods for us to do, like “fight your way to the top of the hill, where you will find the artifact called the Jade Bedroll (i.e. someone’s sleeping bag).” Once there, we each needed to rest for one minute on the Jade Bedroll to be successful. Despite the silliness of it, I would play that mod again!

The biggest thing I learned, flexing Ianthe on the battlefield the first time? PCing is nothing like NPCing.

NPCing has taught me enough about Accelerant that I recognize the calls and know the etiquette. On the other hand, it’s taught me almost nothing about keeping track of economy — Vitality, Spirit, other attributes; number of heals, number of packet attacks, etc. Most NPCs, after all, are written to have abilities that are limited by number of uses (i.e. “3 x Grant 1 Protection by Magic”) or by how often you can use them (“an uncalled packet every 10 seconds”).

And most NPCs don’t have incantations (“incants”) — those flavorful phrases you need to say before an effect verbal. I thought I had my incants memorized, but it’s one thing to remember them while sitting in your room, and another when someone is charging you. I have literally made myself flash cards to remember them, because as a heavy healer, I have no less than seven, each of them eight syllables or more.

Looking at this, and analyzing the amount of flailing around pointlessly I did, it’s tempting to say I haven’t learned anything from my Two Years of NPCing Dangerously. But there are folks on my team who are even less experienced than I am, and that reminds me of what it was like starting from zero.

When they talk about how hard it is to even notice they are being hit, I remember having that problem at my first fight practice back in 2013. Now, I have a lot more situational awareness. (Still not enough, I feel — but some!)

At my first game NPCing for Shadows, I didn’t know how to answer if someone used “Diagnose Stable” on me. Now, I can reliably recall if I took uncalled or called damage.

Nowadays, too, I know why it’s important to have enough armor and Vitality to take a three-point uncalled flurry!

So, NPCing has been valuable, but it’s only part of the equation. I would definitely recommend it before PCing, especially to folks who feel a lot of anxiety about “doin’ it wrong,” as I did. (I’m one of those people who HATES that whole “incompetence” phase of learning). I would just caution that it won’t teach you everything you need, and there’s going to be another learning curve when you start PCing.

Let’s hope it’s not too steep.

In which I remind myself why I do this crazy thing (larping)

I have not been posting much lately! It’s not that stuff hasn’t been going on; it’s more that I’ve lacked the capacity to write about it.

I feel very much like I want to curl up and go to sleep for a thousand years. It’s not that I’m physically tired, so much as I look at the stuff I have to get done in the next couple of months and it feels exhausting. I let myself believe that this means I can’t have any fun, even though I am doing all of this for the sake of fun, i.e., my hobbies.

Why so much to do? Well, the first thing to understand is that here in the Frozen Wasteland of New England, if you want to play boffer (live-combat) larps, you really only have a small window in which to do it. Two, actually — one in the spring, and one in the fall. The spring window is April-May (with occasional forays into late March or early June), and the second is September-October (with forays into late August/early November). The reason for this is primarily weather-related, but it is also a consequent of the fact that most campaign live-combat games take place at children’s summer camps, which are unsurprisingly in use during the summer months.

This spring, I am going to be PCing My Vewwy First Boffer LARP, Fifth Gate (Silverfire). The first game is the weekend of May 15th May 1st. I am also going to continue to NPC Shadows of Amun and Cottington Woods, both of which have two spring events. Finally, I’ve signed up to NPC on the Wrathborn side of things for Fifth Gate, which gives me one more event.

These are all weekend-long events, going from Friday night to late Sunday afternoon. They can also be very physically demanding — a lot of running around the woods hitting people (or being hit by people) with foam swords. They’re demanding in other ways, too. Boffer larp in this region is big on immersion, and playing a character 24/7 can be tiring. Even as an NPC, you need to more or less always “on.” There’s a sign by the door in Shadows NPC base camp which reads “Beyond this point you are always in character.” It’s not literally true — how many times have I stood on the porch and bullshitted with my fellow mooks! — but it is pretty close to it.

Also, one of the Shadows events is the weekend of the Festival of the LARPs, and I am going to be spending one Saturday driving back and forth between Westford and Waltham, MA, as I head out to play Phoebe’s new larp Woodplum House, a silly Wodehousian parody game. This is especially fun for Shadows, where leaving the site involves, no lie, a one mile walk out to your car (or from your car back to the campsite). Because immersion means no cars on site, logically enough.

If you guessed this means I have almost no free weekends in April and May, you’d be right! What free weekends I have will be full of prep for future games.

Speaking of prep… that can be tiring and stressful, too, especially for PCing games. The organization or disorganization of the game in question can make it more or less stressful for me as an NPC, too. But let’s focus on the PC side of things, here — I have a LOT of costuming I am trying to get done before May 15th May 1st. Probably more than I realistically have time to finish — I’m not sure yet.

So… larp is clearly my most exhausting hobby. I’m pretty sure I’ve stood at this point before and made the decision to throw in the towel. Hell, it was probably about this time in 2013 that I decided not to play Cottington Woods, after writing a character history, plotting with a team, having a boffer weapon made, and ordering a realistic plush chicken. (Checking — yup, that’s about right).

I’m not going to wimp out this time. The difference between two years ago is multifold. One, I’m a lot more familiar with the Accelerant system, and that helps to allay my fear of the unknown. Two… it’s easy to forget off-season, but some of my peak moments have come from these sorts of games.

I remember crying from the intense emotions my (throwaway, one-shot!) NPC was experiencing in my very first Shadows game.

I have fond memories of emotional conversations in the rain, sheltered under a dripping eave; of jasmine tea in a leaking tent.

I remember the sheer fun of covering myself in fake blood and lying in wait for the PCs. Or the same thing, minus the fake blood but plus a mirror mask.

I recall the excitement of landing an exceptionally well-timed attack.

I remember standing in a field, covered in LED wires, shouting out calls at the top of my lungs to keep my teammates up.

And all of this is just NPCing. How much better can it be, I wonder, when I get to play the same character, game after game, for a few years, when staff is writing plot just for me?

This is why I do this — and remembering that helps get through the work.

Since a post isn’t complete without a to-do list around here, here’s what I’m trying to get done before Fifth Gate starts, for my character, Ianthe Florizel. (Unless otherwise noted, due date is game start on May 15th May 1st).

  • Finish writing character history (due date: April 2nd)
  • Add character events to warband timeline (also April 2nd)
  • Finalize character build (due date unknown; builds aren’t being accepted yet, and I don’t know my CP total)
  • Finish the epic amount of applique and hand-sewing for my invocation circle — at least enough so that it’s recognizably an invocation circle!
  • Finish the mockup of the underdress of my outfit (due date: Real Soon Now, so that I can make the real thing)
  • Complete the mockup of the overdress (due date: Slightly Less Soon Now)
  • Make the real underdress(es)
  • Make the real overdress
  • Check with Plot to make sure my Orb of Battle won’t be too big (pictured in the cover photo, above)
  • If acceptably-sized, decorate my Orb of Battle with runes
  • Make (or otherwise procure) something to carry my Orb of Battle (chain, mesh bag, handle, dunno)
  • Do a more extensive try-on/break-in of my new boots, and decide if I’m happy with the sizing
  • Lock-tite the buttons on my new boots, if so

I’ll see you in June? I just hope my writing doesn’t take a permanent sabbatical…

Guess which genius thought the first event was May 15th up until yesterday? Yeah, this girl. (Y)(Y).

In Which I Contemplate a Gentleman Bastards Pirate LARP

So, Intercon P’s theme is Pirates.

I do like me some pirates, and have at times considered writing a pirate-themed media (or historical) mashup game. I think playing Devil to Pay sated my urge for this, but I was thinking… I could use pirates in a fantasy setting.

And then, since I apparently only write fan larps, it dawned on me: there are pirates in Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards sequence. They play quite a significant role in the plot of Red Seas Under Red Skies, in fact, rescuing our heroes when they get in over their heads. There’s a pirate brotherhood (the Council of Pirate Captains), made up of the members of five different pirate crews, which meets in Port Prodigal, which is basically the wretched hive of scum and villainy for pirates on the Sea of Brass. And Port Prodigal is itself pretty dang spooky…

Of course, as soon as I start thinking of this idea, in the car on the way to work (boo going back to work), the song I think of as being a Locke and Sabetha song (Imagine Dragons’ “I Bet My Life”) came on the radio.


Some additional thoughts:

  • Despite the portentous song, I don’t think any of the main characters would be in the game.
  • The crew of the Poison Orchid, who are supporting characters in RSURS, probably would be, however.
  • I imagine the basic setup being something like “meeting of the Council of Pirate Captains in Port Prodigal to discuss Things,” but I don’t have much more than that at this point.
  • Yes, I realize this runs the risk of casting apps which call for this to be The Other Other All Zamira Drakasha game. I’m willing to take that chance.
  • I suspect this would take place pre-RSURS, maybe during the time of Lies. It has to be late enough that most of the Ghostwind Isles pirates have been wiped out, but given characters I want to include, not post-RSURS.
  • I really loved the adventure mechanic in Ex Ignorantia (which is basically a choose-your-own-adventure story, sometimes with abilities), and I think it would be neat to do something with that, maybe as “away missions” from the main meeting. Would it be too much to start the game with “you need to get to Port Prodigal — do you choose the Trade Door or the Parlor?”
  • The Camorr Wiki is not nearly so complete as other fan wikis, so much re-reading would have to happen. (This is both a plus and a minus — the books are great, but I have so little reading time…) For example, I can’t even get a list of the crew members of the Poison Orchid.
  • For as much as Zamira’s characterization is based on her being a mother, I doubt anybody wants to play the mini-game of “babysit Paolo and Cossetta.”
  • Naturally, there would be plots involving a Serious Lack of Cats.

Will I actually write this game? Dunno. I suspect a lot will depend on how soon I finish the first draft of Lioness

Intercon Overscheduled

It was an exhausting and exhilarating and strange weekend at Intercon O, and I am feeling some serious con crash now 🙁

For posterity, what I did:

I spent much of Thursday daytime having a panic attack, because this is how I greet Intercon, apparently. Maybe one day this won’t be so, but this year, at least, I was freaking out about preparing my panels and getting up to speed with all the characters I’d be playing.

Pre-con: I participated in a bunch of panels — so many that I was basically incoherent at the end of Thursday, having talked and thought too much that day. These panels were:

  • Turning a Work of Fiction Into a LARP (moderator), with Quinn D and Lisa P.
  • Film Noir Fashion: Dress of the 1940s (a presentation I did all by my lonesome). Three people showed up, counting Matt, and one of them left halfway through 🙁
  • Why We LARP (moderator, again), with Tony M and… I don’t even remember who else.
  • Useful Handsewing Techniques for LARPs. No one showed up, except Steve K, who had no interest in learning about hand-sewing. It ended up being “social hour with Lise.”
  • So You Want to Run a Game: Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself, with Steve K and Chad B.

The biggest disappointment was the lack of interest in the stuff I put together. I think this is the last year I’m going to do presentations/workshops on costuming topics, at least by myself.

Friday afternoon I played in run A of Shadow Over Mars, a first in a series of one-shot larps set in the Space 1889 setting. I was Chloe Monteil, an angry Frenchwoman, gunner on the ship The Moon of Shastapsh.

Imagine I’m saying, “Zese British bastards!”

It’s amazing how much mileage I can get out of being French and angry — four hours worth, at least. I got to shoot things, and swear in French a lot, and I ended the game by dying(?) dramatically — I was stabbed and pulled off the ship, yelling “MEEEEEEEERRRRRDDDDDEEEE!” on the way down.

Quote from the game: “Ze only people I trust right now are zese two,” (points to A.J. and Jeff D’s characters, two ex-naval officers), “because zhey are trying to sleep with me.”

Bingley, A.J’s character, nodded and said, “I admit there may be some truth in that observation.”

Also, I got to play off Steve B, Consequences con chair, who was returning to Intercon for the first time since G. That was delightful 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing him and all my Consequences crew again in November!

Finally, the game was responsible for this sign, which entertained me greatly:

Friday evening I ran Midsummer Mischief, that delightful Wodehousian game which I like so much that I keep running it for Americans. The game ran very smoothly, many people got engaged (and un-engaged, and re-engaged, and re-un-engaged), pigs were loosed, and Nuance wore a fabulous hat as Lady Constance. She also was part of one of the best exchanges in game:

“Was that before or after you started blackmailing my brother?”
“Before! I mean, after! I mean…”

Warren T, who played Lord Emsworth (and who was one of the writers/GMs for my Saturday game), also showed up wearing a bathrobe and carrying a book about pigs, which I think says everything you need to know about that dreamy peer, Clarence Threepwood, 9th Earl of Emsworth.

Most of Saturday I was in Ex Ignorantia, an eight-hour game of Lovecraft in academia. I played Briony Travis, socially clueless grad student in the physics department. It will surprise no one to learn that there was, in fact, some Mythos stuff going on in my plots 😉

Nothing says “srs bzns grad student” like a Rowsdower MST3K t-shirt, a suit jacket (with bonus cat hair), red shoes, red button earrings, and a Nyankochan sakuramochi purse.

I think what I liked so much about this game was the fact that… it’s a lot like a game I would write! By which I mean, it has fairly detailed mechanics, but it also has great writing, and characters that are much, much more than cardboard cutouts.

Like seriously, the writing. From what I understand, most of what I interacted with was done by Kristen H, as she was primarily the writer for my faction’s plot. Everything from my character I identified a leetle too much with, to the adventures in the sacred groves, to our trip to Carcosa to stop the summoning of Hastur, was beautifully evocative.

The upshot of the game was that Dagon/Cthulhu got control of the earth, minus a few patches carved out by lesser summonings. Briony ended up in one of those with Geoffrey, Will F’s character, after losing most of her faction to the trip to Carcosa.

(Also, as far as HPL knowledge goes, these people knew their stuff <3)

Alsoalso, I got snubbed by Nyarlathotep, so there’s that.

Alsoalsoalso, the fact that the game was mostly run by people who had been in MM the night before makes me wish there were such thing as a Lovecraftian Wodehouse game. Of course, it would have to be named after that chapter in LoEG Black Dossier: “Wot Ho, Gods of the Abyss.”

Saturday night, I played in A Song of Mergers and Acquisitions, which promised Game of Thrones-style politics in a corporate setting. I was Helen Zakarian, assistant to the president of the Congress, with no particular house affiliation. (There is a GoT character who is my analog, but it would be spoilery to say who).

I wanted to like this game — I very much like the type of character I was cast as — but in many ways it didn’t work for me. On the whole, it was a rare game that would have benefited from more mechanics.

For one thing, it’s the sort of game which needs an information economy, and there just… isn’t one. Plus, my character sheet gave me very little sense of my character and what I wanted, and so bargaining couldn’t really happen. I had so many conversations that were, “I can tell you incriminating things about Stark! In return could you… oh. I see you’re already going to vote the way I want you to.”

There was also the fact that no one apparently knew until the end of game that all the votes required a two-thirds majority. Which, despite the fact that almost everybody agreed on everything (another problem: not enough conflict for a GoT game), meant that nothing passed. (In part this was my own oversight: I said to Baratheon — played by Kevin R — something like “Everyone agrees on reducing tariffs!” and he conveniently decided not to correct me).

On the whole, I think this game has a lot of potential, but the writers might not want to shy away from mechanics so much, as it would do a great deal to make the game feel like a GoT game.

And that was basically my con, game-wise. I sadly did not have wakefulness for any parties, which was to my detriment 🙁

Sunday was Packing the Car: the LARP, which I always have to play alone because Matt is in Sunday games 🙁 There was also the “chatting in con suite” part of the day, in which I discovered that Alex P’s first Intercon game was also my own (A Question of Faith, at Intercon F). I also received a bag full of real British Cadbury from Suey, listened to Mike Young talk about the terrible games he has been in, and went to the now-traditional Chicago/Brit-contingent dead dog at Priya, an Indian restaurant in Lowell. I spent most of that chatting with Laurie and Ian, first-time Interconners who turned out to have a ton in common with us.

This is what a fuckton (metric) of Cadbury Dairy Milk looks like.

Oh, and I went to closing ceremonies long enough to learn that a) Sharp & Sensibility is running in Delaware in October, and b) it’s the same weekend as the final event of Cottington Woods 🙁 🙁 🙁 I may decide to go without Matt. We’ll see.

I also learned that there will be another Whateley’s game in the fall, and Matt insists that this year is the year we finally get out to Chicago to play.

And now… Intercon P is Pirates, and I’m cogitating ideas for new games. Oh no…

The Intercalm before the Interstorm (also, Barbara Stanwyck love)

Intercon O is coming up this weekend! It’s like LARPer Christmas!… wait, no, that’s the day after Halloween.

Nevertheless, it’s big, and I have a lot of prep to get done, for games I’m running, games I’m playing, and stuff I’m doing at pre-con.

Here, have a to-do list:

  • Finish Film Noir fashion presentation
  • Review/update hand-sewing handouts
  • Put together kits for hand-sewing workshop
  • Put questions together for panels I’m moderating
  • Do pin curls and 1940s makeup for presentation on Thursday night? Maybe? But that’s probably too ambitious. Pin curls are hard, yo.
  • Finish packing Midsummer Mischief (we’re 90% there — but we still have romance contingencies, room envelopes, etc)
  • Review Midsummer Mischief GM materials
  • (Re)Read Shadow Over Mars materials
  • Find pants for Shadow Over Mars costume (Savers?)
  • (Re)Read Ex Ig materials — make notes, if necessary
  • Assemble Ex Ig costume(s) — I’m imagining my costume evolving over the conference sessions
  • Re(Read) Song of Mergers & Acquisitions materials
  • Assemble Song of M&A costume
  • Gather stuff I’m loaning
  • Pack!

Probably my biggest task is putting together the presentation for my Film Noir Fashion (fashion of the 1940s) presentation. All of the history of costume presentations I’ve done in the past have been about eras that have significantly less documentation. But now I’m getting into the “we have photographic evidence of this period, and LOTS of it,” and it’s a little like trying to drink from a firehose.

For comfort, I look at pictures of Barbara Stanwyck, who, as we all know, is my spirit animal. Pinterest offers me much in this vein, from pictures of her as a 15-year-old Ziegfield girl who still went by Ruby Stevens, to her iconic blond-bewigged Double Indemnity femme fatale, to an elderly matron in The Big Valley. I have some definite favorites:

This one from 1940 will probably be in my presentation, since it’s a good example of a very popular color of the period (copen blue) and a very popular dress style. But man. That sultry look! That perfect cat-eye! The touch of animal print!

I don’t care who says she wasn’t “starlet beautiful,” I think she was gorgeous.

And she liked beagles!

Here she is with Clark Gable, flipping off the camera. I cackled when I came across this.

And a quote from her:

“My only problem is finding a way to play my fortieth fallen female in a different way from my thirty-ninth.”

Relevant for Intercon, too, I think 😉