in Blog, LARP

Return to the Sceptered Isles, part two: Consequences

Yes, I was in England in November. Yes, this has been a long time coming.

On the second part of my transatlantic trip, I flew to London and took the train to Christchurch, Dorset, in order to attend Imaginary Consequences, a larp convention.

This is my third year attending Consequences, but it’s never been exactly the same trip twice. This year, taking the train was the new part. I did not account for the fact that I would not have a place to stash my ginormous suitcase on Southwest Rail trains, nor the fact that I’d have to change at Clapham Junction, one of the busiest exchanges on the line, nor that I’d have to drag said suitcase up two flights of stairs at said station because there wasn’t an escalator or elevator.

Ah well. The best I can say is that we managed, and arrived at Naish Holiday Village, where most everything was more familiar to us. We shared a lodge with Tony and Elyssia, as well as two of their friends who I hadn’t met before — Steve and David.

I found the latter utterly fascinating to talk to about history, especially legal history, as he’s been a lawyer for many years. From him I learned why judges in the UK wear black (apparently they’re still in mourning. For Queen Anne), and what the difference between a barrister and a solicitor was (which made the relationship between Eugene and Mortimer in Our Mutual Friend make a lot more sense). David also runs a vaguely 17th-century, 7th Sea-inspired tabletop campaign where the characters just went through the Siege of La Rochelle, so we spent some time discussing that era in history, too.

My schedule was light at Consequences — I only played in three games, and one of them was an off-schedule private run of a game after the con ended. This is due to having more trouble than usual signing up this year; I think more people than ever were in attendance. (The 4pm Eastern signup time wasn’t great, either, but it’s probably the best option available).

As a result, I spent a lot of time in the board gaming room. (Where I played new-to-me games Kingdom Builders, Mysterium, and Among Nobles).

Anyway! To the larps!

My first game was Músþéof, a 2-hour game by Dave Collis. I signed up for this game largely for the “Mouseguard/ Anglosaxon/ Amber setting,” which intrigued me, because cutthroat politics with fuzzy animals sounds like fun. I’ve played in Dave (and his co-conspirator Ben’s) Amber games before and found them entertaining, so I figured this would be much the same.

The characters are the members of three mús (mouse) guard patrols returning from harrowing missions, reporting on and dealing with what they’ve found. The world around them is crumbling in various dramatic ways; on top of that, there’s a schism between believers of the Old and New Gods (the new being the princes of Amber), and some old family rivalries, which are tearing the mouse community apart from the inside.

As Asmindr Whitecloak, the de facto leader of a patrol gone horribly wrong, I spent the first half of this game locked in a room with the rest of the patrol, trying to decide what we were going to tell the others about what happened on our patrol. The rest of the game… was a lot of yelling. (This happened in the straight-up Amber game I played, too). We tried to agree on what threat we were going to deal with first and who was going to lead us, but came to no conclusions. Accusations were made of murder plotted in the past. More yelling, and fighting.

I think I ended the game by scurrying off with a group of other mús to a supposed promised land?

I’m not sure what to make of this game. It was too short to ever be boring, but I felt sort of adrift, uncertain how I felt about the terrible things I’d just seen, and uncertain what to do about it, or where my loyalties lay. I knew I was a follower of the old gods, but other than that I had no strong feelings about what happened to my character.

While the world-building is a real strength of this game, I feel it could use more structure in terms of what happens when you return from patrols and how decisions are made among the mús. There didn’t seem to be any mechanic to resolve any of our various conflicts, which is what contributed to the resolution-by-loudness, I think.

There was cheese served, and I got to wear fleece pajamas to game, though, so no complaints 🙂

My Saturday evening game was The Dying of the Light, a Peaky game by Nickey Barnard, Tym Norris, Ray Hodson, Richard Evans, Mike Snowden, and Alli Mawhinney. This game takes place on a near-future Earth on the edge of ecological disaster. You play a leader of a world government or organization at the Omega Conference, which everyone agrees is probably the last resort to keep the world from ending entirely.

My character was Rachel Stahley of the Neo-Luddites (a faction I continually referred to as Space Amish, even though space was not involved in any way). The Neo-Luddites were shepherding what remained of the world’s agriculture, and were eager to keep it that way. While being very traditional-minded, Rachel was up to some very non-traditional activities. (My costuming, incidentally, was my ever-versatile black layered dress and a white lace shawl). She was also, in many interesting ways, a character I probably wouldn’t normally play — but I’m glad I had the chance to, mostly due to a lot of casting issues.

I think I did pretty well in terms of my personal plot in this game (to say more would be spoilery), though the NeoLs definitely did not get what they wanted (which was a reduction in technology and a return to the “old ways”). We averted a few terrible disasters, but I think at the end of game we were all about to die of the avian death flu… so. Don’t know how successful the conference as a whole was, then!

I didn’t interact at all with the hacking mechanic (no surprise there), but from the outside it looked interesting, and fairly streamlined. (Apparently in the first run they had tried to use Netrunner as the hacking mechanic which… did not work so well).

What this game taught me, most importantly, was that a group of Bill Clinton clones is properly referred to as an “orgy.”

Finally, I played in a private run of Burning Orchid (Ben Allen, Nickey Barnard, Martin Jones, Heidi Kaye and Alison Rider Hill) on Sunday afternoon, after the con was officially over. This was probably my favorite game of the con.

The game is set in 1932 at the wrap party of a movie, Burning Orchid — “detailing the passionate heart of a claustrophobic forbidden love story set in the jungle villages of Guatemala against a background of a country riven by political turmoil. And that’s not just the movie!”

I played Judy Gardner, a supporting actress in the titular film, just getting her footing in the movie business.

… aaaand I pretty much spent my entire game sitting in a corner, blubbing at Graham A, who played my co-star.

This is not usually the sort of game you would think of me liking — it’s plot-light, character-heavy and emotionally intense — but I did, and in spades. I would love to see it run at Intercon some year, as I think there’s a lot for that crowd to love. Heck, I’d love to do a private run of it myself.

And that was my con! I didn’t even stick around through Monday, as I did last year, since I had an early-morning flight to catch.

  1. Sounds like a fun time! I remember reading one of the Mouse Guard books and wondering how it would fair as a LARP setting. …Maybe it’s more of a boffer LARP setting. Like Redwall. LOGALOGALOG
    Dying of the Light is a more popular title than I realized. (It’s also apparently a book and a movie?) Is it a reference to something? Or just a really cool sounding phrase.
    Is Burning Orchid available online yet?

    • Strangely, Dave did not know the Redwall books when I noted them on my casting questionnaire as a source I’d like to draw from!

      Yeah, pretty sure Dying of the Light is a reference to the Dylan Thomas poem:
      https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/do-not-go-gentle-good-night

      AFAIK Burning Orchid isn’t available online. But I also know Nickey comes to Intercon some years, so I’m hoping I can connive her to run it next year.

      • Connive away please!

        Ohh… I don’t think I’ve ever read that poem in full. That’s so funny, I interpreted “dying of the light” as the light was killing something, as in “dying of heart failure” but rather the light is the thing doing the dying. I learned something today.

        I must spread the word of the Redwall books, to increase the odds of someone running a LARP for me set in it, so that someday I might be a champion climbing squirrel, a shrew of GUOSIM (Logalogalogaloooggg) or a Hare of the Long Patrol. (EULAAAALIAAA).

        Why aren’t battle cries more of a thing in the local boffer LARPs?

    • I played Walter Marshall in the scheduled run of Burning Orchid, opposite Elina G. as my married costar and leading lady. The intensity between the two of us was unbelievable. The rest of the cast was just as stellar, with Graham W. perfect as the urbane, snarky writer. I had to take a long, cold walk after the end of the game, just to come back to earth and decompress. I urged Martin to bring it to Intercon somehow, and I will continue to work on them to do so. I’d happily help you do a private run or three if we can arrange it.

      I also had a very poignant and wonderfully unexpected story play out in Love Letter, another game I’d love to see at Intercon. It was surprisingly sweet.

      I never expected that Tony and A.J.’s ongoing Kestrel series game (The Constanta Blockade) would end up rated third on my list of games from Consequences.

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