Shadows’ End

This weekend was the last event of Shadows of Amun, the campaign larp I’ve been NPCing since August 2013. It was my first campaign boffer larp, in fact, and the one that has formed my ideal of what that sort of game should be.

In that time, I’ve been…

  • Hahanzi of the Dom, daughter of an Elder and a crime lord, and almost-victim of his continued immortality,
  • Queen Maria Komnene of Jerusalem, trying to forge peace in the wake of the second Crusade, via tea and flirtation,
  • Penny, a.k.a. Penelope Q. Dreadful, the scarab proto-queen gifted to Mrs. Loring, later progenitor of MI-13’s scarab army,
  • Nephthys, Egyptian goddess of darkness, lamentation, the night sky, and many other things; the night-bark to Duat.

… and many other smaller roles — Well Dark-Eyes, the Fida’in fangirl; Amisi the aggrieved widow; vengeful slave Cassia; Julia, Senator Picens’ art expert; Artemisia Gentileschi; the angel Minevah; to name just a few.

Maria Komnene, Queen of Jerusalem, in 1168

All in all, it was a good run, and I am sad to see it go. It was a part of my life four times a year for nearly three years, and while I was sometimes reluctant to get out there and hit things, I always ended up enjoying myself. Along the way, I made new friends, caused lots of trouble, and helped to create something beautiful.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, too, you can look back at some of my old LJ posts about the game.

Penny the Scarab goes to Luxor

Shadows of Amun was this weekend, and as a perm NPC, I was there. It was our first game in 30BC, and I had fun being various characters, from murderous slaves to Roman charioteers.

But the most fun I had was being a talking bug.

When I got to Monster Camp on Friday, I heard those magical words from Quick: “I have a role for you.” Apparently I was slated to play a scarab drone gifted to the PCs as part of a truce with the local hive. I was initially a little bit dismayed, as I’d planned to go home in this time slot (12am-2am on Saturday night/Sunday morning), but once the module was explained to me I looked forward to it all weekend.

(For a little context as to why this was so awesome, scarabs are a recurring monster in this game. Indeed, the whole reason we’re time traveling is to prevent the Scarabpocalypse of 1919. The equivalent in a high fantasy larp would be something like “go play this baby goblin that was gifted to the PCs”).

“Do I have a name?” I asked Quick.
“No — you don’t have a concept of names. Though if the PCs give you one, you’ll answer to it.”

“Any bets on how long it will take the PCs to put ribbons in your mandibles?” Matt said.

It didn’t take long at all for me to get named — pretty much the trip from the beach to Monster Camp. I was gifted to Mrs. Loring, the PCs’ own hive queen (played by Amy W), and she decided I should be named Penny, because as a sister to the hive queen I was a proto-princess. Though Loring’s first instructions were to hide, I warned her I would come to her if she was in danger — because I knew I was scheduled to go out and fight on the side of the PCs in Sunday’s field fight.

On Sunday morning Quick and Lackey were discussing the field fight, and who would brief the PCs — usually an NPC who is fighting on the side of the PCs is the one who explains how the fight will work. They ruled out Jesse doing it as Marcus Antonius (as he had no IC reason to know how it would work), which basically left the task to me. Right — free three buildings of “food,” lure out the Priestess of Serket. It was my first time fulfilling so important a role, and… I think I did all right?

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY. When I came out as Penny, Mrs. Loring decided that I needed something to distinguish me, so that the other PCs wouldn’t think I was a hostile scarab and attack me. She sent Malcolm to grab a scarf from her cabin. Hence, while not bows in my mandibles, I did end up with a colorful sash.

Penny’s identifying markings. I was urged to keep this, both IC and OOC, and since in Shadows individual NPCs generally hold on to their own face costuming…

… I have my first token from a player. It’s kind of adorable.

I hope I can come back as Penny in a future game. I have so many embarrassing things to say to the rest of the hive!

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).