Blood and Iron

At some point, there will be blog posts about the June and July games, I swear!  But in the meantime, Hannah ran her new game, Blood and Iron, over the weekend.  Here’s her thoughts on the game:

This past weekend I GMed my first LARP, Blood and Iron, inspired by the book of the same name written by Elizabeth Bear. Blood and Iron is set on All Hallows Eve in New York City and in Faerie, as the Seelie and Unseelie Courts vie for dominance and survival and the Mages of the Prometheus Club prepare to take vengeance for slights against humanity both personal and historical.

There were a number of unique challenges that made running this game an especially interesting experience. In addition to being the first LARP I’ve run, this is also the first LARP I’ve written. Fawnn and Ted, my co-GMs, made invaluable contributions during the review phase of the process, but Fawnn had also never written a LARP and Ted, while an experienced GM, was new to LRS. Not content with doing something for the first time, I included a number of novel mechanics and that pertained to how the characters recognized one another in-game, moved through the physical space of the game, progressed towards their goals, and used their various magical and mundane abilities. The game was also written for a large cast and many of the players were completely new to LARPing. To top it all off, two players cancelled at the last minute.

Many of the novel mechanics worked very well. A few were confusing and I plan to redo them before running the game again. Fawnn has accused me of writing this LARP to get catharsis for how confused I was when reading the book, and while there may be some element of truth to that, there was more confusion going on than I’d intended. Some mechanical changes and more thorough demos should go a long way towards resolving most of the problems.

One of the novel aspects of the LARP that I was especially concerned about was the concept of cannon fodder characters – relatively powerless PCs who were likely to die near the beginning of the game and whose players had the choice to come back as a different PC, take over an NPC, or leave the game entirely. I’m happy to say that the cannon fodder players (all of whom volunteered for the role) appeared to have had a very good time. One particular college frat boy was enthralled by an Unseelie fae and swept away to Faerie, got ahold of a magical cup that was never empty of beer, and by all accounts was the most successful at accomplishing his goals of any character right up until he was slain in the final battle in the backlash of an attack aimed at someone else. Meanwhile, a character who had been expected to survive most of the game had some very poor luck and was killed early on. That player returned as an NPC whose story went a much different direction than I would have predicted.

The small interactions were some of my favorite parts. A disguised Mage flirting with a Lord of the Seelie Court. A minion getting around her Queen’s commands by recruiting someone else to do the thing she’d been told not to do. An eager college student interviewing his role model for a term paper, unaware that she was in the middle of much greater things. The Seelie Queen banishing an interloping Unseelie fae from her throne room with sheer force of personality. A bargain made for the completion of a task that, unbeknownst to one of the parties, was already done.

I’m excited to run this LARP again some time. With different casting, different interpretations of the character sheets, and different outcomes for some of the randomized mechanics, the plot will quite likely go in a very different direction.

Thanks, Hannah!

-Sarah, Historian Luminant

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