Gathering the Heroes: The LRS GM Brunch

We don’t have any LARPs running this January, but that doesn’t mean we’re dormant!  Instead, we had our inaugural GM Brunch.  I’m hoping that this will become a quarterly tradition, as it was a lot of fun.  We invited everyone in the Society who either writes games, runs games, or is thinking about running and writing games.  Then we all descended upon a restaurant at a most ungamerly hour of the morning, and ate tasty food and talked shop.  Topics of discussion varied wildly, but there was a lot of interesting discussion of mechanics from past games, and how to fix them.  There was also some amount of reminiscing over past player antics, and wild daydreaming about future events.  We are very lucky to have such a large GM corps.  We ended up having ten people turn out for the brunch, which was a large and lively group, and we have several others who GM for us but who weren’t able to make it.

Related to our wealth of GMs, I am delighted to announce that we have filled the LARP calendar for 2017, and we have an intriguing array of new and classic games for you.  There will be a more official announcement about this soon.

-Sarah, Historian Luminant

Midwinter at the Summer Court

Rounding out the Luminary Roleplay Society’s games for 2016, on Dec. 11th Acata ran a LARP called Midwinter at the Summer CourtMidwinter was about a Court of the Fae, facing a dire threat on the night of the year when they were weakest.  It was a short, accessible game written for a large number of people – we ultimately had 23 players!  We are excited to report that several first-time LARPers turned out.  They were great and we hope to see them at future events.

Midwinter, like Will that be All? before it, asked the players to provide a lot in terms of fleshing out the world and the plots and the connections between the characters.  Unlike WTBA?, there were some pre-written plots, which drove the action of the game.  However, we also were encouraged to develop more on our own, and add things to the world as we saw fit. (There was a whiteboard in one room where we could log all of these added elements, so that others would know they existed and use them in their own plots.) Similarly, on our character sheets, we had very few preexisting connections to the other characters.  Instead, we did a pre-game round of connection building – we all had four randomly drawn colored beads, and we would partner with a person with a bead whose color matched one of our own.  Once we were all paired, Acata told us what kind of connection to form with that person – i.e. positive, negative, or a bit of both.  We then repeated this process twice more, reserving the last bead to spontaneously generate past connections during the course of the game. (I don’t think this was used too many times, though.)  We were encouraged to form connections with players we didn’t already know, which helped mix up the groups of people who have gamed together before.

Once all the setup was done, we played!  The game is live, so I can’t go into much detail about what transpired.  Suffice it to say that there was a profusion of memorable scenes and excellent roleplaying, it was a very fun evening, and I thought it was a nice finale to LRS’ 2016 season.  We’ll have more information about our 2017 plans soon.  Until then, happy holidays!

midwintersummercourt

Some of the players of Midwinter at the Summer Court.

-Sarah, Historian Luminant

Will That Be All?

On Dec. 4th, Adrienne ran a LARP called Will That Be All?, which was all about love and relationships between the servants at an English country manor during the 1920s and 1930s.  It was a lovely game with a unique format quite unlike the usual LARPs that tend to be run in this area.

Will That Be All? had very minimal character sheets – each character was outlined briefly in a few sentences on a playing card, and we all chose our parts as part of the set-up of the LARP.  We then established some connections between our characters, again drawing from a limited set of cards, and briefly decided a few details about the family we worked for and the servants’ hall where the larp was set.  These things varied from the charming (a bowl of flowers, a cheery fire, the housekeeper’s ‘secret’ stash of toffee) to the realistically irritating (the hideous carpet that we all hated).  We then began to play.  The LARP took place in three acts, which were set on New Year’s Eve of 1928, 1931, and 1935, respectively.  Between each act, everyone explained how they felt about all the other characters (which was less cumbersome than it sounds, as the LARP had a small cast).  Then, we chose new connection cards to represent some of how our feelings had changed in the intervening year.  As the years went by and the optimism of the ’20s faded into the anxiety and depression of the ’30s, the characters grew and changed.  Some relationships grew stronger, others fell apart.  The final Act took place on the eve of World War 2, as the manor was being sold and we all went our separate ways.  Two pairs of people got married, the rest remained single.  We vowed to keep in touch, but OOC we all knew that the next ten years were going to be hellish and uncertain for all of the characters.  It was an emotional and moving final hour.

One of the things that I really appreciated about the game was that it succeeded at the difficult task of creating a LARP that could be run essentially GM-less.   Due to the gentle, emotionally-focused nature of the LARP, there was no need to have an omniscient GM to adjudicate conflicts and insert new information into game.  This meant that Adrienne explained how everything was going to work and walked us all through the process, but then she was able to pick up a character and play along with the rest of us, only putting on her GM hat in order to let us know when midnight was occurring (so we could toast/kiss/propose to each other) and when each act was ending.  I don’t think it is a format that would work for every game, but for this game, it worked very well.

Alas, I have neither quotes nor pictures from this one.  Despite the lack of corroborative record, however, it was a very enjoyable game, and one that I suspect I will remember fondly for quite some time.

-Sarah, Historian Luminant

Grand LARP 2016: Collision at Corazon

About a month ago, the Luminary Roleplay Society hosted the first Grand LARP, which we hope will become an annual tradition.  We wanted to do something a little larger-scale than our standard four hour LARPs, and took some inspiration from various large LARP events we had heard of or played in.   The result was a 3-day LARP that had 3 GMs and 21 players.  We held the game at a cabin near Lake Tahoe, for an extra-immersive experience.

Collision at Corazon was a science fiction epic involving a collision between two rival warships, a monastic space station who rescued the survivors, a rogue merchant ship that happened to arrive at the same time, and the mysterious crystalline planet that held the key to all their fates.  Over the course of the game, it became clear that only one of the ships, or the station itself, was going to survive past the third day, and the plot revolved around each faction trying to make sure it managed control the surviving craft, while exploring the galaxy-altering secrets hidden on the crystal below.  There followed a succession of revelations, intrigues, betrayals, back-room deals, and a lot of soul-searching.  It would be too hard to recount all the amazing scenes and plots that our fantastic players created, but suffice it to say that, at the end, the cyberpunk-inspired Coalition of Outer Worlds fixed their ship, thwarted an attempt by the other faction to hijack it, and nearly everyone flew to the safety (?) of Coalition space, leaving a few stragglers behind.

Grand LARP was a massive undertaking.  Matt, Amanda, and I were the writers and GMs, and we worked on the game on and off for a year, writing hundreds of pages of character sheets and setting documents.  Meanwhile Acata and Aaron heroically took care of all the logistics necessary to get two dozen people up to the mountains, fed for three days, etc., which was a great relief to the GM team!  It was worth it, though.  The players all reported that they had a great time, and we’re already excitedly planning the next one.

One of the things that was very special about Grand LARP was that the cast of characters really were an ensemble of 21 people of equal importance.  Losing even one character would have left a noticeable hole in the plots and themes of the game (to say nothing of the mechanical balance).  As we left for the mountains before the event, the GMs worriedly hoped that no one would suddenly come down sick or be called away on a work emergency, because we literally had no way to compensate for their loss.  Even a player who didn’t really emotionally invest in their character or what was going on would have damaged the game.  But everyone made it, and all of our wonderful players brought so much to their characters and the game as a whole, thoroughly exploring everything we had written into the game and even showed us things that we hadn’t realized that were there. Each of them added pieces of themselves, developing their characters far beyond the initial sheets, making the LARP richer and more wonderful than we had imagined.  We feel very lucky to have such a large group of dedicated, passionate roleplayers to draw on for our games, and we’re looking forward to seeing all of them at future LRS events.

Here’s some pictures of the game:

-Sarah, Historian Luminant

Outside Event: Event Horizon

Lately the LRS board has been sending ambassadors out to forge alliances with other local LARP groups, and we are finding all sorts of cool events throughout the Bay Area.  We’ll occasionally mention them here, in case our membership might want to check them out.

For example, this isn’t being run by the LRS, but it looks pretty cool.  Some of us are considering signing up.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1224641808/event-horizon-larp

 

-Sarah, Historian Luminant

Con-Volution 2016

The Luminary Roleplay Society attended Con-Volution a few weeks ago, where Acata, Aaron, and Matt ran “Dungeons and Delegates” and “All the President’s Zombies.”  Your Historian Luminant was not present, but fortunately, Acata wrote about the con on her personal blog, which I shall link here:

https://larpingkitty.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/con-volution-2016-report-0/

https://larpingkitty.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/con-volution-2016-report-1/

https://larpingkitty.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/con-volution-2016-report-2/

https://larpingkitty.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/con-volution-2016-report-3/

https://larpingkitty.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/con-volution-2016-report-4/

https://larpingkitty.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/con-volution-2016-report-5/

-Sarah, Historian Luminant

Inaugural Event: All the President’s Zombies

The Luminary Roleplay Society has had its first official larp!  On Saturday, September 10th, Daniel – with the able assistance of Matt and Amanda – ran “All the President’s Zombies,” a larp written by Mike Beddes (not affiliated with the LRS).  We, the players, were cast in the role of the President and his cabinet, trying to work out how our administration was going to respond to reports of a zombie uprising in Georgia.  With scanty information on the real situation and a fast-approaching press conference about the crisis, we debated and argued and ultimately came up with a plan – or at least, something that looked enough like a plan that the public would accept it.

 

All the President’s Zombies (hereafter abbreviated AtPZ) is unlike most of the other larps in the LRS Grimoire.  The Society’s catalog of larps are mostly written in the old Stanford style or in the MIT Assassin’s Guild style, both of which feature heavy PvP and strong mechanics to help facilitate the action.  AtPZ, by contrast, has almost no mechanics at all, and the problem that drives the plot is both distant and unsolvable.  The players must work around that limitation, and do what they can to make the situation better, even if they can’t fix it completely.  Nearly entire game takes place at a conference table, although the GM would occasionally pull players aside with phone calls from their staff (played by the AGMs) which brought new information into the game.  This was done with the GMs’ actual phones, for an extra touch of realism.  Once we had a plan that seemed reasonable, the president headed off to the press conference, where the rest of us played reporters and grilled her mercilessly on the plan that we had devised.  It was a unique format, and it was also a lot of fun.

 

Here’s a small sampling of quotes from game:

 

“On a scale of 1 to Cuba, how bad is this?”

“We can see Cuba.  We’re not *in* Cuba, but we can see it.”

 

“How fast do they move?  Running?  Shambling?”

“I’ve been informed that we have not been able to get one of a treadmill.”

 

“Are you telling me that the United States military cannot shoot animals?”

“I’m sure they can, but they’ll get back up.”

“I think at this point some panic may be warranted.”

 

Following the larp, we adjourned to a nearby park along with a few additional LRS members, and had a small picnic, wherein we hung out, ate tasty snacks, reminisced about past games, and talked a bit about the future of the Society and upcoming events.
– Sarah, Historian Luminant