Larp in the Aliens Universe at Colony Wars

Larp in the Aliens Universe at Colony Wars

We were invited to Colony Wars Larp, to join up with a band of colonial marines. So Stuart and I travelled to a venue running alongside Stansted airport runway to find out more. What we encountered were colonial marines, morally ambiguous synthetics, apes and giant spiders. It was a good larp.

Of course a good larp, doesn’t say much. So what do I mean.

The Setting

Aliens hints a large number if surveyed worlds, terraforming projects and drops by marines. Couple this with the strong 80’s vibe that permeates the Aliens universe, the existence of the Engineers, and Predators and we have a rich mythos that is lightly explored on screen. This is what Colony Wars tapped into – quite successfully.

Of course one universe is never enough. So for this event the feel and attitude of the Apes from Planet of the Apes is also added. Interestingly the more thoughtful Apes and gung-ho marines made an interesting combination. Also when I say Planet of the Apes this is not a literal taking from the movie. The humanoid apes are there. This variation saw a shamanistic religion being developed by the Ape players. Which is great – just the sort of thing Weyland-Yutani likes exploiting.

Ok so that’s the vibe –

What about the game itself ?

First of all – I loved the Ape masks. These were all specially created for this event and were very comfortable to wear. Instead of having latex in contact with skin, we had the inside of a motorcycle balaclava. Great idea as this a fair more breathable and friendly material. It meant that the masks could be worn all day, which definitely aided immersion.

Next up I’ve got to shout out the guys playing marines. Great combat gear and also a superb level of Nerf modification. My favourite had to be the M41A Pulse Rifle, Made from 3D printed parts mounted over a nerf chassis this really looked and felt the part.

Also the marines and Weyland-Yutani (insert expletive here) staff, put together a great camp with cooking on an open fire. There was a kind of Vietnam feel here and that to me that hit the mark.

The rules themselves were minimal. There were safety considerations and it the outcomes of combat and technology use were quickly apparent. The device of having one of the game refs play a synthetic really helped glue things together.

The Puppets

An aspect to this game that really stood out  was the use puppeteering. It worked like this. In game there were creatures (face huggers and giant spiders) that the players encountered. The actions of these were controlled by a puppeteer who wore black. The idea was that players would focus on the beastie and not on the crew member. This worked supremely well. The players role-played keeping their focus on the creatures and ignored the crew. Speaking to them later it looks as if they were genuinely only observing the puppets.

Oddly during my time playing a spider I found myself remembering and channelling the amazing spiders from Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time. Brilliant book and seriously recommended.

Colony Wars is a great example of what a small larp can achieve. Good plot, well organised but above all run with the players very much in mind. This was a first class event.

My final view is that of the players and organisers. Fantastic people. Very friendly and I can’t thank them enough for asking us in.

The Photos

Will there be more?

At the end of the game the organisers said no more. This was the last. I later saw the words never say never crop up online. So this is why no link to the organisers. At least no until they say they want to more. Should that happen I’ll be more than happy to report back to you.

Twilight Realms Larp: Shard

Twilight Realms Larp: Shard

Welcome to Shard. This event by Twilight Realms Larp was played om the weekend starting 6th April 2018. LARPBook was there and we covered it in a 3 pronged attack

  • Thomas: Was a Player
  • Rob: Was Crew (and took some photos)
  • Stuart: Walked around watching and taking a lot of video footage.

You’ll be seeing photos and videos. If you’d like to hear a discussion take a look at the LARPBook Show Episode 63, with audio here and video here.

Let’s Start with a Trailer

A Little More About Twilight Realms

Also known affectionately as TR by its players. Twilight Realms started at the turn of the century as a world building larp. All the initial players had a hand in developing nation states set in the World of Tempress. A world with a somewhat violent history where Priests and Sorcerers had fought for control and it had not worked out well. Nations were left separated by hard to heal rifts and trade had all but broken down. The story starts about 100 years after this apocalypse with an attempt to restore trade and trust between nations.

So started a campaign that ran for 10 years ( i know I was at the tenth anniversary party). This period created a vast amount of lore that today still informs and has an impact on the direction and content of the current game.

Then there was a hiatus for a few years

Then Twilight Realms the next generation started.

This time there was a central world referee and world plot controller. Set 10 years after the original campaign this new series of events follows a group of character caught in world shaking events that if not left unchecked may very well lead the world once again down a very dark path.

This reset is very much like a Fantasy RPG where players find themselves in a continuously evolving story that is played out in a rolling campaign. Each event follows on from the last. Many of the player characters are new and learning secrets not known to many. Some of the players bring characters from the first run. With all the baggage that can entail.

This is big scale heroic high fantasy.

 

Shard

Let’s talk about the event itself, Shard.

The name describes a Shard – a piece of a stone imbued with the powers of a God, It’s existence sends the players on a quest to gather more of its parts and in so doing create a weapon that will help them against a growing supernatural threat that is bringing war and terror to the world.

TR plays it’s games over a Friday and Saturday. Starting Friday evening. Playing all day Saturday with a social gathering at the end of the event. Sunday is breakfast, chat and clean up time. It’s a format that has worked well and creates a relaxed larping environment.

I’ve been thinking about how to best describe this game. I certainly had a very good time, with some excellent stand out scenes. I also firmly believe that everyone playing will remember their own set of scenes they loved. I’m also aware that parts of this game contain plot spoilers for the next event. I want to avoid those. So here is the plan. I’m going to describe my favourite moments and then show you a couple of photo galleries and video diaries that we shot during the game. This I hope will give you an idea.

Magic Moments

I was given the chance to bring back to life an old NPC. An Elven Priest and Alchemist determined to monitor and protect the purity of his race. He’s also a bit of a political animal and will sometimes do unexpected things if he see’s useful knowledge coming out of them.  Fortunately to the players he also follows orders from the King – which helped get around some problems. With this character I loved his chance to meet up with an old Player Character enemy that he really did not like or trust. That was fun, but not as much as roleplaying the blessing of a feast and letting  my inner evangelist came out to play. Hands were waved so hard in the air there was a chance of actually taking off.

Next up I was playing a freedom fighter who’s band had just captured some enemy soldiers on the retreat. We had a chance to warm up before the players found us. In this time we looked at ways to restrain our captives, we mocked up on how to look violent and created character roles. We wanted both sides of this exchange to have personalities. So we talked, joked and experimented. When the time came to interact with the players everything was established and things flowed beautifully.

Part of the prep involved menacing small talk about the weather as a foul means of torture.

The scene ended with a battle between a legionary shield wall and a small band of fighters. it was great stuff.

The Harem

This has to stand up as something exceptional. We ended up playing the butchest Harem in history. A keenness to wield swords had left us more than little low on female crew for a planned harem scene. No problem a mostly all male crew donned sari’s practiced sashaying, tried out seductive voices and put on our sexiest poses. If you watch the show that goes with this article you’ll hear the name Ambrose mentioned. Simply because he was not only an awesome woman, but a wonderful leader of  our harem. Thank you Ambrose. Also my apologies to both players and referees. We had a bit too much fun in our dresses. Some of those who encountered us may very well be in need of counselling.

Gallery 1 – Photographs from LARPBook

The Twilight Realms Gallery

The Video Diaries

The Credits

  • Article: Rob Davies
  • LARPBook Still Photography: Rob Davies
  • LARPBook Video: Stuart Edwards
  • Twilight Realms Still Photography: Charlotte Blakemen

 

 

Review: Find My Larp

Review: Find My Larp

First Impressions

Clear simplicity are the two words that first come to mind. The start of the home page is dominated by a single search box; Google style. Type in what you are looking for and the site will try and find it.

Scrolling down takes us to instructor buttons that will help its two primary audiences (larp organisers and larpers), learn how to use Find My Larp. These help areas are simply written and should be a help to anyone. For me the focus is on organisers and there is some nice transparency on how payments later. I’ll come back to the payments later but for now lets say I like the method used.

Finally we come to options to select larp by country and genre. Arranged in a grid with large nicely illustrated buttons these are nice and easy to use.

Searching

So how easy is it to search?

Well the home search box didn’t immediately accept text for me. However clicking on the magnifying glass logo solved that. Simple text searches work well and bring up the available options

Also You move from into a search area with options for selecting, countries, genres, price ranges and if the larp is child friendly or not. I really applaud the indictor for child friendly. Very often it is not explicity stated on larp websites if an event is child appropriate or not. So making this a thing here is really important. Well done.

Putting in prices ranges is another smart move. It feels as if the price differentials in larp get bigger every year. Again leading this to be something that needs to be clearly illustrated.

Search results are shown on a grid of results, in a list, or on a map. The map is cool. Although personally I prefer the grid. This is a personal response – I just happen to find this view easy to read.

Search in Find My Larp

Listings

So now we now that we can find things what does a larp listing look like?

Like a product listing is the answwer. The illustration is from Bothwell School of Witchcraft. An inaugral listng for Find My Larp. You can see space for a large clear illustration and easy to use ticket selectors. Scrolling down there is plenty of space for descriptive text, a link to the larps creators, a Google map of its location.

Importantly there is plenty of space to describe both the larp and any payment options / terms. Flicking through the listings I haven’t found anything that looks like a larp that has run out of space describing itself. Big tick there.

Money

Find My Larp takes payments for tickets. This is done via Stripe. You may not have heard of Stripe before. Do not be concerned about that. Stripe is an online credit card processing system that has been making big inroads with Internet developers. It is very secure. It’s designed from the ground up to seamlessly integrate into websites. Outside of LARPBook I spend some of my time working on website development and technology consulting. Like a lot of people in my position I’ve been won over by Stripe so I am very pleased to see it being used instead of PayPal.

This is a great decision.

 

Final Thoughts

Find My Larp is a welcome addition to the websites on the Internet that list larps. It is well thought out and it is easy to use. I’ll admit I haven’t made a booking through it yet – though that is almost certainly only a matter of time.

If I was launching a new larp – I would list here. No question about it.

I particularly like its International slant. Travel for larp and in fact larp itself is becoming global. Working with that trend can only be the smart move for Find My Larp.

Click Here for Find My Larp

Beltane, A Fear of The Dark Larp

Beltane, A Fear of The Dark Larp

A few weekends ago I travelled northwards to the new Fear of The Dark site to play in their first event for a number of years. That event was Beltane and I’ll be talking about it here

First though it seems appropriate to confess an interest and perhaps tell a little bit of the Fear of The Dark (FoTD) back story. FoTD is a small Welsh larping group that have been around for about 25 years. I had my first larping experience with them. Since then I’ve been a player, crew, writer and referee with the group. In other words I’ve been pretty involved and that does leave me with a desire for Fear of The Dark to do more.

The Background

FoTD games all have a number of distinguishing features. They are very real world. If you can stabbed, shot, stapled, chopped, minced, munched or maimed in any kind of way then the repercussions on your character will be serious. No sudden magical healing. This also extends to the setting – modern day games are set in the here and now. These can riff off the news right up until the start of the event. Historical events take on aspects of actual history. Even explorations into Science Fiction and Fantasy are all designed to have that real cutting edge.

These are also freeform larps. In that there are no complex rule or character generation systems. You simply have to come up with a story for your character and play that character. The sense of the real will take over the rest.

In a sense these games have a Nordic feel as they are all about pushing the meta and rules to one side that the player can ride an emotional experience.

Beltane was the first game since 2012 and it was to be the start of a series of games of which 4 are planned. Note that when I say series I mean one after another. I do not mean that the stories are linked. Campaign style play is incredibly rare in Fear of The Dark. Most events are one off stories. If you are lucky the larp may get a rerun. In the main though these are all stand alone larps. It does mean that FoTD are back from their hiatus.

Beltane

Avoiding spoilers here’s the backstory. Its the year 1268. Only 5 years before Edward 1st invades Wales and the construction of Caerphilly Castle by Gilbert de Clare has just started. It is a difficult time for Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. In mid Wales maybe a days travel from the English border a band of gypsies aim to host a Beltane festival. For various reasons people start to gather at a nearby inn. Events start to unfold. Now I cannot say which people arrive at the tavern as true to FoTD style those characters are created by the characters independently of each other. On this run it included nobles,spies, gypsies, spies and thieves. An odd mixing of medieval society.

So events unfolded. Slowly at first. Inexorably tensions and suspicions started to rise. In the early hours of the morning apparitions ‘convinced’ 3 of the inns guests to venture outside – ill equipped I should say as the players reacted fully in character and went out without shoes or boots. By the morning time everyone had their own ideas, but it was time for the start of the Beltane festival. A festival that did not go well for any of the players

At this point I have to stop as I am either going to give away spoilers or continue to sound like a B movie voice over.

Lets put it into context. There was a lot of trepidation in this event. Quite a bit of I am scared of that. A fair degree of I am fighting against that and more than enough creepiness. Beltane had two runs. I was on the second and there a couple of scenes that I will not forget for a while. Perhaps the most memorable being one in which trust between evil and church as being negotiated.

Was it Good?

For me this was a good event. The new site for FoTD games worked well. The game felt right and the handover to a second generation of writers and refs felt somewhat special. I can’t wait for my next outing with Fear of The Dark.

If you would like to learn more about Fear of The Dark here is their website: https://www.fearofthedark.co.uk/

 

Twilight Realms – Black Heart – Event Overview

Twilight Realms – Black Heart – Event Overview

Last weekend (if you’re in the future that’s starting on March 24th 2017). I crewing at the Twilight Realms event “Black Heart”. The latest addition to an ongoing campaign in the clubs Tempress setting. This isn’t a review; I was playing a new NPC character so that makes me too close to the running of the event to do a proper impartial analysis.  This is more of an overview.

As with all Tempress games this was a high fantasy event. As an ongoing part of the latest campaign it was very high stakes.  The players are a party that have become embroiled in changes to the world following the rise of a resistance against a powerful and expanding empire (in game – the Helevetian Empire. Best thought of being very much this games version of the Roman Empire.)

The story was simple. Investigate what the “Empire” was doing in a seized portion of the country of Brindle. The problem, Brindle is a country once ruled by Vampires. Now at least a part of it is under the control of the empire who are undertaking some very unethical experiments on magic and immortality.

The game started on Friday night. Arrival on site was well organised in that – this is were you unload and this is your accommodation allocation.  You knew where to go and people pitched in, making the unloading of cars a breeze.

From a crew point of view we had individual briefings. Meaning each NPC player only knew the information they were supposed to know. There was also a lot of written material to digest. I like this approach of only knowing what you need to know. It makes playing your specific part easier as you can just focus on what matters to your character.

Set dressing also proceeded quickly. The game was ready to play.

In this event Twilight Realms refs were trying out some new Walkie Talkies. This worked out great and really added to creating good game flow.

The game structure was this. Friday night introduced the story. Saturday was an open sandbox larp. The players could do whatever they wanted. In any way they wanted. Success would give them information and resources. Failure would have anything from no effect on the game world through to dire consequences. However personal failures and problems were also possible.

The actual end was a success in terms of the story. However the majority of the party were left with personal issues that will have to be dealt with.

My NPC was a researcher driven mad by the unexpected consequences of his work. A beautiful role that gave me a chance to play a large range of emotions. Ok – it meant I could ham it up.  I was also able to work up some physical play using a walking stick. Perfect. Later in the game there was also a chance for a bit of monstering. So for me, this was a good event

In terms of game flow the players started as planned and then started to have all kinds of ideas.  Some of them uncannily accurate. Others were wild flights of fancy. The refs and crew adapted by making decisions on encounters, information dispersal and the timings of NPC appearances.

This made the event a highly interactive experience.

At this point I’d like to make a special note of thanks to the monster crew. This team worked non stop to give the players a good experience.

That’s one of the reasons I like the Twilight Realms experience. Everyone, players and crew alike set out to create a great experience.

The ending of this event leaves with a lot of story options. Already there more than a little curiosity as to how the impact of Black Heart plays out.

Event Photo Gallery

All the photos for this event were taken by the Twilight Realms team.

The Bat Creatures

Dark Heart featured some large bat like monsters. During the game they became the players nightmares.

This footage is of the costumes undergoing testing

Please note that as Facebook video

Is Adam Savages Tested a Good Place for LARPers?

Is Adam Savages Tested a Good Place for LARPers?

I first encountered Tested.com through a YouTube suggestion. In fact for a very long time I only watched the videos. I’d just pick one that sounded interesting and let it play. Over time I’ve realised that is more to offer than as a generic geek culture / maker culture place. It does in fact have really good information on it for larpers.

Take a look at this one on painting a zombie mask. The dialogue that considers thoughts on character, and colour really work for me and help understand perhaps the thought process that could lead to better prop preparation.

In fact prop construction and design is a big part of Tested. Adam Savage is well known as a movie and costume geek and this blasts in through in projects that cover the recreation of classic movie props. Like this fave from Barbarella (ok showing age) .

 

I completely understand the need for larpers to absolutely not copy movies. However since a lot of us are inspired by film why not look into how a prop is made to inspire the making of something bespoke for a game?

So far I’m coming down on the side that Tested is indeed a valuable resource.

Of course it’s not all prop making you’ll find gadget reviews; ranging from drone (possibly useful) to coffee makers (not so much). So it is not all gold; and there are some geeky discussions that may be fun to watch but in general they do not really directly help us out.

Then we find things like. Creature Geek.  Essentially a podcast where special effects artists talking about their trade – which puts is firmly back on the track for larp friendly content.

This bounce back between relevant and not so much simply highlights that Tested is not made with Larp in mind. Its a site for people who want to make and explore things.  It’s for people who want to think about the world and film culture. For me I believe this will entertain a lot of larpers. It also suggests to me that this may inspire good ideas in people and also show off techniques that you may want to use. It’s unlikely to make you a better story teller; but it may help figure out how to get that cool thing you want for the next event working.

So yes – Tested is good for larpers.

 

The image used in this article is from YouTube. We hope Adam doesn’t mind.

 

Review of The Sword Falls

Review of The Sword Falls

Last weekend starting on March the 11th I was lucky enough to be crewing at a Forest Argent game again. This time the first weekend event of 2016. This time round though things were going to be a little different.  You see its been decided that the LARPBook Shows presenters will go around and crew at games. The idea isn’t just to look for review material – it puts three pairs of eyes out there looking out for good ideas. It also means the three of us see different aspects of the event – hopefully that leads to better discussions on the podcast and better information from both this site and the podcast. I don’t see this was being one sided as we do role play quite well together and on this event that did lead to what we’ve been told were some very memorable moments.

This time round the story featured what happens when a monastery in the world of Sann refuses to ally itself to the prevailing shogun. Travellers who wander between the worlds of the “Forest Argent” are on hand. What will prevail? Shenanigans most likely.

So the setting is called Sann and is inspired by feudal Japan. Only in this version there are distinct race groups making up the society. The easiest way to describe this would be a caste system. Each race has a its own niche that it occupies. In fact, that was one of the pleasures of crewing this game. The crew were briefed on the the racial archetypes and we then had the fun of watching the players react first to a very alien society and then to realisation that not all the people were the same.  Come to think of it that’s not just fun – its adding some subtext into the event (cue smiley face).

The game started in Friday night and immediately the crew got to feel what this game would be like – alternating between playing pure bred combatants and strong characters. The opening was a combat in the dark set piece. The players looked resplendent with many of them glowing in the dark with their steampunk inspired “Galvanic”, weapons and accessories.

Once that was over it was time to visit the tea rooms of the monastery and that cued in the first arrival of the Monks. For me that was  special time as I was teamed up with Luke to play a pair of hopelessly drunk Monks who were always only a hairs-breadth away from being dismissed from the pure like due to their obsession with brewing and drinking. I cannot really express how much fun we had with those characters. In case you’re wondering we also remembered to play this pair of rogues somewhat muted the next day as they coped with awesome levels of hangover.

After this opening the game settled into a goodly pace as the players started to understand that both the monestery and Sann had an undead problem (caused it turned out by events at a earlier part of their story). They did the right thing – and worked to correct it. At the same time they were tested by surrounding clans – could they be useful as allies when the Shogun came to the burn the monks out of their home. Whilst trying to figure out Sann honour bound politics and what would happen if the Shogun increased his power base (the down side would likely be an invasion of their own homelands).

This gave The Sword Falls a really different feel to my last incursion into Forest Argent. That game had elements of a fairy story mixed with Lovecraftian horror. This was all honour, politics and combat.

Then again it is good that the same system running a series of linked stories can explore different genres. It helps to keep it feeling fresh; whilst keeping players and crew alike on their toes.

Mean while back at this event there other notable moments. Such as the encounter between the players and the old veterans guarding copious quantities of tea. I must also include a valiant effort to defend against a horde of undead as the worked to solve the zombie problem and the convenient and entirely “coincidental” arrival of a clan who decided they needed to engage the players in games and duals. All excellent moments.

I think you can see that I really had a good time here. I did – I find it very easy to recommend Forest Argent – its about my level of plot, character, mad science and strange magic.

I’d also like to mention that last game everyone was wonderfully friendly. This time round I was starting to really feel like part of the community. This group are fantastic at bringing new people in and making them at home. I know this is a larp trait – but its always awesome when it happens so naturally.

A special mention has to go to the catering team – who kept us all fed and watered – thank you.

Finally I was part of a big crew and everyone worked well together and we were very effectively briefed and managed by game organiser Gideon Lawrence.

If you’d like to learn more about this group here is the website:

http://www.forestargent.co.uk/

And click here for the Facebook Group. You should note that Forest Argent is a part of Wyverns Tales Larp.

 

 

 

LARPCON 2016

LARPCON 2016

A little later than hoped but here is our report on UK LARPCON 2016.

This year set in the Hermitage Leisure Centre – Coalville. The local authority considered it be an overwhelming success – see this article. That though is a numbers based view. What was it like?

Let’s start by saying that it was a lot of fun. I got to talk and spend time with friends old and new. The large number of traders allowed me to buy some things I needed immediately and plan for future events later on this year. Having a large trader hall – effectively a LARP market is without doubt a good thing.  Beyond this there is a lot more going on at LARPCon.

First of all there was a programme of talks. The best attended being on diversity in larp (I missed this – partially because I didn’t get to the start and partially I didn’t want to grind my own axe – I’ll speak more on this in LARPBook at future date), and  sex crimes in larp. This however clashed with being the captain of a starship.  The fact that we could have booking clashes is a great step forward. It means the programme for LARPCon is growing  and that is definitely a positive point.

So let’s talk about being a Starship captain. This year Penarth and District Wargames Society build a bridge using the Artemis Starship Simulator. 5 PCs provided key bridge positions with their view of the action and decisions are made by a captain who only has what his crew tell him to go on. It is a lot fun. I was in a 1 hour session and the time just flew by. It was also a pretty immersive experience. This to me is a pointer to future were it becomes easier and easier to build things that help us suspend disbelief.

Going back to the main home hall we also had game organisers alley. A long stretch were event organisers milled and talked about their upcoming events. I loved the buzz that held here all weekend.

Staying on the game front – this year saw test runs of Paranoia – a LARP version of the classic tabletop RPG game. I had a chat with the organisers and at this point they are trying to secure a suitable bunker to run it in. Personally – I really hope this happens as I was and am a massive Paranoia fan

Were there any down points to this event? Yes there were. The wrestling programme – though consistently watched did cause a noise nuisance that drowned out people trying to talk about LARP. The other problem was that wrestling ring itself though a novel setting – didn’t really help the larp awards. The seating stands though did. So this was a mixed blessing – it was easier to watch – but the ring or rather its ropes became a bit of barrier. There was also a bit of a management problem this year where a certain illusionist stayed on stage for too long. Sorry Crap – you make me laugh but an hour was too much when we wanted the award ceremony.  The good news is that LARPCon has already run its own event feedback and it looks like changes are coming in for next year.

So 2016 gave us a good and growing convention. A few problems true but these can be overcome. I know that I will be back next year – and I hope to see you there too.

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