It’s a bit hard to remember what prompted me to sign up for this LARP. I think one of Anna’s posts just had that right touch of hopefulness on the cusp of bcoming concern about filling the male parts. Anyway, I did, despite a pretty well-known fact: after Hindenberg, I don’t LARP.
I don’t usually LARP for a bunch of different reasons. Chiefly I guess would be the costuming. I generally just don’t care. My previous two pre-meditated outings were characters that instantly appeared in my mind. Prentice Ingram was a “writer of westerns” – who loves Westerns more than me? And Kane Kameron – who hates Ultraman more than me? This time I wasn’t buying a specific character – some semi-informative questionnaire that makes it a gamble what kind of character you’ll get… but the costuming requirement was “formal attire, period preferred”. That is even within my tiny imagination.
And secondly, I have had bad experiences with the “victory” criteria at LARPs. As Siloquil, I had a couple of clear objectives. In the course of the game I gathered together 2/3 of the dark magic tokens in the game to cast a spell, but for narrative reasons it was deemed an automatic failure when coming against a spell cast by Oberon with a single token. I was also pretty annoyed that the “leader” of the Dark Sidhe was revealed as Titania… who hadn’t as far as I could tell done anything to either lead or be evil. Whereas I’d schemed my little black heart out.
Prentice Ingram’s goals were similarly easily understood… and I accomplished all of them within about 30 minutes. That left me 2-ish hours just wandering around making in-character chit chat. As it happens, I really enjoyed my character motif of selling my endless string of dime novels: giving a memorable scene or a plot sketch. But this is not necessarily a replicable experience – it just happened at a moment in my real life when Westerns were my primary fictional interest.
And Kane Kameron? I really had no chance of fulfilling either of my main goals: be elected president? Against FDR? It was a landslide the wrong way. Killing Ultraman nearly happened, before Spock and Kirk rescued the hell out of him. Entertaining… but again, riding on a massive and improbably duplicated real life interest in hating Superman.
So… the questionnaire. In essence, it wanted to know 3 things. 1. Romance. 2. Plot Importance 3. Darkness. Without knowing much of the game context, it was pretty hard to know how to jump on any of these. I think in the end I just wrote something like “I’m an old-timer: I’m going to be able to do whatever you need.” Ambitious, but not without reason… this did leave me pretty much in the hands of Anna though. Hands that are essentially unknown to me, and I to her.
She assigned me “Father Geoffrey Knight”; local catholic priest, basically a second-hand witness to the Sweeny Todd storyline from the movie of the same name. A character archetype I felt pretty comfortable with. The character sheet rolled out, and I found myself struggling to assimilate it. At the end of the 2.5 pages of close text I found myself feeling fairly in the dark as to what the character was about in an active sense. My goals were all phrased in terms of external characters’ main goals: there wasn’t much of anything about me for me.
I thought about it over night, and it seemed to me that I was a 100% support character. I reflected that this actually suited me pretty well. Or rather, suited what I thought I wanted to do in the LARP. Plus, I was really cast against type: the actually decent and good human! However, as a support character, I knew that I would need strong leads that could use me well – something I wouldn’t know until the night, and which made planning a strategy for implementing my goals difficult.