May. 4th, 2017

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Festival of the Larps 2017 happened this past weekend, and I wanted to note down a few things.

I very much enjoyed my time there, like I always do. I've never had a bad time at Festival. It's a very special weekend for me, as it's Brandeis's home larp con and I've not only been attending it for over ten years now, I've been involved in its organization for a lot of that time. I really love larping at this event.

But this time around I was so tired that I didn't get quite as much out of it as I usually do. I had periods where I would mentally check out of my games where I was a player just because I was so exhausted. I liked everything I played, but wasn't quite as sharp and on the ball as I usually am. Still, it was all good, and I don't think I ruined anything for not being at my best.

Friday night I played Alleged Entertainment's The Day We Came Home. I generated a handful of character sheets for this game, but I knew little enough (remembered less) that I could play without being spoiled. It's basically examining issues around immigration in a sci fi setting with the format of a political game. Not my usual style of larp, but it's a good example of its genre, and I'm glad I gave it a try. Also Tegan, one of the writers and GMs, totally blew my mind with her advice for how to address missing PCs due to drops: "If you need something from someone who isn't here... get it from someone else." A revolutionary and practical shift in mindset when cast issues arise!

Saturday afternoon I played Primal Spirits, where everyone is the innocent avatars of animal creatures in the early days of the world. I was Rabbit, which pleased me, as I applied a lot of my theory of rabbithood from my favorite novel, Watership Down. All the world was my enemy, and when they caught me, they would kill me-- but first they must catch me. I had a rather primitive sense of justice and had to come to terms with my children's status as ultimate prey animal. Again, my tiredness curtailed my play a little, but in collaboration with Peter Litwack I came up with a pretty clever trick to make myself come out on top in a race with Horse-- the winner would be the fastest to reach an apple, which I buried in the ground at the other end of the track. Because I was the faster digger, I won! Frith, a rabbit trick!

That night I ran the larp version of Silver Lines. I love, love, love that game. It's a very solid mystery, and physicalizing the various in-game locations with props translates it nicely from the tabletop form to the live-action one. I missed having Jenn as my co-GM, like I had at Intercon, but it's manageable with only one person; you just have to play all the NPCs. It really makes me want to write more games in this style, set at other points in the Hawking story timeline.

I did have one problem post-game that I didn't handle well. I had one player who had a stronger than usual emotional reaction to her journey in the game. I should have just shut my dumb mouth and listened, but she kept relating it back to how the game was written. Even though I knew better, I kept trying to interrogate her to see if she had legitimate criticism I needed to incorporate into an edit, but I think it just made her feel judged. I should have just listened and let her express herself. As it was, I felt kind of like a bully.

The last thing I played was supposed to be a cowboy game called Once Upon a Time in the Wild West, a prepackaged game from a professional larprunning company called Questoria. Sadly they had a lot of players not show up, so they had to sub in a short, smaller parlor game in its place. That was actually fine by me, because being so tired, I didn't mind a quicker larp. The new one turned out to be a murder mystery set at a seance, which I enjoyed enormously-- not least because I was the only one who solved it correctly! I love mysteries; I've been studying them and writing them a lot lately, so I'm actually glad the game turned out the way it did.

So yeah, overall, good weekend, though I was sorry my overall dragginess, particularly mentally, made me less sharp than I usually am. Thank you to everyone, particularly con chair Adina Shreiber, for all the hard work to make it happen!

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