Monday, 18 May 2015

LARP II: The unexpected value of ignorance

In my previous post I had written about how my first ever LARP event was a storming success. I’d left feeling empowered and energised. 

But, like a die-hard fan of ‘the original’, I was secretly concerned by the idea of a sequel.

Either way, I was back for a second go at it. I strolled onto the camp site ready to take on the (fantasy) world again and waved a keen ‘Hello!’ to a few familiar faces. A few hollered back.

I had perfected the art of carrying a tent, sleeping bag and tankard to make room for my trusty guitar. My rucksack contained less fodder and more socks. I felt like (and quite literally was!) a weary traveller whose journey was only just beginning.

It was a sunny Friday afternoon when I had arrived. It was still a couple of hours until kick-off so, after setting up my tent and settling into a bard’s outfit, I suddenly found myself at the mercy of pre-game hubbub.

People were faffing with tents, costumes and cars; all getting ready for the weekend. For some this went on late into the evening.

The place came alive as the field filled up with a weekend community of people, drifting unpredictably between themselves and themselves. Some had begun speaking in their voices that I recognised - others had changed colour altogether.

As the sun fell away we all gathered in the big tavern for the boss to call an official ‘time-in’.

Perhaps it was the frightened newbie in me that suffered from an unshakeable sense of awkwardness. Or perhaps with my previous experience and a greater sense of expectation, I became acutely aware that I didn’t have anything to do.

I brushed the vexing feeling away, sipping my trusty tankard of cider, and went ahead to perform as loudly as a bard should in a tavern crowded with people. I was making the most of it. A dodgy rendition of “The misty mountains cold” fit the scene nicely.

After yet more socialising - which had an atmosphere like that of your local on a Friday evening - we had the official announcements by the head honcho to mark the official beginning of story-time. It was the preface to a book I'd been waiting to open.

Everyone shushed and listened to the rules and restrictions like naughty children on the night of the school play. Of course, it wasn’t without some light banter. Though the sincerity of his subjects (safety, noise-levels & language) made the entire thing feel less... organic

I can understand the need for such a lecture. A crowd of grown adults running around dressed up as fantasy heroes clearly need their boundaries firmly set! Still, it was like being made to read the safety rules before your turn on a bouncy castle.

As I faded into my next tankard of grown-up apple tango we were issued our first challenge. Like a scene from Monthy Python and the Holy Grail we were faced with four riddles that we must answer as a group before we may pass beyond the confines of the tavern.

This quickly devolved into; a lot of loud people and a lot of silent people struggling to organise themselves - which takes a lot longer when people are waving swords and magic spells around! As a newcomer it was especially hard to get my opinions taken seriously - much like real life I suppose.

I tried resorting to more intelligent tactics (like suggesting to a goblin my answer might be his great idea in the hope he'll yell it out!) but, since all my guesses were off the mark, I'll remain thankful we got out alive.

So, we finally submitted the correct answer and everyone sauntered out into the wide world to discover where we had be transported to...

And then, what felt like, nothing happened the rest of the weekend.

I am certain that lots of stuff happened over the whole weekend. People around me seemed busy, anyway.  I just felt more like an observer to it all.

My previous experience had set a benchmark from which I had expectation. I played a dozen monsters last time. I witnessed three exciting missions last time. I half-understood where we were and why we were there last time. I attended a real funeral pyre!

Perhaps I had erred in expecting everything to be as fabulous as before but it still left me more than a little deflated. More worryingly; I wasn’t sure where to turn for guidance.

The experience I had at the event was definitely not the same for everybody else but I’m sure I am not alone.

It made me want to huddle back around a table with three or four close friends and start rolling dice. I wanted to let loose in a world where our imaginations could fill all the gaps and correct our little mistakes along the way.

I would encourage anyone who wanted to LARP to consider this until they suffer from word dissociation:

The more you put into the LARPing, the more you get out of it. And as a consequence, the more you expect back.

So, after an 'unengaging experience' like this, should you go again? Well, I guess that depends on how ignorant you are to the amount of rubbish that comes along with - what I still consider as - one of the world’s coolest hobbies.

A wise man once said to me: “If you hate getting hit with a paintball gun; suck it up or don’t go paintballing.”

And the same goes here for all cases .

I think it’s important I go LARPing again for a third time with the same group.

After all, I'm still writing about it!

Thanks to the Seaxe and Sorcery Facebook group for the photos

To find out more about the event I went to; visit this facebook group.

To get in touch with questions or get involved; send me an email.

To learn more; here is a 1 hour documentary on LARPing in New Zealand.

1 comment:

  1. Events with massive major things like funeral pyres are rare.
    Events where you have to kick yourself up the butt to actually be involved are less rare.
    If you find yourself at a loose end you have a few options:
    Enjoy the relaxing nature of time spent not running round a field;
    Go find plot. Plot will not, for the most part, come looking for you unless you specifically asked for it;
    Ask for plot. If you have something you want to do talk to the refs then organise it (the more notice you give them of this the better!!);
    Go do something that f***s things up, get slammed with a huge fecking multi-part quest to make restitution. Seriously, this is cool. My first event I told my racial leader to "stand down and apologise". I got hit with a multi-quest which took a year and a half to complete. It was mostly awesome!
    Monster/NPC for a bit (I recommend squire adventures, they are the best!)

    Above all, enjoy the gathering of friends, kick back and relax and go looking for things to do!!!