The secret to running in a suit is to…

A: have it tailored specially for that purpose or B: wear pants a size or 2 too big. It isn’t a perfect solution, but it worked well enough for me. Yesterday saw the latest Zedtown, a zombie apocalypse Nerf war, with over 2200 people making their way to Sydney Olympic Park to play a giant game of tag.

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The author, looking as blurry and tired as he felt. Also, his selfies are shithouse.

It’s my 6th (I think) event modding (I’ve also played 2) and by far the biggest we’ve seen. Highlights include: players first sight/hearing of The Witch (Yes, she deserves capital letters), seeing the survivors of the fall of Blue Base desperately trying to escape (Spoiler: they didn’t), the Doof Zombie getting players to do the Thriller dance (Which I just missed getting on video), players fleeing in horror and terror from a zombie T-Rex and the sheer joy of responding to players queries with “That information is on a need to know basis citizen, and you don’t need to know.” Also, having someone finally ask “Please can I have a fuel container?” IT TOOK 4 GAMES FOR SOMEONE TO SAY PLEASE WE WERE SO HAPPY. And yes, that player got the fuel. Politeness goes a long way citizens.

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Zombie T-Rex!

It never fails to amuse me seeing how quickly people go from ‘It’s all a fun game’ to ‘This is life or death’ mode, and for a lot of them that’s when the zombies are first released. It’s hilarious when people try to stand and fight at that point. We aren’t trying to kill you that early, though there have been people who’ve purposely gotten bit early to spend more time as a zombie. (Tagging humans earns you upgrades, including tentacles or speeding up respawn times.) Our job as marshalls is to make sure people obey the rules and are having fun, and that’s something we take seriously. We (I) don’t call it the ‘Hi-Vis of Authority’ for nothing!

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My top tips for future Zedtowns:
1: Comfortable shoes. This cannot be stressed enough – you’ll be doing a lot of walking and running.
2: Food and water. Carrying some is sensible (Muesli bars and a water bladder backpack’s a good option), but if you can’t then stake out sources of both ASAP. That also goes for toilets – if you urgently need to go and the nearest toilet is near zombie territory, well, you’ve only yourself to blame.
3: Weapons. Opinions divided on this. I’ve seen people last almost to end of game with nothing more than a backpack full of socks (Clean and rolled up as per the rules mind you, not weighed down with spare change) while others turn up with enough foam darts to supply a small war. That massive automatic rifle will blast many a zombie, but when it runs dry, you’d better be prepared to run. No matter what blasters you carry, practise with them – reload on the run, use washing on the line as target practise, make sure you can clear jams at speed and carry a backup within easy reach. Also, within about a half hour into game there’ll likely be enough darts on the ground to scavenge, so blasters that can be front loaded are a useful backup.
4: Exercise. Rule #1 of the zombie apocalypse is cardio after all. The more Zedtown’s I’ve done the more steps I’ve done, which for someone as grey and over the hill as I am is a good thing. Endurance and reflexes are equally useful – being able to run and dodge will put you in good stead. No matter your firepower, at some point in game there’ll be more zombies than you can shoot. I guarantee it.
5: Costume. The vast majority of players turn up in street clothes, but I’ve seen the likes of aerobics instructors, the Mystery Machine Crew, the aforementioned T-Rex, Mario and Luigi, Jayne Cobb and various militaries. Though we might have to make the dress code clearer thanks to the guy in the day game who was wearing shoes, an afro, puffy jacket and underpants… He wasn’t being creepy about it (That I saw), but we shouldn’t have to state that pants aren’t optional.

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6: Interaction. You only get as much out of the game as you put in, so get out there. Take on missions, form squads with strangers, talk to NPCs and the Mods and above all, enjoy yourself.
7: Don’t mind death. That’s not to say you shouldn’t fear it, but embrace it – very few survive and being a zombie is a big part of the game. (See one of the Warlords in Melbourne ripping through her own faction after she became a zombie) If you’re tagged, don’t grumble – congratulate your slayer (I’ve seen several disputed tags decided with games of rock paper scissors, an approach I heartily encourage), get to Zombie Hub and get back out and hunt some humans!
8: Read the rules. They’re very simple and won’t take you long. This results in you having a better game and us not having to remind you to not bring modded blasters or wear full face masks. We’d appreciate that.

As for future events, GIVE US SOME TIME TO RECOVER FROM THIS ONE WE’RE ONLY HUMAN YOU OVERLY ENTHUSIASTIC MONSTERS. Ahem. Thank you for your enthusiam, and please watch this space citizen. 🙂

Phenomenon (Doo doo do doodoo)

It’s been a couple of years since I was last at Phenomenon, and many years before that since I’d gone. That was dumb of me. So, I played 6 games and walked away with 2 awards and my wife with 3, which matches our standard trophy hauls. The con has now ended, but it’ll stay with me, for a long time to come. How? Well, let me tell you about my experiences… A warning: this is going to get overly long despite how little I can remember. Anyhow, we were only able to attend from Saturday night, with our first game being William Shakespeare’s “All Vampires Must Die Part II – The Movie”. That should start to explain things. Or not.

We were (mostly) vampires who’s job it was to keep our existence secret, and had done so by claiming we were making a movie. That backfired on us when were forced to actually make the movie, at low cost, in Romania and working with the vampire known as ‘Bloody Ted’. This inspired the exchange that I believe won me an award…
PC: “So, is he a sexy vampire?”
GM: *Hold’s up picture of Max Schreck from Nosferatu*
ME: “I’m sure he’s someones reason to masturbate.”
*Cue the GM and rest of the able looking at me strangely and breaking out in laughs*
I heard the GM repeat that several times throughout the con. I’m very proud.

Next morning was Servants of the King, a swashbuckler which enabled me to deploy my legendary French accent! Granted, the only thing legendary about it is that after about 30 seconds it becomes Londo Mollari. Swords were drawn, there was copious shouting and fun was had by all. I’m selling it pretty damn short, as I had a lot of fun, but I han’t slept well the night week before so things were something of a blur. I can only apologise profusely to the GM and throw myself on his mercy.

The stage was set for The Fall of the House of Atreus, our first freeform and one which played with the Trojan War. I was a young lady who was pretending to be a boy and coping with some pretty fucking horrific PTSD, which the GM team took great delight in reminding me of by every so often whispering things like “You killed us” in my ear as they walked past me. I’ve some experience with playing damanged people, but that took it to new levels. There was chaos, no small amount of bloodshed (Fittingly), and it’s the closest I’ve come going shirtless in game, though I did finally choose to announce my birth gender rather more demurely. It was to my mother after all. Standards darling. Also, I have to give a shout out to the GM, who’s t-shirt the following day read “What would Titus Pullo do?” I loved that show.

Monster Hunters followed, in which we were out of work actors lured to Romania thanks to an incompetent agent and an appearance fee. I’d like to say I chose my character based upon his skills and temperament, but it was mostly cause I recognised it was based on Anthony Stewart Head. We were hired by a village to burn out a hive of vampires, the villagers thinking we were our characters from the show. (Yes, I noted that, asking the other PC’s in character if they’d heard of the Three Amigos or Galaxy Quest, and at one point saying “As a dear late friend of mine would say on bad days, By Grabthar’s Hammer…“) We went oddly well, as all the vampire wanted to do was make a film based on the show and by that stage, it was well paid work. I made sure that I wouldn’t have to say that bloody line again thought, so a win for me!

We move now to Monday morning and Deathless, a Victorian age freeform with monsters, where I was the Dewan (The Earl of Upper Slaughter), a werewolf who was one of Queen Victoria’s advisors. My character portrait was Idris Elba, which also meant I had to stifle the urge to shout about how I’m cancelling the apocalypse. I’ll confess, I lost track of what was happening about 10 minutes in – there was an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus, a truly terrifying piece of headgear, a player wh’s costume reminded me of Harpo Marx (Which confused me whenever he talked) some scientists (A curse on that Frenchman!) and the not at all cheerful inconvenience of being turned into a Vampire. For starters, I couldn’t talk as well with the teeth. An eclipse and several of the artifacts in the British Museum* (the game’s location) was, I think, was responsible for the change, which thankfully went back to normal, but I’m still blaming the Frenchman. I also deeply regret a fight not breaking out, as I’d hoped to use the exchange “YOU *stab* WILL *stab* BE *stab* POLITE!” Oh well, there’ll be other times. Also, had the game gone on about 5 seconds more I was set to stab Ra in the face. Yes, that Ra. No, not the one from Stargate. What can I say, other than I’m sure there’s something in the book about no acts of necromancy in front of the Queen, who’d just arrived. Standards must be maintained and there’s no excuse for bad manners…

We return to Sunday night now and Red Sisters, Black Skies. This is where it get’s rough. It’s fair to say the game had an effect on me. Actually that’s something of an understatement. I left it a crying emotional wreck, in a state close to having watched the end of The Iron Giant and the 1st 15 minutes of Up. I’ve mostly been GM’ing at cons the last few years, so my mental state in regards to bleed might be out of whack, but I’ve been more affected by it of late. Between this and a recent freeform in Sydney, I kept having to remind myself that it was just a game, that I wasn’t actually crushing on someone, that this would be over the a few hours. And yet, when I think back on it, I’m still choked up. It’s the mark of a really good game, and as good as the Sydney game was (I’m itching for the sequel), I think Sisters was the best freeform I’ll ever play. How do I describe it? It was the Mona Lisa, the Casablanca, the Duck Soup, the Empire Strikes Back, the Wrath of Khan, the City of Death, the 1973 Three Musketeers, I’ll stop now otherwise I’LL KEEP DOING THIS. What I’m trying to say is this, it wasn’t just good, it was fucking magnificent.

We were playing members of the 588th, an all female Russian airforce unit, known as the Night Witches. Between outdated planes, low supplies and the sexism of the rest of the military we had to struggle against, but we had each other and hope that the war would soon be over. The terror of night flights, the hope that comrades would return safely and finding a brief solace in the arms of another. There was comradeship, vodka, the bright light of a birthday celebration and the shattering blows of losing friends. Being reunited with comrades, the terror of mail arrving only to find that family were alive, these things brought a joy I didn’t know I had. I’ve cried in games before, many times. Hell, I’ll cry at the drop of a hat. But these weren’t stage tears, these were great heaping shaking tears, accompanied by sobs of grief and rage that, looking back on things, were mighty scary. I have something of an issue with unexpressed rage, and to give way to that level of emotion scares me more than a bit, but this event demanded nothing less. The fact it was the designer’s first event only made things even more awe-inspiring and I’ve already suggested they bring it to Sydney.

Lieutenant Emilia Turganev, airwoman, assigned to B Section of the 588th Night Bombers Regiment. It was an honour to have been you, even if only for a few hours.

From the first flight, things were tense – we’d been warned that PC death’s weren’t just possible, they would happen. I believe we made it out OK with only 3 deaths, though one of those was our CO (As played by my wife). PC’s killed in action didn’t leave though – they could be interacted with as ghosts, able to be talked to, or staging small flashback sequences. It was eerie as all hell seeing them there, wearing bloody headbands, waiting for someone to come close. There was angst (Having fucked my commanding officer pre game, she’d left me for a younger woman without a word. Kids, as my character sheet said: never fuck your commanding officer!), solace (I found love in the arms of a fellow veteran pilot – she’d been keeping count of how many missions we’d flown), and comradeship with the members of my section. It wasn’t until late game that we took serious damage, and I found out later that the other sections were far worse off than us. It did explain why C section cheered so much when they made it home.

There’d already been tears, many of them, more so as it was announced that we’d be flying during the day, to help cover the final assault on Berlin. It was the final flight, we were determined and no matter the odds, we would see things through. Things got incredibly tense, with the piloting mechanic far crueler than merely rolling dice. Somehow, B section made it back alive, but others didn’t.

And that wasn’t the worst. After having our private hopes read out (Which we’d put down earlier), we went slowly to join the comrades we’d lost, whether going straight over, or staying to take part in squadron reunions. I was howling, and it only got worse when the pilot I was close to decided not to attend the reunions, walking away, but not yet passing on. If it wasn’t for my section leader (Who I’d patched things up with), I’m not sure I’d have made it. Just thinking on this has gotten me shaky, and I completely lost it when she finally crossed over and I got to see her again. She won, the stubborn old cow, finally flying more missions than I did.

And so it ended, and it was back to where we were staying to cry, try to sleep and pet their cat (Who slept on my chest all Sunday night, which meant I slept terribly but it was worth it) to calm down. It’s been a rough few days, but managing to put this down has helped somewhat. Bloody good game. To my sisters, I salute you. *raises glass*

So yeah, that was my Pheno. Do try to come next year. I’m going now to eat ice cream and watch the 1973 Three Musketeers to recover and plot my next event.

*I also managed to avoid making the Bugle’s joke about the British Museum being an active crime scene.

Zedtown: A Divided City

Neighbours. Arriving home late last night after a long (Of which I’ll speak more of later) I was confronted by an old nemesis: doof. Up the street were having a party, jumping by the number of cheap and tacky costumes people going to their cars were wearing and the number of empties on my front lawn today and there was doof playing. Or possibly untz. I’m not up with that scene – my preferred form of music is live. Hundreds of years of beautiful music, of the likes of Mozart, Mendelssohn or Motorhead, and people listen to doof. *sigh* Anyhow, it was bloody loud and I was cranky.

Also, I’d had a couple who’d been enthusiastically making out against a car glare angrily at me as I walked past. Don’t know why, but in the brief moment I saw them he did have his hand so far up her skirt he could have brushed her armpits.

Therefor, were I to have access to the following:
A: A time machine.
B: A directional speaker that could focus the sound on one house, or a giant Cone of Silence,
I would have dropped back to around 4AM and put Lou Reed’s ‘Metal Machine Music’ on loop.

Anyhow, enough about petty incidents with neighbours, yesterday was Zedtown, with several hundred people descending on UNSW for a giant game of zombie themed tag. As I was explaining to several onlookers, I grow old, but I refuse to grow up. 🙂 Starting at 9am for setup, with the game set to start at 1, it was a bloody long day, but stupid amounts of fun. Seeing the initial rush of players, all cocky and sure of themselves, and seeing that illusion punctured at the first scream of The Witch, this game dressed as Elsa. Fear is a wonderful thing.

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It was a Cold War themed event, with Red and Blue indulging in all manner of atrocious accents and wacky shenanigans. We were pretty zombie light for a lot of the game, but as far as I know no-one made it to the Evac point at end of game. It’s not uncommon for very few survivors – there was one guy who evacced out of the Mac Uni game, and that was by hiding under the corpses of other players at the final stand (One of which was me).

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It was a playtest for future events, as we had all manner of shiny new toys, such as spawners, upgrade cards and the payload (AKA an iron lung). It wasn’t without issues, mostly owing to the dance festival taking place, the preparations.rehearsals for which took up most of the central clearing near one of the bases, which meant I spent a lot of the game shouting at people not to shoot at/near civilians or for them to move away from the traffic. Yes, you can move through the square calmly, but please don’t race through screaming at the top of your lungs. If anyone has footage of when the Witch first went through there, accompanied by ‘Let It Go’, I’d love to see it – apparently the dancers lost their minds. Also, the parents and grand parents seemed enthralled and really keen about what we were doing – enthusiams wonderful.

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Absurd amounts of fun and I can’t wait for the next one – Melbournes June 24th and the next Sydney game is July 8th, with tickets on sale now! Hopefully I’ll get the chance to play again…

So, I did a thing recently.

So, about a week and a half ago, I ran a LARP event. It went well. I’m very pleased by this.
Sorry, not sure why I’m talking like that. It’s one of those ‘Did I actually do that?’ kind of things. I’d been wanting to do this for about a decade, and to both have it happen and to have people keen for more, well, it’s a hell of a feeling.

There were more than a few nerves on my part and some teething issues (Mostly due to me not reminding people about Fear effects), but it was genuinely heartwarming to see how quickly people got into the spirit of the thing, both in attitudes (Over the top and scenery chewing) and combat (Giant swings that would get you laughed out of any HEMA conference). I’m fine having to explain the details of the setting to people, that I was expecting. But to see players and crew get the atmosphere I was hoping for, well, it made me immensely happy. I was nervous as hell pre-game, but they managed it beautifully.

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Our… heroes. Scoundrels, vagabonds and mercenaries all!

To recap: a group of mercenaries had been hired to recover a lost pay shipment, one that was vitally critical to the Aquilonian settlements along the Pictish Wilderness. There was savage battle, the theft of a dead mans boots (And teeth), glorious overacting and combat worthy of an 80’s sword and sorcery flick. There were moments I’d swear I could hear Manowar playing, and that was just what I wanted.

They seemed to do OK during the first skirmish (From what I heard – I was getting ready to play a captured NPC further down the trail), but the fight near the bridge nearly took them down. It took some very fancy footwork and a skin of wine from Josefina (Wine being part of the healing mechanic) to keep them standing, or stumbling and in the fight. Well, that and a rare moment of mercy from the NPC crew – we needed them alive for the final battle. Slowly making their way through the woods, tense and nervous at the sounds of chanting and drumming, they came across a Shaman in the middle of a ceremony, and battle was joined. The ceremony was interrupted, which meant the giant serpent that slithered up from hell wasn’t exactly under the shaman’s control, which meant the Pictish War Chief soon turned tail and ran. Honestly, good help is hard to find these days.

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Our Pictish Shaman, shortly before she was stabbed.

So, what’s next? We’re planning another one for July 15th, with details of the adventures we’re running to be confirmed soon. Join us, and welcome to the days of high adventure!

A catch up of sorts.

Being introduced to someone who’s wearing nothing but ugg boots and shorts and holding a freshly sharpened machete, well that makes an impression. Sure, it’s the sort of impression that makes you think you’ll soon be buried under the patio, but I’m sure I’ve made people I know feel like that on occasion (At least I hope so). He turned out to be eccentric, but friendly (and mostly harmless) and we spent a good 45 minutes or so shooting bows and talking traditional archery. That’s what’ll stick with me the most about that trip. I also got to ride a horse for the first time in over 10 years, an experience that, while enjoyable, reaffirmed my belief that cavalry is not a job I’m suited for.

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Yes, I was quietly singing ‘Over the Misty Mountains Cold’ at that point.

Who? What? Oh, an explantion. I spent most of the Christmas season visiting in-laws in New Zealand, a land that continues to be utterly charming and not just cause we ate at a restaurant that had cats roaming the grounds. CATS ROAMING THE GROUNDS. Why more places haven’t cottoned on this I’ve no idea, but you’ll have me as a client from day 1. I like cats, in case you hadn’t guessed. It was up there with the place that advertised something called a ‘Caveman Platter’, which was one of the most amazing things I have, and will ever, eat. Still, there were no cats, which knocks half a star off.

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KITTIE!

I discovered the works of Joe Abercrombie, purchasing Half a King on a whim and reading it within a day. Apparrently it’s more young-adult that his usual “ALL THE GRIMDARK” fare, but I enjoyed it and plan to purchase more. I also picked up Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist, and while that was hilarious and well worth reading, it’s tinged with more than a bit of sadness now given her passing. While it’s an inevitability that the icons of our youth will pass, that didn’t make things any easier to bear. Many words have been written and tears have been shed in her name, and we shall linger no more in pain and grief.

fisherHell, I’d be happy to go out that way myself. Wife might complain though.

Staying in that universe, Rogue One was a delight. Grim and blood soaked by the standards of the Star Wars universe it’s true, but it was telling a different sort of story than the usual lightsaber wielding high adventure. To quote a friend of mine, ‘They went full Dirty Dozen.” and he wasn’t wrong in that regard. It’s not a take on the universe I’ve seen before, but I saw it described as ‘putting the war in Star Wars‘. At first glance that seems stupid, as Wars in in the title, and the first opening crawl we see begins with “It is a period of civil war.” But the more I thought on it, the more it seemed correct. The other films in the saga, yes, even Empire,  are space opera first and foremost, but this felt more like a war film than any other part of the saga, with the possible exception of certain episodes of The Clone Wars.

After The Force Awakens made stormtroopers seem effective again, to me, this restored Darth Vader to the terrifying figure he was pre “I hate sand.” We didn’t see him much, but when we did it meant something and that something was DO NOT FUCK WITH VADER. And points to the writers for that beautiful burn, one almost equal to the ones covering his body, a line so wonderful I’d kill to have written it. Seeing him rip through the Rebel troopers like an unstoppable machine, it was the Vader that was talked about, had been hinted at, but we’d never really seen. (See also the recent run of Darth Vader comics, which show Vader taking levels in Scheming Bastard) All the more effective for it’s brevity – it’s very much the old saying of ‘the more effective the monster the less you see it.’

After having seen the film again, my initial hype lessened slightly, but that doesn’t mean I think it was any less good. I did spend more time looking out for scenes that were in the trailer that didn’t make the film (And the shout-outs to Rebels), but then K-2SO would say something awesome and/or snarky and all would be well again. Oh Alan Tudyk, bless you. Hopefully we’ll see that footage, or parts of it, at some point. The Blu-Ray better have the mother of all deleted/alternate scenes packages…

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What, too soon?

I’d say there was probably one or two too many shout outs to the OT (Red 5’s appearance ties with trying to work out just how did R2 and Threepio get onboard the Tantive IV in time?), but I can’t blame the filmakers for doing so. Mind you, if I said I didn’t immediately want to start playing Age of Rebellion, or any form of Star Wars RPG, well I’d be lying harder than Federal Parliament. It wasn’t a perfect film, but damn it was good. And for those keeping track of my film costume wish list, you can add Chirrut’s costume and several of the Rebel senator’s cloaks to that list. 🙂

Staying with gaming, more writing has been done for Hyborian Tales, for which I probably need a new title. I also went location scouting recently, and thanks to friends of mine now have a location for the game. Close to shops, public transport and with toilets nearby even! A test day is being planned, but that won’t be for another few weeks. Team (Almost all) Dual Wield recently confronted the mysterious mastermind who’s been concocting devilish deeds of a nefarious nature and may be able to defeat him, assuming they can stop sassing the City Watch. It’s building towards a big finale, which will take place next Monday night. No pressure…

Anyhow, it’s past half 11 and I should sleep now. Night all. Rest well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

So, what’s different?

This is mostly reconstructed from thoughts I was having last night while I was trying to sleep, so it’s likely to be a bit rusty. Hopefully it’s also less inflammatory than I can get at that time of night. Anyhow, in amidst all the trying not to cough up a lung I’m doing at the moment, I have more thoughts on LARP. My main larp, Clans of Elgardt, is currenly on hiatus and I recently went to my first Scy’Kadia event which while I had issues with it, I enjoyed and plan to go back to. I’m leaving off a write up of it till I can get another couple of sessions under my belt.

(If you were expecting me to talk about something else, well I’m sorry. All I’m doing at the moment, apart from coughing and job hunting, is trying not to freak the fuck out over the American election, so I’m afraid you’re going to have to deal with it. )

So, there’s a bunch of fantasy LARP’s around my neck of the woods, along with a smattering of sci/fi and steampunk. As we’ve discussed, I’m in the early stages of writing a post apocalypse game and am helping write another couple of games. I wouldn’t say there’s a glut of fantasy events, but the do seem to be in the majority. So, while I’ve said I’d prefer to be part of something different, as try as I might, I keep coming back to one: Hyborian Tales.

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It was a UK LARP set in the world of Robert E Howard’s Conan tales, a long time love of mine, filled with muscles, bloody combat and dialogue so testosterone fueled that just holding a copy of the stories can put hair on your chest. It’s classic pulp fiction, mostly published in Weird Tales magazine, though the racial elements of a lot of it are hard to ignore. You have to remember Howard was writing in early 1930’s Texas and while slightly enlightened for his time (In his letters he called out HP Lovecraft for his rasicm), there’s some stories I have real trouble getting through. Black Canaan, I’m looking in your direction. Moving on…

Sure, the fitness based parts of the game (Hiking up and down mountains, masses of combat and none of that simulated armour) meant I’d almost certainly collapse half way through, but it would have been worth it. The game itself only ran 3 weekend events, consisting of 3 adventures (Play 1, crew 2) and a communal tavern night. What do I like so much about it? Well, there’s the immersion of the world, a kitchen sink setting of various historical awesomeness (Vikings, frontiersmen, Mongols etc), the sense of ‘you’ve a sword, a few coins and maybe some rusty armour – now go forth and chase your destiny’, something different to the ludicrously over equipped characters you see in other games and, last but not least, the sheer joy of dressing up and running around with a foam sword. What really sucked me in though, was the atmosphere.

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It was purposely designed for sword and sorcery style gaming, with the rules encouraging combat that looked like  an 80’s fantasy movie, with none of that *tap*tap*tap* nonsense. (That might be another reason I loved the idea so much, as I have real trouble stopping myself from Flynning when I’ve a sword in my hand – it’s why I think I’ll be a better archer than swordsman.) Get horribly mangled? Have a drink and catch your breath and you’ll be back in the fight soon enough. NPC’s were briefed to hurl themelves at the enemy screaming their defiance, followed by hurling themselves on their blades. It’s a game whose construction was seemingly built on a foundation of shouting and thews, which basically makes it the LARP equivalent of BRIAN BLESSED.

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What does all this mean? Well, I still have copies of the rules and I’m guessing this means I should put my money where my mouth is and run it. Sure, I’m trying to get several other projects up and running, but what’s yet another fire in the iron? I love the play and crew aspect of how the adventures were run as crewing seems to be looked down upon here. Not seriously, but there’s seems to be a fair few games seem to have few, if any of them. Granted, most games here aren’t large enough to require a constant supply of NPC’s but crewing is stupid amounts of fun. You get to seed plot, lie outrageously, try to kill PC’s and help guide the story – what’s not fun about that?

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Getting back to the topic, and what I think I was meaning to talk about, was the style of game and how to communicate that. I’ve played some where the style of the game was clear and players understood it, and others less so. I feel slightly arrogant in saying it, but I think I’ve hit that point with my table tops and it’s a good feeling. Actually no, I do have a proper point. If you’re going to run a fantasy game, then tell me how it’s different from the other ones out there? What is in your world and system that sets you aside from the rest? What’s the hook? There’s already plenty of would-be Tolkein’s out there, so maybe try for something different? You know, Orcs that aren’t savages,  Elves and Dwarves that don’t hate each other etc? I get that the classics can be comforting (My games are powered by cliches after all), and an easy way to explain things, but at some point don’t you want to break away from that?

REH art by Bill Cavalier. No, not the Dungeon Bastard Bill Cavalier .

More ideas, and some progress

So, it’s been good and bad. The bad being the convention we planned to host a Nerf event has been canned, but good, because we’re still planning to ahead with it. True, we don’t know where or when yet, but given the amout of effort we’ve put it, we don’t want to abandon it. We might offer the plot to the Zedtown orgs but we’ll see how that goes.

Moving on to other events, there’s been further movement on the post apoc game. Not to the extent of booking a venue and having a start date, but I’m planning to kick it off early next year. What has happened is adventure ideas and plot! I was wracking my brains out trying to come up with ideas, but with some prodding from the lovely and talented wife (She who knows all) yesterday, a half remembered idea of basing them around Iron Maiden songs came to light. So, the opening game? Brave New World. Local water hole drying up? Rainmaker. And so on and so on. I’ve now got several albums worth of plots – some may wind up being thrown out or re-written, but sorting out what I plan to do is making me feel a lot better about the thing. Actually having a plan is a novelty for both my game and campaigns, one I’m hoping to break. I usually come up with a plot first and then try to build a world, or hope players will contribute to it in game.  That doesn’t always work, but when it does it works wonderfully.

There’s been a lot of late night nerves and thinking “Oh fuck, this a massive project and can I actually do this?” I’ve had to keep some resolve to want to keep working on it – the black dog’s a hell of a thing. I want to run the thing for my growth as a GM (I adore running my regular B-movie games, but want to expand from time to time) and for my mental health, as a way of keeping myself busy. Furthermore, there’s not any games of the sort running around here and I’d like to think I’ve a varied enough concept and setting that it’ll stand out. And Dropbears. 🙂 So, to the people who’ve said encouraging things, I thank you.

I’m also writing a Feng Shui adventure, either for an upcoming convention of a regular household games day. I don’t have a plot, or a real idea of one, which is different to how my events normally start. Generally, there’s an idea such as ‘What would happen if someone tried to infect Louis XIII with lycanthropy?’ or ‘What about a badass Ewok special forces unit?’ For this one, all I have so far is the idea of setting the final conflict on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and slightly reskinning the Everyday Hero Archetype to be more ‘All Australian Yobbo’. Equipment: Hotted up ute, 6 pack  of VB and the complete works of Bon Scott era AC/DC. Less Chow Yun Fat (Who will still be appearing somehow, because you don’t not use him in Feng Shui) and more Poida. Hey, I never said it was a good idea…

A preposterous prevelance of piratical pontificating

We preface this latest entry by noting that the title is otherwise known as my attempt to write alliteration like Stan Lee, whoever’s work Stan Lee is taking the credit for, or that celebrated theatrical impresario Henry Gordon Jago.

Whilst pondering games recently, I had a realization – I’m playing in a 7th Sea tabletop and may be playing in a LARP one at some point, and am not playing pirates in either. (Also, that I’d forgotten yesterday was Talk Like a Pirate Day) Had you asked 25 year old me, he’d have laughed at the prospect of that, as he was a mite bit obsessed with them. Why the reason for this change? I’m not sure – it could be the perspective that comes with age, being more than slightly sick of the Hollywood pirate or wanting to have in game conversations that consisted of more than the word “Arrrr.”* I’m playing an Eisen mercenary in the tabletop (Think German Landsknecht, who’s become oddly polite as the game has continued) and the idea for the LARP is basically the Thiefmaker from The Lies of Locke Lamora, but with Londo Mollari’s acent. Yeah, I’d prefer a more original character and may well do so when/if the game rolls around, but playing someone who’s primary response to things isn’t violence is a pretty big change for me in and of itself.

It’s also the fact that I’m utterly terrible at playing villians. Try as I might, the politeness ingrained by my mother (Who, to be fair, should be nominated for Sainthood on general principle) just refuses to leave and opportunities to steal or be a jerk just fly past me in favour of being polite to old women and not offending the awakened spirit of a country.

Then comes what system? There were LARP rules published for the original system, but I’ve not read them in a long time. I’m also not a fan of using tabletop systems in LARP’s, it’s kludgy and tend to devolve into people standing around comparing stats or in endless rock paper scissors matches. My initial thought is to run it systemless and decide duels with boffer combat (With resources represented by laminated cards), but I can understand people wanting some sort of rules work, both for comparing resources and record keeping. I’m still yet to find a rules system I love unconditionally (I’d have said Hyborian Tales, who’s website is long defunct, but that’s more to my Robert E Howard fandom overcoming any bias or quibbles with the system) but I am in favour of keeping things as simple as possible.

Abrubtly chating topics, flashing back to my recent post about thieves in fantasy settings, comes this video from LARP Forge. Yes, that’s based around assassins, but the general principle matches things nicely. Yes, it is possible to be sneaky when you’re dressed like a member of Gwar, but you’ll still look fucking ridiculous to me.

In other Very Bad/Very Good news, The Bugle still hasn’t returned, but Full Frontal with Samantha Bee has! If I can’t be like Holtzmann when I grow up, then I’d happily be like Sam. The amount of gives no fucks that she’s shown in recent months has been truly heartwarming to see. Last Week Tonight may be getting the lion’s share of press, and it’s certainly worthy of no small amount of it, but for sheer righteous fury then Sam get’s my vote.**

So yeah. Not much else on. A blurb has been submitted for our MacquarieCon event, which means we need to do a lot more work on it and I’m trying to work out what animal to sacrifice for good weather Saturday, as I’m taking my new longbow down to the range for its first shooting.

*I do have fond memories of playing a pirate in a LARP *cough* years ago, my fondest memory being the look on my then-girlfriend now wife’s face when she first saw me in the outfit. Jaw, meet floor. My reaction can be summed up by this.

** For more political snark, this time local, check out Andrew P Street’s columns in the SMH online. Well worth reading.

1030 enter, 9 leave

So, Zedtown on Saturday. It’s my 4th event and 2nd crewing. My legs still hurt, backs a bit wonky and it’s a cast iron reminder of how unfit I am. On the bright side, according to my phone’s fitness tracker, it was my most active day ever.

So, what went well? Pretty much everything that I saw. Players seemed to enjoy things, the story (What I saw of it) worked. Terrible accents and impromptu roleplaying. Seeing regular groups (Sydney Nerf Wars, the Russians and the Red Berets) matched by increasing numbers of newbies. The genius who decided to sort the cloakroom by ticket colour, which helped more than you can imagine. Searching for bags singing along to Metalachi’s Run to the Hills. The zombie horde counting down to when they respawn. Seeing large numbers of players flee like frightened children. Hell, a few got tagged in the initial zombie release at the start of the game, the poor suckers. The sheer enthusiam people have for this event, even from passersby who asked what was going on. The woman in a wedding gown, both pre and post zombiefication. (And there was an actual wedding on campus that day, along with a dance event, construction and a robotics festival) And that it’s only taken 4 events, but there’s finally a decent photo of me.Mind you, it’s the only one of me I’ve been able to find, but it’s a start.

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That’s me on the left. 🙂 And yes, fantastic backdrop

There wasn’t much that didn’t work. True, there was computer troubles at sign in and we almost ran out of tape at the cloak room (Can someone please invent flavoured sticky tape? I’m sure I swallowed some of it when I was tearing it with my teeth). There were a few complaints that the event theme got released with less than two weeks to the event date, and while I can understand those, surely everyone can manage a half decent cowboy costume from what they have? Oh, and the intruders – fuck those guys. Short version: 4-5 people who live on campus decided to join in, wrapping green shirts around thier heads  and attacking players with pool noodles, then fleeing when confronted by game mods. Last I heard the event photographers were combing through their shots and if found would be sent to campus security. And I can’t not mention the guy with half a shopping cart full of booze wandering around – what the fuck? I know he wasn’t a player, but what the hell?

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The Bride wore blood!

I’m not trying to be over harsh, or claim that anything, for me, overshadowed the event. Things will always go wrong, no matter how prepared you are. But those problems were taken care of in a speedy fashion and the game went on. It’s worth remembering that we’re all volunteers, that we’re doing this for fun. And yes, it’s a hell of a lot of fun, as well as a hell of a lot of work. I’m under no allusions to as my role, I’m a tiny cog in the machine compared to the amount of work others do. I spent a lot of my time manning the cloak desk. But I still enjoy the hell out of it and I’ll gladly be back to do it all again, aching body or not.

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Mods strutting their frunky stuff

My main issue was that while crewing is great fun, I don’t get to play. Crew are a vital part of the experience, no event can run without them. Crewing is something everyone should take part at one point or another – some of the most fun I’ve had in LARP’s has been crewing. But I miss that white knuckle adrenaline of playing, of not knowing what the hell is going on or whether the next step you take will be your last. The camaraderie of fellow survivors, who are still keeping blasters trained on each other. Is that person an Original Zombie, or can they be trusted? Well, that and getting to act like you’re in a Schwarzenegger movie – I have trouble resisting the chance to indulge in over the top machismo, as anyone who’s played one of my con games can attest to.

So yeah, that was Zedtown. 1030 players went in, 9 made it to evac, with about 100 or so scattered about the map. Can’t wait for the next one.

Stupid productive brain

So, I’m meant to be finishing my Sydcon game and writing an adventure for tonight’s D&D session. Instead, my brain refuses to stop thinking about the post apoc game, which really needs a name. The current working title is Recovery, but that’s from when cargo cults based on tv shows were a big part of the background. Speaking of that, in the hope that this will get it out of my system temporarily, here’s what I have so far on the in character police force:

BLUE HEELERS: Historical records speak of a legendary band of law enforcers, who lived in a great mountain. In the chaos that followed the fall, it’s said a small group followed their example and after fashioning crude uniforms ventured out into the world to try to restore law and order. Word spread, and nowadays the Heelers, (Also known as the Dogs),  can be found in settlements over Straya, keeping the peace and dispensing justice. Identified by the uniform of a blue shirt and badge, their appearance can vary  – some have managed to loot old world police stations for garb and equipment, while others have nothing more than a t-shirt and a toy badge, but all share a desire to restore order and justice to the world. (Well, mostly – the long and glorious record of the NSW police force stands as testament to that)

The name wasn’t my idea – I was working off blueshirts, or the boys in blue. Heelers works far better and also encourages  a crude thieve’s cant – “The dogs were sniffing around, dug up a bone” etc. That and I really like the idea of law enforcement being player driven. A lot of this game’s development is me learning as I go or throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Hopefully now brain will switch over and let me concentrate on the things I should actually be working on. Not betting on it though.