Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Live Action Role-Playing?!?! Part One

So a year back I started to become more interested in Live Action Role-Playing (LARPing). You know, dress up in a costume, grab a "boffer" (foam weapon) and go play D&D out in the woods. Except you are your character, you don't roll to hit or have saving throws. You swing your boffer, call your damage and hope you hit the other guy more times than he hits you.

There is intrigue, a PLOT and fighting. Right up my alley. A good friend of mine, Abbey, hooked up with a crew in Edmonton called "
Underworld". Their LARP is gothic horror/ dark fantasy. I play a Garglyn (a Gargoyle for all intents and purposes). So I have a set of horns, big ass wings and I fire a bow (a real bow with foam tipped arrows). It's pretty fun. It's a weekend away from the store and we are out "camping" which I do truly love.

Last summer I had a few people approach me (cause apparently, I seem to be a go to person) and thought it would be fun to start our own LARP for Calgary. Now Calgary does have a Vampire LARP and out in Airdrie is Belegarth, but both of these are not anything close to a "High Fantasy" LARP that everyone was craving. Vampire is a very specialized LARP and if you are not into the whole "White Wolf" genre of RPGs, this may not be your cup of blood. Begarth is strictly combat oriented. So if you are interested in just the combat portion that may suit you well. But I digress (oooh, SHINY!). I started to look around at the numerous LARPs out there. Believe me there are a ton of them. Over in the UK and Europe LARPing is a serious pastime. Players can number in the THOUSANDS for a weekend battle. That number makes my head hurt. Again, numbers like that are for combat oriented LARPs such as
dagorhir and others. So I was looking for something more story oriented. Although I love to play in Underworld, I really do not enjoy the writing for gothic horror or dark fantasy and those that were interested in starting up a LARP were on board with me with that respect. Besides, there was already Underworld in Edmonton and we wanted "our own thing".

The websearch began in earnest! I spent days looking up different systems. And for those that know the google-fu, that is a lot of searching and reading. I stumbled upon NERO/ALLIANCE. There is a ton of backstory and drama with the organization and if you are really interested you can use your google-fu to find out the history as well. At any rate, NERO and ALLIANCE had a nasty falling out and the organizations split up. I contacted both (the systems are nearly identical) the "owners" and waited to hear back. Michael, from Alliance was first. His reply was quick, well written and very helpful. We spent several days sending emails back and forth. It was almost a week before NERO replied. The reply was cordial, but I felt like it was more "all business" than working with me to understand the organization. The second email I received from NERO looked like it was written by a 10 year old. My head hurt with the misspelt words, bad grammar etc (and for those that know me, I HATE that crap!). Spell check works for most things people! Use it! (ooooh SHINY)

Anyway, we eventually decided upon Alliance. My team consisting of two very close friends, Andreas and JP formed the "committee". PLOT, General Manager and of course me, the OWNER (and head of Operations". There was a fee involved (but that also covered our first set of coins, rulebooks and several helpful databases) and we got a great deal on that as the CDN dollar was 1.1 to USD! We decided that starting in 2012 was where we wanted to be. That gave us months to prepare, advertise and get our ducks in a row. There is so much involved that people would not think of.
#1 was site selection. It took us a month to narrow down the sites in Alberta. We contacted the Lion Youth Camp out in Cremona and were very lucky to get our LARP out there. That entire part took 4 months to nail down (when you deal with volunteers it is to be expected!) all the details and get the contracts signed.

#2 was insurance. Yup, we have to carry insurance just in case something goes horribly wrong and something bad happens. Again, because this is such a specialized thing it took me months of contacting my insurance, and they in turn having to contact the sports insurance guys etc. Again, glad to have contacts from my business that I can use for other things!

#3 was back story and creating our "world". As I understand it, all the "Chapters" in Alliance are all on the same world. We just have our own "continents" that are surrounded by MIST (thing Ravenloft if you know what I mean). So our areas do not connect with each other. I cannot run a plot that has monsters invade the Oregon Chapter (although that would be fun), and they cannot do the same. BUT our characters can travel to these lands. It's one of the major reasons we chose Alliance. I loved that about Living Greyhawk in that for your D&D PC to travel to Nyrond, you had to go to a convention in Utah or Nevada (ROAD TRIP!).... ooohhh SHINY.... anywho, we were lucky to recruit Kyle, the driving force behind the VAMPIRE LARP and his imagination is staggering. All of us started writing the back-story of Calandonia. Our land (CALgary, cANada) was a world recovering from a Great War between the races. Mostly it gives is the ability to "fill in the blanks" of our long history, while concentrating on the "current" history. Lots and lots of writing. Did I mention a lot of writing? Like MONTHS of writing, editing, re-editing etc.

We had to come up with back story for all the races. Each one had to feel unique, but that it belonged with the rest. Again we were lucky to get a couple more writers on board.

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