Friday night was Roadhouse Blues, based on the Supernatural TV series. I was effectively playing one of the Winchester boys (one of the few cool characters I got over the weekend). Pulling up listening to “Carry on my Wayward Son” was fun, but it went downhill from there. Most of the game seemed to be spent sitting in the bar, waiting for bad guys to turn up (or wandering aimlessly in the dark). Most characters skill sets seemed to be “killing things”, so it made no difference if it was me who went out to kill them or Billy-Joe Hillbilly. There was not a lot of rhyme or reason to what was going on. I got one fun moment where I managed to sneak around behind the vampires and free their hostage without them noticing, but other than that the game was fairly forgettable. Liked the character, game needed work.
Saturday morning was Black Hart of Camelot, an Arthurian story. I was fairly unhappy with my casting in this game – I’d given the GM 5 characters that I was interested in playing, and I got none of them. I was playing Pelles, the King of Listenoise. This game felt like if you weren’t playing Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, Morgan, Mordred, or maybe one of the Knights, then you were effectively a support character. The game was physically taxing as there were no seats. My character goals were to further my nation, punish the Lothian clan, and find the Holy Grail. I figured I succeeded in my first goal, by ensuring Gawaine stepped down as chief Knight of the Round Table (in response to him having killed my brother), being replaced by my Grandson (Galahad), my nephew Percival finding the Grail (after I told the angel protecting it that he, after Galahad, was the most worthy). However it still felt hollow, like Gawaine was not adequately punished. Also, my only real other way to hurt the Lothian clan was by refusing their efforts to marry Clarissant to Percival. Left the game feeling like I was unimportant in it, and with sore legs. Didn’t like the character (felt like they weren’t important), so so on the game.
Saturday afternoon was Oz Reloaded, a Matrix / Wizard of Oz mashup. I was playing Finlay, a winged monkey who had lost his wings (based off the character in Oz the Great and Powerful, which I watched in the week leading up to Hydra). My goals were vague: get my wings back, and I guess do something about the problem in Oz. However I had no real power. I think the character was intended to be something of a conscience for the Wizard and the Witch. Like many LARPs, the game seemed to suffer from goals being too easy to achieve (I found out what had happened to the Wizard in the first 5 minutes) or too hard (I never managed to get the Wizard and Witch to work together). After trying my best to help out other characters, by about half way through the game I was out of resources and had nothing really to do. Got my wings back due to the Wizard coming up to me and giving me a magic pill, so not really due to anything I did myself. It feel a bit like the game never found its happy medium between the Matrix and Oz. The end bogged down into an election that eventually saw Oz ousted in the Witches take charge. Marginalised character, game needed work.
Saturday night was the flagship, Insubstantial Pageant. I was playing Seda, a Bravosi who was a nasty piece of work. I was pretty undecided about character choice on this one, but went with Seda due to a connection with another character (which ended up not panning out at all). Arrogant and hot-headed, he had (in true Count Rugen fashion) commissioned a blade and then offered to pay only a fraction of its worth to the blacksmith. He then went away, only to somehow become more angry (reading between the lines, I suspect some sort of supernatural involvement here from a character called Great River) and come back and killed the guy. My read on this character was that he was going to get his comeuppance at the game, which is all good and well except probably not a huge amount of fun to play. I spent the first half an hour not doing much as a waited for my first match in the Bravosi tournament. When my first match came, I discovered that my opponent was the brother of the swordsmith I had killed, fighting with the blade I had commissioned. I won the match convincingly, but in the process was nicked with the blade, which it turns out had been poisoned, and Seda died. So 40 minutes into the game, and I’m out. The GM’s suggested (as it was the day of the dead, and the dead could come back for this one night) that I could come back. However, I figured that all that Seda would have done would be go in there and start massacring everyone who had wronged him, and that wouldn’t make for a fun game for anyone, so why bother.
From a LARP standpoint, I was pretty pissed off. LARPing is a cooperative venture, where you work with others to tell an interesting story. In Stephen Covey speak, it’s about finding the win-win, the way that you can all have a great time. Too often these game become about win-lose: someone has to lose for the other person to win. And I’m sick of being the one who keeps losing. I feel like, using wrestling parlance, a jobber who has just been taking the fall to make other people look good too often, and I’ve had enough. I’m sick of not getting important characters, sick of certain other players always getting the important characters, and sick of games where the writers don’t know how to write a decent story arc for a character. Overall I’m just over LARPing.