“Sabine is a successful magazine publisher, a political activist and she is running in the local elections. She is raising her daughter Denise together with her second wife Veronica. And this evening she is throwing a party for several friends. Although Sabine and some other characters are lesbians, the larp in itself doesn’t deal with the topic of coming out. It’s about love, friendship, partnership and parenting. And also a bit about women… The game is suited for mature and experienced players who like to play out conflicts and develop in-game situations.”
I’d previously had no real contact with the Czech Republic’s larping tradition, other than reading about big weekend games like Hell on Wheels and De La Bête. Of course a small 4-hour chamber larp is not much similar to that sort of grand event, so I was interested to find out how much L-World had in common with the British, Irish, American and Nordic games in this format that I’m familiar with.
The answer was (perhaps not surprisingly): lots! Like a Nordic game, it strove for 360° illusion. But like a trad British game, the characters had secrets from each other, and the GM injected unexpected (by the players) timetabled events into the game, even playing an NPC (over the phone). Although more emotionally intense than most British games, it would have fit perfectly comfortably into Consequences, the UK’s national chamber larp (‘freeform’) convention.
L to pay
But what about that subject matter? A game about female homosexuality could end up as very worthy and stodgy. I felt L-World avoided that by not really being to any great extent ‘about’ that. Some of the characters are lesbian or bisexual, but this is kind of incidental to most of the interesting content in the game: which is about love, trust, parenthood, friendship, and resilience, in a very universal way.
News in brief
One thing that struck me about the way that Iva ran the game: she prefaced it with a briefing on how the game level of reality was going to work, and (in essence) how to play it. This is something that I and the people I usually game with never do, because we tacitly assume that everyone will already know, or that if there are novices present they’ll find it intuitively obvious. But hearing Iva saying things like ‘talk in character’, ‘don’t reveal your secrets too early, but don’t cling onto them too long either’, and ‘do what you want to do, don’t describe it’ made me realize how extensive the set of assumptions is. I’m not sure I’ll want to do something similar before all games, because in practice people often are experienced, and it does eat up time. But it’d certainly be useful with novices.
The women’s room
You may be wondering what I was doing in what is openly and avowedly a game for women. Well, it’s billed as ‘… for five female players and one brave man who isn’t afraid to enter the world of women’. I think that’s maybe mis-selling slightly, as it suggests that the male role is going to be unusually tough, perhaps as the target of massed female anger or something like that: which might scare people off. Well, perhaps some runs are like that, but not ours. I was fortunate enough to be playing with some of the best role-players I know, and I found it a terrifically rewarding and emotionally powerful experience.
It’d be great if L-World can be run more in the Anglosphere, now that it’s been translated. I don’t think it’d be appropriate to run it myself – it should be a woman really, I think. Hopefully someone else will pick up the baton. But if anyone’s setting a run up and can’t find a ‘brave man’ to take part, drop me a line. 🙂