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Conventions Larp

Gothic Consequences, 21–24 November 2013

So this was the seventh year of Consequences, the UK’s convention for short-form larps of the type generally referred to in this country as ‘freeforms’.

If you’re not familiar with this style, I’ve got a post brewing about what characterizes them as distinct from other kinds of larp, but let’s say for now that they’re generally 2-4 hours long, for 8-30 players, indoors, using pregenerated characters and predesigned plotlines. The con is run under the aegis of UK Freeforms, a body that does a lot to help with providing game opportunities, mentoring, disseminating good design practice, and so on.

I’ve been attending Consequences since the beginning, and I love it: the variety of gaming experiences you can pack into a few short days is amazing, and the people are generally a good friendly and interesting bunch. And the chalets are well heated and insulated… which can be pretty important, in late November.

This year I played in four games and GMed two (one of which I’d co-written, the other not). It felt like a good balance: some years I’ve GMed a lot more, but that has militated against attending late-night parties, which are a shame to miss!

First was Friday morning’s M*A*S*H: Brothers in Arms (authors: Nickey Barnard, Allison Rider-Hill, Tony Mitton, Phillipa Dall, Natalie Spindler), which was having its first proper run, having been written and playtested at Peaky earlier this year. This game had an interesting structure: rather than running as a continuous chunk of game-time, it was divided into three episodes, each of 45 mins or so, with different ‘guest star’ characters appearing in each of the three alongside the regular cast. This worked really well and the game as a whole was impressive: it managed to pick up well on the mixture of humour and more serious drama that was so characteristic of the TV show. I was playing the Hawkeye-like character, and had a whale of a time with him.

Friday afternoon I’d not booked anything in, just in case there was any prep time needed for my evening game. Fortunately that was not the case, so I managed to fit in some tabletop role-playing, the first time I’ve ever done that at Consequences. We playtested a Trail of Cthulhu scenario: I won’t talk about its details, as it’s in the pre-publication process, but the play session was great fun and reminded me that I ought to do more tabletopping.

Then Friday evening was The Outsiders, a new game written by me and Cat Tobin which is intended as more of a Nordic-style larp than the usual Consequences sort of thing. I wrote a bit about it here before. We’d got a really good group of players, who went for it whole-heartedly, and overall I think it went pretty well and we had some great feedback. I’ve not yet had a post-mortem with Cat about it, so I won’t go into any depth here for now: but part of our aim is to publish the whole game so that anyone can run it who wants to, so when that’s ready you’ll be able to make your own mind up about what you think of it.

On Saturday morning I played Hope Springs Eternal (Helen Jones, Alli Mawhinney, Nickey Barnard, Traci Whitehead, Tym Norris, Su Jolly). This game, set in a 1950s department store, emerged from 2012’s Peaky weekend, and had run at Consequences last year too. It was ideal Saturday morning fare: funny, clever, tightly-plotted, entertaining, farcical. My character was the senior manager present and also rather jumpy from shell-shock, neither of which made for a relaxed game as chaos erupted all around. Very enjoyable!

In the afternoon I helped GM Come Die With Me, the latest in the long-running series of games by the Epic Experience group set in the fictional town of Bassethwaite. This one (written by Mel Dymond Harper) took place at the opening of a high-class restaurant, Le Furet Frit, at which prominent food critic Easgon Rooney had been found dead in the ladies’ loos. Although it had been a bit of a scramble to get the game finished, it went pretty well and there was much laughter and many shenanigans (usually involving ferrets). I’m now stepping back from involvement with the Epic Experience, after 20 years of it, so it was nice to go out on a good experience.

Saturday evening saw A Night at Ravioli Manor (Thora Ingvarsdottir). Set at the dwelling of a feuding Italian family, whose patriarch had summoned all its rivalrous members plus some old friends and not-so-friends from the past, it contained mistrust, betrayal, shocking revelations, and some rather nice pasta dishes served during the game. I played the youngest son of three, a selfish idiot basically, who somehow managed to come out of the affair reasonably pleased and happy, rather than getting the sort of sharp comeuppance that was meted out to several of the other characters. This game was unusual in having plenty of in-game character death, even quite early on: this hardly ever happens in UK freeform these days.

Finally the Sunday game was Something Wicked; A Gothic Melodrama set in Old London Town (CJ Romer), in a genre he calls ‘Strawberry Gothic’ – a blend of the darkness and melancholy of Gothic with the brightness and extravagance of musicals like Oliver! and My Fair Lady. This was an exciting concept and the cast was packed full of interesting characters. I was playing Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the painter and poet. It would be easy to spoiler the game, so suffice to say I had lots of good interactions with people, and enjoyed pre-raphaeliting it up considerably.

So that was it for another year: as always, an exciting and intense few days of doing fun stuff with lovely people. Consequences has been so instrumental in bringing people together as well as moving ideas forward, it’s hard to imagine now how we managed without it. It was especially good this year to see a load of new people who hadn’t been before, many of whom hadn’t larped or even in some cases hadn’t role-played at all. The organizers deserve a real mound of praise for making it all happen. Onwards and upwards!

5 replies on “Gothic Consequences, 21–24 November 2013”

I don’t know if it’s something you can discuss yet, but I’d be curious to know whether The Outsiders was played in the same kind of light, comic style that freeforms usually seem to encourage. From the description it looks as though the game had the potential to be taken much more seriously (and therefore, from my perspective, to be much more fun).

Yes, it was intended to be a serious game, and was played as such. Although there were light moments of course, the general tone was one of engaging with important emotions and issues. We tried to word the blurbs in such a way as to make that apparent, so it’s good to hear that that’s how you read it.

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