Interesting dream the other night, of a larp set in a colony on Mars. Some colonists are criminals who’ve been sent there as punishment, some are there for the opportunity to own land, some wanted to escape the repressive Earth government, some are keeping an eye on the prisoners, some are secretly informers to the government, etc. No-one can be quite sure of each other’s status, it’s considered impolite to ask. But there are lots of rumours.
There are also rumours of saboteurs, who get blamed by the official TV channels for everything that goes wrong (which is lots). But do they really exist?
The mood is kind of Philip K Dickian (his earlier work) in that people accept the absurdities and mostly try to just muddle through, and drink a lot of 1950s cocktails. (And also in ignoring the tedious real-world practicalities about operating a colony on Mars: gravity, atmosphere, logistics, and so on.)
Brazil (the Terry Gilliam film) might be another reference point of sorts, although that is rather more generally dystopian. In the larp, the regime is kind of randomly savage and punitive, but also hopelessly inefficient. If someone does get pulled in for having subversive opinions, they might just be unlucky; or someone close might have betrayed them.
I haven’t thought about how to actually make it work as a larp, or what are the themes that it could explore. (Well, I guess the general theme is: how can, and how should, humans behave towards one another?) But I rather like it as a setting.
What the larp is definitely not:
- A high-production-value sf extravaganza. (It is probably not sf at all really, in any meaningful sense.)
- An examination of real issues involved in operating a colony on Mars.
- A portrayal of a grim environment — the colony should seem to be comfortable, and generally a desirable place to be. It is not a prison camp: it’s more like a sleepy suburb.
- An allegory of the settlement of Australia. The similarities to that historical situation, in the setup as described above, are not relevant to the intention of the design.