It’s no secret to you readers – I enjoy a good role-playing game, whether it’s tabletop or live action. It’s also no secret that I’m not exactly the most organized person at times – I try really hard, though. If I’m not careful, I lose track of my game stuff easily – just ask me how many character sheets I made for my Blue Rose character before I finally figured out an organizational system. (Pretty sure there’s four of them floating out there, including two versions of the digital character sheet I keep as a backup.) I can also get distracted pretty easily during games, and if I’m not careful, I’ll miss something important. After years of gaming, I’ve figured out a few ways to help keep myself organized when it comes to the various role-playing games I’m in.
As I mentioned briefly in some of my daily Gen Con posts, I took part in two different LARPs this year at Gen Con, in very different roles. I’ve never actually LARPed at Gen Con before, so being involved in two different games might have been a little ambitious, but in retrospect, I had a heck of a lot of fun. Both games I was involved in were put on by Phoenix Fire LARP, a group that my dear friends J and Kasi run with some of their friends. Since convention halls don’t really lend themselves well to boffer LARPs (or, LARPs that make use of foam weapons for attacking others), J developed the FIRE System, which uses a deck of playing cards to determine damage dealt to characters, help add an element of chance to certain actions, and to help with determining initiative for the players. It’s a really neat system that’s pretty quick to learn.
While both games made use of the FIRE System, they were about as different as things can get – and I had completely different experiences in both games, what with running one and participating in another. Read on to learn more about Return to Paragon City and Showdown in Sacramento!
Return to Paragon City
Return to Paragon City was the game I helped run – it’s based on the beloved MMO City of Heroes, which I didn’t get to play for long before they shut the game down back in 2012. The game was run as a hybrid tabletop/live action game, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. However, to be honest, when I first volunteered to help run Paragon City, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t expect I’d be running part of the game by myself, but that’s what ended up happening. And given that it was my first experience running any sort of game, I was anxious as heck about it. I’ve played in tabletop games for years, and I’ve got a year and a half of LARPing experience under my belt, but running a game? Telling a story and keeping track of where everyone is in location to the bad guys and keeping track of the bad guys’ health ended up being a really overwhelming prospect for me. I was so worried I’d mess something up, and then freak out about messing things up, and it’d all spiral out of control. Each playtest we did helped me feel a littlebetter about things, but not much. I ended up showing up to the game in the middle of a massive anxiety attack. Oh, brain. Why do you do this to me?
Anyhow, I told J that my brain was conspiring against me and that I had no idea how I’d be able to run my section of game, so we tag-teamed my section of the event – I’d do the storytelling, while J handled the combat parts. That combination worked out well – during combat I focused on keeping track of where people were on the map and how many hit points the bad guys had, while J handled the actual logistics. And our group had loads of fun! We had some great superheroes in our group, including Professor Photon, Cameraman (who had a camera prop and involved it in all of his attacks), and The Spicy Taco (whose attacks were, of course, taco-themed).
All in all, I learned a lot – and learned that maybe I need training wheels, so to speak, for a little bit longer when it comes to running a LARP.
Showdown in Sacramento
Showdown in Sacramento was an entirely different experience. In fact, the only thing Showdown and Paragon City had in common was the FIRE System – everything else was incredibly different. Instead of being set in a fictitious city full of superheroes, Showdown is set in Sacramento during the gold rush era, and is full of supernatural beings- mages, werewolves, vampires, and fey (in addition to regular plain old humans). In last year’s game, an event happened that caused all the supernatural beings to glow with a specific colored aura around them, based on the type of supernatural being they were. This made things a little… interesting for this year’s game, especially when it came to the political elements.
I like how J and Kasi handled character creation, although I know it resulted in an immense amount of work on their end. Instead of creating our own characters, we were each assigned a character and given a fair bit of backstory for them as a starting point for this year’s game. I ended up playing Lucina Finch, a relative newcomer to Sacramento who’d recently purchased a mine and was planning on using her abilities as a mage to construct machines that would work in the mines, to lessen the potential harm to humans. Having the character information to start from made things much easier for me, especially since I was new to the game – once I got into character and started interacting with others, I had a great time.
Lucina partnered up with two other mages (Isadora and Adelia) to work on making more machines to work in the mines, which was one of Lucina’s main goals for the game. There was also a lot of mining (Lucina had to pay Adelia for the rights to her gold-detecting machine somehow!), a marriage market where Lucina got matched up with a friendly werewolf named Thomas, a number of fights with thugs attempting to raid the mines (Thomas protected Lucina from one such attack by transforming into a werewolf, which Lucina thought was pretty awesome), and even voting on political issues that would affect the supernaturals living in Sacramento both immediately and in the years to come. And with the help of a couple of others, the lady mages found out the source of the auras that were affecting the supernatural folk of Sacramento!
I had a heck of a lot of fun in Showdown, and I’m really glad I decided to jump in and play this year. Granted, doing two 6-hour LARPs over the course of two days was exhausting, but I really enjoyed it.
Today was full of cosplay, LARPing, and suppressing fangirl flailing.
First off, Ross and I dressed as Star and Marco today! I look exhausted. XD
We had lots of fun, and it was a good test run for getting Ross into his Star cosplay for tomorrow. Plus, there was a fair amount of people who recognized us (and gave Ross some strange looks when they realized he wasn’t a girl), which made me happy.
I also got to play in my first LARP at Gen Con! Showdown in Sacramento was today, and I had an amazing time. J and Kasi sure know how to tell a good story. I’ll have pictures from the game soon – likely in time for my post-con write-up.
The best part of today, though, was getting to meet Echo Chernik (note: there is some NSFW artwork on her site), the artist for the Name of the Wind Art Deck playing card Kickstarter I backed last year. I really enjoy her artwork, and we talked about the Kickstarter a bit – and then she pulled out her sketchbook and let me look through some of the sketches she did for the Kickstarter.
And yes, I asked if I could take a picture of this page, and she said yes. I am so ridiculously happy that I got to meet her. She even signed a card with artwork for me (she’s doing that for all the Kickstarter backers who haven’t gotten their rewards yet!) – I’m going to have to find a tiny little frame for it.
So, that was my day two! Tomorrow is going to be crazy and awesome – I’m dressing up as Sailor Moon, finally! 😀
I survived day one of Gen Con! And I’ve had lots of fun (and spent lots of money, haha), and am so exhausted. I wanted to ramble a little bit about today, but expect better and less rambly posts after Gen Con is done. 🙂
The two highlights of today were pretty big things for me – first off, I got to wear my Sailor Moon wig today.
Isn’t it beautiful? Oriana did an amazing job with it, especially in such a short time. It’s heavy as heck, with all the hair in the pigtails, but it’s freaking amazing and I love it.
The second big thing: I helped run my first role playing game. Ever. Like, I wrote plot and did storytelling and panicked about how to handle doing all the things at once. But I did it (with some help from J), and people really enjoyed it.
It was great to run a game based on a game that so many people enjoyed and miss. And I’m really glad I didn’t mess anything up – I’ve been anxious about this game for weeks. But hey, I did it (with the equivalent of training wheels, heh), and everyone had fun.
Now, it’s time to rest up, since I’ve got another big game tomorrow and a fun bit of cosplaying that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. 🙂
I apologize for the lack of a post last week and the week before — I’ve been swamped with Gen Con prep. And oh, there’s a lot of it this year.
For example: did you folks know I’m helping run a LARP this year? Return to Paragon City (based on the old MMORPG City of Heroes) is going to be my first stab at running a simple LARP, and I’m really excited for it (and more than a little anxious, I’m not going to lie). It’s been awesome, revisiting the world of City of Heroes as my friends and I put together the story for Return to Paragon City. I really hope it goes well!
In addition to helping run Return to Paragon City, I’m also going to play in a LARP too – Showdown in Sacramento! Which actually sold out on the first day event registration was open, which was awesome and slightly frustrating, haha. Thankfully, the friends running Showdown are the same friends running Paragon City with me, so even if Gen Con hadn’t increased the amount of available tickets, they’d have found a way for Ross and I to get in there and play (probably with a lot of generic event tickets, hah.)
I also spent most of last weekend making Ross the last piece he needed for his Star Butterfly costume – a star purse that came out far better than I expected it would. And yes, I lined it with My Little Pony fabric. Would you expect anything different from me? 😉
I’ve only got two days of officially planned costumes this year, Marco Diaz from Star vs. The Forces of Evil and Sailor Moon. I’m excited to be Marco Diaz (and even more excited to see Ross in his Star Butterfly costume!), and every time I think of my Sailor Moon costume I get ridiculously flaily. (As I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now.) Depending on how I feel on Sunday, I might throw on my “stealth dress” and wander around Gen Con as my Kishar character, Ëlinyr. Or I might wear my Sailor Moon wig and my Crafty Nerd t-shirt! Who knows.
For those of you who are going to Gen Con, say hi if you see me! Following is a breakdown of what costumes Ross and I are planning to wear on what days (when we’re not LARPing), so you know what to look for.
Sailor Meta Moon
(or, Usagi in a Sailor Moon dress)
maybe Ëlinyr? maybe Usagi?
And for those of you who can’t make it, don’t worry! I’ll be posting here and on Twitter daily while I’m at Gen Con, in addition to my usual Gen Con wrap-up posts after the convention. I’m so ready for this, folks. SO READY.
Here’s hoping I see some of you awesome folks at Gen Con!
Sometimes, you just have to spend three hours of your evening helping a friend out with some speed crafting.
In this case, my friend J (who runs the Kishar LARP I’m part of) was feeling a little panicked by the fact that he’s got a Game of Thrones LARP to go to this weekend, and didn’t have time to make a tabard to go over his leather armor to match his house’s colors. With all the other things he had to tackle before Saturday, what was he to do?
Enter the Crafty Nerd and her trusty sewing machine! I volunteered to put my new Janome sewing machine to work and see if I could possibly crank out a tabard for him before Saturday.
You might have noticed from my post in March that I started LARPing recently, and oh how fun it is – it’s like Gen Con meets summer camp! It really is. There were two big things that were a little intimidating to me as I got started, though: costuming and fighting.
Fighting is something I can probably get better at with practice, but costuming? Most of the costumes I have in my closet are either My Little Pony, steampunk, or renaissance faire appropriate – and Kishar has an Asian/Arabian Nights mix of costuming and setting – how do I get myself costumed for this? And how do I get myself costumed in a way that everyone’s not going to look at me with pity because I’m a newbie who has no idea what she’s doing? I’m so used to just regular cosplay – I’ve got a character that I can then make a costume for, whether it’s an existing outfit that a character’s established as something they wear, or something inspired by a character (like Pinkie Pie – she doesn’t often wear clothes, heh.) Starting from scratch was intimidating as all heck.
I ended up tackling this in a couple of steps, once I got over being so overwhelmed by the daunting prospect of not only creating a character, but costuming one too.
The first thing I did: asked for help. Lots of it. J and Kasi were extremely helpful in determining what would make good costume pieces, but then again, since they run the game, they know what’s good for costuming!
Next: I cruised Amazon, Etsy, and other places to find things that I might not be able to make on my own, like elf ears. There’s a lot of places out there where you can buy LARP gear – and again, I asked J and Kasi for suggestions on where to shop, so I made sure I was getting quality stuff.
After that: I dug through my existing costuming to see what would work. The results: a fair bit of my costuming was easily repurposable for my character’s costume. Even stuff I didn’t initially think would be good, like some of my steampunk stuff (the little bag I showed off in this post about my steampunk gear works crazily well!) and a lovely bag my mom-in-law bought me for my birthday, ended up being pulled in as costuming bits.
Lastly: I made some stuff. (I mean, come on, I’m The Crafty Nerd, after all!) like my spell packet bag (which is ugly but functional) and my overdress bits (unsure what to call them, but we’ll stick with overdress). And as I went through all that, I started to come up with a fair idea of what I wanted to wear.
When figuring out my costume, I had a couple of criteria for what I’d be wearing:
one: it had to look good. I didn’t want to be the one awkwardly dressed noob at my first game.
two: it had to be somewhat comfortable. I’d be wearing this for hours, likely, while walking through the forest.
three: I had to be able to run in it. No ifs, ands or buts. I knew I was gonna have to run from monsters at some point
With those three things in mind, and a giant list of ideas added to my Amazon Wishlist, I ended up emerging with two costumes – one of which I wore to my first game!
I ended up deciding on two main costume styles: one with a dress, one with pants.
The dress outfit:
The dress, obviously: I chose this because it was light, flowy, and would probably make it so I don’t overheat while playing outdoors. Plus, it was easy to alter to make it shorter, so I wasn’t tripping over it – I ended up taking off the bottom tier of the dress, because I’m short.
Corset vest: wanted some sort of corset, but wasn’t sure I’d want one that was super-sturdily boned – turns out this one is a little long for me, but I was able to get some corsets from Kasi that work that I can also wear with this dress!
Overdress bits: I made these myself, they’re the black pieces in the photo above that look like they’re extending from the corset. I thought it’d make a nice touch to a fantasy costume – and it’s a work in progress, as I might add some embellishments to it such as embroidery.
Leggings under the dress: gotta keep my legs covered, because poison ivy/ticks/brambles are no fun. These were a pair I’ve had hanging around for years.
Boots: My good ol’ scooter boots. They handle tromping around in the forest pretty well.
The pants outfit:
Harem pants: oh lord these are comfy. They haven’t made it out to an official game yet, but I bet these’ll be fantastic for running in. And they’re light, too, so I won’t overheat in them.
Scarf: this can be used as a belt, or a wrap, or to keep one’s hair back – the uses are endless! love how versatile this is.
Corset: planning on using one of the corsets I got from Kasi.
Shirt: I have a couple options here: a peasant shirt I made myself, or a peasant shirt I got from Kasi, or I could even use a tanktop if I wanted!
Kimono top: light, breezy, and setting-appropriate. I can wear the scarf as a belt over it, or wear it loose over a costume.
So there you go! For someone who’s never really done a LARP before, once I figured out how to get started, it was really easy to try and find costume pieces that were readily available, so I’ve got something to wear while I try and craft my own stuff from scratch! Hopefully this will help out other new LARP players as you get geared up for your first game!
Yes, I finally did it: I went to a LARP. A real, actual LARP.
And it was FUN.
A little backstory for everyone: when I was a freshman in college, many many years ago, a couple of friends felt it’d be a great idea to start a Vampire: The Masquerade LARP. They loved role-playing, and they thought it’d be awesome to do some live-action Vampire: The Masquerade stuff. So, they herded together a bunch of friends who they thought would have fun in a Vampire LARP, and nudged us in the direction of character creation, and then bam! LARP night at their house!
It didn’t work out all that well.
First off, we didn’t have actual character sheets – we were just told to pick a vampire clan and go with that. We ended up with a very unbalanced group, given that 3/4ths of the people playing chose to play characters from one clan. Second off, there was no combat. Or story. Just a bunch of college kids, sitting around in the living room of a former fraternity house, acting crazy and wearing costumes, drinking wine if you were old enough and pretending it was blood.
I went to maybe two games before I gave up and said “this LARP stuff really isn’t for me.”
But then I met J. And learned what LARPs are really like if they’re run well.
When I met J last year, he told me about the LARP he ran – Kishar – and said I was welcome to come to a game if I wanted to. And I ended up waffling about it for a year or so, based on my bad experiences in that Vampire: The Masquerade LARP I went to back in 2000. I kinda wanted to join up, because as you probably know, I do enjoy any excuse to get into a costume. And I was always interested in boffer fighting (where weapons are made out of foam and latex), even though I wasn’t ever sure where to get started with that. And the setting, which draws on the Arabian Nights stories for inspiration, was intriguing.
So I said “heck, why not? I’ll go to a game, see what it’s about.” And I did – at the end of March.
I wasn’t feeling super well that weekend, so while new players typically play monsters, I ended up trailing the group while they were out in the woods fighting, and taking pictures. It was a really good way to get a feel for how combat works, and to listen to the story and see some action as it happened. While I only knew a handful of people in the group, everyone was welcoming and friendly, and despite feeling pretty cruddy physically, I had a pretty darn good time.
After I absorbed everything going on in Kishar for a weekend, I ended up deciding “yes, this is a thing I want to do” and started crafting a character in earnest. My character will be Ëlinyr (pronounced ay-lin-ear), a sun elf scholar who studies and uses magic. And as I started putting together my character, I realized this is the most perfect way to get my crafty nerdiness on. Not only do I get to make a roleplay character (and therefore indulging in my nerdy side), I also get to put together a costume (which brings in the crafty side of things). And as I said earlier, you all know how much I lovemakingandwearingcostumes. Most of this past weekend was spent working on Ëlinyr’s costume, to get it ready for the next game.
So, I’m really excited about having this new place to get my craftiness and nerdiness on. As I said to J after the game ended, Kishar feels like Gen Con and summer camp combined, and it’s awesome. And who knows, maybe I’ll get Ross into it too, and we can run around the forest in costumes together!