Creating a Carnival

It’s been a while since I had time to type up my next blog, but here it is finally! I’ve been caught up with larp after larp, and I’m loving every moment of it!

I figured this time I’m going to give a look into how I designed my carnival as my first over arch at Dystopia Rising. What a better way to celebrate my 3 year anniverasry, right? It’s something I’m proud of, looking back on, and something I did put a lot of thought into. I needed to come up with a design that would have people feeling fantastic during the day, and add that horror into the night.

As expected, people did not trust the carnival at first. Friday night my face NPC Eleanor, and a friend’s face NPC Elvira, had paid people that helped us out with our carnival set up. One of the setup locations was at the Fun House in the middle of the woods. Once things were all set up Elvira had asked the helpers if they thought this was going to be a trap. Nearly all of them agreed they thought something terrible would happen, but instead they all walked away with a few cred! That was about it for Friday night, other than a bit of mingling as our face NPCs. We had gained a small bit of their trust.

Saturday morning came. Time for the carnival to get started. People were setting up their own booths at the carnival, as well as some of the carnies with their prizes. The carnival itself wasn’t the main area I had to focus on though, it was the fun house. 12 in the afternoon we opened the fun house. The first mod going on inside? A happy fun water balloon fight with some of the carnies! People were hesitant at first to go in, but once they did they had a blast. The carnival was going pretty well so far. No reason to not trust them, but it still was early.

As things went on it was time for the fun house to switch it up again. This time there was a string maze with 4 floor traps. The strings had no mechanical effect, they were just for the fun of dodging and weaving through. The floor traps though were actual IG bombs. The question here is ‘why would you put bombs inside if you wanted to win people’s trust?’. The answer is a few things. First of all, the traps were in plain sight so it wasn’t like we were hiding horrible things from people. Second, if someone were to hit one of the traps (as did happen) it was a way for Elvira to go in and explain how it’s all part of the fun. If there’s no thrill, then what would be fun about it? Third is so we could go ‘apologize’ later to anyone that we had upset, assuming their character had become very angry about it. And fourth, word of mouth. When people hear what happened they tend to bring it up to the carnies, even though they had not gone through themselves, and it gives us a chance to explain ourselves and invite them for a run through to see for themselves it’s really not all that bad.

As the day went on, it was time to switch up the fun house again. Now it was time to start prepping them for a few of the horror aspects. Inside we had splatter mods going on, but rather than water this time we had fake blood. There were people inside that were menacing, making weird sounds, spraying blood, just being scary. This way when someone came out of the fun house with a bit of blood on them, again, it was all part of the show. Nothing to worry about.

Over the next few hours there was a pause in the fun house as the main show started up. The show was also being run as part of the carnival. People saw familiar faces perform, and they saw some NPCs perform (all did an AMAZING job). Eleanor and Elvira went on stage, Eleanor made an announcement thanking people for coming and inviting them to the final part of the fun house while Elvira did her contortion act. At this point we’re hitting about 8pm and still nothing has gone wrong at the carnival. Maybe it was just a really awesome carnival.

As the fun house was being set up for its final funs, Eleanor and Elvira walked around and mingled, prepping for a night of terror for a select few unlucky people (or maybe very lucky if you look at it OOG). We had two types of tickets to hand out. The good tickets, and the bad tickets. When someone was extremely helpful to the characters in a certain way, we handed them a good ticket that could be redeemed around 9pm. The bad ticket was for later that night. How did these tickets help out with validating the kindness of the carnival? If you were given a good ticket and you redeemed that ticket, you would tell people ‘oh the carnival people gave this to me!’ Thus spreading the idea that you want to get their special tickets. Those that got that ‘bad’ ticket were people that had given trouble to the carnies early for a variety of reasons. These tickets were given as ‘an apology for upsetting them’ earlier on in the day.

Finally it was time for the last fun house run. This was the most important (and by far it sounds like everyone’s favorite) piece to making the fun house seem harmless. At this point it was dark, about 10pm. We had been advertising to everyone not to miss out on the last run because we would really be amping up the spooky aspect of the fun house. Inside there were lights, there was fog, there were people being tied up and tortured. The carnies were screaming for help with desperation in their eyes. But once the PCs went to save them from the horrible torture of the pig person, everything stopped. Elvira came storming in and the people being tortured halted their screams. It was all for show, it was their job. No one was being tortured, it was simply part of the fun house. The PCs quickly learned this and allowed things to continue as normal inside the fun house. After, they would go around telling their friends about how all the screams inside were for the fun.

Before we reach the final part, let me give a quick recap on the build up throughout the day. First we started off by paying people for help, then we moved into the fun parts, then an accident or two in the fun house that we would clear up as their own fault for not paying enough attention to where they stepped. We amped up the horror a tiny bit by introducing blood and some unsettling things in the fun house. During this whole time there was mingling and fun and games happening outside. The final run was to gain trust over the screams and any unnerving sounds coming from inside.

Now we’ve reached midnight. Everything so far has been going great. Several people had asked Eleanor for the carnival’s return in the future. People were loving it. Midnight and not a single thing had gone wrong at the carnival! How could that be?

The fun house was prepped for it’s special midnight showing. Only those with tickets could come in. The tickets included a plus one, because it’s more fun if you bring a friend! The hardest part this whole time was ‘how do I get players to come to the fun house at midnight without bringing 20 of their biggest baddest friends?’ and while some had thought to do just that, some had chosen to come with just their plus one. We people still nervous about it, of course. You’d have to be out of your mind to fully trust a fun house at midnight. But people still came. And they still enjoyed what it had to offer.

And with that, I’m going to wrap things up here. I don’t want to give out much more info, because what fun would it be for the players if I told you everything? This was my very first time designing an arch that expanded through both Friday and Saturday. Everything went better than I could have asked for. Thank you to all the staff and all the players for making my carnival come true.

I can’t wait to design my next major arch :)

Creating an Original Costume

I’m a larper, I’m a cosplayer. I’ve worked with making great costumes for the camera, and great ones for stability and comfort. There’s a lot that goes into making a costume and I decided to give some of the tips as to how I go about making mine. These tips are designed more towards making your own original character, but many of these steps can be applied to creating a cosplay. Keep in mind through all of this, your original idea may have completely changed by the time you finish your project, and that’s okay.

1.      First you need to figure out what you need to be able to do in the costume. Is there a chance of combat? Do you need to run? Or are you solely roleplaying or posing for pictures? This will help eliminate ideas that will not work. For example, if you need to run and fight, wearing a fragile headpiece may not be the best idea.

2.      What is your theme? Do you need to be scary, cute, ice themed, intelligent, etc. Knowing how your character thinks and where they come from will effect what sort of design you are looking to make.

3.      How long will you need to be in costume? Wearing something for 30 minutes is very different than wearing it for an entire weekend. Makeup smears, large pieces may fall apart, things begin to fall apart over time. If you need to be wearing it for a while try and find things that are comfortable but stable. Coating part of yourself in latex would only be comfortable for so long.

Next part would be to start planning phases of your costuming. Having the ability to draw is amazing, but sadly not all of us are able to do that… You’ll really have to visualize your idea from different angles if you’re like me and lack artistic abilities.

1.      Have a basic idea in your head. Keep into consideration the last few points. Start to break down piece by piece what you need to be making. Head, shoulders, knees and toes! And everything else. Separate them each in your head, pick one to start with and focus on that. I always find it helpful to focus on one piece until it’s done, especially when making an original character.

2.      Start to design your first piece. Use whatever materials you need in order to do this. Sewing, foam crafting, prosthetic making, whatever.

3.      Here’s the fun part. There’s a good chance that at this point it’s already starting to look slightly different than you first imagined. The color might be off, or the shape you were trying to make was just too complicated, or a number of reasons to have made you change your design. It’s totally normal and happens all the time.

4.      Look at the piece once you have finished it, or once you have gotten to a point that you know what it will look like once fully done. Reimagine your original concept, but now focus it around this piece. Do you need to change things? Can you keep the rest the same? If you had to change it a lot, definitely try and rethink what you can do with the rest of your costume.

5.      Repeat all these steps for each piece you make.

Again, your costume may look far different than what you had imagined, but that’s also character development. Sometimes their story changes with their costume. Sometimes the costume is where the story comes from.

If you guys found this useful let me know, I’ll put together more blogs like this to help with costuming/makeup! Always happy to go more into detail on a specific topic :)

The New Generation

In terms of larping, I’m actually pretty new. I’ve only been larping for 3 years and sometimes I hate to admit that. All the older generations having war stories of years past. Along with those great stories though, there’s a lot of unpleasant ones and a lot of things were different. Over time stuff changes, new generation comes in, and things do get better.

I am the new generation of larping.

So what is this new generation? Well, there’s plenty of reasons as I see it. Now remember, your experience is going to be different than mine.

Community: I’m going to start right off with one of my favorite things about this new generation, the community. The community I am part of is hands down the best community of people I’ve ever met. Yes, there are a few bad seeds, but they are going to be everywhere you go. The important part is there are so many less of those people. They get weeded out eventually, or learn that their attitude isn’t going to work out. I don’t feel like I’m forced out by other cliques within my own game. I don’t feel unwelcome, even when traveling to other games I feel like I can fit in. The inclusiveness that I see from everyone is amazing as well. We accept people from all walks of life and we want everyone to feel they have a place in our community.

Photo from Utopia Descending's opening event

Photo from Utopia Descending's opening event

Staff favoritism: People often assume that because I’m an ST I can do anything I want with my character and get away with it. That’s not at all true. As an ST, I am held to the very high standards and I should be the best representation of the community I can. It doesn’t mean I can break rules because I feel superior, it means I should show example of how to follow the rules. If an ST gets something awesome as their character, it’s not because of special benefits, it’s because that person is an ST due to the fact they have a great understanding of the game to begin with. I feel that that STs I personally know do a fantastic job at representing game and staying fair.

Female roles: I’ve heard the stories and I’m happy to see that girls aren’t always forced into one role. Staff positions? Hell yeah we have girls there too! An opportunity that did not exist in larp until somewhat recently, and even then it’s still ‘new’. It’s cool seeing some girls go out there and kick ass.

Taboo topics: There are many things out there that horrify us, and that’s great, but there are topics that no one wants to deal with, and we make sure no one has to. In the instance something does come up it is taken care of very quickly once brought to the attention of the directors. Many games and communities tell people to suck it up or just to opt out of situations because it’s not real. Going to games designed to keep these topics out 100% make it much more welcoming.

PCs > NPCs: Gank squads, undefeatable stats, targeting new players, all things that I’ve heard and seen happen. I’m happy to say my community does not support this. When playing an NPC, the fun shouldn’t be in how many kills you get, it should be in how much the players are enjoying it. I’ve talked with people that firmly believe NPCs purpose is to do as much damage and kill as many people as possible with no regards to the players. Sending 10 high ranked baddies at a new player and their friend because it’s a ‘guaranteed kill’ is awful! If a new player happens to die it’s fine, but don’t target them as easy kills. As an NPC you are there to put on a show, make the players feel important, let them have their moment to shine.

New players: As stated previously, people have the tendency to take advantage of knowing people are new, and that’s pretty shitty. A lot of people push away new players because it’s not cool to be seen with someone new, or they don’t want to be bothered helping new players. Thank goodness that’s not how it is with my community. We love our new players. They’re our next generation as well. If we know you’re new we’re going to go out of our way to check up on you, help you find something to do, maybe lower some stats a bit on enemies to give them a chance to be a hero on their first game. New players should always be welcomed with open arms.

There’s a lot out there that’s changed. All the old stories I’ve heard I don’t quite understand how that could have happened. It does blow my mind sometimes to hear how careless some of these larps were. And you know what? It doesn’t make me feel sad that I’m new and missed out. It makes me proud to say that I am the next generation of larping. I want everyone to be able to feel the same about it. I want people to be proud of their games and their communities.

Do I think everything is all wonderful all the time at every game? Sadly, no. The community I am a part of now though, a community that has been spreading, that is one I could see being the standards eventually.

Thank you to everyone that puts so much love and work into this community.

I am the new generation of larp.

#GamerGirl

THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO BE A GIRL IN THE GAMING COMMUNITY

Do you like to stay out of the fight and play the support? Awesome! Supports are what hold teams together. Often times supports are the ones calling the shots! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to play a healer either. Some people like it, it’s not just a girl thing. Anyone that enjoys that role should play it!

Photo by djlemma

Photo by djlemma

Do you enjoy playing the ‘girly’ character? Cool! Some of them have really fun designs. Some of them have really fun gameplay. Some of them are the strongest characters AND they have the cutest design! You play them because you like them for whatever reason, just as anyone else does with their favorite character. Imagine if we shamed guys for playing very masculine characters.

Do you like to play non-support characters? Go for it! No character is reserved for a certain gender. This doesn’t make you a ‘try hard’. You shouldn’t be told to ‘stick to the girl characters’. Go show everyone you can be the carry and deal the most damage! Be the tankiest of tanks and soak up all the damage! Play the sneakiest of assassins and never let them know you’re coming! Do what you like best.

Do you enjoy cosplaying characters with small amounts of clothing? Have fun! Cosplaying a character with very little coverage can feel empowering to some people. Sometimes cosplaying a male character can be hard when SO MANY OF THEM DON’T WEAR SHIRTS! Yet when a cosplayer attempts to cover their breasts with a bra or bandeau in order to cosplay a shirtless character, people will say it’s sexualized. THAT IS NOT SEXUALIZATION OF A CHARACTER! It’s covering up what is necessary in order to remain as close to the original. A cosplayer is more than allowed to add a shirt if they feel more comfortable. Cosplay is about adding your personal touch to your favorite characters. Please, please, please stop slut shaming cosplayers for enjoying showing a little skin. Do that boudoir shoot as your favorite character! Just make sure you keep the key components of the character such as scars, hair, hat, weapon, anything iconic. (that being said I do not condone this when the character/cosplayer is underage)

Do you enjoy streaming but you have large breasts? Go stream! I know this sounds absurd but do you realize when a streamer has large breasts and they’re not 100% covered up, there’s no doubt she MUST be doing it for attention! Since when did you decide what she’s allowed to wear? A lot of those girls could crush you in the game they stream so why does their cleavage make them less than you?

I have seen so many female streamers, cosplayers, and larpers shamed for all of these. As long as they enjoy what they do and no one’s getting hurt, what’s the problem? Can we just accept the fact that females don’t need to validate themselves to be a gamer too?

Staff Goals

Last post was about the disrespect that I, and I’m sure many others, have experienced throughout some sort of staff position at a LARP. This time I’d like to give some tips on how to get to those staff positions using personal experience. Not everything I say will work for everyone, but if you find yourself stuck in a rut, this might give you a new way of looking at your application.

The first part is simply recognizing that you really want to do this. I remember my very first time at a larp, and I was looking at the directors as they spoke before game on, and thought to myself ‘I want to do that’. I’m not quite there yet, but there’s plenty of time to reach that goal. You can set different goals later, but having an idea where you want to be is great.

Here’s a general breakdown of things to think about when looking at being part of staff

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-Settings/Makeup: I originally wanted to be a Settings Marshal because I loved to play with special fx makeup. While on NPC shift I would offer to help with makeup, but if they didn’t need help I would do what the ST needed of me. Offering help is great, but if the other marshal has it under control don’t continue to try and help. I would post pictures on my facebook page of things that I had been working on, showing my progress and doing makeups related to what I would be doing if I were staff. I took pride in my work and loved what I did.

-Rules: Yes, knowing the rules is important to be a rules marshal, but what’s more important is you. Marshals need to know how to talk to someone from a third party point of view. How you act on your NPC shift will reflect how you would be viewed for marshal. If you’re willing to give it your all every time, put 110% into just being awesome, then you’re probably a great person to have with us. If you’re the type of person that falls asleep on your NPC shift, tries to auction off what they’re assigned to a different player, or hide from the ST, you might want to rethink how you present yourself to other staff members.

-Story Teller: Similar to being a rules marshal, there are a few more things that go into becoming a Story Teller. You’ll need a strong understanding of the world you would be writing for. Think about investing in materials that go more in depth to the world. Really show that you love the game. I would post on my facebook about how excited I would be for games and I was always positive about my experiences. If you post negative things all the time about your game, don’t expect to get a staff position. Keep in mind that being a story teller involves not only a fast paced environment with quick decisions, but it also includes a lot of work between games for writing, prop designing, etc.

Another important step to all this? APPLY. If you never apply for a position, how is anyone supposed to know you’re serious about it? How would they know you have the abilities if you don’t apply? And making several facebook posts insinuating you want to be staff won’t get you the position either. I know it’s scary to put in an application, I was terrified to do it, but I am so glad I got over that fear and just did it. If you’re not accepted right away, don’t worry too much. Just take a look at what you’ve been doing and see what you can do to improve.

Before I end this, let me just go over a few quick points again

- Always give 110%

- Positivity will get you far

- Know the requirements it takes for the position you want

- Just do it and apply

- Love what you do

Sometimes it really is that simple.

 

Something, Something, Disrespect

Hey there! It’s me, Bri, with my first blog post! If you haven’t taken a look at my bio yet, I recommend you do so. It’ll give you a better understanding of where this is all coming from. Once you’ve done so, read on!

 

I’d like to make this post not just on my own behalf, but on the behalf of everyone that struggles to prove they’re just as deserving as everyone else.

 

By being young, by being female, by being tiny, by being bubbly, people think that I can’t do this. You’re probably reading this and thinking to yourself ‘but I respect you!’ and that’s awesome! You’re awesome. Unfortunately though, not everyone thinks like that. Some people look at me and they see someone unqualified for the job because I’m not the stereotype of a Story Teller or a Game Runner.

 

Let’s give a little info on a few types of disrespect I’ve run across in just my 3 years of larping.

1.      “I can’t believe she got the spot and not me. I really thought I deserved it more”

2.      “They only picked you because you’re a girl and they want more females”

3.      “I know that you wrote this, but I think this would be a better idea so we should do my idea”

4.      “I’m too tired to do what you want me to despite the fact that I chose this shift to staff/npc so instead I’m just going to not do it”

5.      “I can teach you how to larp better because I’ve been larping for 10+ years”

 

Now let’s address what it is you are really saying with these phrases.

1.      This is telling me that I am underqualified. Not only are you saying I don’t deserve to be staff for whatever reason, you’re also saying whoever chose me made a poor decision. I applied for my positions just like everyone else did. I worked hard to get where I am. You are ignoring all the hard work, all the hours of writing, editing, prop and costume making, and everything else I put into being staff.

2.      This is pretty obvious. Again, this is saying you saying I don’t deserve what I got, and I only got it because of another reason. Such a shame that you aren’t a female in the larp community, right? Look back at the history or larp. Look back at the amount of females that have held important positions on staff. It’s very limited. So to be told that I’ve got it easy because I’m a girl is just ridiculous. I worked my ass off to prove I deserve what I have, I did not use my gender as an advantage.

3.      This one drives me the most insane. I don’t mind some advice. If something needs to change suddenly and you give me a recommendation, that’s great. The difference is if I know exactly what I want, it’s been pre-written, pre-approved by my bosses, so why should YOU get to change what’s happening? If you want to write the story, then apply to be a Story Teller. Don’t tell the ST on shift that you don’t think something would work simply because you’re not crazy about the idea. Guess what, not every plot I write will be for you. It also undermines those who hired me and those who check my work.

4.      If you picked to be on NPC until 4am, then I expect you to at least try until then. I get it, you’re tired, we all are, but when I ask you to do something, please don’t tell me no. Please don’t complain. Don’t make me out to be the bad guy because I’ve asked you to do your job. I hate being the bad guy. I try to keep high energy through my whole shift. At 4am you’ll still see me smiling, jumping around, telling everyone how wonderful they’re doing because I really do care about you guys. I’ve had occasions where even my staff doesn’t want to do work for me. Imagine telling your boss ‘I don’t feel like working because I didn’t sleep a lot last night so I’m just going to nap at my desk. Don’t bother me’. How quickly would you be out of a job? Now what makes it acceptable to tell me basically the same thing? You chose to take additional responsibilities as a staff member, so please respect the rest of your staff and the players, do your job, then go sleep for 10 hours.

5.      This is one I get when I talk with larpers outside of my community. I can tell them I ST for two games, but they will take one look at me and treat me as though this is my very first time larping. I’m not asking to be given staff responsibilities, but a little bit of respect would be great. Don’t talk down to me, don’t treat me like a child. When I don’t understand a rule at a new game it’s not because I’m some dumb little girl that can’t figure out larping, I simply have a rules questions because I’m new to the game.

 

Now, let’s go over the points again, but let’s go about it with the proper responses. Even if you reeeally feel that you’ve been done wrong because I have a staff position that you don’t, try to look at it like this:

1.      Wow, we both applied and she got the position. That must mean she really did something good to deserve it. I should congratulate her. Maybe I should talk to someone and see how I can improve my own writing so I can be staff too one day!

2.      It’s so great to see more females taking control in larp. It’s something that’s we really need to be seeing more of. Maybe one day even half the staff will be females!

3.      I don’t find this as something that I would personally enjoy, but I bet there’s people out there who would find this great! Maybe I should apply for staff one day because I too have great ideas. This way I don’t have to try and change someone else’s hard work to fit what I want!

4.      I know every time I choose to go to NPC in the morning/late night I’m too tired. I should probably pick a shift where I can work to the best of my abilities. And if I have no choice, I should change my schedule so I sleep more, or nap prior to my shift!

5.      Welcome to our game, if you need any help or have any questions let us know and we will be glad to help!

 

Look how easy, friendly, and respectful these responses are. By choosing one of those responses, not only are you keeping away toxicity, but you are showing that you respect the person. You are showing that you recognize they are where they are because they earned it. You may not realize it, but saying the things previously listed do hurt sometimes. I try so hard to give you the best experience I can, all I’m asking is that you show me some respect in return.