Adventures of a New Director pt 3

Every week always surprises me with new things and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this. There’s a few different topics I want to talk about today in this blog, so I will, so enjoy it.

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First I want to start with ‘How to get local corp senpai to notice you’. Utopia Descending, for those that don’t know the game, has a very large influence by the corporations (think if Walmart had a monopoly on many of their products they and you can only buy it from them). Each chapter has its local corporations, each will vary depending on what game you go to. Your characters WANT to be noticed (usually) and loved by their corporation. Now, we’ve run two full games and a con event, so not many games yet. The game runs online, but the major online presence has only been somewhat recently.

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Now I want you all to take a moment and think about things. If you’re sitting there wondering why your corporation hasn’t showered you in gifts and affection, think back to what I said. There hasn’t been a whole ton of interaction with the actual corporations yet. It’s started, yes, the corporations do have some people they like and some they don’t like. Would you like to know how the corporations know who these people are? They get involved with plot, they get involved with promotions, they get involved online. The fact that you don’t even need to be at game to schmooze your corporation means that ANYONE can do it from ANYWHERE at ANYTIME. You don't have to wait to see a rep at game! This doesn’t mean send 10,000 messages to your corporation telling them how much you love them. This means make posts, make pictures, make videos, comment on things, like things, participate in things, show the corporation you actually care about what they do, and maybe they’ll care about what you do. Just existing as part of the corporation but not acknowledging them otherwise won’t get you noticed.

Now that that’s out of the way I want to say something to everyone that participates online with Utopia.

Thank you guys for having such an amazing time with the game so far. This game is still new, I guess you might say we’re in our ‘Wild West Days’ right now. That means a little bit of trial and error, and that includes everyone. We are all learning how to use this world and mistakes do happen, and when those mistakes happen please come to me about it. I promise I won’t screech at you and be upset. I’d 1000xs would rather have you come to me than try and hide it and potentially make things even more out of control.

Remember though, ISTO might not be as nice as I am ;)

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I look forward to getting to know you guys, especially in person at events (because social media is great but nothing beats actually being together). See you all at the party!

Adventures of a New Director PT 2

I had a different blog post planned for today. It’s all written up and saved and ready to go! But last night things suddenly things happened. And oh my goodness were these some really cool things.

Here’s part two of my director adventures!!!

So what was it that happened? I discovered an openness in the world of Utopia that I had not realized how large it really was. This would be player driven plot. I had seen a few things happen with player driven plot, some cool things and crazy things that they’ve all created completely on their own for Utopia (which is amazing to see). Between the discord channel, costume parties, and various posts on facebook, the players had completely embraced the world of Utopia.

The first things I saw were some players creating plot and drama between each other. Then there was a party, completely unaffiliated with Utopia, where a lot of people dressed as their characters and shared pictures and videos on their character pages. Then players wanted to start doing bigger and crazier plot. With so much to work with, there had to be some boundaries, but what would they be? I was getting messages from multiple people on multiple accounts asking if they do a thing, what happens, or can they do a thing. The more questions I was asked the more I really understood what can be done (and there’s a LOT you can do).

A response from one of the corporations to a player driven plot

A response from one of the corporations to a player driven plot

Here’s the fun part for all of you when it comes to Utopia is that you are NEVER excluded from plot. If it bothers you that someone else had a party you weren’t invited to, then have your own party and invite your own friends! If you see someone having really cool plot online that you’re not involved in, get involved! Or, you can create your own plot! You can get yourself involved however you want, it just depends on YOU!

 

THIS GAME IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and I am just so in love with seeing what the players do. My favorite part of writing plot was always hearing how it made someone feel like they were important. By allowing the players to play with such an open world, it lets them be the star of their dream plot and HOLY SHIT THAT’S AWESOME! Yes, I am fangirling over Utopia right now.

If you want to read the details as to what the world will let you do, check out the UDCT page as it will be posted up on there sometime soon!

Depending what happens, I might make my director adventures a weekly thing :)

The Adventures of a New Director Pt 1

Instead of waiting around until I’ve figured out how to be a great director then finally writing my blog, I’m going to keep you guys updated on how it works. Of course there are details I’ll have to leave out as I don’t want to spoil anything for you. For my first post on this topic I’ll be covering a lot of the startup, but before I can even get to that first I should tell you how I became a director, or at least how it happened on my end.

The first LARP I attended was Dystopia Rising, July of 2014. So yes, I’m still a baby in the larp world, but that shouldn’t matter and if it does then maybe you need to go back and read a few of my other blogs before you start thinking I shouldn’t be where I am. Anyway, that very first game all I knew is I wanted to be a director one day and when I make a decision it means I really do care (for anyone that knows me I can hardly ever make a decision, so when I do I’m almost always serious about it). I worked my way up in positions at DR when I heard they were looking for people to staff Utopia. I had read a little about the game, it seemed pretty cool and I figured why not? I already loved Dystopia, so why wouldn’t I love Utopia?

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I sent out a message asking to apply. I didn’t know what I would end up doing, I just wanted to be able to help out in any way I could. I was told I would be a quartermaster, which sounded pretty cool. A few days later I got a message asking if I’d rather be a writer for the event. After having heard my name pop up as an applicant it seemed I was better suited for this. I immediately accepted the offer, super excited to now have a larger role on such a new and exciting game. After that first game I was asked to help with combat at our Dexcon event (you can read all about my combat experiences in my other blog). Then there was the July event where I was asked to help oversee that combat which had been styled very differently than I was used to in Dystopia, but it was done in a way that worked much better for the game.

At this point I had already expressed interest in running a game. I had already helped create a part of this world and now I wanted to really have my own to work with. Me and two others were told we would be in charge of putting together the next game. We set out to make it become a thing. Not long after we began getting serious on how to piece it all together I received an email offering me a director role for Utopia Descending’s Connecticut chapter. This was it. It’s what I had wanted since that first game. Almost. I was a director now, but I didn’t have anything to show for it yet.

The first step, and so far the hardest step (as most others will probably agree) was finding a location. I can’t even tell you how many places I emailed, had conversations with, set up visits, that just never happened. I was getting frustrated, everyone was fully booked for all of next year, the prices were waaay too high, or they just didn’t have the right sort of place to run this type of event. Then it happened, I found a place that was affordable, we set up a date to meet, everything was working out. On our drive up (it’s a little over 2 hours from where I live) I get an email asking to reschedule. After talking it out a little we managed to keep it for that date and time (my work schedule wouldn’t have let me come back for about two weeks). We show up, meet with the guy, take a look at the place, and oh was it such a great place. Finally everything worked out. We found our location and we booked a date.

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With that out of the way, it was time to focus on literally everything else. Here’s where Utopia gets crazy but in a fun way. Utopia is designed to be very social media heavy (though you can still enjoy the game without that aspect). If the players are expected to be posting on facebook, then so should the corporations.  I currently run 5 in game pages and one general page for the game. It’s only been a few days since I’ve started with these and I’ve already learned a few tricks. You can schedule a post out for the future! Do you know how amazing this feature is when you’re working full time and still need to get your posts out there? I can do everything in a day and have my entire week of social media scheduled! Here’s a quick breakdown on the past four days of social media for me:

Day 1: Create the pages. Oh facebook you just know how to make everything SO GOSH DARN FRUSTRATING I WANT TO SCREAM. Though like I said, facebook does offer some pretty cool features that at the same time make my life much easier. I made sure each page had a post so people had something to look at.

Day 2: Facebook, you’re still not making anything easier! I started scrolling through other facebook pages like Walmart and Target to get an idea of what they post. This is something I studied in college (We spent a semester talking about Sharknado and multi-platform promotion for it, yes I had to watch Sharknado 1-3 in class and promote a new fake Sharknado movie). Though before I hit the multi-platform, maybe first I should at least get the facebook pages running smoothly.

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Day 3: People know these pages exist now. They’ve gotten a few likes and shares. But I needed to find a better way to get the name out there. What’s the best thing that people do to advertise their facebook page? A contest of course. Rather than starting the contest immediately, I wanted to give players a chance to be prepared. The pages were new, they may not have seen them yet, and if they’re new to the game they probably don’t have a character page yet either.

Day 4: Need to make sure each corporation gets a little bit of love. While there may not be something to post from each page every day, at least one or two of them should be posting a day while rotating between which ones are posting. This way no corporation is ever left out. Another aspect I wanted to add into their posts is visuals, videos, articles, things that people will spend a little more time to look at rather than read a quick post and move on. Each corporation should post some sort of visual every now and then to help keep people engaged.

Future plans: Once I have the proper equipment the corporations will start to produce their own content. What’s more exciting than seeing new unique materials coming from the game? This also would hopefully help encourage other players to do the same and produce their own content (which some already do and it’s AMAZING!)

So there you have it. A little bit about being a new director for a new game. Stick around for more articles on my director adventures as well as some other cool things mixed between. Thanks for reading everyone!

 

The Life of a Mod (Bag of Cats)

At one point or another everyone has thought about writing a mod for their game. You’ve thought of the perfect idea, with the greatest plot and the most flawless execution. You’ve made the badest of bad guys that should be killed so quickly, or you made the sweetest family just looking for a little bit of help. In your head there’s no way things could go differently. Then you one day get to make that mod, you write everything you’ve imagined, then when you hear the end results it’s nothing at all you imagined. What went wrong? Did you mess it up? Did something happen when the NPCs went out? Why did the players choose to help the evil guy?

This should answer a few things for you. The life of a mod, from conception to the moment those npcs return.

The idea:

Every mod starts out with an idea. Sometimes you have a pre-set topic, sometimes it’s whatever you want to write. You’ll pick an idea and sometimes that’s all you need to do before you write. Other times you pick that idea and change it at least 10 times before it becomes something you really like. You’ll then adjust it about another 5 times because you are trying to figure out how to phys rep it (because let’s be honest, no one wants to see a guy standing there with a little bit of makeup telling you that he is really 200ft tall with massive wings and I don’t know but you get the point).

Writing the mod:

Now it’s time to put everything on paper. So you write it down in whatever format it is you do. The you read it over and something seems off. So you go back and you change it up a little bit. Maybe change up the loot given out or the threat level of your NPCs. Then you see it, the perfect mod. It’s finished. You polish it off and send it in.

In Logistics:

This is where the mod gets its life from. Without NPCs this mod would be nothing more than a thought on paper. Here’s where the variables start in making your mod.

-          Lack of NPCs: Occasionally there just aren’t enough people available for what you imagined. You need to cut numbers and bump stats. It’s okay though, because it’s still basically the same thing. Same story, just a few less people.

-          You’re not sending it out: Sometimes you’ll be the one in charge of sending your mods out. You get to explain every detail that isn’t on the paper but in your head. When you’re not there during this time those questions will be filled in the best they can by someone else and it may not be exactly what you imagined. They will do their best to keep the spirit of your mod, but without the writer there it becomes that marshal’s responsibility to do their best with it.

-          Timing: Your mod was set to go out at 2:45am on the dot. The clock says 2:45 and your NPCs haven’t left yet. Why? Well that’s a whole other list that goes along with running logistics. It doesn’t matter why though, you need them out 10 minutes ago and now they’re going to be late and now you need a reason they’re late and just hope and pray that the players are still there. Keep them waiting too long and they’re going to leave. No one wants to wait around for an hour to find out nothing is actually going to happen.

And they’re off:

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This is it. It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Your mod has left. So far everything has gone perfectly (or we always like to hope so!) You watch as the NPCs leave and go out into the world. You’ve gone over their stats 5 times, they know exactly what to do, they look amazing, now you just wait. Anything that happens now is out of your control but your confident things will go perfectly. Sometimes it does go perfectly. Sometimes everything you predicted to happen will happen. Sometimes the mod takes on a life of its own.

-          Your NPCs: They could be as prepared as possible for this, but maybe they were asked a question that they didn’t know and had to quickly respond with an answer. That answer might not be what you planned, it may even be contradictory to certain parts of the mod, but it’s not the NPCs fault, nor is it your fault. You’ll have NPCs that might not have been right for the role, someone too shy in an entertainer role, or someone too aggressive to be a friendly neighbor. And again, this is no one’s fault but it can change the course of a mod

-          The Players: I was once told at 4am after an exhausting 17 hours of running mods that ‘players are like a bag of cats’. Yes, this was stupid o’clock talking, but it kind of made sense. Sometimes you shake up the bag and they come out hissing and yowling. Sometimes you shake it and they come out all cuddly. (Please note we did not actually shake a bag full of cats to test this theory) This does pretty accurately describe how players will react. That bag your shaking is your mod. You can expect the cats to come out angry because you just shook them in a bag! Instead, when they come out they’re cuddly. You ask why and how. Instead of being mad and attacking, players negotiate and help or vice versa. YOU CAN’T PREDICT WHAT PLAYERS WILL DO

-          The Marshal: The marshals that go out with mods are all amazing people. Sometimes they have to work under pressure to make a quick call. Just like when the NPCs get asked something completely off topic, the marshal may need to make a sudden call. Maybe there’s a skill being used in a way specific to that plot and a situation happens that they aren’t 100% sure of. Assuming it’s nothing game changing, the marshal has that ability to make that call then and there. And sometimes that call may change the course of the mod. Another instance of it’s nobody’s fault but things just happen sometimes.

So your mod has finally come back home. You ask how it went. Everyone smiles and says it was awesome. You feel great. Everyone had fun. You get back into game and suddenly you hear people talking ‘hey, did you hear this happened?’ and you’re horrified. That’s not what you wrote. That’s not what you sent out. You weren’t told by anyone anything went wrong. But it did. But players are excited about it. This unexpected twist on a mod was so cool that they can’t stop talking about it! Or maybe your mod did go exactly as planned. The players still loved it.

A mod will take on its own life at some point. It’s no longer the writer’s mod once it hits logistics. With each person included into the creation of the mod, it changes ever so slightly. So when you write a mod, be aware that nothing can prepare you for what will happen. You can plan every scenario and there will still be a hundred more. A successful mod isn’t one that followed your initial concept. A successful mod is one that people enjoyed. So go out there and shake up that bag of cats and have fun with whatever comes out :)

Stage Fright and Combat Don't Mix

I wanted to tell my story of how I became confident in my combat. I’m sure some of you can relate to this, and if you’re struggling maybe something I’ve done will help you make a change!

When I first heard about larping I imagined myself being very combat capable. The idea of being this cool strong character was fascinating because being 5’2 ½” and too small to even donate blood, I never felt like that was possible. This was the perfect opportunity to try that out. I was excited to try out my first game and jump into the fights.

Once I got to my first game, I realized it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. There were a few problems that began to hold me back. I’ve never used a weapon before, real or fake. How would I be any good if I didn’t even know how to fight? Those thoughts made me nervous about fighting. I wanted to be seen as a good fighter.

I decided that I would need to learn to fight in game if I wanted to ever be good, but I couldn’t play that good fighter character I had imagined because they should already know how to fight. Instead, I played a character that was very weak that needed help learning. And that did help me learn. Sort of. There’s only so much you can learn with a character never meant to fight.

Photo by Side-kick Kris

Photo by Side-kick Kris

At this point I still didn’t feel comfortable with fighting and I thought if I made that fighter character, maybe it would push me to be that fighter. Instead, I started making excuses why not to fight to avoid breaking the image of this character being a good fighter. It seemed like I wasn’t going to ever learn, but then I found myself hanging out with characters that were really good with combat. I started training with them between games, but I was still too nervous to try and fight in game.

Then I was assigned to do combat, and a lot of it for Utopia Descending. I can’t tell you guys how nervous I was for this. I pushed that nervousness aside and started to work on hyping myself and everyone else. This was my chance to play an NPC for an extended period and just fight. It gave me a chance to get comfortable fighting others because I spent long enough as that NPC to feel comfortable with the weapon and the fighting style.

The following Utopia event later that month I was assigned combat again. This time I wasn’t as nervous. I fought people I didn’t know, and I fought people I knew. I fought for around 10 hours that day. I can remember the exact moment I lost my fears of fighting. I was fighting a friend, I was an NPC, they were playing their Utopia character. They were someone I knew of as a good fighter, a lot of people do. I was able to fight them. I wasn’t destroying them or anything, but I was able to keep up. I realized I was what I had imagined myself as when I first started.

I’m not amazing at combat. I’ll still lose a good chunk of my fights. I sparred this past DRNJ game and I lost, but it didn’t feel like a loss because it was a damn good spar session. Everything really just seemed like stage fright. I was capable, but I was so nervous that I held myself back. Once you put some confidence in your fighting you’ll be very pleased with your results. Don’t be afraid to fight. Involve yourself in combat. Volunteer for combat mods while on NPC, it’s the best time to practice. Ask a few friends to teach you at home. Go be that awesome fighter you first imagined.

Rekindling a Passion

There’s no better feeling than returning to an old passion after having nearly forgotten about it. The passion never leaves, sometimes it just lays dormant for a while. Sometimes it’ll be a few months before you return, sometimes it’ll be a few years.

I often find myself becoming distracted with work or just life, finding no time or money to focus on something I once loved so much. Often times what gets me back into that passion isn’t because I felt a spark of inspiration, but because I had to for some reason.

Here’s a few of those passions that have come and gone over the years, but always stick around.

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Crafting/cosplaying: I love to craft. I love to work with different types of foams, different materials, and all sorts of crafty little bits. Sometimes crafting is cheap, sometimes it’s really pricey *glances over at my roll of worbla that I’m afraid to use and mess up*. It takes a lot of time to make and if you’ve got anywhere to go that day you’ve got to cut short for clean up time. I often find myself going a few months at a time not touching anything until I realize I have to. I need a new larp weapon, or there’s a con coming up soon and I need a new cosplay. I’ll admit sometimes I don’t want to do it. Sometimes I dread the moment I have to start working. After the first day of crafting though I remember how much I love it and suddenly I don’t want to stop.

Makeup: Similar to crafting, it can be expensive and you need a lot of clean up time depending on what it is you’re practicing that day. What brings me back is when I’m coming up with a new character or a cosplay and I need to test out a makeup design for it. After the first test and discovery of a new brand of makeup, I become addicted again for the next few weeks.

Gaming: I’m sure a lot of you can relate to this. Have you ever spent every moment you had playing a game, then one day you’re too busy to play. Not a big deal, until the next day you’re busy, and suddenly it’s been a week since you’ve touched it. League is that game for me. I’ll play non-stop for a little bit, life will happen, a month passes by and I’m back on for the next week or so.

Just because it’s been a while since you’ve done something with an old passion doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. I hate feeling like I’ve lost a love for something, but I’ve come to realize it will find its way back somehow. Just give it time and don’t try and force it!

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.