Together Forever – Romance LARP

I played another game of Together Forever at the weekend. This entry is pretty much going to be me splurging about my character, if you’re not interested I’m almost certainly going to do another brain dump about games and processing later on in the week. If you can’t remember what Together Forever is then I’ve written about it before a couple of times.

I played Verity Lloyd, a Catholic widowed single Mum who’s daughter had recently moved out so now was the time to go looking for love!
One thing I really enjoy about all LARP is the fact I approach my space in the same way as I do an installation, I figure out what things are going to prompt my character and have a pile of stuff that I think I might need off to the side, out of sight of the camera. This time I didn’t use very much of it, and I entirely forgot to turn off my camera at a point when I noticed my background needed fixing thus calling attention to it – rookie error!

Complete with what you can’t see on camera

I set up a little saint’s shrine behind me because I’d decided that Catholicism was a lot easier for a Pagan to play if I was venerating saints. For similar reasons I decided she was also really into praying the rosary, I forget which nun I played got into the mysticism of Christianity as a mystery religion through the rosary but I thought it meant if she got upset enough I could do some creepy rosary praying.
One of her defining features was that she was a widow so I asked The Leeds Baker to ‘play’ her deceased husband, mostly that’s because we have a nice photo together that looks intimate. I also established some things about her relationship with him. We baked together, he was a paramedic who had fallen in the line of duty and called her when it was clear he wasn’t going to make it home and the like.

Then I did a bit of pre-play with the Fae Ref as he was playing a hikikomori character, Akira, who’s mother had asked me to try and take him out of himself. Imagining myself back in Harajuku and being shown around Yoyogi Park made me feel incredibly happy! I use a lot of real life emotional responses in my LARP but I might have been a bit too into that date as Mish rather than Verity. In any case she now had an anime avatar and I felt like I had a handle on her enjoying shopping and clothes in addition to attending a lot of church. Then things got a bit weird because the anime that he decided to show her was Neon Genesis Evangelion.

It is absolutely arguable that your average Catholic housewife is going to look at the obvious bits in that anime and be rather upset but there were a few things that rather prompted me not to go with that. One, the really obvious stuff, Adam, Lilith, angel names etc. Well that’s more Jewish mythology than Catholic. Two, I rewatched the opening credits and it’s so obviously going to be allegory following that I didn’t feel like making her dumb enough not to get that. Three, I went to check which version of Evangelion had the masturbation scene in, because that would be a sticking point, it wasn’t in the series he showed her. So I decided to have her share Evangelion with that weird rosary group and the Jellicle Cat got very enthusiastic at me, enough that I succumbed to temptation and had one of the rosary group lend her a book on Christian Cabbalah… Yeah, a lot of me indulging myself for a Catholic single Mum really.

With the links on the character sheet I was very excited to see that my daughter Charity would be played by a woman who played my best friend in my first game of TF, the one who slept with my boyfriend! I love playing with her and we established the character relationship nicely. One of the things that you do over on the Discord Server housing Together Forever is put together channels that represent your in character facebook walls. I rather spammed hers with wedding dresses, so I was hugely relieved to see that she got herself one in a slightly different name that her mother didn’t know about! I had to spend a lot of time deliberately not typing ‘Chastity’ as it was and now I was double checking that I wasn’t reading the ‘Cherry’ facebook wall!

Then there were some other people on the sheet, members of the Single Parent Support Group – Falcon who my character both slightly crushed on and disapproved of because he was divorced, Tesla my best friend and Andrew who my character didn’t trust.

One thing I didn’t do much of for this game which I usually do was listening to music. I had a basic playlist of mellow christian rock/pop veering towards country and to be honest I got more caught up in the preplay so the usual playlist wasn’t as important for getting into character.

When time in hit Verity discovered she was matched with the son of her best friend, Akira, she took a breath, apologised to Tesla and promised not to do anything inappropriate with her son. Then she went to go and hang out with Akira who she quite liked. I did have some Loli and random Japanese stuff to hand in case he took her back to Shibuya but instead they mostly just talked from the point of view of her as an older woman who’d been through the program before and him as a younger man who wasn’t even really sure about leaving his room. One thing they did bond over was a fantasist streak and love of romance. I completely mullered a description of The Prisoner of Zenda and wanting to be Princess Flavia and he told Verity all about the immersive online game he was playing in which he was a bodyguard to a princess. He agreed after the program was over he’d show her how to play those types of game. They actually did manage some romance, he took her walking up Mount Ararat in VR and then sat there as the sun set and he made a rainbow appear, which probably explains why they then spent a lot of time kissing and she told him that he was going to make some woman a very romantic husband one day.

The next morning we took a bit more time to break up than was technically game time and I did a sex scene in Together Forever for the first time. This after the Jellicle and I had discussed about how the over eager twenty year old was probably not going to say the right things to Verity. But, he actually said enough of the right things and they then went flying in VR to say goodbye to each other properly romantically.

The next relationship was beautifully awful because Verity got matched with Falcon who had a massive crush on her. And then something very weird started to happen because Falcon suggested as dates almost everything that I had in my little preplay notes about the sort of thing Verity and her husband did. So I leant into that. Hard. It was quite a complex emotional pickle she got herself into, on the onehand divorce is basically sinful, so is sex before marriage and on the other she quite fancied Falcon and was guilting over that a great deal because did she really fancy Falcon or did he just remind her of the last man she’d fancied.

A lot of the scenes I was struggling not to approach like a reasonable person and a lot of effort went into the guilt over Verity really quite fancying Falcon. I think it was fairly obvious that Verity was struggling because she was enjoying dancing and dating Falcon but then again, I do a lot of internal play and was very in the character and not always doing my best job of conveying that.
I do love the ‘Dear Diary’ channel in the game as this allows you to write down what your character is actually thinking where the players can see but the other characters can’t. It means for example that I could write an entry about feeling guilty over sinning with my best friend’s son which Tesla’s player could see without Tesla being aware of it. As it happens we never quite managed the awkward admission that I had not exactly had sex with her son… I mean it didn’t really count…
Back to the awkward, awful, awesome relationship with Falcon. He took her dancing, so I immediately grabbed my favourite romantic dances from Strictly to link him to and then we had a lovely passive aggressive snippy conversation in front of our daughters (who were also dating at this point). I can’t remember at exactly what point the dam inside Verity broke but there was my second ever sex scene in Together Forever.
Then there was the second worst miscommunication in the game – entirely in character so it was wonderful – the break up where he asked if there was any chance for them. Verity said that if she had time to unpick him from her deceased husband then maybe, but that she was not in love with him right now. Which Falcon took as a complete turn down and Verity took as her saying if they were Forever matched it might work.
verity also found out that the reason Falcon had divorced his first wife was because she had broken quarantine and threatened the health of their daughter. Which hit home for Verity and started the process of her completely doubting herself and her choices. She likes people to look up to her and think she’s a decent person and Falcon had embraced the stigma of being divorced in order to do the right thing. Which made the man she thought was not good enough for her into the man who she wasn’t good enough for.
The goodbye between them was nice as she had been calling him Mr Davies throughout and finally used his first name to say ‘Goodbye Falcon’.

Now, crucially before we get to the third match she had told her daughter that she was falling for Falcon, she hadn’t said that she had actually fallen for him. And Falcon’s daughter revealed to Verity that Charity had a crush on Falcon. Cue the emotional collapse of Verity, because she knows that really, if it hadn’t been for her pushing him away she and Falcon could have been a good match, and now he’s going out with the twenty year old version of her who is a lot less screwed up and probably as enthusiastic as she is about the dancing and the sex. So Verity made the adult decision and got drunk with her best friend over the fact that she’s old and too hung up on things and clearly Falcon is going to go for the younger model.

So Verity tries to throw herself into her third relationship, Everett, an actor who loves reading and going to see plays, so she goes in a little bit starstruck and telling him how much she loved him in various roles that he’s been in. But he is in love with his first match and really snobby about different forms of media. She has been converted to anime by her first match, because she’s gone off and looked up this ‘Japanese Disney’ he mentioned and of course loves My Neighbour Totoro. So we do a whole lot of roleplay around just not getting each other. He takes her dancing, which is something that falcon also did, the dancing is awful and reminds her that she actually had some chemistry with Falcon but pushed him away. I do love roleplay gradually pushing me to end up in a sobbing mess and this, plus the idea of Falcon being with a better woman – who was also her daughter – was really getting there.
Then that little push that I needed happened in the form of Akira. I had known that his second match wasn’t going well and in the first couple of compatability forms Verity had filled in she had said that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to end up with Akira, there was kissing at a biblically significant site, he couldn’t be that bad. So Akira messaged Verity and asked to chat, she agreed and he told her that his third match was his Princess, as in the one that he’d been a bodyguard for in the game. Then with beautifully painful delivery, he said that he thought he was going to make someone a wonderfully romantic husband, and thanked her for encouraging him. Honestly all I could think in that moment was “You’ll never be Princess Flavia”, Akira had to vanish but luckily it was time for a family meeting.

Bit of a digression here, Everett’s sister Lucania was a famous nail artist who Verity could fangirl a bit over and she was going out with Friday. Friday asked Verity’s advice on why God was a bit shit. I think for a Pagan I answered pretty well because honestly Mish’s instinct is to say “I’m with Stephen Fry if I find pearly gates up there.” Instead there followed a conversation in which Verity said the word ‘twat’ more than I think she ever had before and talked about whether you forgive someone (if you’d have been just as much of a twat in their position) or if you leave it to God to forgive them and just walk away. Honestly I think I was heading more Jewish than Catholic at this point.

Then I finally got my sob on as Everett talked about just not feeling anything for her and Verity was forced to confront the fact that she had actually ruined her own life. Akira had found his Princess (at this point it did not matter that she hadn’t really wanted to end up with him, at least it would have been better than Everett), Falcon was absolutely going to prefer the younger woman and she couldn’t think about ruining her daughter’s chances with a man she knew she had feelings for and Everett wasn’t really a possibility. I think around this point I was posting on her facebook wall about joining the Iona Community. I also checked out of her preferred genre because I needed to express some very specific things.

Ah Falcon, she really screwed up and she knew it. But, the most amazing communication fuck up was still coming. Also, two very specific lies.

Obviously, she got matched with Falcon. And obviously she assumed he’d turn her down. Equally obviously he thought she’d turn him down.

They had a conversation. It was wonderful. The most miscommunicated line was that if Verity loved Falcon she’d turn him down and let him have another shot at the Together Forever program. And she said “I know what the right thing to do is, but I’m a sinful and selfish woman.” Meaning, she should probably let him go but that she kind of wanted to shag him and she knew she was going with that option. Of course, he took it backwards.

Oh and both Falcon and her daughter specifically denied that they had ‘really dated’ in their match.

After a lot of intense texting in which everyone was very confused the daughters of Falcon and Verity got them together to sort everything out. And to be honest what happened kind of pushed aside my instinct for self-destruction that had been trying to get Falcon and Charity’s relationship out in the open so that Verity could declare she was going to go and become a nun.

I got my first ever LARP proposal! The guy went proper down on one knee and everything! Obviously I’ve never been proposed to in real life but it’s never happened in LARP either and honestly, the cultural conditioning is strong! You see that and your brain completely bluescreens. If you’ve been playing emotional roleplay for the last twenty four hours then there’s a total internal love explosion as I was basically nodding and attempting to speak through total romance overload.

Then we went and listened to a song together to end the LARP.

And the lines that we ended on were pretty awesome.

“I love you…taxi is here”
“I will love you Mr Davies”

I really like this game and the stories made within it.

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