What Do I Really Want? (Out of LARP)

(Content Warning: Oh such a ramble, the grammar isn’t great either).

I got so perfectly what I want out of a LARP that I really hadn’t expected it from over the weekend that I immediately sat down to try and work out my desires and commonalities, because of course I did.

One of my most perfect evenings of LARP came out of the blue (sort of) in the middle of a long running Vampire Game. My character, Lisa Wesolowski, Vampire Accountant and seriously traumatised individual who had almost worked her way out of quite full on mental health issues fucked up and got sentenced to execution. Of course I knew the guy playing the Prince, and one of the things I love about playing with him is that he’s old school over consequences, there was no talking my way out with him as there might have been with another player. I had about three hours to get my affairs in order, and oh I did not want to. I had plans, my character hadn’t finished her arc, she had plans, she was about to start money laundering through the local sex-workers on a really grand scale. But it was gone, because she had screwed the pooch and put a name in a far too public place – ergo myth-breach and so, according to the rules of that vampire society: execution.

There are so many moments to that evening that I loved. The about to die is obviously a part of it, the utter rush I get out of a good LARP suicide definitely had some echoes that evening.
The realisation that I wanted to persuade one of my character’s friends to do the execution rather than the executioner was satisfying in character and on a meta-level. He had been her friend almost from the beginning, and his recurring problem was that he got the people he loved killed… oh the sensation of that happening very literally. I think it’s the only time I’ve played up to death when someone else was doing it.

But what did I really love about that evening? Every so often, somebody tried to save me, and I knew (on a meta-level) that they were going to fail. There was one possibility that I thought might work but it was devastatingly unlikely to come up and I know that both I and the Prince were going to keep that to chance, completely strictly – otherwise where’s the fun in consequences? It never happened, but all through those three hours there was hope, waved again and again and again and failing over and over and over until I walked out with DS Luke and he staked her before the sun came up as the first train of the day pulled into view.

Another one of those out of the blue experiences that I seriously treasure was Liissa Sigeing, my long running Empire character regaining memories that she had entirely voluntarily given up. These being the memories of the woman she was in love with, who married her Thane, so in getting those memories back she had to relive all the humiliation, all the tears that she had tried to get rid of when she erased the memories magically. What did she want? Not to have her friends see her sobbing over her rejection. And everytime each of those friends completed another step of the spell she had to take more of the rejections, the helping the woman she loved get ready for her dates, the time when she had been maid of honour in her Thane’s wedding… all things she didn’t want that she had to take.

Or perhaps, the woman that she wanted, being waved in front of her face again and again with the sure and certain knowledge that she would never have her?

This weekend I played a member of the crew of the Daidalus, a ship on a deep space mission to save the earth. She’d started out the Captain but she’d gotten a crew-member killed and the crew no longer trusted her basically at all. When it became clear that there would be a Daidalus Two and that both she and her Best Friend (who she’d had to leave on the ground due to his cowardice) could be involved, that’s when another player made his feelings spectacularly clear. That she couldn’t be in the crew, it would cause far too much disruption. Now admittedly, I could totally have played something different due to the format of the game, but I didn’t. I leaned hard into ‘Everything for the Mission’ and when I did, well, then it became obvious I couldn’t walk in space with my Best Friend otherwise the mission was not going to run as smoothly as it could without me.

What do I want out of LARP? I want to figure out what my character wants and parade it up and down in front of them and then take it away, crush out any hope for my character of getting it. I want to cry about it, as hard as I possibly can.

I’m not exactly sure what this says about me, but at least there’s a formula for playing with me.

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