Yeah I played it again!
(Content Warning – suicide, bad practice at the Samaritans, mentions misogyny. Mostly this is me rambling about my game and experience of it, there are also a lot of digressions and rambling about other LARPs I’ve done. Seriously go and LARP this it’s great fun)
So, my character was Navy Kovac, housewife and mother, cosplay geek, yarnbombing knitter and Samaritan’s volunteer. This was a character concept that Weasel dragged me in on, the idea being basically guys who send out their toxic misogyny to the internet and then someone tells their mother. Which actually a number of the players half-did. A lot of my roleplay ended up revolving around Weasel’s game, though not actually as much as I thought would. And some things just went a bit weird in a way I had previously associated with the forever and ever variant of the game.
Previous to the game Weasel and I had been a bit careful in our calibrations with other players, we know we can get a bit dark in that very Lancaster LARPer sort of way and it doesn’t always fill other people with joy. In addition to Weasel exploring toxic gamer misogyny I’d added a suicide attempt to my character background – not just because it’s me and I can’t help myself but also because we were talking about how their character, Bradley/KLRElite had ended up as he had. We killed off his father and gave him an emotionally absent parent for the first two years. Came up with the idea of her standing in a locked bathroom looking at the razor blades she’d take out of her husband’s shaving kit and then the eight year old Bradley knocked on the door because he could hear his Mum crying and her son asking; “Mum, are you alright?” was what caused her to call The Samaritans. We’ll come back to that in a bit.
The other bit of preplay I did was just glorious and I LOVE IT. I probably won’t have a dead husband for a while, but walking around the park with HatMan and talking about their relationship was great fun. It’s just nice to have an NPC off camera and then actually to have some physical memories to refer back to in game. When we were talking about using Obsidian Arcana (yes, that LARP that I tortured the refs by writing the wiki on) pictures as phys-reps for attending cosplay and sci-fi conventions I was mostly concentrating on one of my favourite pictures of myself, Hatman and Weasel.
But of course there’s one thing that you figure out for Together Forever, or at least I do, and that’s what sort of sex you have -and I’m blaming HatMan for taking the cosplaying into the bedroom though I suppose it is the obvious direction for that. Previous to that conversation I’d been intending to play her as pretty vanilla. Of course there was also some other energy at play I guess, when you reference other characters that you’ve played then they do come forwards a bit in your brain, and my did A’ashadiyah come forwards. See I played her straight after S’au Nam/Nam L’au, my nun dedicated to her incestous God, and all the repression of Nam L’au kind of exploded out in A’ashadiyah who was straight up horny and would merrily sleep with all of her son’s friends without seeing any problem. Given that I was once again playing Weasel’s mother, there was some definite A’ashadiyah energy again and that rather caught me by surprise.
My first date was with Chaz, played by The Fae Ref, and we had talked alot beforehand about what we were looking for out of each others characters (not least because I don’t think I’ve had a week for the last six months or so when we haven’t talked LARP) and his concept was to be a painfully average tinder date. And oh, he really was. The best thing was that my character had bought a far too expensive house from him and in her lonely middle-aged housewife way had comepletely fallen for his salesman charm. So she had built him up in her head as this romantic Romeo/Prince Charming. When she got matched with him she was so excited that she asked her support group for advice on her outfit… which was entirely designed to show off my boobs (and hopefully present her son with the conundrum of his mother being a sexual being and – not a skank…) and I walked into what I thought was going to be an entirely normal first date with a very low cut top and a bit of a push up bra.
It was not a normal first date. Together Forever means you spend a lot of the dates with just the one person that you’re matched with. Oh no, this was not to be that first night. The Fae Ref had set up a gather space to be his character’s local pub and he’d recruited three extra NPCs to be Chaz’ awful mates Haz, Baz and Gaz. I don’t think I’ve ever had awkward roleplayed into an artform before and I was very here for it. There was a lot of double-think and a lot of them calling Navy a MILF and honestly I think that was when A’ashadiyah started influencing some of the later decisions. I was a bit overwhelmed by the unexpectedness of having more people than I’d expected commenting on the low-cut top and trying to work out where Navy stood on that. Also, trying to mis-engage with conversation takes a lot of thinking and remembering that this character doesn’t know any Welsh really should have had her repeating “Fuck off”. I should have leaned in to that one, but then I doubled down when they were trying to get Navy to say ‘cockwarmer’, I think I can argue that as the mother of a former teenage boy she wasn’t going to have any of that.
Then of course they went for a Cheeky Nando’s…and apparently I know a Nando’s menu surprisingly well and I also realised that having home Nando’s rubs in my kitchen would work nicely for a prop. Now, Navy was not a woman to give up on her dreams completely… and I honestly think the messages in the Dear Diary channel sum up very nicely how that evening then went;
“What an absolutely banging night out down the Kings Arms with the lads! Navy had better banter than I expected, I think she had an awesome time too, plus we introduced her to cheeky Nandos. And… wait a minute, I don’t think I’m going to have to go on the pull here, she’s absolutely gagging for it. Ok, Ok, I think I’ve still got a coupon for a VR Premier Inn room and they have those purple sex lights, should be real romantic and that…”
Later from Navy;
“Dear Diary, I was waiting to be swept off my feet by Prince Charming and he took me to the pub with his mates, who were fine and ok I get they’re important to him but that was all we did. His idea of buying me dinner was Nando’s (actually I really liked the sauce, I wonder if I could buy some to cook with at home). I thought maybe he was just nervous so I suggested after he bought me dinner we go get dessert and he took me to a Premier Inn. I suppose the purple lights were something, but honestly his face when I suggested a different position might work better and then… I am so frustrated, I thought for sure I wouldn’t need to replace the batteries tonight. I was so wrong.”
The next morning I arranged an awkward family brunch before time in and it was excellent. I like to do a lot with the in character facebook wall so she posted up raw croissant pictures and all sorts of things she was supposed to be cooking. Then the actual event, Chaz spent it sending dick pics to Navy and two of the other women present. (His sister, Poppy, and her date were also at that brunch table.) KLRElite and his date got to be beautifully angsty/passive aggressive at each other and Navy’s niece Delta got to do some nice wholesome to balance out/highlight some of the awkward.
I think one of my favourite scenes was the break-up, Navy was determined to just check if maybe… the sex the previous night had been… some kind of annomaly…
There is something wonderfully freeing about roleplaying through mediocre and bad sex, I found it was a lot more fun than I’ve had trying to suggest good experiences, the only problem was the lack of gifs for what I was trying to express, although perhaps that was a lack of creativity on my part.
Then, it being Together Forever, time sped up and I began my usual desperate struggle to fit everything in! My second date was a sweet woman called Summer who was very hung up on her first date. There were sweet dates, discussion of feelings and after the first time that they did it Summer revealed she was basically emotionally unavailable which pushed Navy into sending Chaz nudes!
Although Navy had been very open with her support group that she was unimpressed with Chaz sending dick pics out to all and sundry (and that sex with him was just plain disappointing) and in her Knitting Circle (which included Chaz’s sister) she had expressed a little more circumspectly that Chaz was coming on to other women whilst dating her. She didn’t mention to any of these guys that she was basically sexting with him… whilst he was dating a woman in her knitting circle who she had given these warnings to!
So why send the guy who’s not that great in bed nudes? Attention, reassurance that she’s still attractive, all that good stuff. Because he’ll respond predictably when your date isn’t as there for you as you hoped and… your son… oh the crux of my game. Navy’s son Bradley aka KLRElite.
That low cut top that I deliberately put out into the game? That paid dividends as Bradley’s first date Kentucky is the sort of roleplayer who plays it like they stole it and then some. Navy’s being a sexual adult woman was put up on a gossip vlog and KLRElite’s fans were, unknown to Navy set on Kentucky in the worst ways. So, when Navy then tore a strip off Bradley/KLRElite for doing this – that went down like a lead balloon and the stressful mother-son relationship was in full force. The argument as previously planned was supposed to be me tearing a strip off him for his misogynistic toxicity but actually the stuff with him sending his fans to threaten Kentucky was about as far as that got, partly because I kept missing the people who would have told me and the people who told me only got part way. So there were lots of small bits. I think I actually should have gone for the row then because of the nature of time in Together Forever, yes it would have been too early if time was still flowing 1 for 1 but given the speed up it would have fit. In any case Bradley’s second match actually started to do some emotional connecting with him. So by the time we got to our drama point – we were rowing about emotional codependency and the inappropriate parentification of children and Navy hung up on Bradley.
In the meantime the second date came to an end with some emotional connection with Summer in which Navy admitted to sending nudes to Chaz and also why. It didn’t really give her much closure though because the problems weren’t centred in that relationship.
The third relationship I really struggled to balance timewise because Navy was mostly engaged in unhealthy coping mechanisms. She did manage to teach Daria to cook a carbonara, go out for a forest walk, knitted her a sweater and talk a lot about Bradley. However… the unhealthiest coping mechanism was yet to come.
From Chaz’ diary
“I really wish I hadn’t just absolutely railed Navy and Nevada. Hopefully she won’t find out. Actually Navy really was a mistake – who knew shagging could feel bad?”
From Navy’s diary;
“Dear Diary, I feel disgusting, I feel like I am the lowest sort of person alive, but after my son told me I had hurt him I just needed to feel alive. I shouldn’t have tried to feel alive with Chaz, Haz, Gaz and Baz though. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything so horrible. I need to shower and then take a shift with the Samaritans.”
Followed straight into Weasel and I offgame discussing what Bradley was about to do, which was attempt suicide and call the Samaritans. I immediately offered to take the call because – it was a gift, an utter gift. I didn’t know if she was going to tell him that it was his Mum (and believe me I know that if you really recognise someone’s voice on that line you are supposed to pass the call! But this was for the drama.) In the end she took that call professionally as her son stood in the bathroom looking at a bottle of pills. (Call back anyone?)
Then we went into a family scene with Navy completely shaking and Bradley on that ‘I survived wanting to kill myself’ high. Afterwhich Navy told Delta what had happened, mainly cause that scene was so good it needed to escape a bit into the rest of the game. The third relationship came to an end and then we all awaited the judgement of the HelpBot. I posted on Navy’s wall about her attending therapy and the fact that this part of the program is stressful (better therapy than taking half a dozen mediocre guys to bed for dull sex).
Navy and Bradley were both unmatched though Navy still had a bit of a thing for Summer;
“Dear Diary, I am unmatched which is probably fair, but I’m so happy that Summer said she’d watch anime with me. Maybe I’m being unfair to myself to try and be friends with her when I’m still remembering her kisses but I am still very much looking forwards to spending time with her. And after all, we can only be friends now. I’m pretty sure she’d never cheat on Chaz.”
It was a very crowded Together Forever, my time management and information management across platforms left a bit to be desired but the roleplay was mostly pretty good. Some of the stuff with Weasel was excellent. Bradley did, after her post on her facebook wall about therapy, admit to his mother about his suicide attempt, in turn she told him about hers, she never told him that she took his Samaritans call and he never asked.
And of course next week I’m signed up for the elongated one. Because obviously I am.