Yes – it’s that time again – I played yet another Together Forever game! That makes my seventh… or at least the seventh that I’ve written about on this blog. There are other reviews out there but if you want reminding about mine then I’ve got entries on the 19th October 2020, 1st September 2021, 8th November 2021, 7th December 2021, 7th February 2022 and the 14th February 2022. However this one was a slightly different take on the format, this was for The Misfits, the people who failed out of the usual program.
(Content Warning, the second half gets explicit and talks about things that I think are entirely reasonable to do in a LARP which others may view as problematic, nudity and some sexual content)
I was playing Novalee Jonathan (honestly my names for LARP characters are much less exciting than Together Forever’s naming schemes). She was a very lonely and affection starved woman in her early twenties, she had been orphaned early in life and then been adopted by a couple, Aloy and Remi, when she was twelve. However she was determined to marry and have children herself as soon as possible, probably to fill in the the lack of affection in her life so had left immediately for the Program when she turned eighteen. She had failed the programe because she scared off matches who found her dedication to The Perfect Wedding and Having Babies a bit much.
Above is my playlist for the character.
The LARP itself had players divided into two groups, The Love Coaches, a group made up of successful matches from previous games, so that means that they were clearly good at relationships… clearly… Together Forever games absolutely never end with highly questionable matches of terrible people…
I did have my usual Together Forever reaction of late though, I made a fairly ordinary character in someways or at least I felt I did. My obsessive bunny boiler found herself in a group of misfits consisting of; an incel, a femcel, two sisters who had served jail time after they had hacked their chips to prevent a match that one of them didn’t want (that would be one who matched with me…), a very full on goth who was obsessed with trying to touch people (very illegal in the dystopian world of the virus) and then the piece de resistance; a man out of jail for trying to raise one hundred children on an island who had been discovered when the very feral children hit fifteen, and one of the feral children (now nineteen). Obviously.
Whereas I was out of the system and regretted it everyone else seemed to be angry at the system itself. I find it disturbing enough to really be into the process of the algorithm that finds your Forever Match. It’s too easy to be against something so obviously Out of Setting awful, or maybe what I enjoy on a meta-level isn’t what everyone else wants out of their game.
My first Love Coach was actually the mother of the incel, and her husband had devised the Misfits programe, possibly to make sure his son actually got a match…she was very full on and soon discovered that my little marriage obsessive had literally nothing going on. Since she’d been eighteen she’d been focussed on getting that affection she was desperately starved of by her goal of a wedding and babies and that was it. Of course she solved this by being interested in whatever her dates were interested in and so Novalee hung on every word her Love Coach uttered. This included when she started talking about spirits and tarot cards. The Love Coach, Selene, did work out that actually Novalee had no real internal life so literally couldn’t even suggest activities for a date, so she suggested that Novalee work towards becoming a wedding co-ordinator which Novalee’s Mums thought was a great idea.
I really lucked out this Together Forever, though I did prep my costume (despite being utterly exhausted and really not feeling in the mood as I played Talisman for thirteen straight hours yesterday for charity) I didn’t really have my usual pile of props to one side of the camera. I had some fake flowers for talking about wedding bouquets but that was it. However I do own rather a lot of tarot cards so I could roleplay learning tarot at the behest of my Love Coach and later when the object of my crush, Deidre, talked about pusheen I could phys-rep on my pretend facebook wall a growing obsession with pusheens.
Yeah, Deidre… she’s the one who didn’t want to be matched with Novalee so much that she got her sister Saoirse to hack her chip. This is because she was completely obsessed with her match prior to Novalee and stalked her somewhat. So Novalee did similar to Deidre. This did lead in one part of the LARP for Deidre to stalkerishly think aloud on facebook about dying her hair red (to look like her crush) and then I nearly did the same because I had a red wig to hand, the only reason I didn’t go for it was because my hair was in an updo and it was a right faff to mess with.
The first date was supervised by our coaches and it was Novalee and Deidre. The slight problem being that although Novalee’s coach Selene was unconnected Deidre’s coach was Novalee’s Mam! (She had two Mums so she called one Mum and one Mam and I introduced a German and Norwegian to a bit of English regional dialect). So sure, a date observed by your mother… went great. Novalee did ask Deidre for an apology though which was pretty good. She then obsessively followed all of Deidre’s interests. Oh yeah, Deidre did mention that she was a bit worried about Novalee wearing a wedding dress… Novalee said it was because then people would picture her as a bride, similar to how you should dress for the job you want…
So, Novalee had genuinely improved as a person by the halfway point. She had acquired some interests (mostly by copying other people but also was actually working towards becoming a wedding co-ordinator) and I was feeling ok, but a little meh about the whole thing. I had started the LARP knackered from the night before, had had a very late breakfast and had been not really feeling it when time in hit. This was interestingly misunderstood by a friend who said that it was hard to play a misfit. Actually, no, that I kind of like, you could argue that my preference for liminal characters means I prefer to play misfits. I do tend to play more average characters than unlikeable in Together Forever and I supposed that is a difference between playing a character deliberately on some sort of social edge and a character that is in some way unlikable. I can justify the social edge as being unfair whereas in some way whoever was a misfit was going to have been distinctly disliked by people in the Together Forever program.
Content Warning: This gets weird, sexual and frank.
In anycase, up to the half way point the game was ok but it wasn’t really giving me what I like out of a game. Then I got assigned my second Love Coach and things stepped up a notch. Voyager Jacobs came from a particularly full on and kind of mad iteration of the game. Now, in my summary I did not really mention The Jacobs family, despite ending up with one of them. The Jacobs family are kind of what you get when you play the elongated version of Together Forever, they were pretty extreme and fairly weird. Which you’d have thought, given my preferred playstyle is pretty close to the ground, wouldn’t work. Yeah, except that Novalee was absorbing whatever was thrown at her. So when Voyager Jacobs gave her his five point plan, which was entirely based on what had worked for him in the previous game, she absorbed it. She did her homework… so she converted to a form of Catholicism… a very bad form of Catholicism that involved a lot of casual sex.
Some of it with… basically Voyager… I mean technically the Puppet in VR that he was Puppeting but still… thats a definite abuse of power right there. And then well… there was the point in the five point presentation when I had to message the player to ask for clarification on limits and boundaries because I was about to follow through on something that out of character might not have been seen as reasonable.
So, yeah, those five points:
Pre-Point: Get right with God (the weird version of the Christian God that was very much more involved in casual sex than any mainstream sect has suggested but I’m pretty sure some cults have been into… and wasn’t Novalee absolutely ripe to join a cult?)
1. Get over someone by getting under someone
2. Make chocolate molds of your genitalia as gifts
3. Have Banging (meaning good but also probably indicating active) Genitals
4. Cut ties with toxic people
5. Have lots of sex
This is absolutely a summary of this characters previous game (incidently he is the character that turned down Aurore when I attempted to have her make drunken mistakes).
Novalee had a lot of questions. Mostly around how she should go about getting laid since she never had before (if she had ended up with the incel character this could have gone so badly) so she tried to pick up people in VR bars.
She also had some questions about the practicality of making molds of genitalia because hey, I’ve got hard-skill knowledge about that. It was point three though that was my kick off point for ruining Novalee’s life even more and making sure that the programme didn’t exactly continue improving her.
Then he said that if she wasn’t sure about if she had Banging Genitals he could always check.
And so I sent Voyager some photos that I last used in a certain Vampire Game. But of course I like things to make consistent sense… so first she had to learn to masturbate, find it difficult and decide to get her clitoral hood pierced, otherwise those photos wouldn’t be accurate in game.
So she sent a message to her coach about experimenting with masturbation, deciding to improve things and doing some research… “It was a bit messy but I watched a video about it. I had to clear up the blood afterwards but I’m confident I did it right”
All the coach had to say for himself was; “Sounds liek u went 2 tawn, nice 1!”
And then I sent the first picture. And asked him to concrit my genitalia to check if it was ‘banging’.
I made sure Novalee was living up to the worst possible ways she could have internalised this new Coach’s interests and making her life absolutely awful as her Mum (unfortunately the player playing her Mam had got a migraine and had to leave the game) objected strongly to her Christian conversion and her previous coach became very worried about exactly what her current coach was persuading her to do…
Deidre was also pretty concerned about her former stalker.
Then the Valentines Dance happened, the chance to put everything you’ve learnt into play. And so Novalee tried flirting in the crass and over the top way Voyager had been suggesting. And boy did she crash and burn… except for with Blyth who was more than happy with the very basic nature of Novalee’s flirting. So, VR sex with someone not her love coach done!
And she passed the course! As did everyone except for Lord Albert… the mastermind of Lord of the Flies Island. She agreed with her crush Deidre that if they ended up in Together Forever then they’d do whatever the algorithm suggested. So there was some healthy behaviour… in amidst the really unhealthy and that is what I want out of Together Forever, comitment to the dystopia.
I had an excellent time in this iteration and got to do some more extreme rather than subtle roleplay.