Beyond the Seals 2017

106_2047I’m back from LARP! This was probably the most exhausting event I’ve ever been to and the one that definitely had the potential to make me stop going to Beyond the Seals altogether as well as stop writing the in-character newspaper. Thanks to the wonderful people around me though I want to keep doing this – making silly news for everyone, giving people the chance to get information, supporting the gameplay. My team was wonderful. By the time the event was over we had transitioned from rainbow press-like BILD der Stadt to the still somewhat silly and satirical but far more informative and independent Stargazer under the patronage of my beloved Western Seal. We also have an English section now for the international players which got us so much lovely feedback that it made all the trouble worthwhile.
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I didn’t really get into character – staring at a screen 15 hours a day, being annoyed by the printer and coordinating stuff does that to you – and next year I’ll give out the PSA that plot and especially emotional play is to be kept away from me, thankyouverymuch. I can either run a working newspaper for the game or I can play, I can’t possibly do both.
Noio doesn’t have as much of a profile as I imagined when I first wrote her, but that’s okay. She’s the mask I don to not interrupt others’ game when I come out of the office.
106_1951I didn’t take anywhere near enough breaks. I was stressed out of my mind. I forgot to eat. I didn’t sleep enough. And of course I didn’t take all the pictures I wanted to take and didn’t film at all. But surprisingly, after all this, I’m okay. I didn’t expect that, really.
106_2069There was little time in-between issues and character play and avoiding breakdowns (my own as well as those of others) but I actually managed to buy a new non-disruptive byro for my character (sometimes quill and ink are too messy, especially when you take interviews or have to scribble something down for someone else) and one of these pretty pendants that open up so you can put something interesting inside. I’ve wanted on of those for ages!
The die was left in our office when we were done packing and nobody claimed it, and the matchbox was left as a calling card by the O’Gradys whose in-game bank/mafia advertised in our paper.
The coins are but a small part of what we made during the game – those are only the pretty ones I wanted to keep for my collection as well as actual foreign money (for some reason there is always something like that. It’s two British pounds and ten cents from the bank of Uganda this time).

106_1936To say I’d be absolutely looking forward to Beyond the Seals 2018 would be a lie. But I’m not dreading it, either. I’m curious what will happen next year, I learned a lot, and I’m ABSOLUTELY looking forward to ConQuest.

A short Changeling PSA

Remember the Wunderkammer Chronicles I wrote about here?
It’s alive. And kicking. And sprinkling fairy dust. Badass fairy dust.

What I want it to become is a lifestyle community for like-minded individuals, not only roleplayers.
You identify with the whole Changeling concept, feeling like half of you belongs to this world and the other half to another? Come join us.
You like faeries, fairy tales, urban fantasy or dressing like a storybook character (Dolly, Strega, Lolita, Neo-Victorian, Punk, Steampunk, all alternatives are welcome! You’re also welcome if you don’t dress weirdly.)? Come join us.
You love making do, crafting, reviving traditions, witchcraft and a picturesque, mori-ish lifestyle? Come join us.
You’re into pastels, magical girls, over-sugared cupcakes and glitter? Come join us.
You want to play Changeling: The Dreaming in a forum with others who enjoy it? Come f*cking join us.

I want this to be a place for us who are always in another world with at least one foot, I want this to be a place where we can be ourselves and play pretend. I want this to be a balefire that keeps banality at bay.

Come join us. We’re there, and we’re waiting for you.
Bring your friends.

The Wunderkammer Chronicles.

Finished Things Saturday: Canteen, Revamped

Revamped Canteen, made with an army surplus canteen and an old leather sofa

One of the most important things to carry around when LARPing is a bottle of water, especially when you’re at a game where you run around a lot, probably get into fights and get overall exhausted, most probably under the burning sun. I have a canteen for that, and while it was sensible and okay it wasn’t really pretty.

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Bambi has the same (and I couldn’t find pictures of mine before), we both bought it for less than 8,-€ and it doesn’t disturb the big picture too much. However there was room for improvement. I found improvement in the form of leather scavenged from a sofa destined for the dump.

Revamped Canteen, made with an army surplus canteen and an old leather sofa

I took the old wool cover apart, used it as a pattern for the leather pieces and then just sewed the new cover directly on my canteen. The top is still visible but it’s handier this way and it’s not really disruptive, either, so I decided to keep it that way for now. Now, pretty might not be the right word for how it looks now, but it is far more satisfying.

What projects did you work on this week?

Have a wonderful weekend!

10 Things I ♥ in February

10 Things I ♥ in February

  1. Celestine and the Hare, who, together with King Norty’s weasels and badgers and mice and may other critters and stories hail from a shack in Wales. Look around on their website and take your time to explore.
  2. My new red socks. They were a hand-me-down from the Demon Dog’s owner who moved recently and sorted them out, and they make a great match with my favourite leggings.
  3. Pit People, a turn-based co-op hex adventure by The Behemoth. It’s still in early-access alpha but essentially it feels like Adventure Time but as a sillied-up game. Lots of weird scenery, moronic (often food-based) names, frosting-shooting cupcakes, hairy trolls and magnificently stupid hats. Oh, and a great soundtrack. The best thing about it though is the battle princess with the great mace.
  4. Gallica, the French national library, has Le Livre des Tournois, the book of tourneys, by René d’Anjou (aka. Good King René, who held among other things the throne of Naples, oh, you know what, have a Wikipedia page) from ca. 1460 as a complete scan. This is so amazing! I stumbled over it during a bit of research for our LARP background and the illustrations are so great! My French is bad, though (although not as abysmal as my Latin) so it might take a while or some translation until I’m actually curious enough about the tournament rules described in the book (but I’m positive this will happen sooner or later).
  5. Regency Slang. This just made me smile (and want to incorporate these things into my daily use) so I’m sharing it.
  6. Jackie Morris, one of my favourite contemporary artists. I fell in love with her triple hare painting quite a while ago and this way discovered her beautiful style. The way I draw hares by now has been greatly influenced by her, and the banner of my LARP group showing one gives me ample opportunity. Sadly she doesn’t seem to do postcards or any other small prints, but maybe, someday…
  7. This Arthurian Kickstarter.
  8. And this short essay on Vulture Culture, strangely drawing the reader in, making them want to go and look for bones in the wild themselves.
  9. Ninth but not least, my blog is EIGHT YEARS old this month! In blog years that’s pretty ancient, so thanks to everyone who stuck with me and thanks to all of you who came over time (and will hopefully come in the future). Here’s to a magical, glamour-filled year 9!
  10. The calory tracking app of my choice, Fat Secret. It’s far easier than doing all the counting and calculating on my laptop all the time and I can use it on the go. I’m also really pleased that they ask you if you want to lose, gain or keep weight at the beginning instead of just assuming that you want to lose it. And it lets you add exercise. I’m off to do some yoga now. See you!

LARP: The Need For More Than One Character

This post is part of my more theoretical approaches of my favourite pasttime – LARP. Today we’ll explore motivations and demotivations for playing new characters.

“Why would you need a new character? Don’t you have one already?”

During the last decade of pen & paper RPG, LARP and the occasional computer gaming I’ve heard this question a dozen times at least. Surprise: I didn’t like it at any time. The answers are as follows:

P&P RPG: “I’m bored and I have leftover character sheet copies” or “I had this idea for this great build, you know, a tailor who is at the same time a smuggler with an extensive knowledge of…”

Computer RPG (online or off): “I just want to try out the hairstyles for elves, too!” or “Well, as a monk I can’t have an animal companion, but as a ranger I can have a f*ing giant badger!”

With LARP the argumentation is a bit longer. While with computer games and P&P all you invest is your time and maybe a sheet of paper and some pencil shavings in LARP you have a lot more to look out for.

A character needs not only the basics that you have in P&P, too – a name, a background, stats – but also kit: clothes, tools, weapons, encampment, personal effects. The character might also have titles they won during other games, interpersonal relationships with other characters or a personal plot. There are still reasons to invest – money and emotions – in a new character even if the old one hasn’t been killed yet.

Social Stratum

Sometimes a character doesn’t fit the setting. Why would you play a nobleman amongst beggars? Why a traveller girl at a high society masked ball? Why a whiny brush merchant with a group of sellswords? Why a grubby sellsword in a noble’s entourage? While there are reasons for these examples to be actually played they are surprisingly few and far between.
While playing a fish out of water can be fun it’d be incredibly boring if half of the players present would play such a character. Most of the time, even, fish-out-of-water characters are written to be “cool”, a concept that causes raised brows among seasoned players and that I’ll write about another time as it would surely go beyond the scope of this post.
So: Social stratum. Noio for example is my high-class character. While she has taken up a publisher’s profession by now she is still highborn (however poor her family might be) and knows how to move in a more refined setting. My other character, Sasha, in contrast would feel out-of-place – both herself and me playing her – in such a situation. It wouldn’t be exactly fun sitting around being awkward and grumpy while everyone around is literally having a ball.On the other hand Noio would find the summer war campaign setting of ConQuest utterly repulsing. Too many dead people, too much blood. She’d have no reason to be there at all. Which brings me to the next argument:

World Jumping

Sometimes LARPs are simply set in a certain world. Silbertaler I was such a LARP, happening in the word of The Dark Eye. Playing a character who isn’t from this system was simply out of the question – TDE has a very specific belief system, a thought-through geography, and while I could have (with a bit of a stretch either in her or the world’s background) transferred Sasha there it was actually easier to write a new character, Noio. Who also happened to fit better into a castle setting as well.

Curiosity

It’s basically the reason I gave for P&P RPG. You’ve got an idea, say, to play a doomsday prophet with a penchant to touch red things because they believe that only this will help them to stay out of purgatory. The easiest way to find out if the concept works is to actually try it out.

Sanity

Some character concepts or characters are so very unnerving, annoying or simply hard to play that you might need a break now and then. This includes characters who are physically impaired, have a mental illness or require a certain level of social or asocial interaction all the time.
My personal example would be Sasha who has horrible PTSD, is in a bad mood most of the time (mostly because of her PTSD), has a hard time trusting people (probably because of her PTSD) and tries to get herself killed in combat at every opportunity (and sometimes outside of battle, too. Again: PTSD). She’s really exhausting to play sometimes, and in LARP we have the wonderful option to just switch character when it becomes too hard, in contrast to real life (at least most of us).
Other examples include characters with speech impediments, jesters and the more annoying parts of the fair folk, or characters who are written to be always in a certain mood, be it good or bad.

You see, there are enough reasons to invest emotion, energy and money in a new character once in a while. There are people who have never changed their character, ever, and people who play a new character on every little tavern LARP (the best place to test a new concept if you ask me). I’m somewhere in the middle – like most people, I think.

The most important thing when it comes to new characters is this question everyone should ask instead of “Why would you need a new character” and also themselves if they consider a new one:

Does the new character make you happier than the old one?

If the answer is no there is probably something awry. Don’t change your character for other people or because you have nothing better to do.
If the answer is yes, congratulations! You’re happier than before!

Happy character jumping!