This is a long overdue post about my adventures at Wyrd Con 2 in 2011.
If any of this sounds interesting, be sure to contact Lauren Scime (lauren at witchfactory dot com) about running a LARP, organizing a workshop, or speaking on a panel at Tri Wryd this June!
I had the pleasure of slipping down to Costa Mesa, CA for part of Wyrd Con 2 on June 10th and 11th, 2011. It was my first time at a convention focused on live action role-playing (LARP), and while there was plenty of LARPing to be had, to say Wyrd Con was just an annual LARP convention is a grave disservice. Wyrd Con is much more than what you typically think of when you hear “LARP.”
In addition to a spectrum of widely varying LARPs, attendees also got to enjoy:
- film screenings
- a dedicated space for merchandise
I was humbled to be asked to co-moderate the “Interactive Storytelling” panel with Kirsten Carthew, and I was a panelist on the “Transmedia and LARP” panel moderated by Angelique Toschi and featuring Lauren Scime, Alistair Jeffs, and Bret Shefter (all members of Transmedia L.A.).
I also checked out a few workshops on making original costume/clothing, crafting weapons for boffing combat, and even basic boffing techniques (not as sexy as it sounds but a lot more fun than you think).
The highlight for me was running the “Spirits of Kita-mura” LARP, an experience set in Runes of Gallidon (a shared world of fiction, art, and more, with its own history and mythos).
It was the first LARP I had ever designed, and my LARPing experience was (at that time) limited to traditional table-top role-playing in the form of D&D. I was nervous about a great many things.
Had I designed enjoyable/playable characters? Was the conceit of the LARP too simplistic? Had I designed the overall experience to be too complex? Would I have enough players to effect a satisfying experience for everyone? Had I crafted the short story setup and character backgrounds in a way that would encourage the best possible narrative ending?
Compounding my concerns was the fact that I purposely used Wyrd Con as a chance to try an experiment. Most LARPs are stand-alone experiences, where the story begins and ends in the LARP itself. In most cases, there are no story elements or experiences for players available before or after the LARP. This makes it somewhat easier for designers, since they are operating within concrete boundaries and are focused only on what happens within the LARP experience itself.
I wanted to see if I could have the LARP begin well before Wyrd Con and continue after the convention was over by using a persistent world setting as the backdrop for the LARP and having the story start before Wyrd Con and continue after the LARP.
So I wrote a short story set in Gallidon and published it on the Runes of Gallidon website. The story introduced some of the main characters and lead up to the opening of the LARP, attempting to make the narrative transition for players a bit more seamless.
The “Spirits of Kita-mura” LARP allowed players to collaboratively and improvisationally tell the next part of the story, which they did wonderfully. Based on the feedback, the players seemed to really enjoy themselves, which was a huge relief.
The next task is for me to take all of the content from the LARP and bring the narrative full-circle back to the Gallidon site.
This “bookend” approach proved to be the most challenging aspect to designing the LARP, as I constantly asked myself not just, “will this be fun for the players?” but also, “if I design it this way, will I be able to easily bring it back into the Gallidon world to close the narrative loop?” Indeed, it’s months later, and I still haven’t decided how to bring the story full-circle. Fictionalize the LARP (if so, how much gets included and how much “extra” story do I add)? Edit the audio and post it? Now that the LARP is behind me, I’m reconsidering some of my earlier ideas.
However, I did put together a quick video of highlights from the little bit of time I was at Wyrd Con:
And as preparation gets underway for Tri-Wyrd later this year, anyone who missed Wyrd Con 2 has another chance to check out a bunch of different LARPs, panels, and workshops, as well as meet some very cool and creative folks!