Intercon was scheduled a couple of weeks earlier than usual this year -- our experimental hotel last year wasn't great, and by the time we found our new site, the only options were this weekend or Easter. So this year, I got to spend my birthday (yesterday) in high-intensity LARPing.
Let me say first: the new hotel rocks, and I hope we develop a long and fruitful relationship with it. My initial reaction on hearing about it wasn't so positive -- the only thing I know about Warwick, RI is that it's the home of a certain Ducal pair of my SCA sibs, so I was basically going, "The Crowne Plaza in Middle of Nowhere, RI? Oy." I will state for the record that I was entirely incorrect in this -- Warwick is just far enough from downtown Providence to not be "city", but otherwise close.
And the hotel itself was great. It's *huge* -- we had plenty of space, and didn't even rent the large Grand Ballroom wing. It's well-furnished and comfortable, and not terribly expensive. The service was top-notch: friendly, efficient and businesslike. Even the concession food didn't entirely suck (which is about the best one can usually ask for in concession food) and had surprisingly excellent cupcakes. So yeah, it's an hour away, but we should totally stick with this place.
I didn't play any games on Friday evening, opting instead to spend a few hours pulling Ops duty. I'll have to remember for the future that Friday evening Ops is *fun* -- it's exactly the kind of high-intensity whirlwind that I always enjoy, answering questions, giving directions, checking folks in and all that. I might have to make a habit of that.
Due to the storm, I missed the Thursday evening programming; I skidded in just before the roundtable I was moderating at noon Friday, "Playing to Enable Others" -- basically a session on how to be a generous player. It was a bit of a BS session, much of it devoted to discussion of what the parameters of "generosity" were in the context of LARP, but it was a pleasant chat. And I stuck around for the following discussion of "Plotting by the Seat of Your Pants", which gave me an excuse to relate a good war story or two, before striking out to the nearby shopping mall in search of pale blue sparkly nail polish. (Give it a minute, and that'll make sense.)
Saturday was All LARP, All the Time -- I started running about 8:30am and didn't finish until about 11pm. I played in three games, all good.
First up was Librarian and Catalog. I can't go into *too* much detail without spoilers, but the public blurb sums up the high concept well: "The robot Librarian. The damaged computer Catalog. An alien artifact. A chance to confront yourself -- again, and again, and again -- amid the collapse of parallel universes." 16 players, all playing The Librarian. My version was "Scornful, Disciplined, Ruthless" (Librarian tR), and it was just the kind of focused, intense, totally-not-me character I was looking for. Suffice it to say, the game is weird but fun, a bit slow to start but well-paced, and high in player agency. Recommended if it runs again.
Saturday evening was The Inversion of Me and My Room, which I've been hearing good things about for a couple of years, so when it appeared on the schedule a few weeks ago I transferred to it. I can say *very* little about this game, but suffice it to say it is *spectacularly* weird, trippy and dark, an iconic All The Feels game. Recommended, but be prepared to throw yourself wholeheartedly into the emotional wringer, and don't expect things to make too much sense before endgame. (For those who know the game, I played Helmer (family).) It did leave me with a desire to finally rewrite my game Shards of Memory, which is in the same general category.
The high point of my weekend came in the middle of the day, though. I had put Librarian and Catalog as my first-choice game, and therefore missed getting into Cracks in the Orb, the Dragaera game. I decided to wait-list myself for it, and that finally paid off last Monday, when I got in. For those who know the Dragaera books, Cracks is set something like 500 years before The Phoenix Guards, and includes younger versions of some of the characters from The Khaavren Chronicles.
For those who don't know the series, suffice it to say that the Khaavren Chronicles are a fantasy pastiche of Dumas, specifically The Three Musketeers. The game follows that, although it also pulls in pastiches of a variety of novels of that vintage. (Sadly, I can't say which novel *my* character was a pastiche of without major spoilers.)
Anyway, the game was a complete hoot. My character, Fotheringil, was a foppish Tiassa (with more than a little Khaavren in him) who is a member of the Empress' personal guard. ("Foppish" -- hence the nail polish, which is actually mentioned specifically in his character sheet -- light blue and white are the house colors of the Tiassa.) He proved well-connected, and central to one or two major plots. It's well-written and deep stuff, although I did wind up feeling for the players of my own games -- Lise (the primary author) is every bit as fond of deep biographical character sheets as I am, and the game is *very* intricate, with all sorts of major bluesheets and mechanics, so I had four days to absorb about 30 pages of fairly dense material. If I didn't already know the source material, I might have had real difficulty with it.
ETA: for added fun, one of the major mechanics in the game is Social Dance (which allows you to remove the stain of Dishonor, and gain insights into your dance partner) -- which is represented by dancing, in this case the Belle Qui Pavane. I offered to teach it, and pointed out to the GMs that it would be *totally* in-character for Fotheringil to teach everyone this new, fashionable dance form. So I wound up teaching the dance in-character, and called it each time it came around.
But it was great fun -- I achieved nearly all of my game goals, including getting the girl. I got 7/8ths of the way towards achieving my *big* goal, and I take fair pride in that: the goal was genuinely hard, and I only realized late in the game that finishing it would have required playing some fairly specific politics an hour or two earlier. Suffice it to say, the rest of it involved strategic wargaming, and that's an area that I'm moderately good at. As it was, I got close enough to support my personal headcanon of making progress towards the goal a bit further down the line.
After Inversion wrapped at 11pm, it was off to party. Sadly, I'm not well-connected to the Intercon party scene, so I kind of had to crash Nuance's traditional Intercon birthday party. (Which underscored how nice this hotel is. Her party was originally right next to my room, so I was a bit concerned about sleep; however, as that grew a tad out of control, they moved it to one of the below-ground game spaces, far away from guest rooms, which was a pretty great choice all around.) And then an hour at the traditional Intercon Dance Party, which is always one of the highlights of my year -- where else can you find people boogying in an eight-foot-tall inflatable T Rex outfit? -- and finally bedtime much too late.
As for today, I decided to skip Closing Ceremonies -- maybe the first time I've done that in 20 years -- in order to get home before the roads got too bad. Hope everything finished off well; in general, it was a fine con, and bodes well for the future...
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