Want all the info in one place? Here’s a summation of the Mad About the Boy informational emails, from the organizers and a player or two, collected in one place for participants in the upcoming October run.
Email Lizzie (Lizzie.Stark@gmail.com) if you need a copy of the character sheets. They’re too big to upload here.
COSTUME, CHARACTER, & DEROLING
Deroling is a way of helping people feel psychologically safe during a larp, both beforehand — which helps you emotionally go for the experience — and afterward — which helps you deal with complex feelings that might come up. You should communicate with your deroling buddies three times: before the larp, immediately after, and one week after. In person is best, phone is good, and email is fine for this.
Before the game, talk about things that might be problematic — what you’re nervous about, what you’re excited for. After the game, talk about what you’re feeling. The most important thing, after the game, is that each person talk about their experience to active listeners. A week or so after the game, especially if one of your deroling buddies hasn’t been communicative, ask about their game experience and try to listen neutrally.
Start to think a bit about what your character might wear in everyday life, and what props and accessories you might need to make her distinct. Is she likely to wear makeup or go au naturale? Is her hair plain or fancy? Is she a loud dresser or an unobtrusive one? Does she dress for comfort or style?
You may wish to talk with your trio about whether to present a unified front when it comes to costuming, and likewise, if you’re missing a certain something — ask! — one of your co-players may be willing to lend.
Your two greatest assets in the costume search are probably your closet (look for basics, like old suits, pajama pants, long skirts or scarves that can be knotted to good effect) and the thrift store (a good place to find costuming and things that your character might carry).
With all the men gone, there’s a lot of spare men’s clothing kicking around, and more women than previously wear men’s clothes. Some just use them as they are while others adjust and refit them. This has become a popular topic on the radio and between friends with tips for easy and nice refitting.
(Sidenote: if your character carries a gun, it must have a clearly marked orange tip so any observer knows it’s a prop, not real). If you want to read yet more advice, there’s a round-up of costuming advice here.
If it’s not on your character sheet, you’re free to make it up if it fits with the character concept.
Also, many of the trios have some internal conflict, and it’s probably wise to talk that out a bit with your partners before the game. Might also be wise to seek out players outside your assigned trio that you’ve got an in-game relationship with, just to introduce yourself.
Building out of game relationships with people may help you feel more comfortable and ergo, play harder later. It also helps reduce worries about out of game relationships — if we talk beforehand and agree that you can yell at me during conflicts, then during the game I won’t be worried whether you real-life hate me. So negotiate with one another!
Since Nordic larp is a bit different, we’re striving to explain it, so that you know what to expect and so that the game runs smoothly. In all the email flurry, if you missed the primer on Nordic larp and how it’s different from many forms of US larp, you might check out the blog post here.
Also worth mentioning is that you have the responsibility to make the game better for everyone else. This means, for example, that you might take on a supporting role in certain scenes, helping make things interesting and intense for your scene partner, playing not for yourself, but for them. You might help direct a scene in the black box (more on this later). You might be there for someone in the off-game room. We’re in this together!
And finally, remember that story is king. When there’s doubt about the outcome of a scene, collaborate to choose the outcome that creates the most interesting story.
Story Rules! And Metagaming
In general, if you can do it in real life, you can do it in game. If one outcome makes a more interesting, complex texture for the game, briefly metagame it out (talk about it out of game) with your co-players and then do it. If you’re about to have a scene and aren’t sure of your partner’s boundaries, talk about the scene briefly beforehand. “Is it OK if I shove you a bit during this argument?” “I’m thinking that you ought to win, because it will remind my character of her controlling mother…”
In general, it’s worth metagaming about a) the direction of intense, small scenes b) blackbox scenes c) physical/emotional boundaries of players.
It’s not worth metagaming to correct small errors of fact (“actually, during childbirth the anesthesia is delivered three vertebrae lower.” Or “in riflery, the shell actually flies off in the other direction…”)
The most important rule, though, is following the improv rule of “Yes, and…” If your co-players hand you a suggestion, (“…remember that time we did impromptu open heart surgery on that guy after the disaster?”) try to accept it and run with it. You might note that accepting a suggestion does not always mean saying “yes.” (“I remember little from those weeks but the blood. There was so much blood. Did our surgery succeed?”)
And remember: you have the responsibility to make the game better, not just for yourself, but for your co-players.
With this technique an organizer approaches a character who is currently not in the company of others. The organizers talk as if they are the character’s inner voice, and the character responds. Typical input can be giving voice to the character’s fears and doubts or encouraging the character to act on a personal motivation. When the organizer walks away from the character the inner voice session is over.
Some of the characters have romantic relationships. And some of the characters might want to. This will be modeled with Ars Amandi, a way of representing intimacy, romance, and sex in game. Ars Amandi permits players to touch permitted zones (hands, arms, upper shoulders) with permitted bodyparts (hands, arms). The mechanic is capable of a remarkable sensitivity – you can touch others lightly and forcefully and dial the intensity up and down with eye contact and audible breathing.
We’ll all try it in the workshop, but even though we have this mechanic, it doesn’t mean that everyone will play out intimacy at the game. You will control that through your character.
If you want to read more, check out this interview with mechanic creator Emma Wiselander or read the notes from a US Ars Amandi workshop.
Throughout the game, we encourage you to have scenes in the Black Box. This room exists out of place and out of time at the larp. We will have special lighting for it. It’s a place to play scenes that might deepen your experience – possible pasts, pasts, and possible futures.
Want to see your own funeral? Or what might happen after the trio breaks up? Or what the mother did to the daughter ten years ago? The Black Box is your place to make this happen. Often, Black Box scenes have a director, someone who can help you heighten conflict and direct the exploration. The director might be another player or an organizer.
Sometimes, you might wish an audience to witness scenes outside the frame of the story – maybe, for example, Melissa might wish to play out a confrontation from her past in front of Thomas, her current partner. This can help build tension for characters in the present; if Melissa and Thomas replicate the old dynamic when they disagree in the present, this means something for their relationship.
We don’t have a specific mechanic that we’ll use for violence, since this game isn’t about violence, and we don’t expect it to happen much (if at all). Should a struggle break out, please mime it using very slow-motion. You may wish to discuss out of game who will win ahead of time.
For those of you with guns – you can choose whether to fire your gun or not, of course, but if you fire it, we ask that you not do so until almost the end of the larp, which will be around 2pm on Sunday.
Safewords, Continuous Immersion, and the Off-Game Room
We hope you will stay in character for the entire duration of the larp (about 28 hours), including sleeping in character.
In many US larps, people put fists on their heads, or raise two crossed fingers to indicate that they are talking out of game. We discourage this, with the exception of metagame conversations about, for example, who might win this fight.
If you need a break from the game for whatever reason, go to the off-game room, a designated cabin that will be near the organizers’ quarters, and hang out. If you need to talk to someone, the organizers are always available. And so are your de-roling buddies.
Safewords. We’ll be using the safewords of “brake” and “cut” during this game. If things are at a fine level of intensity but you don’t want them to escalate, you can use the word “brake” to communicate this with your co-players. Likewise, if you’re in a situation where things feel too intense, you are always able to say “cut” and walk away.
SCHEDULE, DOCUMENTATION AND FINE PRINT
3 pm – 7pm: Arrival, check-in, and set-up.
8 pm-midnight: Workshops
8:00 am – 9:00 am: Breakfast
9 am – 1pm: Workshops and lunch
1pm: Lay on
6 pm – 7pm: Dinner
8:30 am – 9:30 am: Breakfast
1 pm or a bit later: Game ends
1 pm – 4 pm: Lunch and debrief
4 pm – 6 pm: group clean-up and departure.
As part of our insurance policy, each of you must sign a wavier in order to be at the game. The wavier informs you of what your rights are under the insurance policy.
A couple of you have to rush off to catch plane flights, but otherwise, we’d like your help in cleaning up the site and packing stuff before we leave. We have to be out of the camp by 7 pm on Sunday.
We will be documenting this game to help preserve it. There will be two sorts of documentation happening. More immediately, a couple of your co-players who are professional writers intend to publish feature articles on this game.
And in true Nordic style, a group of players — including Ella, Sarah B, and Liz — has stepped up to document the game to help y’all (and roleplay scholars) remember what it was like. The planned homegrown documentation includes a lovely, full-color book full of photos, personal reminiscences, etc., which the wonderful Danish larper Claus Raasted has kindly agreed to put together, and also some documentary video that will go up on the web somewhere. When they’ve got a handle on the planning, they’ll definitely put a call out for contributions.
Of course, while we want the documentation to be awesome and representative, we also want to make sure that your privacy is respected and that you feel free and safe enough to really go for it emotionally during the game. To that end, all chroniclers have agreed that when it comes time, they’ll be sensitive. They’ll make sure you’re cool with having your photo used or video of you used, and with being identified by name. They won’t talk about that really personal thing you said during the debrief without checking with you, etc.
There is talk of doing some pre- and post- game interviews, so stay tuned for those as well.
Saturday Breakfast: Oatmeal with trimmings
Saturday Lunch: Lentil soup with crackers and cheese, carrot sticks
Saturday Dinner: Chickpea curry (vegan), chicken curry, basmati rice, roasted veg, yogurt.
Sunday Breakfast: bagels and spreads
Saturday lunch: Sandwiches
Snacks: Fruit, popcorn, coffee, tea, OJ, hot chocolate.
Helpful notes from players.
FROM THE DOCUMENTATION TEAM
The Book and Writing for It
Claus is looking for two kinds of texts.
1. I’m looking for short texts (1.500 – 2.000 characters maximum) about what kind of expectations you have before the larp. What do you think you’re getting yourself into, how do you think it’ll be, that sort of thing. These texts are labeled “Expectations”. Simple, right?
2. The other kind of texts I’m looking for are also 1.500 – 2.000 characters (but can be longer if you feel like it), but deal with what you actually experienced. These texts are grouped under the label “Experiences” and are meant to address how it was for you. Did you learn something? Were you bored? Are you now a die-hard-Nordic-larp-
You don’t need to write one to write the other, even though it’ll of course make good sense for you to write both.
And don’t worry about literary quality, spelling mistakes or not having anything interesting to say. It’ll be interesting to read – trust me on this one. :o)
Oh, and bottom line: If you want to write an Expectations text, it needs to be done before the larp of course. But it’s only if you feel like it. After the larp, you have about a month (deadline november 15th) to get some thoughts down in writing.
And you’re of course more than welcome to write me if you need help, have questions, want to spar about something or stuff like that.
Other Sorts of Documentation
I’m part of the team collecting documentation for the larp. Some of you may feel a bit nervous about this process. Feel free to ask any questions as they come up!
Why documentation, you might ask? Well, several reasons. First, most media representations of larp feature fantasy boffer campaigns and are filmed from an outsider’s perspective. We’d like to show a different side to larp in America — that we’re capable of handling emotional, personal, and political material with maturity. Many people have expressed the kneejerk opinion that Nordic larp can never happen in America — we’re proving them wrong, ladies!
Also, documentation remains a long-standing tradition in the Nordic larp community, culminating most recently in the epic, canonical book Nordic Larp. So many amazing games take place around the world, including America — but, larpers tend to form insular communities that have difficulty sharing techniques, designs, and play reports with one another. How can people build upon the triumphs and mistakes of the past without knowing what transpired?
Finally, the role-playing process remains mysterious from a research perspective. No matter how hard we try, we can never truly know what a larp “is” from an objective perspective, as that question shifts in meaning depending on time, space, and character. Each of you will have varying perspectives on what this experience “means” to you at different moments in time before, during, and after the game, not to mention what the experience means for your characters. Documentation gives us a glimpse into the essence of the larp by capturing the ephemera of those special moments and offering greater perspective than a simple summary can provide.
I’d like you to know some details that might help set your mind at ease about the process:
- We’ll have consent forms for you to sign at the game in case we wish to later use footage of you in the documentary.
- We will email people personally to clear individual photo and text permissions when we put together the documentation book.In other words — participation in the documentation is completely voluntary. We will not use footage or text we have not cleared.
- Feel free to send me both in-character and out-of-character reflections at any stage of the process. Pre-game forum play, in-game journaling, and post-game reflections are all welcome. See suggestions below.
- If you want to film short videos of yourself getting ready in your Mad About the Boy costumes in the next couple of weeks, or perhaps just commenting on your hopes/fears surrounding the project, those clips would make nice additions to the documentary.
Some suggestions for good documentation:
- pictures or videos of yourself before and after your costuming
- a minute or two of video before the game of you explaining your interest in Mad About the Boy and how you’re envisioning your character concept
- out-of-character reflections before and after the game regarding your hopes and fears
- out-of-character or in-character accounts of particularly interesting moments you experienced in-game
- interviewing (I will send you questions if you like)
- forum threads
- backstory writing
- anything else you think might be of interest!
Again, please email any questions you might have as they arise! I hope you find this email helpful.
Sarah B. has an online forum for roleplay for folks who want to get a jump start on roleplaying and fleshing out their characters. She advises the following:
I have an online forum specifically designed for role-play. I usually use it for Mage: the Ascension, but we can easily use it for Mad About the Boy. Forum role-play is strictly optional, so don’t feel obligated! But, some of you have questions about your characters and their relationships with others. Backstory is a great way to flesh out some of those early memories/details before entering the larp, which makes slipping into character much easier.
For those of you unfamiliar with forum play, there’s a slight learning curve, but feel free to email me with any questions (not the group as a whole to avoid spamming people’s Inbox).
- The web address is here: http://www.bardstavern.com/
- If you make a login, please send me a private email with the email address so I can know you’re not a spambot and approve you. I’ll send you a response when you’re approved.
- I will set up subforums for everyone.
- You will have a private forum for character thoughts/fleshing out details/notes, etc. I will be able to see it — but I will respect your privacy if you don’t want me to read your threads. Just let me know ahead of time.
- We will have a larger subforum for people to post scenes. We have the option to play secretly or with transparency. I suggest having all scenes play out transparently, even personal reflections. This means that everyone can read everything. While transparency takes a bit of the mystery out of it, it helps build a sense of community, which I think is the best part of role-playing, personally.
- I can make specific subforums that only the triads can see if requested. It’s really no big deal — I used to run a fairly extensive forum game. All you have to do is ask for a subforum.
Remember — even if you read something OOC, your character doesn’t know it IC, so please don’t metagame.
AVIE’S CAMPGROUND LARP TIPS
From the awesome Avie:
I’ve put together a list of things I wish I’d know the first time I camped in the autumn. (Or at all! I’m a hotel larper at my roots!)
I know that it’s been made clear we’re going to be at a campsite. However, it might not have connected – the cabins at the site are not heated.
They have fire places, but they are drafty, “rustic” wooden structures, with all of the concerns that come in that package. The average temperature in Connecticut during the month of October range from highs in the 70s to lows in the 40s (looked it up this morning. :-) ). Think about that – we might have an 80 degree indian summer Saturday, or we might have the first hard frost of the year. Or both in the same day!
The last time I was at this camp during October, it was cold enough at night that I woke up vaguely concerned about how terribly cold my toes were. During the day, though, layers were plenty to make it comfortable. I went from a thermal undershirt, a long sleeve t and a hoodie to a tanktop and back again during October two years ago.
Wear appropriate footwear. Don’t expect to wear high heels safely; the ground is absolutely not suited for it. Slick-bottomed dress shoes concern me a bit too – it’s not terribly unruly, but it’s not paved.
The beds don’t come with sheets. Nor is there a great deal of privacy; if you’re an introvert who needs to disconnect, it’s not a bad idea to include an extra flat sheet, to hang across the front of your bunk to divide off space. A sleeping bag is going to make your life much more comfortable – bring adorable bed makings if you want (I will!), but a sleeping bag in the mix is a big deal when your window flaps open in the middle of the night, letting out the residual heat from the fireplace. (personal experience talking. brrr!)
Yes. Fireplace. At least some of the cabins are wood heated. We can buy wood from the camp. If you’ve never dealt with a fireplace (Do you know how to make sure the flue is open? Do you even know what a flue is? No? It’s in your best interest to count yourself among the clueless.) Make sure somebody in your cabin knows what to do. If you need help, tell an organizer. Do Not Fake It. Fires are great, if you’re safe and smart. Fires are bad if you burn things down. Have water nearby.
Firewood quarantines - my kin would be so confused by this. don’t haul firewood with you from another region; you might bring pathogens that hurt forests. just buy it onsite. if you can’t afford firewood, tell me (Avie). I’m a crazy person and will end up buying more than I will ever possibly use from the camp because … I’m crazy. and hate being cold.
Bug spray and sun screen become hot commodities on a camp site.
Hydration is a safety and wellness issue – pack a water bottle! Use it!
Bring a flashlight! The trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night requires it. The cabins do NOT have individual plumbing. (Also, a sage source reminds me that it will be 40 degrees out in the dead of night when you wake up and HAVE to make the dash across to the bathroom. it will be cold!)
Don’t forget that these are camp showers - the site says there’s ”warm water” in the shower house, but I remember it being ice cold. I tended towards the one-limb-at-a-time bathing protocol, to avoid hypothermia. Don’t forget flipflops – this is like showering at the public pool more than showering at home.
The bathroom building was not heated when we were there last; I’m tossing my space heater into the car, just in case it’s necessary/appropriate. I trust that folks will be smart enough not to tip it over or lean their toiletry bag against it and walk off.
Pack all of your gear in something that’s at least approximately water-tight. I’m not saying to expect the cabins to leak; I’m saying it’s absurd to expect that it won’t happen and it’s absurd to imagine that the water won’t seek you out, specifically, and leave you with damp skivvies and soggy shoes. Weather is spiteful like that. In all likelyhood? an unnecessary precaution. but I’ve heard more tales about living out the weekend in damp gear than I care to recount.
Pack at least some small, easy to transport snacks. Yes, the game is feeding us, but at 3am, when a scene breaks and you realize that you’re starving, a stashed granola bar or a handful of almonds can make a big difference. I know the game will be less physical than a boffer larp, but for the campaign game I play semi-regularly, I actually plan 3am cake. Almond flour cake for when we realize it’s 3am and we haven’t eaten since noon, because we haven’t slowed down.
My general packing list looks like this:
shared supplies made available to entire cabin:
toilet paper (just in case! also, subs for tissues if necessary.)
trash bags (none provided in cabin)
broom (for cabin cleanup.)
lantern for front porch of cabin and/or inside cabin
first aid kit
matches and newspaper for starting the fire in the fireplace
gallon jug, empty, to be filled onsite and kept nearby in case necessary for fireplace.
power strip for charging electronics.
flashlight – in the dark, even the relatively innocuous path to the bathroom can be troublesome.
bed linens, including a top sheet, a bottom sheet, a blanket, a bunkcurtain and a pillow in a case
reusable water bottle – and I can’t stand most camp site water, so I pack some of those flavor sticks. Not an ideal solution, but better than getting dehydrated and missing the fun due to a blinding headache.
- sleep layers. that breathe. don’t pack a fleece top and think you’ll survive in that. you’ll sweat and then you’ll flip out of your sleeping bag, and then you’ll freeze. cold and sweaty sucks at 4am.
(again, experience talking)
- “cool weather gear” – scarf, hat, fingerless gloves, shawl, sweatshirt. It might seem like overkill, but 45 is cold if you end up roleplaying outside in the dark, or the early morning. at least the
bugs aren’t out much in that weather!
- 3x as many socks and at least 1 extra pair of shoes unless the forecast is solidly clear with no chance of trudging outside in the dew.
- 1.5x the clothes I think I’m going to need, rounded up. The facilities for recovering from a wardrobe issue (like getting soaked in a downpour) are less at a campground game than elsewhere. so, if I think I’m going to need one blazer all weekend, I pack two. Because things happen. If I think I’m going to need two plain tops, I pack three. If I think I’m going to need three pairs of pants, I pack four. two sets of sleepwear – if you sweat through your PJs the first night, then get wet on Saturday, clean, fresh PJs are going to be a blessing.
- baby wipes for fast cleanup if the shower just seems like too much hassle.
- Medications, in waterproof container. If you have any sort of condition that might require fast access to medication (asthma, for example), make sure that somebody other than you knows where it is. That’s just outdoors smarts, but not everybody thinks about being across camp and suddenly realizing the inhaler you need is on the other end of the world.
- Glasses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a larp when somebody who wears 30-day contacts wipes one out of their eye in an emotional scene or suffers an allergy attack and suddenly they’re blind because they didn’t bring their spare glasses.
Remember, too, the cabins don’t lock, and while I generally trust fellow larpers, I don’t bring anything onto site that would cause my world to crash down if it went missing. Things happen.