Paranoia!

Aug. 8th, 2016 09:56 pm
essentialsaltes: (shoot)
[livejournal.com profile] ian_tiberius contributed to the Paranoia Kickstarter, and got some early access to the new ruleset.

Other players: [livejournal.com profile] dark_of_night, [livejournal.com profile] karteblanche, [livejournal.com profile] zorker, and [livejournal.com profile] bridared, which last personage may never have had an LJ, but who cares since none of these other people update theirs, either.

Now to justify the nostalgia tag, we have to send the Wayback machine to Origins 86, which I went to the summer after I graduated high school. Paranoia had won the Origins award the previous year, and I had a great talk with somebody at the West End booth, and bought (with my measly high school ducats) a shitload of Paranoia. And never regretted it. It's on my shelf today, and somewhere packed in there is some correspondence between me and West End in which my SASE is addressed to GAR-Y-SVN.

To amplify the nostalgia tag, [livejournal.com profile] ian_tiberius [livejournal.com profile] popepat & [Bad username or site: 'joemafi' @ livejournal.com] almost ran a Paranoia larp sometime in the early 90s. And so naturally, for this present incarnation, I wore the t-shirt that was generated for the almost game.

Anyway, the general milieu is pretty familiar, with a few changes. The rules have been jiggered with more forcibly, but don't really get in the way of the fun, and possibly add to it. There are cards that can be played in combat (or elsewhere) with special effects -- not sure the mix is quite right, but for a one-off, it was satisfying to pull them out as needed.

It was a rare successful troubleshooter mission, with just a few total party kills, but not enough to go too deep into the clone stack.

And through the luck of the draw, and patient conservation, I was able to do some Once-Upon-A-Time-style strategizing. I placed myself in the vicinity of a broken gurney in a battle-chem induced frenzy, and then invented an impromptu weapon -- the broken gurney. And concluded with the discovery of a cake. As usual, you had to have been there.

A good time with good friends. Thanks to Ian for putting it together, and everyone else for contributing to a great time.
essentialsaltes: (Dead)
This is what 45 looks like.

IMG_2096

[For reference, this is what 40 looks like.]

The comment there about 'Sunday was lazy football watching and pizza making' remains fairly apposite, as here is dinner:

IMG_2099

Prosciutto, broccolini, onion, olives, jalapeño, capers...

Yes, it was very, very good.

But I do not taunt you aimlessly, (maybe).

As I alluded before, a year from today will mark the completion of my 46th year. Twice 23. 23 years (arguably 92) since the events of 23 Skidoo occurred.

So I officially announce 23 Skidoo Times Two. September 13th, 2015 -- hopefully some of you will survive into September 14th.

This live game is not literally a sequel to 23 Skidoo -- especially since only a handful of people 'survived' -- but I'm certainly open to continuing lines.

My basic ideas...

The setting
Date: 1946
Place: Vienna, Austria
Venue: An auction of rare items and curiosae, much of it no doubt liberated by the vicissitudes of WWII.
Characters: to be written by players, and then adapted as needed by moi.
Primary filmic reference: The Third Man. Not that the game will necessarily be anything like this, but you must watch this peerless film, and thank me later.
Theme: Lovecraftian references will no doubt be present, and possibly of primary importance, but not necessarily overpowering. Postwar malaise. Black Market. Greed. Lust. Wrath. Other Deadly Sins.

The game: theater-style live game. In many ways an ode to the Enigma games of yore, but informed by the past few decades.

The players: I hope and trust, a great many of my friends, old and new, from Enigma, Wyrd Con, and beyond.

The details: In general.... TBA.

And so I ask... who's in? Contact me publicly or privately with your ideas, suggestions, concerns, etc.

In some months a more official announcement will appear, but for now this serves as an announcement of intent.



"Appendix D of The Lord of the Rings says that our New Year's Day (January 1) corresponds "more or less" to the Shire's "January 9", and in standard years our September 14 and the Shire's "September 22" [i.e. Bilbo's and Frodo's birthday] both fall 256 days after that date."
essentialsaltes: (Dead)
For the past few days, I've been living about 2.5 lives, and not had time to catch up on it. Until now (?) We'll see how far I get.

click at your own risk )
essentialsaltes: (Jimi)
On May 19, 1969, The Supreme Court concurred with Leary in Leary v. United States, declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional and overturned his 1965 conviction. On that same day, Leary announced his candidacy for Governor of California against the Republican incumbent, Ronald Reagan. His campaign slogan was "Come together, join the party." On June 1, 1969, Leary joined John Lennon and Yoko Ono at their Montreal Bed-In, and Lennon subsequently wrote Leary a campaign song called "Come Together".

That compresses the truth a little, but...

"The thing was created in the studio. It’s gobbledygook; Come Together was an expression that Leary had come up with for his attempt at being president or whatever he wanted to be, and he asked me to write a campaign song. I tried and tried, but I couldn’t come up with one. But I came up with this, Come Together, which would’ve been no good to him – you couldn’t have a campaign song like that, right?" -- John Lennon
essentialsaltes: (Dead)
[livejournal.com profile] aaronjv ran Endgame last night at Wyvern Manor (a perfect setting and many thanks to Pam and Lianna for hosting).

The game is a 1920s murder mystery, so... I don't want to spoil things. But I did have a very good time, and it's a very solid game that is complicated enough to be interesting, but simple enough to be pretty easy to run and play. (So if you have an ambition to run a larp, here's one you can download and get cracking. That's what these things are for.)

The player mix was good, and I only knew a couple of them well, and a few more somewhat more vaguely. So at least half the people are now people that I'll know only by their character names...

I don't have any criticisms, but I'll mention one detail, just because my mind would not let it go. The setting is left vague, but the reference to Prohibition places it in America, but the character names all read to me as quite English (Harringdon, Stirling, Fairfax, Smyth-Montague...) more so than even the WASPiest of enclaves on the east coast (at least I imagine so -- I'm not invited to those parties). This is somewhat reinforced by the inspiration that the larp lifts from Dame Agatha.

OK, two more details from the run:

I wore great-great-grandfather's watch.

Favorite dialogue:

Rattled Suspect: It makes no sense to accuse me. I had the opportunity to kill him numerous times on other nights.
Me: So how many times did you kill him tonight?
essentialsaltes: (Jimi)
Wyrd Con 5 is Memorial Day weekend at the Westin LAX.

Live Game Labs will be running a number of events:

The Association for the Advancement of Rights for Fairytales Creatures

Limbo!

Thursday night, I'll be involved in supporting a benefit to support Seekers Unlimited, a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit dedicated to using live role-playing in education:




But most importantly...

On Saturday I'll be running "A Happening":
May 1969. The famous, the infamous, the obscure, the sublime, and the ridiculous gather together in a hotel in Los Angeles, just to find out what happens. A rules-light role-playing experience, where you portray the historical or fictional person of your choice (as they were in 1969).

Some character ideas.
Some background on the history leading up to May 1969. I'm inordinately happy that the calendar for 1969 is the same as 2014. I'm also inordinately happy that, on Mat 24th, 1969, Apollo 10 is on its way home from lunar orbit.
essentialsaltes: (jasmine)
Sax Rohmer's novel is at least 75% less racist than the film. It's also interesting that while the film Fu Manchu is trying to revive the legend of Genghis Khan, in the book his goal is to gain control of Islam (or at least an Islamic sect) by impersonating the Mahdi. Fu Manchu is portrayed as an honorable gentleman (if a ruthless criminal mastermind), and it's very much a plot point that he's a man of his word -- explicitly contrasting with a rather bombastic British archaeo... er... privileged private tomb raider, who ransoms his daughter with fakes of the antiquities he has promised. And the book actually ends with Fu Manchu deviously infiltrating a very generous wedding gift into the wedding of the daughter and her young swain. (Fu is probably exceedingly relieved that the wedding prevents the young swain from becoming his own son-in-law, since his just-as-evil-genius-y daughter improbably ("I have tricked you many times; for, although I love you, [swain], you are really not very clever.") has taken a fancy to him. (But it's ok, the swain only sexed her up while he was under the influence of a mind control drug.))




I also read through [livejournal.com profile] aaronjv's Secret Ante (aka Soul Strip Poker), a larp of revealing characters (souls, if you like) through poker. In effect, you use memories or character aspects as chips to bet with. If you win someone's 'Fear' chip, you can get them to reveal their Fear to you, or reveal it publicly. I think my favorite sentence in Secret Ante is: "It's probably more intellectually challenging to play a fictional character, and more emotionally trying to play You." OK, I'm also partial to the part where he thanks me for providing some dim inspiration in the form of Casino Arcane/Arcana.
essentialsaltes: (Wotan)
I jetted back down to get in on a Dresden Files LARP run by a troupe based in NYC. Sunday morning is a difficult time, and I was by no means the most weary.

But we got sorted out, prepped, and game on. My character was somewhat tangential to the main plot, but I had no problem getting into things. A few good lines, some good back and forth, a time to shine (and show up my mentor) and tried to help a few other people get their own stories out. It really was a good group of role-players, and it gave me the same good feeling as Foundations at the first Wyrd Con. I had no expectations going in, and it turned out fabulous.

That led into the closing ceremonies where everyone got thanked and awarded. Costume and prop awards. The lackeys, er minions, for their hard work. And the dedicated con staff. And then some thought for Wyrd Con 5. At long last, it's coming to LA (one of the LAX hotels). This makes me so happy for perfectly selfish reasons. Unfortunately, the date chosen was Memorial Day. This conflicts with the traditional date for Maxicon. So there was some grumbling amongst the Enigmans. And some of the East Coast folk were not looking forward to the prospect of travel on Memorial Day weekend.

I liked the Dresden Files game so much, that I have some of the GMs luggage in my car. No, I didn't steal it, but storage room in their arranged transportation was at a premium. Probably some time not too far from now, it will be collected and taken away to the airport for their flight back.
essentialsaltes: (Dead)
Can't sleep, clowns will eat me.

Friday, I showed up for [livejournal.com profile] aaronjv's game of Itras By, scenario by [livejournal.com profile] hagdirt.

It was a phantasmagoria. A blow-by-blow would be more unedifying than even the usual after-the-fact war stories. IB is a communal story telling exercise, and you can't lose with the right crowd, and I think we had a good one. It may not have lived up to the sheer butt-raping insanity of some OctaNe sessions with Jazon_brez, but still good stuff. K gave us enough of a line to hang our chaos on. And A finessed it and made sure everyone had some input.

No doubt it was the absinthe A plied us with, but I was most satisfied with literally belting out the Alabama Song when I was in a bar setting. That wasn't my only contribution, but it may have been the least Mike-like. Which is worth something.

[PS if you only know the song via The Doors, shoot yourself in the head. If you don't know who The Doors are, just hold your breath for a few seconds so your brain dies.]

I had a large gap, and strangely my plan for introvert sociability worked perfectly. I went to get some food, and sat all by my lonesome self in the hotel restaurant. I will say that their short rib sandwich with horseradish mayo is pretty awesome, but it does have slightly too much meat on it. In any event. Aaron showed up and joined me. And then Fei. And then... oh shit, I've forgotten her name, but the nice kiwi lady. And then John. This all happened one person at a time, and I was glad to be the starting nucleus.

But I had to be off to change for the Masquerade Ball. This was an interstitial adventure for the Messina campaign, so I kinda knew I wouldn't be a star, but it was definitely still fun to wander about as an ancient Thomas Alva Edison and interact with the other people there.

I think there was a plotline there that I wasn't actually, well, informed about. But I tried to roll with it as best I could, but it ultimately devolved into gunfire and swordplay. Not Tom's thing at all. That poor Duchess whatever-her-name-was (my hearing has always been bad) took a bullet to the head, and crumpled practically in my arms.

Zipped home and back. Well, not entirely. As I left Saturday, somehow I forgot my flip chart thingy. So I turned back. Having seen how terrible the 405N was, I cleverly (?) went further south to hit the 110 N to the 105W, so I could swoop through the Manchester/La Cienega Offramp to get home. Alas, the reason that the 405N was rotten was that the two-lane nearly a freeway Manchester/La Cienega Offramp was closed. Entirely. Which meant additionally, that all the people who wanted to get off on those two major arteries were trying to get off at La Tijera (as was I, but I settled for zooming out and back in to get off at Sepulveda/Slauson.) In any event, I spent 15 minutes heading toward Wyrd Con, and 45 minutes coming back. So there went my extra time for lunch and beer. I picked up the dingus and headed back down.

Now I rushed my ass and got to the room for Exodus 22:18 with a half hour to spare, and... there was nobody there. I rearranged some tables and chairs, and still nobody. Augh. Fortunately thing picked up rapidly right at game time.

I was flustered a bit, but found my center fairly quickly.

The game went fairly well. Problems with pacing was probably the biggest problem. The conceit is that the players are townsfolk attempting to determine which among them are witches.

It pains me to say it, but I was slightly shocked when a couple players seemed to make it their mission to paint giant targets on their backs.

At the same time, they were portraying a more skeptical, modern view of the witchcraft hysteria. Sadly, though I agree with it through and through, that is the quick path to getting yourself burnt, and so it proved. Or so it would have been, if they had not extemporized a method of self slaughter.

In any event, while they made for good scenes, it also led to a fast, easy resolution, and with many of the townsfolk wondering, "Are we done? We rooted out the obvious witches."

Some flurries of drama and accusations happened thereafter, though leavened with boredom. A number of other good scenes here and there.

At the end, there was some good feedback and criticism all around. Some I agree with, some I disagree with, and some that would probably be very good for a game that was not the game that I wanted to run.

Sleep is finally catching up to me. Not me at my best, not me at my worst. I was satisfied. I think, on the whole, it was certainly not a failure. Well, no, that's too litotes-ish. It was good. But not perfect. But these things never are.
essentialsaltes: (Cocktail)
Wyrd Con 4 is next month.

It finally fully registered that I'll be running "Exodus 22:18" on my birfday.

So I guess it'll be more like Exodus 40:4, if you know what I mean.

And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof.

Yeah, more or less sounds like set-up for a live game.
essentialsaltes: (atheist teacher)
Some of you know I'm on the board of directors of Seekers Unlimited, an educational nonprofit (status still-fucking-pending) that is involved in producing educational live action role-playing games for schools.

We've just launched a Kickstarter Campaign to raise money to polish and publish our first suite of edu-larps, which have had their initial runs at various schools around Southern California.

Too many schools are stuck in the rut of teaching to the standardized tests. Student performance and student interest in education are at shamefully low levels. Art, music, and drama have been reduced or cancelled. Our edu-larps help to insert some liveliness and humanity back into the curriculum.

Please spread the word and maybe toss a few (or many!) bucks our way. Rewards range from a stylish pen/light to a custom educational game run at your local school. And somewhere in the middle, you can get copies of parlor larps (not primarily educational) written by [livejournal.com profile] aaronjv and myself, including my finalist entry in the 2013 Larpwriter Challenge.

Also, an earlier Seekers Unlimited edu-larp, focused on teaching about Ancient Mesopotamia, is available for free from Educade/Gamedesk.
essentialsaltes: (essentialsaltes)
Got a neat chance to get in on an Ars Magica LARP, run by [livejournal.com profile] ian_tiberius as part of his sit-down game. The setting was a Tribunal, and I played the Praeco allegedly in charge of things. Although it was harrowing to get a metric shitload of information just a couple days before the game, it was paradoxically somewhat relaxing to not have to worry about things for weeks, and then just waltz in and get my larp on. It all went quite well, and I had a great time. Even though I was too busy to do much horse-trading, I did wind up doing a fair amount, and quite successfully. I may have gone more comedic than I intended, but events conspired to push me that way.
essentialsaltes: (rawk)
Still enjoying replaying OG Bioshock. The number of pixels and the controller button set-up are about the only two things that are worse in Bioshock than BS Infinite.

A while back, my Nyko guitar controller broke. I decided to go for an authentic Rock Band guitar as a replacement, and I have to say I am not a fan. I'm slowly getting used to it, but I doubt I'll ever match what I could do on the old one. The one advantage is that it has the extra set of frets for the solos, but they're so small I find them hard to use, and switching between the two sets accurately ain't easy. The star power sensor is a bit dodgy, which is very annoying. I don't mind the non-clicky strum bar that much, but the frets themselves are really loud, and you can't slide from one to the next as easily. All right, that's the end of my 1st world problems.

Oh, okay, in new game news, I got word this morning that my live game did not win the Larpwriter Challenge. I still haven't seen any official announcement about who did win.
essentialsaltes: (No Wanking!)
Nordic LARP is a remarkable tome. Huge in format, and broad in the scope of the LARPs contained therein, covering many of the most famous and infamous LARPs of the Scandinavian scene. Enigma rightly prides itself on the wide variety of games we've run, but clearly the Nordic folk have pushed things farther in many, many directions, some of them inspiring, some of them... explain my use of the No Wanking icon. Not that I didn't know of the general nature of the Nordic scene beforehand, but the book provides a concrete and condensed exhibit of countless person-years of Nordic LARP. [livejournal.com profile] aaronjv pushed the book into my hands, all but chanting "one of us, one of us". Many thanks to him for the loan.

The book covers some 30 or so different LARPs each commented on by someone associated with the game, and lavishly illustrated. Some provide play by play, while others delve into the underlying philosophy. It's kind of pointless for me to review reviews, so instead, I'm going to make a list of the games I'd want to have played in (or designed (with the caveat that most of these games have budgets that run to the tens of thousands of euros, far in excess of anything I ever have attempted, or am ever likely to attempt. Many have multi-day run-times, not to mention the multiple mandatory preparatory workshops. These things are just out of my league. Not that budget or length are in any way necessary proxies for quality.))
Read more... )
essentialsaltes: (Wotan)
First thanks of the post: to [livejournal.com profile] dark_of_night, who not only tolerated my absences this weekend, but let me steal her laptop and other stuff for the game.
I showed up with an hour and change before Death in Valhalla was scheduled. I strolled by the room, and the panel was still going on, so I headed to the bar for a beer and an 'appetizer' of sliders, which turned out to be a plate of cheeseburgers AND a plate of french fries. I ate what I could, but pre-game butterflies take up a lot of room. I fortuitously bumped into [livejournal.com profile] ian_tiberius and Eric. Ian was already signed up, and we managed to convince Eric to have another drink so that he couldn't drive, and then would have to play in my game. While at the bar, we managed to recruit another couple into the game as well. Second thanks go to I&E for playing, but also helping with transporting matter from my car to the room and helping to arrange the room for play.
This could get long (unless I fall asleep) )
essentialsaltes: (Wotan)
IMG_0114 by Essentialsaltes
IMG_0114, a photo by Essentialsaltes on Flickr.

When Mrs. Bigglesworth gets angry... people die.



Click through for photos from "Death in Valhalla," the LARP I ran at Tri Wyrd.

essentialsaltes: (Cognitive Hazard)
I fought my way through Friday rush hour traffic to return for [livejournal.com profile] hagdirt's Game of Sunken Places. The Framing LARP is that the war between the 'elves' and the 'goblins' is mediated by a LARP-like game constructed 'cooperatively' by the goblins and elves, and then sprung on unsuspecting humans. The two contestants (or in our case, teams) compete for each side.

Although the framing LARP provided some character interaction and motivations, the activity slid more into a crash-course unsupervised workshop in creating a LARP communally using whatever brainpower we could muster and the contents of K's craft room and prop cupboard. And then run it. In the space of a few hours.

Given her prep talk, I think one of K's motivations was to investigate this creative process, and it was interesting to be both a part of that process and to keep a spare brain cell handy to watch it from the outside. Maybe if you had recorded everything, you could have traced all the decision-making and compromises and coming together of different elements, but it is still kind of a mystery when you have that feeling that 'the room' just had an idea. Or when an idea that stinks gets the silent treatment or stonewalling until a better idea comes along.

Then we managed to rustle up a posse of random conventioneers with nothing to do to play the LARP that we had created. Or at least the 40% of it that fully existed at that point. While they went through the first challenge, we finished up the second, and likewise with the third. It was sort of a harrowing example of just-in-time logistics.

The geniusiest challenge created by the room (mostly a combo of the Sarah and J part of the room, IIRC) was for each team to receive four Tarot cards, mainly distinctive portraits from the Major Arcana (yes, I can't escape the Tarot at Wyrd Con). Their task was to go out into the convention and take photos recreating the Tarot images using other conventioneers as the subjects, enhanced by props from the communal pile and anything else they could lay their hands on. They were to be judged on accuracy and creativity, and they did very well on both counts. Hopefully, K will make the images public, if and when she has a chance to set down what happened.

The players (and the random people they also dragged into this) were absolutely great. I'm glad they were so enthusiastic about jumping into these random challenges that had been heaped upon them. It makes me feel good about my game tonight that WyrdCon attendees are looking to have a good LARP experience, and they will have a good LARP experience, if something even remotely resembling the opportunity of a good LARP experience is offered to them.

It's kind of curious in my recounting of Casino Arcana that I pitched Murder by Death as a possibility for my next Wyrd Con LARP. Because that sounds similar to And On The Other Hand, Death, which was supposed to run this morning, but got scratched. I'm bummed, since I had signed up for it, but it'll keep my day clear to prepare for Death in Valhalla. And in related news, that means I'll run the best murder mystery LARP at Wyrd Con.

Oh, maybe Werewolves of Millers Hollow counts... maybe there's competition after all. Hard to beat a fun party game.
essentialsaltes: (Cocktail)
I jetted down for the 3rd Wyrd Con. Well, jetted is a misnomer, since I faced rush hour traffic, but I timed it well to be fashionably late for the Opening Cocktail Party. I suffered some drink ticket envy, and when I asked whether I maybe ought to have had one, I'm afraid I must have sounded whiny enough that Joslyn took pity on me and gave me one. So at least I contributed to the financial insolvency of the con, and that's something.

I met people I know well, made a stronger connection with people I know vaguely, met a few people I knew by reputation, and met a few people for the first time. Makes me sound like a social butterfly, which was hardly the case, but the friend network is strong in making introductions. I think the only people that I just leapt out and did my damn-glad-to-meet-you routine cold were the people from the LA Ghost Patrol. They are genuine ghost hunters -- er, not that they hunt genuine ghosts, but you know what I mean. But they were at the con to LARP it up a little and present a ghost hunt in the hotel. I only had about enough time to say hello and ensure that there were spaces available in the hunt later in the night before I was happily dragged to dinner with [livejournal.com profile] aaronjv, [livejournal.com profile] hagdirt, Lizzie Stark & Sarah Lynne Bowman. We solved most of the world's problems and then caught the tail end of the cocktail party, where I bumped into [livejournal.com profile] ladyeuthanasia, with whom I went on a ghost hunt. We thought it hilarious that we were straight out of 'we fight crime' the ghost hunting version:

She's a psychic sensitive who has had numerous experiences with ghosts.

He's literally a card-carrying skeptic with a background in physics.

They hunt ghosts.


The LAGP folks showed us some of the tools of the trade. I chose a magnetometer with a sticker plastered on it that said 'ghost finder' or something like that. Maria got the copper dowsing rods. Others in our crew got the vidcam and flashlight.

Perhaps predictably, the ghost hunt was a little lame. Sort of a haunted house, or haunted hotel... we got led around from location to location to do various things. I tried to play it straight, or at least not be a dick. But a couple of the others were enjoying being 'ironic' or 'sarcastic'. It's true, though, I couldn't resist when we were going through the service passage behind the ballrooms past all of the hotel's conference stuff: "You're right. No human would stack chairs like that."

The best moment was when we were doing some EVP, with a recorder running as we asked questions of the ether. Since I was expecting some chicanery with the recorder, I was not expecting communication through seance-style rapping. [Tupac joke goes here.]

It was also interesting to see how ghost hunters put on a LARP, and then play the compare/contrast game with how LARPers put on a ghost hunt. And I believe Aaron has another one in the works.

Nothung!

Jun. 7th, 2012 09:09 pm
essentialsaltes: (Titan)
Over the past few weeks, I've listened to (Solti - Vienna) and watched (Mehta - Valencia) all of Der Ring des Nibelungen.

My "Death in Valhalla" LARP for Wyrd Con is coming along swimmingly, but I'm getting concerned about my marriage.

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