That thing I do in the woods. From Cosplay to Larp. (LARP)

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From Cosplay to Larp, here's the how I got back into larp, and the kinda stuff I do when there.

It was familiar, but different. The formations. The eb and flow of the battlefield. And me on the parameter, picking a weakness to exploit. It had taken me years to cultivate that battlefield awareness from HVZ, and I had learned how to put up a fight with a foam sword through my experience in Daghir. I had learned through my convention experience to move about through tight crowds while wearing the armor I currently had equipped. All those experiences and skills slowly stitched themselves together in my mind as I intuitively entered the battlefield through the side. One of the lizard men NPCs locked eyes with me, noticing my stealthy advance. She raised her weapons as I raised mine.

"Eight normal!" She called out as she swung. Managing to block, I did the math in my head. I was only a level one character, and it would take five hits from her to drop me. That was five hits I couldn't allow myself to take. Still, I had to stick to my real life skill set. If anything, entering formation would decrease my odds of survival, because to defend myself, I needed space for footwork. She threw another attack, but this time after blocking, I swung with my offhand. "Four normal!" I called, landing a hit on the lower leg. I fell back to defense. She swung another series of attacks, then snuck in a low attack of her own. One that i blocked with the left, as I swung with the mainhand. "Five normal." While still in fighting stance, there was a brief respite as we read each other. "You blocked that with your left? I wouldn't be able to do that." She complimented. I shrugged. "I've done this sort of thing before, don't worry about it." I responded. I had meant to circle that statement around to be more along the lines of 'We all start somewhere, and I used to suck at blocking', but the battlefield had me keeping track of a lot, and well, a guy with ADHD may forget where he was going with something by the time he opens his mouth when there's a lot going on around him. And as we fought, we circled around to the back of the enemy lines. She had managed to land a hit on me, and I had landed several hits on her. No idea how much HP she had left, but this was the final battle of the event, and they had set a precedent early on that this event was meant for the higher levels to flex their muscles. So I probably had a lot longer to go. She took a backstep as I swung with the bastardsword, dodging my blow. Unfortunately, we were behind enemy lines, and my damage call had called the attention of one of the lizard men shamans, and one of the elite warriors. They turned, took offense to my presence, and stormed at me from the side, swinging double digit numbers in rapid succession. I could only block two, but the other strikes were easily enough to eat through my armor and send me to the ground, and start my bleeding count to sixty seconds. The foe I was dueling turned to me and said out of character: "We were told not to gang up on you guys, but okay." I chuckled and responded "I'm only level one, so it was bound to happen eventually." Letting her know that it was all good. This being my first event with this group, it seemed like anything I met out there was way higher level than me, and thus far, I had managed to survive. But taking those kinds of risks without a party to back you up? I more or less accepted my fate.

I had counted in my head. By now, my bleeding count had ended, and I was starting in my death count. I had given up hope that anyone would notice me, let alone get to me, when I hear a familiar voice of a barbarian go into a rage. I turned my head and notice a gap in the lizard man lines, as Runvar of the Vulcan tribe, with a few others carved a wedge into the lizard men ranks. He turned, noticed me on the ground, and blitzed his way over to me. Using the plus two strength of his character, he, after asking if I consented to physical roleplay, hoisted my arm over his shoulder and started running around he parameter of the battlefield, back the way I came. As we got around to the front end of the lizard men ranks, I started to realize what his plan was. Earlier that event, I had witnessed a caster creating a life glyph on the side of the inn. It basically existed to revive anyone who had dropped in battle. Hope swelled in my mind, as I remembered remarking just how that glyph could potentially save a life. But just then, one of the shamans turned right to us and threw a very nasty spell at Runvar. He dropped with me rolling in the dirt infront of him for theatric effect.

Forty nine. Fifty. Fifty one. One of the healers ran up to Runvar and brought him back to consciousness, and his rage continued. He didn't let them waste time investigating my status. Instead, he picked me up, and ran right at the glyph, then yelled "I throw you at the glyph!" I stumbled forward, voluntarily slamming my shoulder into the wall, and allowing the natural bounce to throw me to the ground. Four seconds away from my death count ending. My eyes shot open. My lungs drew life, as I hurriedly bounded to my feet. Trying to figure out what had happened, as my character was unconscious for the whole time, one look was all the context my character needed. I smirked and placed a hand on the glyph. "Never thought it was going to be me."

The first time I had gone to a larp was actually about 2009, back when I first got into DD. It was my college years, so I was still experimenting with my hobbies. I didn't exactly have the gear I have now, but it was one of the inspirations behind trying to get that gear. I was far from the worst dressed person there, as I had a cloak and my leather bracers, and someone was kind enough to lend me their clothes to layer my stuff over. But there wasn't much to do at that site, as you know how I mentioned in the true story above how I was low level and couldn't fight? Well, at that site, not only was I a fresh new character, but I was also one of the ONLY low level characters, and the GMs definition of low level content was "Wait at the tavern, and fight low level NPCs while the high levels get to do all the quests." For what it was worth, it was fun, there were a lot of unique people to talk to (Some of which were never in character, and I wanted something a little more serious.), and I had always intended to go back. Even if some parts of it irked me the wrong way, and this cringelord wizard kept insulting me the entire time. Okay, perhaps I should say it was something I knew I could get into if I was doing it with a better group. But with that one event as my only point of reference, I felt like the hobby was too expensive. So, I put that in the back of my mind. Something to do if I could find a place that is much cheaper. Years passed, and I was basically cosplaying my DD character using gear that was intended for larp and medieval costuming. I had the latex larp swords, which after I found existed, I found it really hard to go back to the ampgar and dag "Pvc+foam+pantyhose = sword" beats-ticks I used to use. I had the pouches, the boots, the gamberson and leather armor, and for some reason the thought of using it for larp had disappeared from my mind. By that point, it was literally 10 years later in 2019, when I had found my calling as the Con-Quester.

Then I started getting one question over and over again. "Do you larp? Is that a larp outfit? What larp do you go to?" Heck, I remember after explaining to someone what I was, they basically told me "Well, that is actually a really well put together larp outfit. You should think of doing it some time. I had a bit of a flashback of being the only guy out in the field fighting a death knight that could easily one-shot me if it hit, while everyone at the tavern watched. Ignoring my pleas for help as my weapon was doing literally no damage to it. But I pushed that traumatic moment from my mind when I thought about how cool it actually would be to go back to a place that let me use my latex swords. It seemed like a lot of people who went to anime cons were also larpers. I suppose that's logical. If you have the right cosplays, then you already have the gear to mix and match in order to make an original character. Or the skills to make an outfit from scratch. From there, you can just grab a wig and cat ears, with something medieval or fantasy-ish. All you need to do then is make a weapon that fits the safety standards of an event, then it's off to frolicking in the woods in search of treasure, stories, and maidens and princes to rescue, or whatever's going on.

My brother was going to a place with his roommate before Colossalcon when we decided to make him our rogue in the con-quester party. So by then, I at least knew where I could dip my feet. Its a larp called "Lore Larp", which usually holds its events around a series of camps along that Pennsylvanian border, where Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia converge. Add to that, it was within my price range. About 50 dollars for PCing (Playing your own character) and much less for NPCing (Playing whatever types of characters the plot needs you to play, mostly monsters. A good way to get bonus experience for your character, and learn the rules or how to use a variety of weapon types.)

So sometime before Matsuricon, I decided I'd try to check it out. I took the backstory for my con-quest ranger, augmented it to better fit the setting of Lorelarp, gave the plot people a massive backstory that nobody asked for, and spent the weeks before the event reading up on every rule in their PDF. Took me a while to decide what to build, but eventually, I settled on a Cavalier. Was going to go warden at first, as it better fits the ranger archetype, but I wanted to be a swordsman rather than an archer. But after I looked at how the skills and features of the cavalier were designed (Think primarily a lightly armored, defensive duelist like the Swashbuckler from DD 3.5), I felt that would probably fit my skirmishing fighting style better. Now the thing about Cavaliers is, hardly anyone plays them. People love them later on, when they have access to a lot more defensive abilities than anyone, but because they're more costly to build, nobody wants to spend the time it takes to get them to that point. And thankfully I understood that going into the game. Even now, I still have yet to increase my weapon damage. And I hit level three recently. Other classes like fighter might be on their second bonus to damage at that point. But Cavaliers rack their abilities up through talents, rather than skill purchases. Meaning if I pick a talent called reverse, which gives me a once per day ability to reflect any kind of non-persistant damage back at the enemy, I get another one every for levels. I could get that with parries, counters, and deflecting arrows as well, meaning if I'm unlucky enough to get hit, I could just throw out one of those to take no damage. Basically, cavaliers are a slow burn class.

My brother is, given his natural talents from stealth as a zombie in HVZ, a rogue. A combat rogue, mind you, he doesn't do any of that stealing treasure from folks, but because he wears his profession more openly than most rogues, he's usually the first one in the room to get accused when something goes missing. But our fighting styles as mobile melee skirmishers works very well if we set up to tagteam an unfortunate monster. Like if I see him getting cornered, I'll run up, get a few back attacks, causing them to think I'm the rogue, and when they turn their backs, that's when he goes to town, throwing out large amounts of damage over a short time.

Make sure though, when you go, you ought to be equipping yourself for a camping trip as well as medieval fantasy make believe. Most of the places I have been to have had cabins or at least a bunk room attached to the inn. But there are some where you gotta be ready to throw up a tent, so always gear yourself up accordingly. Its better to bring cliff bars, or something along those lines, to supplement your calorie intake between meals, but hide their scent well. You are in a scout camp in the middle of the wooded mountains, so there's probably some wildlife around. The bulk of your money for an event goes towards food for everyone, and its prepared fresh in the tavern, a single, central location in the camp nearby the PC cabins. Durring meal times, the NPCs will come up and get their serving first. This is usually sold in character as the village people coming in for a break from their hard work. And after taking our spells and weapon strikes, while doing potentially more running than the PCs to keep things running the way they are supposed to be, they certainly deserve it. So line up behind them, grab your plate, and just be glad you have a chance to rest your mind, since usually when the NPCs enter the area in mass, they have weapons and a motive to sack the place.

While there are plenty of PCs who spend their time engaging in the non-combabtent side of fantasy life, if you are anything like me, the adventurous type, you only come back to town to resupply, investigate things, or rest. Or of course to defend the tavern, as the NPCs have a habit of raiding literally every time I was just about to set out again. I'm most at home looking for the plot rather than waiting for it to happen to me. Since my character works for a news gazateer, I tend to have a habbit of getting involved into things, or uncovering context clues to some of the scripted events happening. What you do as an adventurer is just that. You pick a local camp trail, or nearby wilderness, and you look for a sheet of paper posted on the wall or tree nearby. You always want to be doing this in a party, by the way. Preferably with players close to your level. But when you find one you want to do (Or have to do if it specifically states so), grab the sheet, march over to the NPC shack, and let them set up the event for you. They will scale the enemies to match the average level of the party. There are high level characters who try to bring low levels along for combat encounters, but its in your best interest to travel with friends who are close to you in strength for game balance reasons. Let the high levels pull their own weight.

Balance your party well, as some characters have certain abilities, or knowledge skills that you are going to want. For me, being a news chronicler, and a former bandit, my knowledge strengths are in "Current Events" and "Bandits and outlaws." And the latter came in handy in the second event, when I and an arcane warrior whom I suspect as having a crossover background, were basically able to discern a loot casche hideaway after investigating a sink hole. Of course real world abilities are important too. So learning skills like actual lockpicking are expected. Since we lacked a rogue for that though, we basically agreed that the chest was trapped, so we took it somewhere where we had light, cautiously opened it up, and carefully nicked the coins and gyms without triggering it.

The adventurers you travel with are all players like you who have their own individual backgrounds, and some of which, the lore plot people mix into their stories out in the world. So after earning the trust of characters like you, it may be worth it to get to know their stories. That way you could be on the look out for information that could be valuable to them. I know at least one person who came across a witch named Madam Duval, a fairy that was mentioned in my character's background. And my brother's background has a lot of fairy stuff going on too, so naturally after this happened, he dragged me along to check out the cottage, where we found it empty and abandoned. As for my character's motives, it has nothing to do with his story. He's investigating things on behalf of other characters. Looking into a slave trade that may potentially overlap with the barbarian tribe and foreign knights, while questing for a crude wooden crown that a pack of bandits took from my brother's character, Red Jack the Maniac. Larp is at its most interesting when your character has some sort of agenda that keeps him/her proactive and in the field, and though my backstory was elaborate, meant to give the lore team some ideas mostly, I always intended for him to be the side character in other people's stories. Never stealing the spotlight, but being the one who sets things in motion, so that I may watch their stories unfold. Witnessing them grow and develop, while recording their stories to preserve both in and out of character. That's a more rewarding way to larp, I think.

Like HVZ, Larp is that kinda activity that generates stories. Be they character narratives that throw your character into a path of another's grand epic which in turn helps your own character learn more about him/herself, or the meta stories, like the funny way a high level player takes a hundred points of damage with persistant knockback from a kaiju like stone lizard man, only to nonchalantly nod and say. "Taken." And the look on the monster's face when he continues to fight, brushing it off as a minor scrape. That's just the kind of stuff that Larp entails. I unfortunately have only been to two events so far, as the larp season wrapped itself up in 2019 with a fun little halloween event. Then 2020 happened, the campsites we used closed down do to covid, and all we got to do was a day long picnic event this year. So I realize its not the best time to bring attention to this new hobby of mine, but what could I say? I was in the mood to delve back into it.

Allow me to regail you with an account written by my character about the things he witnessed in his first taste of the heroic side of adventuring.

Chronicle/Questlog | Lore larp | Marshfield Sep 6-8

Updated: Dec 23, 2019

OOC Context: Tobias is currently being interned to the Marshfield Newspaper in order to chronicle the events of the area. He is training for a similar position for another news paper called the Curious Crow Currier. Though he has had past adventuring experience, this is his first taste of anything quite so intense.

1: Marshfield North appears to have been swallowed in a miasma. An adventurer I've encountered appears too have breathed some in, only to cough out water.

2: The townsfolk have pulled together to hire adventurers. An alchemical sun of some sort was built to help pull the moisture out of the air. We began our slow descent into the city. Other adventuring groups appeared to be doing the same from different sides, though we haven't encountered any thus far.

3: Still no sign of the other adventuring groups, though we seem to have stumbled upon the source of the miasma. Some things I've seen were some much larger and more powerful stone lizard men among their ranks.

4: We held the door long enough for a few to pry it open. I believe word was that it was swollen shut and vines were overgrown around it. We hold point outside to make sure nothing gets to the people going inside.

5: The fighting inside is fierce. I hear words like golem or elemental being thrown around.

6: An orb allegedly dropped from the "moss elemental".

7: Several people (Ourselves included) have encountered a spider infestation in the lodgings we were provided. I’ve heard anecdotal rumors in the tavern that someone even died, though I was not able to pin down who or where this happened. Probably just an urban legend.

8: The orb appears to be corrupted or cursed. I don't know which one it is, and it seems that they're throwing these words around interchangeably. A Holvaldi adventurer named Kyn appears to be the only one unaffected by it, so the orb remains in his possession for now.

9: My employer tried to run off with it... They seem to think this has something to do with the corruption.

10: I’ve asked around, and the orb's corruption appears to be of a spiritual nature. Allegedly it could perhaps be purified by alchemical or spiritual means. The druid and the mayor who has alchemical knowledge don’t appear to get along though.

11: Some of the people who have stayed in town have been developing elemental powers. A Shen’Tha lady who was afflicted with the element of fire, and a man with a white cloak in the tavern told me that they believed the reason was that the ambient elemental energies of the town were to blame. Allegedly in another district in town, an elemental gate was opened a few months back.

12: Upon awaking this morning, I found the dragonkin, Dom in the tavern, looking a little sick. Allegedly corrupted animals have been appearing recently, and Dom tried to eat a corrupted squirrel. This… May not require much more investigation. As for the source of the animal corruption itself however, theories I’ve been hearing floating around suggest that it might be linked to either the elemental gate, or even the orb in Kyn’s possession.

13: The Shen’Tha lady told me later that when she tried to meld with the plants in the area, she encountered some vines that tried to choke her. It’s a bit unnerving to see someone with such mastery and kinship with nature encounter something within her domain that tried to kill her.

 


14: A renowned “Friendly Weather Vampire” named Soka formed an adventuring party with me, Red Jack, and a pair of barbarians, Runvar and Audun who were some of the survivors of the Vulcan Tribe. We were about to enter a cave, but then heard chanting further down the road. Upon investigating, we found a pair of lizard folk looking down at a corpse and chanting. We resolved to wait and see what would happen, until the corpse started to convulse and grow larger. We intervened and took them out. Apparently other adventurers have reported seeing the same thing. We quested a bit longer until we found a treasure chest and a mana well, then Soka parted ways. The rest of us held together.

15: While returning to the tavern to rest, I stumbled across a small scene where in I learned some of those who have garnered an affinity with fire lately have been hearing voices. The town alchemist did some alchemical ritual on the Shen’Tha lady from before. He passed out soon after. Blames a lack of affinity towards fire does that to him.

16: Stumbled upon the Shen’Tha lady from earlier. She was drawing a glyph on the wall outside the tavern. Told me it would resurrect anyone who touched it. How thoughtful. Might be able to save a few lives.

 


17: While out adventuring, we were about to investigate an ancient forge until I noticed something glowing in the distance. We decided to check that out instead, and appeared to have stumbled upon a glowing lake. The druid who was in town earlier was there as well. He told us that this glowing lake was a purified lake that… I dunno, kept the balance of the area or something. He confessed that the lake might be able to purify the orb, but also expressed worry that it was equally possible that the lake might get corrupted by the orb. And that the lake should only be used as a last resort. We all found ourselves in agreement at that, so the druid went on to point out another possibility. If we could find a few feathers from a rainbow bird, and use them in an alchemical ritual of some sort, we might be able to purify the orb.

18: We told a few of the more experienced adventurers of what we had found. They discussed what to do with the knowledge, and it was agreed upon that we should try to get feathers without killing it… And that if anyone were to end up with a body, they would have to drag it back to town and throw it at the life glyph on the wall.

19: Told Sorrow about the lizard man rituals and what we witnessed earlier. He thinks this might be where the giant stone lizard men are coming from.

20: While setting out to find the rainbow bird in the marshlands, I encountered sir Francis and his party, who all held mutual ties in that they were all looking for the same half orc villain. I told them to come find me if they found the rainbow bird.

21: Returned back into the marsh to see what we could find. This time a group of us returned to investigate the ancient forge. An artisan named Crow who was traveling with us was able to make use of it to craft a bastard sword. After that final swing, the forge crumbled and broke apart. The party decided I should take it. First time in my life I held something so sharp.

22: Runvar decided to part from trudging up and down that damn hill into the swamps for the moment, leaving me, Jack, and Audun to continue questing. The hill claims another victim.

23: Our expedition into the swamp finally led us to a startling discovery by a bog. We encountered a figure with the same corruption lines on its face as the corrupted animals, standing next to an alligator. He gave the alligator the corruption, noticed us, and assumed the form of a raven and flew away. It was a different man from the druid we had encountered before. We took matters into our own hands and decided to dispose of the corrupted gator ourselves, and proceeded to get mangled and thrown about all over the place before finally managing to fell the beast. It was a long limping walk back to town.

24: While we were gone, it would seem that sir Francis and party successfully tracked the bird. Another group managed to arrive on the scene, bringing with them the druid of the area, and managed to get the feathers they needed without killing the creature. They were in the midst of preforming the purifying ritual just as we got back.

25: I received some further context. Apparently there was a spirit inside the orb. They tell me that the corruption came from a shadow, which was pulled from the orb and sent into another dimension, allowing the native spirit of the orb to be purified.

26: The largest stone lizard golem we’d seen yet just got kited into town by a group of adventurers. Ran back to the cabin and woke up the nap-dragon, Dom. Figured we needed him to stand a chance against this thing. Eventually, all the adventurers at the inn managed too fell the thing.

27: Evening was beginning to encroach upon us when I saw the druid again. I told him of what we saw with the corrupted man and the gator. He seemed unsettled by the news, then told me that he only started tending to the area recently, and that there was a druid here before him that went missing. Allegedly, this means the corrupted man we saw could be the former druid.

28: The current druid was making preparations, now that the orb was purified, to return it to its rightful home. Though we suspected that it was not going to be something the lizard folk would allow to happen. They were coming in full force. The druid had decided that we were going to engage them, while he used the chaos of combat to slip out the back.

29: The plan worked. Jack, Sorrow, and I managed to flank behind them while they filled into the tavern, containing them inside just long enough for the druid to slip out the back.

30: The lizard folk shamans managed to break through us, causing the lizard folk to spill into the town. While we were fighting, I found myself behind enemy lines. I remember getting cut down by two others while I fought against one, and thought I was done for. Then I heard the familiar sounds of a barbarian’s rage as Runvar charged in and carved a path to me. He grabbed me, carried me around the perimeter of the battle field, only for a lizard man to turn around at the wrong moment. Runvar went down, and I blacked out. Mere moments before I had both feet in the grave, I awoke after being slammed into that glyph. I was right! Looks like I was among a few of those lives that was saved!

​​

It looks like the lizard folk have stopped attacking for now. I hope that what I have uncovered was useful, and that I lived up to the promises that Clinkencrow made. This was my first taste of the... perilously heroic side of adventuring, and as I proved, I have what it takes to survive it, but it's going to take months to get the smell of lizard guts and swamp gas out of my clothes, so I feel as though I will need to depart for now. Jack the Red and the Vulcan tribe seem to want to drag me out to the outpost anyways, so I suppose this is farewell for now. I shall return at a later date.

Marshfield Quest Log:

O Completed

X Failed or Abandoned

U Completion Status Unknown

O: Follow up on a job with the Marshfield News Paper.

O: Investigate claims of a lizard man infestation.

O: Help clear out a lizard folk infestation in town.

O: Deal with those spiders!

O: Investigate the elemental effects on the townsfolk.

X: Investigate the cave. (We got distracted by chanting nearby and forgot to come back to this one)

O: Investigate the chanting.

O: Disrupt the ritual.

O: Locate the Mana Well.

O: Found Treasure.

O: Identify this topical. (Crow informed me of Quicksilver)

O: Investigate the figure by the glowing pool of water.

O: Find a rainbow bird and acquire its feathers for a purification ritual.

O: Purify the Orb.

O: Investigate the ancient forge.

O: Investigate the field.

O: Investigate the splashing. (That's where the corrupted druid stuff happened.)

U: Cast the purified orb into the pool of water.

O: Create a diversion and survive the final battle. (Barely.)

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