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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Live Action Role Playing (LARP)

I'm sure that most who are reading this are either familiar with the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) or are actually members of the organization. This is the first organization that I was aware of as being a LARP group. I know there more to the SCA than LARPing, but you can't deny the SCA LARPs. Even if they don't have storylines like what we might expect from a LARP, the SCA is live action and they do role play the characters that each person has painstakingly developed.

My first actual experience with a LARP organization was in the Summer of 1996 when a group of people decided to bring The Camarilla to town. I tried it out for a couple of games, but since I was out of work and couldn't afford the annual membership, I didn't return until the Fall of that same year when the proprietor of the local game shop convinced me to come back and that he would help me with the membership fee. I agreed and this is where my LARP "career" officially began.

For those who do not know, The Camarilla was the original and official vampire fan association for White Wolf's World of Darkness LARP setting. Imagine... in the days before massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG)... your tabletop game expanded to include more people, more cities, more states and more nations. This was a global game where the actions taken by somebody in Salem, Oregon could have an effect on someone else in London, England. Above the game, The Camarilla was also about charity and community service. This aspect helped to bring your average roleplayer to the light of day and make them a useful, productive member of the community... or so that was the theory.

As with everything in life, there are those that will lead and those that will follow. There are also those that will help and those that won't. Getting some people interested in helping the community was difficult, even though there was a reward within the organization called "prestige". The more "prestige" you earn, the higher you Member Class (MC); a ranked system by which you receive benefits when making your characters. The higher your MC, the more benefits you received. This was to entice those who would normally not help their community to step out or expand their comfort zone. This system has been a topic for many debates since I first joined, and it continues to this very day.

I was convinced to play a Tremere for my return game. Tremere are a warlock clan of vampires who are very secretive about their magic. There's a more detailed backstory to them, and I highly recommend looking it up. And on my first night back, I took certain missteps that caused my character to lose favor within the clan. My character was put into torpor and a friend was able to get me away from those that would see my character dead rather than educated. That is when I was brought to Thomas Gunn; the pimus/head of the Brujah clan. The Brujah are stereotyped as gang members and anarchists. Thomas Gunn had lived longer than anyone at that evenings game, and he took pity on my character after hearing the plea's of my friend. From that moment on, my character was no longer Tremere... he was a Brujah. I kept that up for about 5 months before I met with an untimely accident. Not many people knew my character's secret and I had been accepted by the Brujah without question because of Mr. Gunn.

Back in those days, it was not uncommon for a group of us to travel to various other Domains to play game. In a single week, we would go to Oregon City, Salem, Vancouver, Portland, Corvallis and Eugene for games. I made a great deal of friends from all over. I wish those days would return. I feel that the current state of the economy make this wish very cost prohibitive. I will look on those days with fondness.

After becoming a member of the organization, I was thrust into the need to increase my MC. My Chapter Coordinator took me under her wing and made me her assistant. This started the process that has helped to mold me who I am today in the new organization; Mind's Eye Society. Not sure if that first step was a good idea or a bad one. In my time within the organization's known as The Camarilla and Mind's Eye Society, I have held many hat's:

  • Assistant Chapter Coodinator

  • Domain Storyteller

  • Chapter Coordinator

  • Assistant Domain Storyteller

  • Assistant Chapter Storyteller

  • Assistant to the Assistant Regional Storyteller

  • Assistant Global Storyteller

  • Domain Coordinator

  • Assistant to the Assistant Regional Coordinator

  • Venue Storyteller

In 2004, I decided to leave the organization because I was just not having any fun. I didn't see a reason to pay for something that I should be having fun doing when I'm not enjoying it. In 2011, I was convinced to come back by some friends who were looking to resurrect the old Domain. That's when I found out that the Domain of Salem had gone away due to lack of interest soon after I left. There was a resurgence back in 2008, but it was short lived. So, in August of 2011, we began the process of reviving the Domain under a new name: the House of Redemption. As of this writing, I am currently the Domain Coordinator as well as the Venue Storyteller for Sabbat.

I want to delve into the darker times that I encountered while in this organization, but I'll leave that for a future posting.

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