Monday, June 11, 2007

Recess: Ronin & Zombies

I had a very good time at Recess over the weekend. I got a chance to play some Jungle Speed (just thinking about it makes my heart start beating faster) and I also played some role-playing games. First, I was in a session of The Mountain Witch and, later, I played in a neat parlor LARP* about the President and his Cabinet dealing with reports of an outbreak of zombie-ism in Georgia.

I've never really played in a LARP before. I have played some LARP-like games - like the Burning Wheel convention scenarios "Inheritance" and "The Gift" - and I've been in a few other convention games that were pretty close, but this was my first LARP-that-calls-itself-a-LARP.

So, I had a pretty good idea going in that LARPs weren't really ever going to be my thing, but I'm always interested in trying out new/different types of games. I'm glad I did - I certainly enjoyed myself and had fun - but I also decided that, really, LARPs aren't my thing.

Now, this is certainly personal preference talking (and I am drawing, of course, on my own experience), but here's why I'm jazzed about tabletop RPG play and not so much by LARP:

In The Mountain Witch game, we sat down at a table and created something together. There was incentive for us to share ideas and to shape the story together. It was a neat social experience, in as much as I got a chance to interact on a person-to-person level with folks who I had never met before that game.

But in the LARP, everyone was kind of stuck behind the character they were playing. As a social experience, it was a little weird and unsatisfying: all the interactions having to pass through the filter of "my character".** The only people I seemed able to connect with were the people I knew prior to playing in the LARP. Because I kind of knew them, it was easier to see the character choices they were making. That is, I could see how the character they were playing was different from them "in real life".

Does that make sense?

More directly: in the LARP, it felt like there was this barrier keeping people apart, while the tabletop game brought us together.

*LARP means Live Action Role Playing. The "Parlor" part just means that the action was all kept in one room: we weren't running around the woods swinging fake swords at each other.

**Sure, some people play tabletop RPGs this way, too, it's just that, with this kind of LARP, it's the only option.

2 comments:

Scott LeMien said...

Who did you play in the LARP?

And how was the Mountain Witch game? Jenskot GMed it?

Jon Hastings said...

Scott - Jenskot did indeed GM TMW. I love the energy he brings to a game!

In the LARP, I played a National Security Advisor who got the job because he was college buddies with the President. Mainly, my goal was to take care of the President's image . It was a fun character because while everyone else was going on about how much damage the zombies were doing in Georgia, I kept brininging things back to the important point: how is this going to make the President look?