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.


Anonymous 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?