Monday, August 27, 2012

Call of Cthulhu LARP

Last Saturday there was a game of Call of Cthulhu at the local game store that was focused on being an introductory session for new players to LARP. In the end about three out of the ten players were non-LARPers, which is a good beginning, I think, though kept it from being a true beginner's LARP. It was set to start at 10 but ended up starting at 12 as most everyone had forgotten or slept in (it had been organised a couple month's prior).

It was a pretty cool LARP. They put some statuettes around as prop artefacts for an old man's wake. The man had allegedly died of 'tropical fever' but it had been a closed casket funeral and his medical records were 'sealed'. This led to some suspicions toward the man's assistant and physician (the physician was smoking quite a lot of marijuana at this stage - perhaps out of stress of some terrible secret?)

I played the old man's late widow, a young and scheming woman I modeled off a more pragmatic Cersei who decided early on that the best thing I could do was be innocent. I mean, I hadn't done anything wrong so what did I have to fear? I'd been married to him for eight years. I was still young and could marry another rich old man. I think I played her brighter than she was intended, but oh well. I was wearing a woollen cardigan so played her more like a pretty rural girl made rich than an air head.

My character had been having it off with the assistant so I avoided him politely to keep any rumors from coming up about us. Instead, I made a point of befriending my disaffected 'grandson' who loathed his father (a man who loathed me) so that he might assist me later on or perhaps give me a head's up. I even tried to conspire with my son-in-law (I was playing a twenty-six-year-old) to figure out who might have caused my husband's suspicious death.

My son-in-law was trying to attack my reputation behind my back but I didn't much care once the shutters came down. I just went into Final Girl mode and barricaded ourselves in the room and lockpicked the armoury and slipped a handgun prop into the pants (luckily I had the perfect woolly jacket to cover it while still giving me access) and loaded it from the ammunition box. Later, I took out two of the Desert Eagles (still with revolver hidden) and gave one to my son-in-law as he was less suspicious (and if he shot me, the cops would be all over him).

At one time I'd given the other gun to the lawyer but he lost some sanity (still don't know why) and ended up leaving the gun on a table to grab the sacrificial knife to attempt a tracheotomy on the dope smoking physician (who had passed out then went into a seizure to the three poisoning attempts on him). I picked it up again and my son-in-laws' when they laid it down because I was suspicious on the others.

Unfortunately, the assistant got his hand on one when it was laid down (I think it was the son-in-law's gun) and he gave a small pistol (unloaded) to the son-in-law. The assistant then took up a larger automatic gun and with both in hand proceeded to hold up the room. The cook (who'd hated me) came forward with her cleaver. Then my husband entered the room - still alive! He has a knife and a gun in hand and he makes us drop our weapons.

I lower my gun to the ground and crouch down and slip that revolver I'd been hiding in my hand (I love when moments come together like that) and as my Dexterity was higher I went first on Initiative and shot my old lover (he had two guns!) and ducked under a table. The psychic dove in under me and ended up being my meat shield when he got attacked. My grandson-in-law charged across the room and knocked down and killed the assistant. My son-in-law tried to shoot one with his mini revolver only to find it empty. The lawyer went to try and smash the skull. The cook killed the priest in one hit. The allegedly dead husband (now with glowing eyes) wished to sacrifice us and tried to get us to kill ourselves but kept picking the ones who were to strong-willed to be taken out.

In short, it was an epic fight. I especially loved the 'Tell us what you're going to do in reverse Initiative order then watch it play out in Initiative order'. Especially since I came first. It was also cool because you could take a step per rank of Initiative down from your Initiative onwards. It kind of keeps you engaged through other people's turns as you pick your position. It also allows you to duck back into cover or noticing them following you around a table so you go the other way.

I really loved the game and its inspired me to make one of my own. Of course, my plans are typically high-faluting. I've been working on a Horrors of the Home Front rules system and game so I might make something in that as it's pretty roll-lite and can even be played largely roll-less. You have the Speak French ability? Well, you can read this then. I can create props and put the proviso 'speak French to turn it over and read translation' on the things and let the LARP self-manage itself a bit more.

Anyway, just wanted to say that it was epic. I totally need to interview that storyteller for you guys at a later point to get more pointers.


  1. I've had fun running some Larp games in the past, but CoC seems like it would be a bit more of a challenge. How did the horror part of the action go down?

  2. Well, since a few of the players were entirely new to a LARP and therefore not all that comfortable with the thing, it was done in a section of a well-lit gaming store, and several of the players weren't 'horror' players it wasn't really scary per se although it certainly was fun.

    Conceptually it was quite cool but had to be kept simple to make it easily accessible. I'm not sure if you can have an Open LARP (open to all players) that is scary without a seriously good choice of location. After all, generating fear really needs an All In approach. You just need one person to opt out or play for laughs to damage the atmosphere.