Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Meeting Nurse Cassandra

The Angel of Mercy arrived to collect votes.
The Angel of Mercy came to collect votes.
All LARPs run a little differently.  Some use dice and others use boffer swords.  Some use narrative devices to guide the game (i.e. lighting changes) and others throw in external events.  Therefore it can be enlightening to read about the ins and outs of other LARPs to understand more about the format and all it can do.  In the interests of sharing information on how different LARPs can run, this will be the first of a 25 week series of posts on a Dark Before Dawn campaign summary.

The Dark Before Dawn campaign is a Vampire: the Requiem LARP which focuses on the unlives of the Adelaide court as they come to grips with terrible conspiracies and incredible finds and sits as firmly in the occult investigation genre as it does in the tragic horror genre.  Since this campaign is actually the second in the same setting, but most of the players from the first campaign couldn’t return to reprise their roles, most of the vampires were either new to the city or had returned after years inter-state or in torpor.

The game began with one Carthian (original campaign), two Circle of the Crone (one from the original campaign and one quite new) and the rest belonged to the pseudo scientific Ordo Dracul.  For a time new players could only bring in characters for the Ordo Dracul but later people could create characters for the Circle of the Crone as well.

Although the Dark Before Dawn is multi-modal, using forums and tabletop sessions to solve plots and deepen character connections, this series will *only* provide summaries of the LARP sessions although the final two posts will discuss how including a forum and a tabletop component affected the LARP.

On Saturday, 5th December 2014, we began with an occult mystery where a dozen vampires (either pre-generated with some advice from the players or returning from the original campaign) who all expected a different event, location and even era when they arrived.  There were folk in lab coats, police uniforms and masquerade ball gowns, and each vampire was shocked and confused at the situation they found themselves in.

The Ordo Dracul.

After the initial confusion, the vampires quickly realised that the location held many clues in the artwork, alchemical solutions and even spirit-possessed shrines that populated the hall.  They also found a warning, or perhaps a threat, written on both the chalkboard and even projected onto a screen at various points.

Soon they came to realise that four possessing spirits of darkness (strix) would be released into the venue to possess one of the vampires every hour and twenty, give or take.  These spirits would have vital information they would be compelled to provide to the vampires in their own way but they would also be vicious threats if allowed to linger too long.  Should the vampires fail to root them out and exorcise them, they will find themselves quickly overwhelmed as each additional one is released to possess another vampire.

The vampires were informed that they had been provided with several exorcismal techniques which lurked within the hall but each technique could only be used on one person.  If an exorcism was attempted on the wrong person, the entities would adapt and the technique would cease to work.
The unafflicted vampires performed admirably under pressure, though the first possession turned to be a very tricky beast indeed, but as their own secrets began to come to light they started to turn their attention back to the greater question: Why had they been brought here?  Who was the person who had done this to them?

The words projected on the screen revealed themselves to be sent by Nurse Cassandra, a ghostly victim of a mystical accident caused by one of the characters, who had been flung into some kind of arcane machine deep within the city and who had constructed this realm to communicate with them.
Things finally came to a head when a mysterious stranger arrived with a choice for those present.

Would they empower Nurse Cassandra or would they allow an ancient deity to slowly regain control of the city?  A few picked the ghostly figure, still fewer picked the deity.  Most chose to walk their own path and refused to choose at all.

In the end, the ancient occultist, Yzador, of the Circle of the Crone made a  deal with the angelic messenger that was an abjuration in disguise.  She was banished from their realm.

The doors to the outside world finally opened and the vampires were allowed to leave.  Many did so in silent contemplation, a great contrast to the chaos and confusion that had reigned for hours earlier.

Since their pre-generated characters had history in Adelaide and connections to each other, many of the players then chose to keep their characters rather than make new ones for 2015.


  1. Sounds like a good time! I'm looking forward to this series and seeing what you got up to. It seems like you've been keeping yourself pretty busy!

    1. More than I think even I've realised!