There’s almost too much for me to love about the Mad About the Boy LARP that I’m going to be playing this weekend. Organized by author of Leaving Mundania Lizzie Stark and the Norwegian creators of the game, this event is strictly for women identified players, takes place in the post apocalypse, and is the inaugural Nordic larp in the US. Oh, and it’s basically the world of Y: The Last Man, where all the men have died and only the women are left. Oh my goodness I’m so excited.
We’ve talked with Lizzie Stark about the game at Gaming as Women before. Instead of boring you with the details of what the game is, I’m going to talk about my experience with it thus far. Apparently, this is part of Nordic larp documentation tradition. Prior to the game you start to get in character, plan costuming, roleplay with your fellow gamers and write a little snippet about what you’re thinking and feeling going into the game. I’m going to make mine public, so you all can get a glimpse of what this is like!
My larp experience
I’ve played a bunch of larps before, ranging from Vampire back in high school and college (I’m 31 now), to homebrews of Nobilis and politicking games, to the Tribunal at Gencon this year. I’ve been excited to give Nordic larp a good try, because it deals with a lot of the things I like in games. Primarily, it focuses less on “winning” and more on “storytelling”. I’m a huge fan of story games, and so far Mad About the Boy is delivering.
I purposefully decided to go in a bit blind. I didn’t do a whole lot of research on Nordic larp before reading everything about Mad About the Boy. One thing I love about the game so far is it’s transparency. Actually, I’m a little anxious about how open and involved everything is going to get. The game’s purpose seems to be to explore. Really explore. Get immersed in your character and in their brain, and in the other characters brains, and dig deeper. Building and breaking relationships and power politicking seem like huge themes in this game and those are some of my favorite things. I wonder though, will I find myself vulnerable once I jump into my character’s skin and go for three days?
The answer I already know. I feel an impending vulnerability. I like it though. It’s a good scary feeling.
Let me tell you about my character
My character Linn (you can read about her here) and I have so much in common. We’ve both worked in the sex industry (she was a nude model, I worked at a fetish store in Philly) we’re both into death (after the disaster she’s been an undertaker, I really like goth things) we’re both queer (players have the power to decide the sexuality of their character, and I decided she’s heteroflexible based on her experience in the sex industry and her celebrity) and we both want to have children. That’s actually her goal in Mad About the Boy, to become a mother. As the only character without a family unit though, she has to find people to support her first. We also have big differences, she and I. I’ve never been a celebrity, I don’t carry a gun (or really believe in them) and I’m pretty squeamish when it comes to actual dead things.
I think I have the most trepidation about exploring those mother themes in the game. Politicking and violence and relationships, sure, I’ve done that. Competing with other women to be the recipient of the last sperm on earth in order to give birth? That’s pretty intense, emotionally and personally. My relationship with motherhood is complex and difficult for me to understand myself, and I feel, now in my early 30′s, an approaching pressure and biological need to have babies. I have a feeling a lot of these emotions are going to emerge in the larp. To me, this is really interesting, because it gives me a place to talk about the nervousness of having children. That’s not really too acceptable in US society at large. Whenever we play characters, we always put huge parts of ourselves into them. I’m interested to see which parts of me Linn will bring out, and the insight that will give me about myself.
Politics and Costuming
I definitely find myself reading over the other characters and trying to figure them out. Who are the people I have relationships with, and what does our relationship mean? How can I push all the right buttons to get great scenes with them? I’m also trying to find my potential enemies and see how I can get into scenes with them. I love a good PC vs PC scene no matter what side of the conflict I end up on. I’m really interested in what types of scenes will arise. I’m already brainstorming possible strategies to get a family unit based on Linn’s relationships. Will Linn get involved romantic relationships, or go for power, or build strong friendships? Will she have to use her gun? I think this is where I’ll get to see her strengths and weaknesses play out the most. It’ll be a challenge to play someone more blunt and less smart than me and stop myself from politicking at the level a sneakier character would. At the same time, it’ll be fun to play up her toughness and savvy!
On the lighter side, this has been the most difficult character to costume! Ex-sexy undertaker in the post apocalypse. Don’t want to look too sexy and not be considered for motherhood, want to be able to seduce other characters if the opportunity arises, want to look tough cause I’m carrying a gun, want to be warm in the Connecticut campground in October. I went for something between Jo in Supernatural and rocker chic. I hope that wins me the sperm.