Dave here making a cheeky guest post to talk about LARP, in particular Humanity Ascendant and Tagcon.
Humanity Ascendant is a Post-Apocalyptic LARP set in the UK 500 years in the future after a Nuclear War. The players are from Bunker Ascendant, a fallout vault style facility that has started to fail, and so reclaiming the surface is now a priority. Characters are based around 5 distinct professions, Soldier, Medic, Engineer, Scientist and Bureaucrat, each with skills and abilities that aid the Freedom Expeditionary Force (FEF) goal of expansion and survival.
The mechanics of the game are amazing, all gunplay combat is facilitated by military grade laser tag system called LaserWar. It allows each player to have individual health and gun stats based on skills and choice of weapon. We currently have options for Pistols, SMGs, Assault Rifles, DMR (Direct Marksman Rifle), Sniper Rifles and LMGs, along with some characters having researched advanced Railgun Technology!
So if you like games similar to Fallout/Frostpunk/The Division, films/TV like Madmax/The 100/Into the Badlands/Terminator and want to see if you have what it takes to survive in an irradiated land filled with mutants, technozombies and angry AIs, this game is for you!
I have the pleasure of being a long term friend of the creator of the game Lee Long, and together we attended Tagcon 2020, a yearly gathering of the key members and event organisers of Firefight: Laser Tag Larp. We where able to get a 20 minute slot to talk about HASC, so we prepped a few slides, grabbed some toys and off we went!
I was not sure what to expect, but we where made very welcome right from the start. It quickly became apparent that the people in the room where all longtime members of the group and had been playing together for a number of years. The timetable was pretty full;
1000 – Refreshments
1030 – Welcome to Tagcon
1040 – Dropzone Introduction – Claire Barclay
1050 – Dropzone Friday night ‘Rocket Race’ – James Barclay
1100 – Babylon Down – Edward Earl King
1120 – High Frontier: Moving Beyond The Bug Hunt – James Bloodworth
1140 – BREAK
1200 – Learning Laser Tag LARP backwards – Lee Long
A Bring and Buy will run During the lunch break
1400 – Dropzone: A New Dawn – Stephen Nash
1500 – IC Arguments – Simon Clark
1530 – Props and Costume discussion group
1620 – John Blau Memorial Quiz
1730 – Close
The first 2 items where discussing an event later in the year, it became obvious that unlike the LARPs I had played in the past, all the missions/events where designed to be completed within the day and not to have any significant connection to other events. Babylon Down sounds amazing! Set at the “launch” of B4, a team of various races/organisations have detected what appears to be the core of B3 (which exploded/disappeared) on a planet with a weird history. B5 is one of my all time favourite TV shows and location/timing dependant, I am very keen to give this a go!
The next presentation by James B was very interesting. High Frontier is a living document that brings a significant number of cult TV/Film/Book franchises into a loose timeline with the aim of providing a framework to run events in. The discussion points talked about a couple of challenges that GMs are currently having. Primarily it revolved around character records, with an increasing number of events being ran in similar time/theme zones, players want to port characters over on a more regular basis. This had started to present GMs with issues with characters having strange maggufins and knowledge that they had not prepared for. This then moved through advancement Vs fixed skills and then mortality rates. I think both me and Lee gave some useful input here as we come from a very different game space.
Then it was our turn! Lee was a little nervous, but this is the kind of stuff I live for! With the various discussions of the morning in mind, we tweaked the focus of a couple of parts to talk about how we manage progression, and how we make best efforts to ensure that no character is invalidated, regardless of how many events they have been to. So, remember I said we had 20 mins, by the time we had answered a couple of questions we had gone for 40! Pete was very gracious in allowing us time, and waited till we had stopped talking to let us know we needed to pass over to the next presenter. Had we won anyone over to coming to play? We would find out later….
Next up was James and Nick, they talked about quite possibly the greatest LARP event I have heard of, “Odysseus”. It sounded beyond epic, and I would probably miss some parts, however James has his own blog where you can read about it (and I must urge you to do so!) https://criticalpathsite.wordpress.com/2019/07/27/odysseus-a-retrospective/ . However the really interesting part of the presentation was on the Social Contract they used. A couple of key points are below;
Play to Lift – It is each players obligation to ensure each other player has a rewarding experience. This in essence means that if everyone thinks about everyone else’s enjoyment then everyone has a better time. It is not intended to create a culture of “snowflakes”, but instead one of respect. You cant always give someone what they want, and conflict creates good stories, but by remembering everyone is at the GAME to have fun, more fun is had!
No Closed Doors – At this particular event, no doors (other than toilets!) could be closed. This is a very literal application of this idea, in that no one could exclude any other player/character from any conversation. Now I understand that the flavour/theme of some events require a certain amount of secrecy/sneakiness but I think this principle when applied correctly allows more people to get more involved and enjoy their games more
The Empty Chair – This is probably my favourite! When sitting down at a table (or task) if you are going to take the last chair, you must bring over another one to leave empty. This shows your open to have people join you and participate in what ever you are doing.
This resonated heavily with me and Lee, we had a couple of incidents at events last year (caused by a small number of people) but part of the issue where perceptions caused by issues that could have been fixed with applying the above. We will be working on the HASC social contract and guidelines for play for release before the next event.
The IC arguments presentation was about dealing with conflict, anxiety and discomfort in RP situations. Again this was very well thought out and highlighted that while we make sure to do physical safety briefs and have first aiders, but we do not have mechanisms or people in place to deal with mental health/safe spaces. As with the social contract we are working on methods and procedures to ensure that if the RP/situation gets too intense and people are no longer comfortable that they have a way to break away and “reset” before re-joining the game.
We then found ourselves in a 5 man team for the quiz, we clearly lucked out as despite me and Lee only answering 3 out of the 33 possible points, our team “Sucking Headwound” won!
As the day wrapped up we found ourselves talking to an increasing group of players wanting to talk tech, world setting, site location, event structure and costs for HASC! It was great to see that as excited as Lee and I where to try out the games we had heard about that day, a large number of the Taggers where keen to give HASC a go.
It was a really great day and we met some very passionate, skilled and very nerdy new people and I for one certainly hope to cross lasers with many of them in a field in the not too distant future!
If you want more info on HASC, you can check out the website and facebook groups, the same for Firefight. Or you can send me a message here, on Facebook or Twitter.