Sunday, September 16, 2007

Double double toil and trouble

Yesterday, I participated in my first official LARP for the MIT Assassins' Guild. If you don't already know what LARPing is, the acronym stands for Live-Action Roleplaying. It's a little like Dungeons & Dragons, except acted in real life instead of on paper, and much more fun. :)

The game last night was called Salem, and it was basically a recreation of the town of Salem during the witch scare of 1692...except that this time, the witches were most definitely real. I think most people went into the game expecting the plot to revolve around the witches, but as it turned out the GMs (Game Masters, the ones who wrote the story) had included a number of surprises besides the witches. For one thing, some of the townspeople were secretly French spies, British loyalists, or colonial rebels. One girl was talking to a ghost almost the entire game, my own wife had cheated on me years before...basically, every character had some sort of secret.

(Disclaimer: The game of Salem is likely to run again this spring - so if you are planning on playing in Salem later, you may want to skip the rest of this entry. Likewise, if you know you've already been cast in Salem and for some reason are looking to get some dirt on the rest of the players, that's just lame. You're ruining the fun not only for yourself, but also for your fellow players.)

So my character for the night was Goodman Thurgood Jones, the constable of Salem...and also the leading warlock of the Salem coven. Talk about a double life, eh? Not only did I get to cast spells that would set people on fire, wither their limbs, blind them, etc., I had to take part in an evil ritual that would basically desecrate the town congregation hall. Besides that, I was cheating on my wife with another witch in the coven, which was in and of itself a severe violation of the coven rules. As one of the GMs said, "It takes a special man to sell his soul to the devil and still think he can keep secrets from his master."

As it happened, Lucifer himself was present in Salem town - apparently a deacon in some neighboring town had made a pact with the devil, and Lucifer had taken possession of his body. In game terms, that meant the deacon knew practically everything about everybody, including all the witches, and was working very hard to pressure, threaten, or otherwise coerce everyone in town to voting for him. One of my very first conversations in-game was with the deacon, who basically conveyed that he knew exactly who I was, and that if I voted for him he'd cast a blind eye. So that was pretty convincing, even though I had no idea how he knew I was a warlock, since I had done absolutely nothing witchy (yet).

But ultimately what the deacon knew didn't matter...because he was killed minutes before the actual election. That's right, someone actually killed off an incarnation of Lucifer. I instantly guessed the murderer (and I turned out to be right!) and I probably should have thrown him in the stocks...but I had no real evidence, and when I questioned him he did a very good job of acting innocent. Either I'm a bad constable, or a very just one. ;)

Incidentally, the same guy also killed my son about two-thirds through the game, for reasons I still don't really understand. Once again, I was pretty sure it was him, since he was one of the last people with my son and his story of the murder didn't match up with what actually happened. But by that point everybody was too busy running around and pursuing their own agendas for me to really do anything, and since he later turned out to be a French loyalist (and therefore sort of on "my side") I guess it was a good thing I didn't do anything to him - although I did end up chasing him around later, just for the hell of it. He managed to escape, yellow-bellied Frenchman.

Anyway, when we finally tried to elect a minister, there were only two candidates - myself and another fairly ordinary man. I nearly got myself elected, but I realized I couldn't do much witchcraft if I became minister, since everyone would always want to know where I was, so I withdrew my nomination and let the other guy have it. So instead of becoming minister, I instead became the minister's right-hand man in town, which was just as good, if not better.

Ultimately, though, I did much more politicizing than witching. As I mentioned before, the British and the French were very active in the city, though the French in particular were pretty stealthy about it. Another issue was the Indians, who were very concerned about the presence of the British in Salem. I ended up forging a three-way alliance between the town of Salem, the French agents, and the Indian tribe. I also helped the Indian envoy kill off the local British captain, took part in the ghost's wedding, set the minister on fire, and completed two-thirds of our satanic ritual...all without a single person ever accusing me of being a witch.

Basically, it was a great experience. I didn't do much sneaking around or much serious combat, but I had a great time simply interacting with people, not to mention manipulating them and/or flat-out lying to them. Even though it was my first game, I caught on pretty quickly, and the other players were simply amazing as well. I'm already looking forward to the next game. :)

That's about all I have for this entry, and in any event I have to run. Keep checking back for more about my weekend, some of the clubs I've started to get involved in, and - last, but not least - those dreaded p-sets.

24 comments:

Hawkins said...

Wow.

Hunter '11 said...

You're not supposed to talk about games until they're declared dead =P If this game is played in the future and someone reads this blog, he/she will have an unfair advantage.

Paul said...

Oh, good call. I've emailed the GMs about it, I'll see what they have to say.

Anonymous said...

Nevertheless, it was still very much fun.

I was still on a bit of an adrenaline rush from having been accused of the first murder (by you!)...if you had gone with me to get the "cure", I would have done the he same.

I just didn't want to be "cured" because I was never actually impaired...and my accomplice in the murder and I had yet to come up with an alibi because I was nearly discovered making the killing blow.

Star said...

Wow... sounds awesome, but how exactly does this work?... I'm kinda confused. It seems like your time at MIT is well spent though, glad you're not getting too bogged down with p-sets and all that boring stuff.

Hunter '11 said...

Star, it's a little difficult to explain how it works. When you join, you go to an info session the day before the game and they explain the rules, and they become clear through playing it =)

And Paul, two things. One, if you want to change your link to my new blog, that'd be awesome =) Two, how do you set up that link area?

Star said...

Hmm... I guess I'll have to (get into MIT.. and then) join myself to find out. Just one more thing to look forward to, cuz it sounds like a lot of fun :)

Isshak Ferdjani said...

yeah it does ! sounds cool, like a real people playing a video game lol. looks really fun. but the game where you shoot darts at people (like a real people FPS) looks better !

Kate said...

Ohhh...Salem. Fun, fun! From the sound (okay, look) of things, life at MIT is going well. LARP seems very neat and unique, to say the least. Odd question of the day: Do you pronounce it larp (which rhymes with 'harp') or L-A-R-P? Just curious. It's good that you had some fun (and got to experience so much of the mayhem and action!)

Not to be annoying, but when, oh when will you start blogging on the MIT admits page? I've checked the page and no Paul blogger box...still a bubble that says APPLY! :)

Hunter '11 said...

Larp does rhyme with harp, and I'm sure they'll fix the blogger situation soon. They're starting the admissions season so I'm sure they're pressed for time.

PATROL! Shooting people with darts is fun =P

Paul said...

@ Hunter: Haha, sorry about that - I've changed it to your new blog. If you want to add one, just go to the "Template" tab in the main Blogger interface and click "Add Page Element."

@ Star: Yes, it does sound a little confusing and complicated at first, but everyone catches on really quickly. And the Guild is (fairly) nice to new players. :D

@ Kate: Haha, you're not being annoying at all. I meet up with Ben on Wednesday, so I should have a better idea of when I'll get started then. There's a few things that I need to get done on my end as well, though - like actually writing my first entry. ^_^

Hunter '11 said...

YOU LIE. It's still wings-mit =P

Thanks for the info. You guys are now linked to my blog =)

Paul said...

I blame Blogger, it was clearly their fault. It had absolutely nothing to do with me forgetting to actually hit the "save changes" button, or anything silly like that. :P

Isshak Ferdjani said...

by the way, how will you take your picture ? in the infinite corridor ? in your dorm ? on the (lovely green) grass in front of the admission office ?

Hunter '11 said...

Of course not =P

And Paul, I think you should take a picture on top of - I mean, uh, in front of the dome.

Star said...

Ooo, I like hunter's idea for the picture ;)

Kate said...

I third the Dome idea. And thanks for clearing up how to properly say LARP Melissa/Hunter. Hunter. Whatever. :)

Paul said...

Actually, I'd already thought about taking my picture on top the dome, but...well, I'm sure you know as well as I why it might not work. ;) I'll pitch the idea to Ben at the meeting tomorrow, but I have another great place in mind as well.

Isshak Ferdjani said...

he, not telling us eh ? well ym fortune cookine told me today a surprise awaits me aroundthe corner, so maybe it's your picture ! i hope it's going to be a crazy one !

SNively said...

#10 reason for loving MIT:

Career Fair!

Check my blog entry about it in the next few days. . .

Snively said...

Free Laundry Bag from AllState

Paul said...

Yep, that would do the trick nicely.

Star said...

Hey Paul, so new bloggers have started on the MIT site... where are you?!?!? Well hopefully you're having tons of fun showing Hawk around your wonderful school, but come on, we need a new post :)

Isshak Ferdjani said...

snively! you should be ashamed ! doing ad for your blog, somthing i kept myself from doing !! (by the way, yay for free stuff!).