You stood in your living room. Spread across every surface were the items on the list that your friend had given you. She had arrived yesterday, the things she brought made up about half of the items that you would load into the car.
“You’re positive that we are going to need everything?” You asked her.
She looked around the room.
“Yeah, this seems about everything. I mean I don’t know about the alchemy stuff, but you looked up what you needed for that.” She said pointing at it.
You sighed and also looked at the cardboard box filled with the alchemy items you had gathered, based on the advice you were given by websites and articles about LARP alchemy.
“And this is all going to fit in the car?” You asked with a frown.
“You’d be surprised what can fit in there. But if you’ve got everything, we better start loading up the car. The drive will take up plenty of time as it is. Start with items that are hard to squish, like your tent and the boxes. The squishiest items should go in last.” She said. She bent down to pick up the tent and then walked outside to the car. Grabbing a box, you followed her.
Half an hour later the car was loaded to near maximum. You sat behind the wheel and strapped on the seat belt, your friend next to you did the same. You started the car and turned the radio to low.
“Remind me why I’m doing this again?” You asked as soon as you left the parking lot.
Your friend laughed as she set her phone to direct you to the site of the event. Ada’s Hoeve, Zwolseweg 17 in Ommen, the Netherlands.
“Because it will be fun. This is the first event of this LARP so everyone will be new. I am actually very curious about this LARP. I’ve been to other LARPs at Ada’s Hoeve, of course, so I know the layout a bit. It seems that just about every LARP in the Netherlands has hosted an event there. But I am really curious about this LARP because the story and the system look exciting. I wonder how they will work in the actual game instead of theoretically on paper.” She said as you made your way out of your town and unto the motorway.
“So what can I expect when it starts?” You asked after you had settled into traffic.
“Usually there is a sort of introductory quest for new characters, to get them into the game, get them acquainted, that sort of thing. However, as everyone now plays a new character, I guess that it will be a completely introductory story. All we know is that Fearless Company has opened up its doors for people to join them in their mission to help where help is needed. I would assume that our first quest will be about trying to find some way to be accepted. It doesn’t really matter, however, because when the GMs call ‘Time in!’ something will happen that will ask us to respond. Then we have to react in the manner that our characters would. That would cause things to happen, and things will roll from there.” She said.
You started asking questions half a dozen times but never knew quite what to ask. Everything still felt somewhat nebulous, and in the deepest well of your gut, a tangle of fear began to grow that when Time in would be called that you would just be standing there not being able to do anything. Your friend watched you open your mouth several times, even starting to make a sound, but then closing your mouth again. Your friend began to speak, but as the phone started giving directions and you had to focus on your driving your friend shut her mouth again. While you concentrated on driving a silence heavy with expectation grew in the car.
After a couple of minutes of this silence and your friend watching you struggle, she finally broke the silence.
“Are you wondering how you’ll know what to do?” She asked.
“I guess? Apart from when I was a kid, I’ve never done any roleplaying.” You said, and the tangle of fear constricted your gut, making it difficult to talk.
“Right. That’s absolutely not a problem. Maybe it helps if you remember your character. Do you remember what kind of person you created for yourself?” She asked and turned in her seat to look at you better.
“Yes. I am an alchemist.” You said, and in your mind, you started remembering the character you had created together. The tangle relaxed a fraction.
“What do you know about alchemists?” It sounded like a rote question, almost ritualistic.
“Alchemists know plants with magical properties and know how to brew potions with those plants that have magical effects.” You gave the information you remembered from the articles.
“Yes, that is what your skills allow you to do. But what is it that alchemists do?” Your friend emphasised the last word, giving you the distinct impression that she meant a specific thing.
“You’re steering towards something.” You said with a sidewards glance.
“Yes, I am. Alchemists are curious.” She said stressing the last word.
“They may have their known recipes of what certain combinations of plants do, but they like to investigate what other things they can do with the plants that they are familiar with and if they can find other plants that also have magical properties and what those properties are. Some LARPs have a more extended alchemy system than others. As I don’t play alchemists I, unfortunately, can’t really tell you what the system is like at Fearless Company. But if you don’t know how it works, you can just ask a Gamemaster, and they should be able to tell you. Or a fellow alchemist, and if they say that you should discover that in the game, then you could add that you are new at LARP and have thus never played an alchemist and don’t know how to go about the game. If they still say that you should discover it in the game, then you should look for a master Alchemist. Only masters can teach things in this system, and since you cannot start a character as a master, they should give you the option of finding a master in the game.” She finished. Further conversation is stopped for the moment as you drove unto the parking lot of a fast food restaurant for lunch.
“But if I have the skills that we thought would be best for me, doesn’t that mean that I should know how to do those things?” You asked when you were back on the highway, and there was only another half hour of driving to go before you reached your destination. The question had been nagging in your mind since your friend’s explanation.
“No, it simply means that, depending on the skill, you either have the theoretical knowledge of how to do something or you have the theoretical power to do something. Neither of those means that you would know how to actually do something unless, of course, you do.” She said, and you saw her smirk as you glanced over. She then continued explaining.
“Skills in LARP are all very interesting, but you are going to be the one who is going to have to do those things. For instance, it would be utter idiocy to create a character who is supposedly good at something, like charming or running, when you as the player do not have the actual skills to back up your character. So, in essence, that means you are limited by what you can actually do.” She said and waited for you to acknowledge your understanding before continuing.
“But let’s stay focused for a minute. You do not have to worry that just because you have a card that says you should be able to do something, for whatever reason, that you might know how to act that out. If anyone ever gives you hell about that, you can tell them so. If you come across something that you don’t know how to actually do, remember that the skill just means either the raw power or the intellectual knowledge and that you can ask someone more experienced how to do a certain thing. If you’re unsure of who to ask about this, any master of the appropriate skill should be able to help you. Some might want something in return, however, depending on the size of what you’re asking them. For instance, if you ask someone to actually teach you a skill, then it is quite usual for them to ask something in return. If you only ask them about how to better play the game, so that everyone has more fun, it can depend on who you’re asking whether or not they want something in return. If they do so, you have to remember it’s because they do that to facilitate more play.
Trust me that once you start playing and doing, things will begin to come eventually. It might take a little time, and that’s okay. When Time In is called, everyone will be trying on their new character and figure out how they actually want to play the game with that character.”
“I do suppose it helps to know that we are all sort of new at this.”
“We are.” She said, and because she apparently sensed a future discussion she quickly added,
“Just don’t get discouraged when people who are more experienced at the game seem to get ahead quicker. The game isn’t about getting ahead. The game is about telling the story of your character in the world of the LARP. So just focus on your character and how they would react in the world.”
The tangle of fear in your gut eased up some more. You drove into Ommen and had to be quiet for a bit as you followed the driving instructions.
“How are you going to play your character actually?” You asked when you were on the open road again and nearing Ada’s Hoeve.
“Well, my character went along to protect you, and she is mostly interested in Fearless Company because of the opportunity for adventure and improving her skills. She’s happy that she’s away from her parents’ tavern, which was really what she wanted. I don’t want to set her up to immediately go after certain goals or something. I really like just being able to go with the flow of the game and with what interests me. Even if there might be no need for me to protect you inside the Fearless Company fortress, I will, of course, spend time with you from time to time as our characters are linked, but I don’t think that I will be stuck at your hip the entire day. I like to go where I please.”
“I’ll try not to be a burden in the game to you then?” You asked with raised eyebrows.
Your friend laughed. “I rather doubt that you will be. I think that once the game starts, you will quickly be as engrossed as I, and you will forget about being nervous or a burden.”
“But what if…”
Your friend interrupted you before you could finish that question. “Oh look! There’s the sign for Ada’s Hoeve! We’re nearly there. Just turn in here and then the parking space is over there.”
Gulping down the nerves that immediately came back at that statement you took the turn.