You looked at the time. Still some time before check-in. Then at your friend.
“I think we’ve seen just about everything now and there’s still time before check-in. Do we need to do something?” You asked.
She shrugged. “It would be a good idea to get the water bottles filled before Time In. So I suppose we could do that.”
The person walking with you said goodbye. “I think I’m gonna go see if the rest of my group has arrived yet. See you later.” He said, and, with a wave, walked off.
Heading back to the OC terrain, after only a few steps your friend was stopped for a hug again. Feeling like an idiot, you stood next to them, waiting to be greeted. Sensing that this was going to be another long talk with a LARPer, you went on ahead to the bathroom and would join the conversation when you got back.
The group had grown by the time you got back, and now several people were standing around your friend talking animatedly and hugging each other. You can’t remember having ever seen so many friendly people. Would you ever feel comfortable enough to embrace them? You listened to the different stories about what they had done or had happened, at other LARPs. Maybe one day you would have stories to tell.
At some point, you asked for an explanation of something in their story, and they eagerly explained to you whatever point you did not understand. They told you things you never asked for and soon found yourself in a conversation with that person about their character at that different LARP and other minutiae. Even though it seemed impossible at first, you managed to ask them about their character for this event.
“I’m actually an NPC,” they said, “but I do have an assigned role as the leader of Fearless Company.”
“I thought NPCs would do all sorts of roles during the weekend?” You asked.
“We do. However, sometimes there are roles which the GMs already know will have to be played for a long time. That can be a role that spans an entire weekend, for when you are visiting someone, or in this case, it’s a role that will take place for an indefinite time until something happens that will make someone else the new leader of Fearless.” They said.
“So are you going to play the leader the entire weekend or will you also sometimes play something else?” You asked. “Or are you basically a player with an assigned role?”
“That sort of depends on how things go, but I expect that I will have time to play other roles as well. But I can’t really play roles that come back during the weekend, or it might become a conflict. It really depends on what the players are going to do if I have the opportunity to play other roles as well. So it is very well possible that I am basically a player with an assigned role.” They said with a laugh.
“Does that mean that as long as you are the leader of Fearless that you will have to come NPC?” You asked.
“Not necessarily. If the GMs decide that the leader has to come with when the players are on missions then yes. It could also be that there’s an event where I can come and that the GMs then decide that the leader is going to show up as well. But as far as I’m aware the GMs don’t really know yet how future events are going to be. But it is a commitment that I made, yes. However when I can’t be there for an event, for whatever reason, then the GMs will write the plot in such a way that the leader of Fearless isn’t necessary or they will have to temporarily find someone else. There are always ways to work around it.” They said and shrugged.
“How does it work for your costume then? Do you have to provide it yourself, or do they provide it for you? I’m really sorry if I’m bothering you with all these questions.” You said.
“That’s alright. Actually, because I would be playing this role a lot, they did ask if I could provide my own costume as it’s just way much more comfortable all around. They gave me pointers on what was necessary for the costume, and I showed them my idea, they gave me some more pointers and so on until we were both happy with it. The biggest reason they asked me is that the LARP does not have a large clothing stash yet, as they’ve just started. Not all LARPs ask people to bring their own costumes for assigned roles. Usually, a LARP takes care of their own costumes. But all the NPCs were asked to bring clothing for costumes as the LARP is still starting up and needs to get money to get clothing and costumes.”
“There really is so much more going on at a LARP, than simply showing up in a cool costume and playing your character, huh?” You asked.
The other person laughed. “There really is.”
Around you, people walked in the direction of the other end of the IC terrain. Curious you grabbed your phone for the time. At least an hour had gone by and Check In would now be open. You gave the information to the group. A few took that opportunity to turn away and return to pitching their tents. The rest left with you.
You walked up to the tent you had gone to earlier, having heard it referred to as the Info desk, you now saw that a line had already formed. More and more people swarmed to the Info desk as you walked closer. You stepped up to the end of the line, slowly walking to the front. You talked with the people in the line, laughing and quipping about things. You even introduced yourself to the person in front of you but forgot their name instantly. As you inched closer to the desk, behind you the line was only getting longer. The people behind the counters would be busy for a long while yet. Would they be done on time, or would the game just start later?
Finally. Finally, it was your turn. They asked for your name, gave you a form to sign that the LARP was not responsible for any injuries and that you were legally an adult who was responsible for yourself. You also had to note down your emergency contact(s). You signed it and gave it back. In return, you got a paper wristband with your PLayer Identification Number, or PLIN for short in case you could not speak and emergency services could still know who you were. After that, they pointed you to the next desk where you would get your character information.
There you were greeted by someone in a Fearless Company shirt who already looked slightly harassed. Now that you were close enough you saw that the order you had seen earlier was gone. The stacks of paper were no longer neat but strewn around chaotically. They had to point each other to where everything was and what they had to do. A definite feeling of frazzled energy hung in the air.
“Hello,” You said giving them your name.
“Hello, and what is the name of your character?” They asked. After you gave it to them, they walked to the table with envelopes and started rooting around until they found yours.
“So before I start checking for everything else, do you want to change your character in some way or is your character ok the way it is?” They asked and handed you the character sheet in your envelope.
You quickly looked it over, but everything looked familiar and alright, so you gave it back. “No, I think it’s fine.” You said.
The person nodded and then grabbed a piece of paper and started filling in information from the character sheet unto the paper, folded it in half and plasticised it. With that in hand, they walked around the tent and grabbed documents of various size and colour and put them in the envelope. Lastly, they added in some coins and came back to you.
“Do you want me to walk you through the contents or will you be ok?” They asked.
“Please, walk me through it. This is my first time LARPing, so I haven’t the faintest idea.” You said.
They nodded and showed you the envelope. Your name was written in the centre, your character’s name below it and your PLIN below that. “This is your character envelope, it contains all the information and things that you need according to the rule system. You don’t have to keep it in the envelope if you have something else to put everything in, but you do need to keep everything in this on you or near you, like in a bag. Never in your tent, while you are on the IC terrain.”
They nodded as well and then opened up the envelope. “This is your character card, it contains all the info on your character as per the skills and other necessary info. You can use it to check for yourself what your character does or does not have, and in some cases, GMs might ask for it as well to check something.
If you want to learn a skill in the game, then you need a teacher, someone who is a master and has that skill. If you find someone like that, you fill in this little card together and bring it to the Info desk. We will exchange it for a student card where you can track how much more XP you need to gain the skill. You need to keep that student card in your envelope.
Because of your skills, you have these loresheets. With this one you can check what the herbs are, I will show those to you in a moment. On each component card, there are a bunch of codes, but only one of them is actually a code that means something. With his lore sheet, you can find which codes mean something, and which herb it is. With the other lore sheet, you can see which herbs are necessary for which potion and what the code is for each potion.
These little cards are the herbs that you start with. There will be opportunities for finding more in the game.
When you make a potion, you need to attach the herb cards to one of these and fill in your PLIN and CHIN and the potion code, and then you fasten this to the potion bottle.
As you have a knowledge skill, you also get this lore. You should have gotten this in an email together with any other lore relative to you, but because it is your skill we put it in here as well.
Every character starts with some money, to foster the economy. You start with one silver and five copper. Ten copper makes a silver, and ten silver makes a gold.
Another way that we foster an economy is that at every event there will be a little something in your envelope that you have picked up somewhere or other. It will be different every game, but unless stated otherwise, it will be in there.
And I think that’s about it. Do you have any questions?” They asked and then looked at you.
You blinked and took the envelope. “What’s a CHIN? And is there someone who could explain how you’re supposed to do alchemy to me? I’m completely new to LARP, and my friend who took me here has never played an alchemist so she didn’t know and couldn’t tell me.” You answered.
“Oh, I’m sorry. CHIN stands for Character Identification Number. It is simply a number for which character this is of yours. Right now your CHIN is one, the same for everyone, but when, for some reason, you make another character, that character’s CHIN is two. As for alchemy, that would be Eline’s thing. One moment.” They said and then walked away to a small Asian looking woman. They quickly came walking back.
“Hi, I understand that you’re new at alchemy. Why don’t we step outside the tent to not clog it up in here and then we can talk.” She said and gestured for you to follow her outside.
“Do you have any specific questions, or do you just want me to walk you through the system?” She asked you.
“Well, I got some information at the check-in, but I have no idea how it fits in, so can you just walk me through the system?” You answered.
She nodded and was then silent for a moment.
“Alchemy isn’t a complicated system here. We provide you with some basic potions that you learn upon reaching a certain rank. Adepts learn mostly healing potions and Experts how to make poisons among other things. But next to that there is also room for exploration and just experimenting.”
“Okay. Could you first explain to me how basic potion brewing works according to the system and then maybe explain the experimenting to me, for as far as you can? My friend told me that GMs want players to figure stuff out in game, but I’m just really nervous and completely out of my depth about how this all works and how I’m supposed to do things.” You said, trying to push the oncoming anxiety back down.
“That’s really not a problem. Brewing a potion according to the system is really simple. The only thing that is necessary for a potion to be correct is that you spend five minutes in game acting out that you’re brewing a potion and then you need to attach the herbs that you used to a craft card, fill it in and fasten that to the potion bottle. There aren’t really any rules on how you are supposed to do the brewing, that is completely up to you. If I’m correct, then your character is the one interested in international cuisine right?”
“Right. Good memory.”
“Thank you. Then maybe this analogy helps. Brewing a potion is really nothing else than cooking. Your ingredients are different, and so are the methodologies, but the basics are the same. You chop up plants, mix them with fluids, like water or milk or whatever you wish, you can boil it if you want to and have the equipment for it, and then you serve it in a bottle. The herbs that are necessary to make the potion work are not real, but little pieces of paper. You will have to either find physical substitutes, or physreps, for all the herbs or pretend you’re chopping up imaginary herbs, that’s up to you. I have seen players at other LARPs pretend to chop, stir, and boil things and then just use water with different coloured sugar balls. Each colour would stand for a different potion. Simple, effective, and it doesn’t cost much.
When the five minutes are done, you need to pour the potion in a bottle, if it’s just the one potion than a small bottle is fine, if you brewed multiple potions at the same time then you need a bigger bottle of course. Then you attach the necessary herbs to the potion craft card and note down your PLIN and CHIN on it, as well as the potion code. You fasten the craft card to the potion bottle.
If you brew one potion, then you need to spend five minutes. If you brew more at the same time you have to add them all up and multiply the time by however many potions you’re making. So if you’re making three minor heals at the same time, you multiply five by three, and you have to spend fifteen minutes acting out that you are brewing.
If you want to brew three different potions, then you have spent five minutes to brew one, five minutes to brew the next and so on. You cannot brew two different potions at the same time, or you can try, and get interesting results if I’m near.
Others can help you with the brewing process, but the brewing time stays the same.” She finished.
“Right, I think I got it.” You said.
“And if you forget in the game, then you can ask either your fellow alchemists or you can ask me. During game time I will be walking around, and you can come look for me or have one of the other GMs ask for me over the walkie-talkies.” She said.
“Thank you. Can you explain to me a little how the experimenting is supposed to work?”
“I’m afraid I can’t say a whole lot. Experimenting really comes down to you, possibly together with others, acting out that you are trying different things and seeing what happens. It matters what you’re doing, how you’re doing, sometimes when you’re doing something can make a difference. The only thing I will really say is that when you want to experiment, you have to call me to come watch. I am not saying that anything will happen, but if something happens because of your experimentation, then I will make the necessary calls. If you’re really nervous about experimentation, but want to try it out, I suggest that you make a friend of one of the other alchemists and that you ask them to experiment with you.” She said.
“I think I understand.” You said. “Thank you for the explanation.”
“No problem. Do you have any more questions?” She asked.
You shook your head.
“No, then I have to get back to the Info desk. Don’t forget to be on time for the Time In a talk in the main square in the fortress.” She said.
You nodded. She turned around and walked back to the tent. You turned around as well. Your friend was standing just outside the tent, talking to someone.
You walked up to her. She smiled. “Ready to go? I heard that they wanted to try and have the dinner as in character as possible, so I think we should get ready and get dressed in our costumes.” She said.
“I’m ready. By all means, let’s go.” You said.
She waved at the person she was talking to, and together you walked back to your tent and started getting dressed and ready for the LARP to start. Excitement, anxiety and nerves battled it out in your stomach. Half an hour until dinner, the Time In talk would be almost immediately afterwards. And after that, Time In would really start and the game would be on.