This past weekend, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Live Game Labs to run a weekend-long, pervasive LARP (Live Action Role Playing Game) called The Magnificent Market of Marvelous, Curious, Miraculous Inventions, at Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium.
Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium is a four day convention that included many forms of entertainment, games, costume contests, and events on board the Queen Mary, a historic boat-turned-hotel in Long Beach, CA. The attendees, as you might expect, donned the latest in Victorian era steampunk attire.
The Magnificent Market of Marvelous, Curious, Miraculous Inventions
Professor Wilfred Shropeshire and Alison Wellsgarden are vying for knighthood, and they are using the Queen’s birthday party cruise to make a last-minute bid to secure the honorable status as Knight Commander in the Order of Bath (KCB). Unbeknownst to all, Shropeshire’s wealthy patron, Jonathan Cranston was also along for the cruise…but his ultimate goal is not to bask in the glory of Shropeshire’s work. Rather, Cranston seeks to make a different kind of name for himself, one that may put the lives of everyone on board at risk. Cranston has released canisters of SAP, a toxic substance that infects and eventually kills any who breath it in.
The game began with Friday night’s lecture by Professor Shropshire (played by Philip Gable), who introduced several devices, amongst them the Electri-Pedia and the Sniffer. The Electri-Pedia is a computer device that analyses a small, harmless sample of the SAP, in hopes of determining an anecdote. The Sniffer is a device that can detect the location of SAP anywhere on board the ship. Alison Wellsgarden (played by me), frequently interrupted Shropeshire, discrediting his scientific inventions and heckling him, while promoting her own exploits abroad. However, their comedic banter was not the highlight of the evening. Nearing the end of the lecture, a man staggered in, showing obvious signs of SAP infestation, an event which concerned all in attendance. People began to suspect that there was, indeed, more SAP on board than the small sample encased in the Electri-Pedia. Luckilly, in attendance was Lucy O’Ganning, a SAP expert, who was able to relay her knowledge on SAP and it’s effects.
On Saturday afternoon, one canister of SAP was detected by the Sniffer, and recovered by a team of players lead by Wellsgarden. O’Ganning, a SAP specialist (who revealed that she was on board because of a suspected threat), was able to safely dispose of the canister.
Despite the afternoon’s findings, the auction was not cancelled. At the auction that evening, it became known to all that there had been one canister of SAP already found on board the ship, and that there were likely to be others. People had been infected, and Madame Laveau, a clarevoyant, had mysteriously disappeared after escorting a sick man from the lecture on Friday night. However, despite the gossip about the canister and the missing clarvoyant, the auction began, only to be interrupted by Cranston himself, who crashed the party to announce his evil plot to kill everyone on board with SAP. He tore out of the room, leaving attendees scared, and giving them little choice but to take action.
Attendees were asked to assist Alison Wellsgarden in using the Sniffer to locate the SAP canisters and retrieve them (wearing gas masks for their own protection). Professor Shropeshire lead a second team to collaborate in finding an antidote to the SAP that would cure any who had become infected using the Electri-Pedia entries and the clues seeded within.
Alison’s team worked hard to find the SAP. The hunt lasted for many hours, and all but one canister was retrieved that night. Cranston himself made several appearances around the ship, and was eventually captured by a particularly quick player, Marius, who chased him down and brought him back to the auction room to be detained.
Furthermore, a boiler bomb was also found, which, had it not been disabled by the players using the binary code provided by the Electri-Pedia, would have exploded and poisoned the air of the entire ship, infecting everyone with the SAP.
On the final day, players recovered the final canister of SAP, and solved the puzzle which allowed them to create the antidote, hence saving all that had become infected. The Queen’s life and the lives of all those on board were safe.
Players were asked to vote for the person most worthy to receive the Knighthood of Bath, and to both Shropeshire and Wellsgarden’s surprise, neither were victorious. Instead, two players who had been instrumental in the recovery of the SAP and the solving of the puzzles that enabled the boiler bomb to be disabled and the discovery of a SAP antidote were awarded the Knighthood of Bath. The Queen and her royal party came forth to knight these two gentlemen, and all was well again on board the Queen Mary.
Throughout the game, several characters tweeted as the events unfolded, including Dr. Willfred Shropeshire @ShropeshireW, Alison Wellsgarden @AWellsgarden, Jonathan Cranston @JCranstonSP, and Madame Laveau @MLaveau.
Hash tags used on Twitter included #hrmsteam, #hrmsteamlarp, #hrmsteamknight, and #steampunk.
*** Special thanks to all who everyone who made the game a wild success: Aaron Vanek, Christian Brown, Scott Walker, David King, Shawn Crosby, Kirsten Hageleit, Angelique Toschi, Philip Gable, Roselle Hurley, Jennifer Palais, Morgan Joeck, and an extra special thanks to all the players – you guys were awesome and made the game come alive!
Oh and Angelique Toschi has added a fantastic album to Flickr – check it out here!