Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monster Mash

Yesterday was the third installment of To Be Continued, or TBC, the theater-style campaign set at a magical school where the characters are all from various forms of popular media. I play Arya of House Stark of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series (or the HBO tv series, Game of Thrones, for those unfamiliar with its source materials.)

It was centered around the Halloween Dance at the school, so players were encouraged to bring costumes for their characters to wear in-game, and a side-room was set aside for music and dancing. A few people brought in snacks to share, including these adorable thematically appropriate cupcakes.

The ghosts are marshmallows, the ones with cookies on top resembled an eclipse. "Arbor Gold" is a type of wine from the setting of A Song of Ice and Fire.

I failed to make or buy a pair of wolf ears and a tail, so I fell back on the black cat accessories that I used as Tazmanian devil parts in Lost Eidolons. I insisted I was dressed as a black wolf, but this understandably doesn't really come across. The ears are, to be frank, much too cutesy to make a decent wolf costume.

Arya Stark, as a wolf for Halloween.

The flash utterly wiped out my face in this picture, but it's still a decent shot of ears. Please note that Needle hangs on my right hip. I was inspired by Maisie Williams; I may be a rightie, but Arya is a leftie.

My primary plots involved trying to identify the members of certain secret groups based on their strange behavior, which proved incredibly difficult, as lots of people were behaving quite oddly. The food was spiked (in-game only, of course) with a hallucinogen, various people were experiencing some form of possession, and the majority of the students and staff are oddballs to begin with. I utterly failed at those goals. My other major plot, which I will reference in only the vaguest of terms as it is presumably ongoing, stalled when one of the major players left early. I probably could have found ways to work around the missing player, but I got quite distracted by the music in the dance room.

Arya Stark would be highly unlikely to dance of her own accord -- partly because she's not into something she would consider one of the "womanly arts"and partly because she had far more importantly things to dobut I, the player, really wanted to dance and found it impossible to resist. I really appreciate the efforts of a few other PCs, namely Milady de Winter and Armand du Plessis (both characters of Alexandre Dumas' works) to offer Arya reasons to dance in-character. (Milady is the head of the house Arya was sorted into, much like the system in Hogwarts, which gave her the authority to insist her students dance at least once.)

But even after pressure from school faculty (and fellow students) ceased, and the various dangerous issues still loomed large, I still stuck around the dance floor, despite it being very out of character for Arya.

On top of that, Arya was being blackmailed by another character, so really I probably should have been pretty nasty and defiant to that blackmailer. But the blackmailer was played by someone I like, and for some reason, I just couldn't find it in me to be unfriendly to her, even though I'm sure she would have been well aware it would have been strictly in-game rudeness.

Overall, I'd say I pretty much miserably failed at roleplaying as Arya Stark, even though I had a great time at the event.

In retrospect, I wonder if I shouldn't have bid this character. For one thing, as I've mentioned before, I am probably the only player whose character is older than the version in the source material. (Arya is nine years old at the start of the book series, and maybe a few years older in the TV show, whereas in TBC, she is ambiguously late teens-ish. Possibly early twenties, depending on whether or not the school is meant to be a primary school or a collegeit isn't clear.) Meanwhile, most other players are playing characters who are the same age or younger than they are in their source materials. This gives most players some insight into what their character would be like, but I am going on pure speculation. More importantly, Arya of TBC hasn't undergone the same life-shattering trauma that Arya of the books/tv show has, so it's hard to say how far she would have drifted from the playful kid she was before everything in her life went to hell. Again, this leaves me to roleplay her based heavily on my own speculation, and some of her choices aren't really adding up.

More importantly, Arya's story arc is very much one of a loner. She loses trust in others in the books and becomes quite self-reliant. She also is clearly much more comfortable with violence and death than the average nine year old, and rather easily takes to it as a lifestyle. Which makes for a very interesting book character, but not a very good LARP character. A good LARP character, for me anyway, is one that takes easily to cooperation with others, and isn't deeply involved with actions that most other characters would consider unacceptably immoral.

And less important, but still relevant, plots in TBC rely pretty heavily on magic and super-science. A character who has great skill in one or both of those is more easily made useful in-game, whereas Arya's LARP abilities, while they fit her thematically, are diverging strongly from her abilities in the book, and yet still render her one of the less useful characters in the LARP.

I'm not sure what to do about all of this, if anything. I do love this character, and I'm having fun playing her, and the writing staff has already put in a lot of effort to integrate Arya in the background of the setting and lives of other characters. Asking to switch to a different character seems both unfair to the staff and may well create far more problems than it solves. Offering to NPC from now on is another option, though I typically prefer PCing over NPCing. I think I am most likely going to just go on with Arya Stark, and try to feel more flexible about how I envision her in my head. So long as I'm having fun, why change anything?

Besides, this version of Arya seems to be getting along splendidly with Tyrion Lannister, of all people, and I'd hate to give up that dynamic.

Tyrion came in, by the way, dressed as Ozymandias of the graphic novel Watchmen. Is that not just perfect?
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