According to the German Metal Band Helloween, 2014/2015 is the set of years when the computer God Insania rises to threaten humanity. So we have that to look forward to or reflect upon, depending on which side of the New Year we’re currently standing on.
2014 was also the year we took off from the Ren Faire and were able to finally attend some of the LARPs we’d been missing over the past 6 years, and become more involved with the community. As the make-up of our hobby continues to grow and change there are a lot of exciting events and happenings which I will endeavor to continue to report on, hopefully once a week.
The biggest news coming out of 2014/2015 was/is that the New England LARP community continues to expand at a prodigious rate. There are, as of this writing January 2014, some 46 extant games running in the MA, CT, NH, ME and RI region with several having either concluded their first season in 2014 or just beginning in 2015 (with even more games announced for Fall 2015 and Spring 2016). The availability of campsites is beginning to become a real issue, and events have begun to move farther into New Hampshire to secure a yearly schedule. During the most popular seasons (Spring and Fall) we regularly see 6 or more events scheduled against each other! To put this in perspective, Ye Old Commons, the year-round LARP campsite, has already announced a 46 weekend event schedule in 2015 and booked some 32 weekends into 2016 to boot.
The second most intriguing news item has to be the rise of the Maker Movement. We’ve been watching this for several years now, especially at indoor conventions. Between cosplay taking a greater stage at hotel events and the amusingly named Steampunk crafter movement and aesthetic becoming ever more prevalent in general, a whole new round of leather crafters and amateur artisans with foundations or significant sales in the LARP community have appeared. On top of that, the plasti-dip and hybrid latex weapon crafters are beginning to come into their prime, with numerous support forums and groups sharing DIY tips, tricks and materials.
Finally, we saw the introduction of 2 alternative game systems which offered a different set of experiences than your standard LARP. Arcane introduced basic costume requirements, mandatory latex weapons, and an eye toward European-style persistent NPC elements. On the other end of the spectrum, Draconis has put forth a six person adventure party game based on classic D&D themes and rules. While both of these new endeavors face challenges in game attendance, they have presented something that has not been tried before (with the exception of Otherworlds, which is an odd duck of a game coupled with a team-based leadership exercise that runs the exact same event every year).