Alleged Entertainment

2009: The Year that LARPing Came to Pi-Con

As previously kind-of-announced, Alleged Entertainment went to 4Pi-Con to run several LARPs. In addition, Susan and I appeared on two panels about LARP, and together, Alleged Entertainment,Intercon J, and Foam Brain Games held a room party on Saturday night.
I should mention first and foremost that everyone’s favorite SMOF, Kate Farb-Johnson, served as Pi-Con’s first LARP coordinator ever. She wrote a con report of her own, which is long, informative, and a great read. Many thanks to her for making this possible, and for all the hard work she put in on the convention.

So, how did it go? Let’s go down the list…


Because after all, that’s what I came to Pi-Con to do, right? I was involved in running three LARPs:
  • 10 Bad LARPs: Remix – Susan and I ran this together on Friday night. We were given a panel room to run the game, which I thought worked very well as a LARP space. Attendance wasn’t as high as we’d hoped, due at least in part to us conflicting with the Rocky Horror Picture Show event. However, the game ran well, and the players seemed to enjoy it.
  • City Council of Hound’s Teeth – this was actually a replacement game: we’d originally planned on running Time Travel Review Board instead. Unfortunately, we found out the week before the con that the hotel wasn’t going to let us tape things to the walls, which is kind of necessary for Time Travel, so I pulled together City Council at the last minute. But this was apparently the LARP that was doomed from the start: the game space was significantly less than ideal, being a hallway that people needed to walk through to get to concerts, and that wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because we couldn’t attract enough players to minimally fill the game. Well, you win some…
  • The Trial – Sharone and I ran this on Sunday afternoon. In stark contrast to City Council, we had more than enough players – in fact, the game was nearly full. In addition, we had a really nice little room to run the game in – a chunk of the ballroom, partitioned off from everything else. We had a really great cast, and overall it was one of my favorite runs of this game I’ve seen.
In addition, I played in Sharone’s run of An Un-Conventional Odyssey on Saturday late afternoon. Can you believe I hadn’t played this game yet? Anyway, it is a lot of fun and I can definitely see why it won the top award at the Small Games Contest. I played the driver of the car and (incompetent) leader of the group, which was a great character for me, since I tend to love playing the buffoon.
UCO ran in the same space we were meant to have used for City Council, and I think it suffered from that a bit, but the built-in break in the middle of the game was useful for letting people leave and enter the concert halls. Many thanks to Sharone for letting me finally get the chance to play this game!
In addition, the Boston Camarilla ran two games: a Changeling LARP on Friday night, and a VampireLARP on Saturday night. I didn’t attend these, but I heard great things about them from people who did.


I was on both the “Introduction to LARP” and “LARP Writing” panels. Kate has already given a pretty good summary of these in her writeup, so I don’t have a lot to add. I definitely would have liked to see more people we didn’t already know personally in the audience, but I think it takes time to build up an audience for LARP in a con community, so I’m not surprised to see low turnout for LARP-related panels in the first year Pi-Con has had LARPs.
In addition to these, I attended Tom Traina’s presentation on copyright and gaming, which was very informative and taught me some things I didn’t know before; and “10 Panels in 60 Minutes,” which was a lot more serious than I’d anticipated but also very interesting.

The Party

So yeah, we had a party! It was one of the only two room parties in the hotel that night; there was also an offsite Barfleet party. We got a lot of foot traffic, and lots of great conversation. My general philosophy of holding room parties at cons is don’t hard-sell; people know you’re there representing an organization, and if they want to know, they’ll ask you about it. If you don’t push it in people’s faces, they’ll walk out with a good impression of your group and generally positive feelings about it.
As always, the Intercones (snow cones sponsored by Intercon) were a huge hit – I think we must have made 50 or so of them.

Final Thoughts

I had a fun time at 4Pi-Con. In fact, it’s probably my favorite general sci-fi con I have been to yet. It’s small and friendly. It’s not in-your-face. It’s just a bunch of geeks getting together for a relaxed, inclusive weekend-long party.
On Saturday, I’ll confess, it seemed as if our LARP-running efforts were going to go down in flames. But things picked up, and between Sharone’s game that evening, and The Trial on Sunday, it seems like 5 of the 6 LARPs at this con managed to run, and run decently well. And if you think about it, that’s really no small feat. A general sci-fi convention with around 300 attendees managed to have 6 LARPs scheduled? And all but one of them actually worked?! I’m not sure I’ve heard of such a thing before.
Yes, there were some things that could have been better. Pre-registration for events would have helped us out a lot. Having better information about the hotel policy would have saved me some trouble. Running LARPs in the “Assembly” area was an ill-conceived idea. I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect that it would have also helped to have put all the events in a single grid, rather than separating them into “Programming,” “Events,” and “Gaming,” which is an unintuitive distinction for attendees.
The good news, though, is that I’ve been talking to some of the Pi-Con staffers about these points, and they seem very receptive to ideas about how to improve the LARPing experience there. So, with a little bit of luck, and some people in the community behind it, perhaps 2010 can be the year that LARPing returns to Pi-Con!

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