As before, one of the fun things to do at Origins was the LARPs (Live Action Role Playing). The National Security Decision Making Game was running, although I didn't participate in it. Even though I liked it the first time because of the novelty, it seems like in order to get into it you have to be able to manipulate people, and that isn't a skill I am particularly good at. I did three different LARPs: “Nero”, which is a swordfighting game like the ones I've already talked about, “TerrorWerks”, a science-fiction adventure where you shoot enemies with Airsoft weapons (the enemies shoot back with Nerf guns), and “Rising Lash,” a game where you go through the dark, solving puzzles and fighting zombies. Nero was a three-part adventure where you were trying to rescue Lady Serenity, an adventurer who was kidnapped by an evil necromancer. (By the way, how come necromancers are almost always evil? I mean, all they're doing is recycling decomposed organic waste. It's environmentally friendly!) Anyway, in Part 1, we started out by going and fighting some orcs, who had a map saying where Lady Serenity was being held. The next two parts had us journey there, and in the third part we finally reached the evil lair. As you can see from the picture, the door was guarded by a magical Sudoku puzzle. Once we got in, our leader tried to negotiate for the prisoner's release by offering a magical item:
Leader: “I offer this magic ring worth 120 gold pieces for the girl!”
Boss: “There's no way that's worth that much.”
Leader: “Even if I were overstating its value by half, it would still be worth 60 gold pieces.”
I tried to point out the mathematical error but he didn't understand it. Anyway the boss tried to double-cross us but we got rid of the bad guys. Also, I volunteered as an NPC so I could see the adventure from the monster's eyes.
In TerrorWerks, we were soldiers trying to invade a robotics research facility where a bad guy has uploaded a virus to the central computer which reprogrammed the robots to be hostile. Our goal was to fight through the robots and get to the central computer to install the antivirus software. I played the engineer, and my special power was to unlock the doors – I had a kit with wires that I was supposed to connect between certain points on a grid to light up a bulb, and I also had a gun to defend myself. There were also computers that had information on them, such as that the big “super-robot” at the end has a control panel on the back that you could use to turn it off. When we got to the robot, one of the other players disabled it with a grenade while I ran around back to the control panel. The robot turned back on and no matter how many switches I flipped I couldn't turn it back off. When I tried to run back away from it I tripped over one of the poles holding up a wall and dropped my gun, but fortunately my teammates where there to back me up. Eventually we got rid of the evil robots, put the antivirus in, and got out.
Rising Lash was a relatively straightforward zombie game. We go through a series of rooms fighting zombies, and if you get hit you fall down. You can be healed by a doctor, but you get infected, reducing your combat capabilities. You can get rid of the infection with an antivirus (the biological kind this time, not the software kind) but there are a limited number of those. At the end of the scenario, if you survived without getting infected (or have an antivirus to heal you) then in the next scenario you level up and get extra powers. The scenario we did this time was pretty easy and pretty much we all got out alive.
By the way, if you are into video games you have probably heard about the so-called “freemium” business model. This is where the main game is free but you can spend real money for benefits in the game, such as in-game items. A lot of free-to-play MMORPGs use this model, and apparently some of the LARPs have caught on to the idea. For instance, in the zombie game if you buy one of their promotional T-shirts and wear it to the game you get extra armor. TerrorWerks also sells promotional “swag” and has a tiered reward system where one piece of swag gives you extra health, two pieces gives you a healing item, and so on.
Also, in keeping with the whole “being a hero and helping people” theme, there was a blood drive going on. There was an announcement on the PA systme that said they wanted as many people to donate as possible because there was a “critically fortunately I wasn't able to because I went to Vietnam last year.