Last weekend I participated in a new LARP called Crusade of Legends. It didn't have nearly as much fighting as most of the other LARPs, but it was interesting in its own way.
When I got there, I had originally planned on being an NPC (non-player character) - in other words, I would play the monsters. I hoped to learn more about the game before deciding which character class to be. However I soon discovered I didn't want to do that, as after about an hour and a half of playing an NPC, I had spent about an hour and 25 minutes of that time just waiting in the "NPC" camp waiting to be called out. So instead I decided to switch to being a player character, and I created a character - a "sorcerer" who combines magical powers with melee combat - and rejoined the game.
Next, I got caught up to speed on some of the events of the day. I had learned that I had just missed an enthralling speech by the governor about taxes, and that there were goblins threatening the town. Speaking of taxes, the governor also told me that I would have to pay a piece of silver in order to become a citizen, and only citizens were allowed to brandish weapons in the town. (The money system is 1 gold = 10 silver = 100 copper, and all new characters start off with 5 silver.) I asked what happens if I wasn't a citizen and a goblin attacked me, and he said in that case I would have to retreat and find a citizen who could defend me. So I decided to just pay the money to become a citizen, and continued on.
Soon there were rumors of intrigue going around. A group of adventurers had gone into a "white maze", and when they came out they refused to talk about what they had seen. Also, there were stories about a "lich king" that was threatening the village, and the governor as well as a select group of guards were planning on going there to negotiate. Also, there were apparently some "shades" that were planning on coming out at night, and only special "magical light" spells and weapons could harm them. Of course I didn't have that, being just a new character, so I wasn't able to participate in any of these battles.
I did go out in search of adventure for a little while - someone else had told me he found a mysterious gem - a component for certain kinds of powerful "formal magic" spells - lying on the ground. We searched around for more such components, but the search was fruitless - there were no more components, and we didn't run into any goblins or other monsters. As night fell, I went back into the tavern, to have dinner and drinks (not alcoholic ones, of course) and learn more about the events of the day. I heard the governor and treasurer talking about the town's finances - apparently they were in debt to the lord from whom they bought the land to set up the town. They were discussing a proposed tax of 2 copper per month per citizen, or a total of 4 silver per month for the total population of 20 citizens. Also, the captain of the guard needed guards for the night. He needed two guards in each of three shifts - 8:00 PM to midnight, midnight to 4:00 AM, and 4:00 AM to 8:00 AM, and was paying 2 silver, 6 silver, and 4 silver respectively for each of those shifts. I wasn't exactly sure how the town as going to get the total of 24 silver (actually, 36, because I think they ended up hiring three guards instead for each of the shifts) with only a total tax revenue of 4 silver, but apparently there is some other source of money I didn't know about. Also, I learned about a protection spell that could be cast on the tents and the tavern in order to allow us to sleep in peace - the way it worked was the spell could be cast at any time, and the protection would be in effect from 2:00 AM to 9:00 AM. I asked why they needed overnight guards if they had the protection spell, and he said that it was necessary because the enemy might have ways of dispelling the protection spell. Sitting outside in the cold for 4 hours overnight didn't really appeal to me, so I decided not to take the guard job.
Instead, I spent the night in the tavern listening for more information. I also found a deck of cards lying on the table, so I played a gambling game with a fellow patron (which I will talk about in another post). But I did get to see some interesting stuff going on. A "Grand Inquisitor" and her minions came into the tavern to find out what we knew about the "malediction" that was apparently sweeping the lands, but she also aroused some suspicion when she asked us not only about the malediction, but also about our respective fighting styles. Also, the governor temporarily kicked us out of the tavern without explanation for a meeting that was going on inside the tavern, and while we waited outside one of the other people kicked out tried to convince us to go back in, assert our rights, and demand an explanation. The meeting ended before we decided whether to do this, but we later learned through the grapevine that the topic of the meeting was fairly innocuous (something about a "traveler's guild" that wanted to set up shop) and not anyone plotting against us or anything (although we didn't really understand what was so secret about it).
Also, a couple interesting issues came up. Apparently, two priests had abandoned the god to which they originally worshiped and tried to switch to a different god for the purpose of getting the powers of the new god to help defend the town against the "lich king" and potentially other threats (I wasn't sure of the full details). However, after abandoning the first god, the priests discovered that they needed to make a "blood sacrifice" to gain the new god's power. Somewhat surprisingly, it was fairly easy for them to find people who were willing to be sacrificed*. However, they were later put on trial for murder, and the magistrate got together a vote of the town's citizens, who voted to change the law to allow for legal blood sacrifices (as long as the victim is willing, of course). This decision was not without controversy as some thought that blood sacrifices were inherently evil. Another in-game legal issue came up the next morning, when an orc charged into town brandishing a sword and demanding the return of a special glove (again, I was never sure what was so important about the glove). Some citizens quickly ambushed and killed the orc, and there was some discussion over whether or not that act was legal self-defense. The magistrate said that it was, but another citizen said that it wasn't, because, as he pointed out, the town laws define assault as "an action to harm" someone else. Thus, according to this definition, assault would require actual harm, so for instance if you swung your sword at someone and missed, it wouldn't be assault. Thus, the orc had not yet committed any crime, so it was not legal self-defense to kill him. Thus citizen said that if the magistrate meant for a situation like this to be self-defense, he should change the law to include something about "intent to harm" in the definition of assault.
Overall, I thought that this game was very different than any of the other ones I have participated in. One negative about this game was that it seemed like I wasn't able to participate in most of the action - I observed a lot of interesting things (as I described above) but I didn't get to do much actual fighting, and I never got a chance to go into the maze, go to the negotiations with the lich king, participate in the discussions about finances or the traveler's guild, etc. In some sense this seems like just the nature of the game - you can't expect to just walk in and participate in high-level discussions about (in-game) politics in the way that you can just walk in, pick up a (foam) sword, and start fighting. I also noticed that most of the fights were very one-sided - any monsters that attacked us just died within moments, and never posed much of a threat. (This is in contrast to when I played Nero, where there were a lot more monsters that came in waves, so we really felt besieged and had to manage our resources well to defend ourselves.) In the car going back, I pointed that out, and was told that the point of the monsters was to advance the story, not really to pose a threat. I was told that it was a good idea to come back, because as I participate more "plots would develop around me" and I would get more of a chance to participate in the action.
I probably will go back, although I'm not sure exactly when. There was a lot of exciting stuff that happened, but whether this is a game that I want to stick with long-term really depends on whether the promised "plots" actually materialize, and how good they are. Also, I learned that there is a Nero gropu that is running an event March 23-25, and I will try to make it to that one. Nero seems like it might align more closely with what I want, because it has the "you're in character for the whole event" thing as well as lost of role-playing and story, but also has a lot more combat.
That's enough for this post, but I'll try to post more posts in the next couple days where I explain the gambling game I learned as well as more discussion of the legal issues mentioned above.
*In this game, if you die, you can easily get resurrected at a resurrection circle. On your third and subsequent deaths - and the deaths do accumulate from event to event - you have to draw a bead from a bag and risk getting permanently killed and having to make a new character, but the level of combat is low in this game so it is relatively easy to avoid getting killed if you are at risk. Also, it is possible, if you are a human character, to purchase a special power that allows you one "free" death per event.