Libertines; working hard

More challenges to say yes to jumped on my path earlier this year. I said yes to being a helper at the one shot larp Libertines that would have two runs back to back. Logistics, kitchen things, a bit of casual playing and oh did I know anything about dancing in that era? The larp itself was a game with themes and a design I've never played before, I never had any real responsibilities in a game before and I was a bit of a mess the weeks running up to the larp. Why the hell did I ever say I wanted to do this? I hardly had energy to begin with and I would be gone for 1,5 weeks (in the train back now) and oh right, my summer job starts tomorrow.

But I'm so happy I did! I slept 4-7 hours each night and I'm running on caffeine and sugar at the moment, but I'm so happy and buzzing. My brain is busy pointing out all the things that I could've done better, but they're all details. We were five people (two of which I'd never met before) basically running the circus during the event and we worked so smoothly together. Especially during the second run, I really felt part of a team that had been doing this together for years, very true to the feeling we were supposed to have as the characters we played.


After 1,5 days of travelling (the night train to Göteborg and a car-ride to the south of Denmark), we arrived at this beautiful mansion with beautiful grounds around it. The sun was just setting and everything had this beautiful glow. There was a pheasant on the lawn, to finish this decadent old gentry feeling. We arrived a day before the players and that made getting ready very relaxed. Finally I got an idea of how I wanted to do the dancing and we took time to get just chill and get through the last work.
t all was lost and I did have fun.

Us five would be playing the servants of the household and in that respect would have the power to walk everywhere, meddle with things that were non of our business and work really, really hard. There were four player servants and 25 players, so it wasn't too big, but it was still hard to keep up with all the intrigues gossip and layers in the game, since I kept myself standing a bit too far besides it all. Only on the last day of the second run did I feel I was finally landing, understanding my character Molly and being able to run with it.

I'd never been to two runs of the same game before, let alone as crew, but I liked it. Of course, I can't resist to compare. There was such a big difference between the two runs! So many things were exactly opposite of what they were.
I liked the dancing bit better in the first (my workshop then was a bit longer and felt much more relaxed and organized), but it totally didn't work for me as a player. The kitchen/servant-play was a lot of fun, but because we didn't have that good a system, it also was way too much work. The second day, all five of us also had a massive headache and we were overheating because we were running around in wool and three layers in 25 degrees... By the time I got back on my feet, the game had escalated faster than I could keep up with and I had no energy to get back into it, so I basically got stuck in the kitchen because I couldn't see a way to put myself in the game 'out there'. Luckily the play in the kitchen was also a treat to play in, so not all was lost and I definitely had fun.

Stress, what stress?
Stress, what stress?

The four hours we had between the runs were probably the most stressfull we had, with a LOT needing to be done to get ready and I was exhausted and angry and hating life (exhaustion and adrenaline combination messes with my brain). I had been in the kitchen way too long the evening before and had a serious case of FOMO, anxiety and exhaustion. 

But I/we learned a lot and the second run felt much smoother. I also found a better place for Molly to be. I had some trouble to find a balance between wanting to protect people (in game) and wanting to facilitate play (off game). Before the game, I had this idea of being the protector of the servants, normalizing the violence and softly holding their hand while pulling people under water, whispering it was going to be ok. The first run, I just didn't know how to do it without outright giving up all sense of self-protection. The second run we decided the servants of the household should have a much better and closer relationship to their lord and lady, the Manders, and that was the twist I needed. Molly casually pushed people in or out of scenes to 'protect them from worse' and picked up the servants and some players with small but harsh acts of kindness when they were crashing. We were in the most perfect abusive relationship, and it worked really well. It gave me the excuse to doing the most horrible things, all out of love. She loved the servants, and even some of the weaker guests, but she loved the Manders above all. It was a lot of fun to do and very much in my comfort zone, so I really enjoyed doing it. The 'worst' thing that happened to me was people eating desert of my back and I had so much fun with that. 

Picture drawn by Oliver Elm
Picture drawn by Oliver Elm

I do really need to think a bit about how to plan the dancing in a way that it becomes more interesting (I'll kill the first person whistling Hole in the Wall), but also not so hard that people are forced into off game anxiety. I can easily teach people to dance and tell them to have fun, but then the added layer of also having to roleplay through it, made it a bit too challenging for some and that's a shame. But I also heard really good stories about how it went now, so I think it's more tweaking some things.

And, as always, I gained some new potential good friends and got to know some acquaintances better. I'm very happy to sink further into this group of wonderful human beings. Of course nobody lives close, but we'll manage.
I miss the hugging, the horrible jokes, the camaraderie of the servants and the beautifully horrible nightmare love of the last evening of both games. There is talk of rerun(s), so I hope I can make it again. I feel I only just now begun. And I can't wait to get back.

To illustrate the massive difference, the endings I thought up for both Molly's:

Run 1
Molly would smile in hearing John left the party early. She hopes he managed to find the farm she spoke about with him, the farm that would probably take him in and hide him. She waits for news, but never hears anything anymore from John. It hurts her more than she thought it would, realizing that weird feeling in her stomach was the crushed hope of him asking her hand in marriage.
Molly stays on with the Manders as a demoted maid. She clearly didn’t manage to please the Manders enough, but since she’s so good at what she does, they keep her on as a normal household maid.
Especially after Lord Mander gets more ill and more cruel, she finds her place in between him and the servants. A few weeks after the party Lord Mander tries to rape Esther and Molly steps in. He abuses her so much out of rage and revenge, that Molly can't work anymore. She is chased from the premises and wanders the countryside for a few weeks. She meets her end in a ditch on the side of the road, where she dies after being raped and abused by a passing merchant.

Run 2
Even though she only has a Welsh grandfather and no drop of Irish in het blood, Molly tries her best to instil the supposed luck of the Irish in Lord Mander. Of course, it won’t work and when he dies, she cries out of love, grief and relief. She is promoted to First Maid in the normal household and finally earns enough so she can support her aging parents. She manages fairly well under the new Lord Mander, taking pride in her job and continued service to the Manders. It however never manages to fill the gaping hole inside her, left by all the meaningless pain.
In an attempt to fill it, she sleeps with anybody that smiles at her, whether they want it or not. Her Captain is long forgotten. Despite precautions she gets pregnant a few years later, with having no idea who the father is. None of them would’ve been rich enough to support her anyway. She goes to one of those doctors, but her abortion goes horribly wrong and she dies a few days later from the consequences. Official cause of death is noted as a fever, but everybody will know better.


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