Let's read: Immersion

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Now that the entire backcatalog of Immersion, NZLARPS’ old magazine, is online, I thought I’d start an rpg.net-style “let’s read” thread bookclub to look at and discuss the highlights. Issue one has kindof been gone over in the “wanted” thread (and here). So I thought I’d start with issue two, from Autumn 2007:

So what’s in it? The usual society news, calendar, reports on games past and upcoming, and ads for affiliates. Interesting bits:

  • The society news discusses a proposed growth strategy. Back then, the Auckland larp community had the problem of too many games and not enough players. This spawned an extensive discussion here on ways of growing the community, what sorts of games should be supported, and whether NZLARPS was too focused on money. Growth is still in issue in some regions, and something we should probably look at again…
  • There’s a writeup for Ravenholme, a creepy gothic campaign which sounds quite interesting. People wanting to know more could delve into the archive (requires login).
  • There’s also a writeup on Quest Waikato, which is still New Zealand’s longest-running larp (yes, they’re still around, though games are infrequent. They were talking about running something in the near future…)
  • A couple of pieces promoting larp concepts which I don’t think happened. Its easy to come up with a campaign concept, but harder it implement it. And that’s still the case.
  • A review by @Ryan_Paddy of Flight of the Hindenburg’s initial run at KapCon 2007. The game has since been rerun a couple more times, and IMHO stands up well. It’s one of the stronger theatreforms KapCon ran, and well worth playing if you get the opportunity (I have vague hopes of taking it to Phoenix sometime, if the con grows large enough to support it).
  • @Wulfen_David talks about (physical) immersion vs suspension of disbelief. Nowdays, we push for immersion as much as we can, with high-quality costumes and a lot of set-dressing, because its seen as aiding suspension of disbelief: its easier to act as if you’re in not-quite-Paris or a norse longhall if the players and set look the part. Plus, it makes for cooler photos afterwards.

Read it through. Anything else strike your eye that’s worth commenting on, which makes you go “I wish I’d played that” or “this issue is still around, but…”? Then speak up!

(Also, if you’re interested in the old games mentioned in it, info can be found in the archive (requires login)).


That Flight of the Hindenburg review is also interesting because it came just before several big changes in NZ larp. After that review, we ran the game at the first Chimera, which was our first larp convention nationally (as far as I know). Because pregen larps had not been nearly as common in Auckland as Wellington, in some ways when @Anna_K started Chimera, Auckland players and writers were jumping on it as an “exciting new thing” for our scene imported from Wellington. Also, after this the Auckland and Wellington communities started travelling to attend each other’s games, and really merging to a large extent. That was an interesting meeting of sub-cultures.

It’s funny that while Chimera is now on hiatus in Auckland, Hydra is carrying the flame in Wellington, back where the popularity of pregen larps first spread out from. Will pregens swing back around into popularity in Auckland? Or perhaps something else - linear games? walking games? battle games? camp-out fests? Right now weekend-game campaigns are so popular, but can we also see the beginnings of any other trends? Are larp trends like fashion, always moving and cycling to keep things fresh?


There’s a lot more about Chimera in later issues :slight_smile: Its something which is IMHO an absence from the NZ larp scene. While Hydra is carrying the flame for pre-gen theatreform, its half the size, and doesn’t seem to be quite the community melting pot that Chimera was.

I can’t speak on what’s fashionable in Auckland (other than “smaller games, rather than One Big Game”, which is an obvious trend), but in Wellington its the same mix of theatreform and campaign larp we’ve had for a while. We have some afternoon-format (non-contact) campaigns, which have their own niche, and there seems to be some desire to explore this format a bit more from people who don’t want the scale or hassle of a full weekend. But ultimately what gets run is up to those willing to GM, and that’s a fairly small pool down here. I gues sin Auckland its a question of what the GM pool wants to spend their time championing.


I feel like the campaign scene in Wellington has been somewhat inspired by the Auckland approach to campaigns, just like Auckland’s pregen scene was inspired by Wellington’s. A nice exchange. :slight_smile:


Time for another issue: Winter 2007

The interesting bits:

  • The editorial talks of the growth in the Auckland larp scene, which at the time was running twelve campaigns. Which puts our current calendar problems with a mere seven into perspective.
  • There are writeups of Stargate and St Wolfgang’s Vampire Hunters. The latter has some commentary on rules (@tigger is not a rules person), and the problem of power-gamers. The rules-set developed for St Wolfgang’s (or rather, adapted from Mordavia) served NZLARPS well, being used in Teonn and Kingdom (and probably other games as well). More recent games have moved away from it, but also paid more attention to aligning rules with their themes, and to testing them to find the consequences. There’s more of an understanding that System matters and that you want to know what your system does before you let the players loose with it.
  • There’s also a writeup on The Nightmare Circle, a series of horror games. This is a genre which seems to have fallen by the wayside in NZ, having been unrepresented in long-format since Dreams in the Witch House ended in 2013. While horror has always been a niche, that’s a long time to go without buckets of slime.
  • There are pitches for two new campaigns, Multiverse (Moorcockian fantasy) and 2014 (superheroes). That’s in a single quarter.So the pace of campaign creation has certainly slowed down (OTOH, modern campaigns are larger, even if they’re smaller than they were in the “one big game” era). (All of these games are in the Diatribe archive (requires login)).
  • There’s a practical article on how to cater a larp event: where to shop, what sorts of food to look for, what it costs. Caterers seem to be a limiting factor for weekend campaigns ATM, with the burden falling on a very small pool of people. While they are trying to train replacements, people seem reluctant to do it (because its hard work, eats a whole weekend, and catering a game means you don’t get to play it). But if we don’t solve this problem, then we may end up limited in the number of weekend games people can run - or start shifting to a self-catered model.

Anyone else spot anything interesting they want to talk about in there?


Next: Spring 2007

The interesting bits:

  • A retrospective from @Adam, NZLARPS’ first president, on his two years in office and the difference NZLARPS has made to the Auckland larp scene. The big one was making it easy for GMs with an idea to get the resources to run it.
  • A GM retrospective of the first game of St Wolfgang’s Vampire Hunters. This was the game which drove NZLARPS’ early growth, becoming the main attraction for combat larp in NZ. And as players of Musketeers will know, its still having echoes in games today.
  • Reviews of events from the Ravenholme and 2014 campaigns.
  • An article on “Your First Larp” by @Stephanie . largely a guide to the terminology, with a promised second part in the next issue. This is something we should probably do more of, since there’s a lot of expectations and assumptions that need to b taken onboard.
  • An article on love in larp, by Simone Michaux. Largely about boundaries, comfort-zones and trust, which is useful advice. Nowdays we’d probably put a bit more in there about pre-negotiation and consent.
  • part two of @Ryan_Paddy 's article about challenges in larp (part one was in the previous issue). This lists a few more types of challenges, and suggests looking at what sorts of challenge your game presents and making sure they are aligned to your creative vision.
  • An article on the economics of (running a) larp by @Anna_K . Basicly a quick guide to a larp’s budget, which is both useful for giving potential GMs an idea of how much it will all cost, and for giving participants an idea of where their money is going and why it cost so much. Prices have increased since 2007, from $80 - 90 to ~$140 for a weekend game, but the fundamentals of venue, food, props, and the $100 of enumerous are the same. One thing which has changed is attitudes to profit: while early NZLARPS events ran on razor thin margins, games nowdays are more likely to have a structural profit, both as protection against a loss, and to help fund NZLARPS’ fixed costs and future activities.