So, the Hobbit has finally been released, and with it the continuation of a long and very popular advertisement of our fantastic country-side, interspersed with one of the most popular fantasy stories of all time.
Of course, watching all that fantastic scenery and wonderful costuming (and great compositing, Norm! We eventually spotted you in the credits - they felt as long as that fight scene) is all well and good, but actually playing it would be even more awesome. As the LARPing community in New Zealand, I really feel that we should work out how to run a Tolkien inspired LARP to further this grand tradition of advertising our fantastic countryside in the medium that we so enjoy.
Now understandably there are a few issues with this.
First off we don’t have the rights to any of Tolkien’s stuff. However, we’ve run games on existing IP before, and I believe we can chose a time within Tolkien’s world that avoids excessive abuse of this IP.
Second, fans of the world have huge expectations on what is acceptable cannon etc etc. Also, while there are some dedicated fans quite capable of speaking the languages Tolkien created, it seems to me that it is unreasonable to expect most people to learn them just for a LARP, and so it would be nice to have a coherent reason why some elves might not speak the ‘old tongue’ elvish (i.e. from the age of the world in LotR).
Third, while Tolkien made some excellent analogies for some social demographics he observed, inspiring a huge amount of future fantasy writing, his world is incredibly racist and sexist, which to me feels out of place in this day and age.
With that in mind, I propose something along the lines of the following:
The game is set several hundred, or possibly even a thousand or two years after the destruction of Sauron. This gives the writers liberty to avoid dealing with many IP and congruity issues. It also allows for the demographics to develop somewhat since. By this stage, several notable women can have managed to do some running of things and establish their own power within the social structures of various communities - they can become a notable part of the fiction. Most of the major ‘races’ can have interbred over the years, meaning that everyone is at least partially mongrel. As such, large elf, tall dwarf, and sophisticated orc are all sensible character options. Elves would be descendants from the few that remained behind when all the elves left. Perhaps one slight exception to this might be halflings, with about as many being short as tall. This could then allow anyone under 16 years old and their guardians to play hobbits, meaning that demographic of players can have their own privileged LARP experience in a way that is easier for the GM’s to deliver appropriate plot to, and enable their guardians to participate IC along side them.
The game structure I would suggest would be that there are several dominant power groups who try to entice mercenaries, traders, civilians, crafters, and so forth to their domain, and send off expeditions to appropriate resources and information in order to better their own position. As such, the game would largely be PvP (in the competition sense, rather than the ‘lets assassinate everyone in their sleep’ sense), instead of being a PvE game (a group of players all working together(ish) with non player characters introduced to provide challenges and people to play off).
In terms of venue, I feel this would be worth seeking somewhere isolated and exquisite. As our community is growing we are approaching the size where it could be economically feasible to host a large game in the middle of nowhere and bring in gear, utilities, and perhaps hire buses to bring people from Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, and/or via other centres (depending on location).
Of course, this is a bunch of stuff off the top of my head from the end of the cinema to my living room. If such a project were to go ahead, it would need a great deal of preparation to pull off. I would suggest a team of 5-6 GM’s who meet on a regular basis for a couple of years, going to weekly meetings for at least the year leading up the the start of the campaign. Along side that would need to be IT support, logistics support - particularly someone who can help find us an amazing location, and marketing support. If done right, this could bring international and new LARPers like nothing else - how cool would it be to play a Tolkien LARP in NZ, situated among all our wonderful native scenery!?
So, what are your thoughts?