Wednesday, 21 February 2018


Kabuki actor or moneylender?
So last weekend I made my annual pilgrimage to Retford for a weekend freeform larp. Last year it was Across the Universe, the year before that I helped run Once Upon A Time in Tombstone, and this year it was Shogun.

Shogun is a 72 player freeform that conceived and written by Nathan Richards, Richard Salmon & Richard Perry, with additional material by Chad Brinkley, A.J. Smith and Carol Johnson.

I played Kinyu, a lowly moneylender whose heart had been hardened by a previous romance and who was now only interested in making money.


Moneylending: I enjoyed being a moneylender, and collected all of my debts - bar a tiny debt to an actor that I never managed to track down. One of the nice things about moneylending was that I got to work with some of the criminal types who I used to enforce my debts. Sadly, most people paid up on time so I didn’t get to use them much.

(And sorry Brian for inflicting them on you before asking you first myself!)

During the game itself I only lent money once - 6 Oban (quite a lot) to the Shogun’s heir. That cleared me out at the time, and although I asked for 10 (a princely sum) in return (on Sunday morning), I really didn’t expect to be repaid. I was delighted to be proved wrong.

Kabuki: I done acting! I don’t ever do acting in freeforms - I just don’t. But in Shogun, I did.

I asked the actor Shoji if he knew the actor that owed me money. Shoji didn’t, but suggested that I attend the auditions for the Kabuki theatre as it was the sort of place an actor might go to.

So I turned up to the auditions and joined in. Auditioning turned out to be a bit of fun, and before I know it Chen (the leader of the troupe) had selected me as one of the three villains. Happily, it was a non-speaking part - we merely acted out the story while a narrator read the script.

Showtime came and I decided it was in for a penny, in for a pound and I let Malk paint my face. That’s another first. (I thought I would wash it off straight away - but to my surprise I kept it on.)

So yes, I have now done acting in a show in a freeform. Maybe I’ll do it again.

The Tattooed Men: One of my plots involved solving a puzzle that took the form of a tattoo on my back. I don’t mind puzzles in freeforms, although if they’re too hard they can be very frustrating. This one was about right - once we had all the pieces it was fairly easy to solve. We did spend some time heading in the wrong direction (consulting the astrologer for inspiration, for example), but that was before we found the final piece of the puzzle.

Doomed Romance: Shogun used the romance tasks system that I first saw in The King’s Musketeers (and I think was most successful in Into the Woods). However, I didn’t really engage with the romance rules - because my character had already fallen in love.

Before Shogun started, I had fallen in love with a woman who broke my heart by disappearing without trace. As a result, my heart was scarred and I was bitter.

Of course, this being a freeform, she turned up during the course of the game and we had an emotional reunion. Unfortunately, she then found her husband (who she had thought was dead but still loved) and chose him over me.

So I ended up with my heart even more broken, and I spent the rest of the game telling everyone that love was nothing but pain and heartache and misery…

(We didn’t use the romance rules for any of that - they didn’t seem necessary.)

But I still got married! But I still ended up married. Towards the end of Saturday night I was discussing love and romance with Satomi, the pawnbroker. She was recently divorced, and we knew each other of old. We were both friends, both of us were scarred from romance and we weren’t trying to win each other’s heart.

But it made economic sense for us to pool our interests and get married. We shook on it, sought a blessing from a priest, and told anyone who would listen.

Geisha: I spent a very pleasant twenty minutes enjoying Chie-Chie’s hospitality in the geisha house, along with fellow actors Chen and Otomo. We drank jasmine tea and talked of this and that. Very restful.

What didn’t work quite so well

Apart from a couple of minor technical issues, my main problem in Shogun was that I sped through some of my plots - mainly because I got lucky. For example, I picked up an infection from somewhere, and the first person I approached afterwards was talking to a priest about malaria. Moments later, I was cured. And late on Friday night the first person I spoke to about my tattoo also had a similar tattoo.

I also had a couple of plots that didn’t really fire - but I’m not sure if that’s my fault or whether the plot was never likely to kick off. For example, I had a goal to be promoted into the samurai class. I pursued this only half-heartedly (and by the end of the game decided that I was glad to be a merchant), but it would have been hard work to persuade anyone because of the drop in honour that a clan would suffer by adopting a merchant.

That meant that I didn’t have too much to do on Sunday morning except relax and enjoy the dramatic final scenes of sumo wrestling, ninja battles, numerous showdowns, and several acts of seppuku. So maybe that was a good thing!

No comments:

Post a Comment