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Steampunk: Para pokreće svijet - Gates of War review

Like I announced yesterday, last night was Steampunk larp. As you could have guessed from that announcement, I was quite excited as I was expecting a pretty good larp. What I did not expect to have is one of the best larps of my life.

I've been larping for over a decade, and these days there are really few things that surprise me. I get there, enjoy what is offered, do my stuff, have a good time and try to improve on larps I'm doing or helping with. And write about all that stuff on this blog. That's what I do, it's my hobby, I've seen a lot of things, read about a lot of things, and something has to be really special to blow my mind.

And last night something like that happened. I did expect a good larp. Four months ago, Automaton was awesome. But Gates of War, third larp in the "Para pokreće svijet" (Steam runs the world) series, was several notches above its second installment. There are several reasons why, and I'll try to recount them.

Para pokreće svijet is a diplomatic larp series, first and foremost. One of the unique ones, at that. Unlike the vampire larp which was once played, there's real action and plenty of what you see is what you get, instead of the more awkward stats based systems. Unlike plenty of fantasy larp series which occasionally do diplomacy stuff, the entire world, rules system, downtime role-play etc. is created to make the diplomacy possible.

It's not all about the diplomacy of course. Technical gizmos, inventions, retro-futurism etc. are also a big part of Para pokreće svijet. Inventors can get quite rich here, as various diplomats, officers, factory owners etc. all try to get their inventions for their own benefit.

Gendarmes, airship captains etc. provide some interesting action element to it all. And then, enter the world of secret societies and cults - some of them with access to powerful occult powers.

As the game master, Sven is leading and combining a huge and complex back-story and the world, leading the larp's timeline more and more distant from real history as time passes - based on actions of players. And there's plenty of work to be done. Every character has some "downtime role-play" between events, to set the stage for next larp. Everything a character does - on larp or during downtime role-play - is taken into consideration.

Since players play characters from various countries, each country might have something they want done from their own members. Tasks from one's country are paralleled in a way with tasks and information from someone's secret society - if players choose to be a member of one during character creation, or somehow they get initiated in play.

On top of that add player's personal stuff. And game plot, which is a standard "quest" pattern on top of already existing character tasks. And gambling. And 1900 steampunk football championship.

It's not just a larp like most others. It's teeming with content. It's a full experience where there's always plenty to do, whether with story-line, GM-provided character hooks, or with distractions which are plenty and highly available. Add on top of that a group highly motivated and quality role-players, which also happen to be a bunch of friendly folk with zero out-of-game tensions.

There was zero negative metagaming from what I've seen. I could count times when someone broke character on fingers of one hand for the entire larp, and it was nearly always short and to the point, to ask for something important out-of-game, or to ask GM for some meta-information.

There was some action regarding several murders which happened mysteriously and a couple of close calls which could have escalated to trouble, but overall there was less action than on Automaton.

Which is not necessarily negative. As I said, there was plenty to do. Plenty of atmosphere. Plenty of good roleplay. Plenty of interesting situations. Minimum of breaking character. People never just sat there, bored, and being silent just not to break character...

Overall, I was completely immersed in my character. The larp had extensive preparations, and if it had only half the content it did, it would still be an excellent larp. Overall, maximum grade from me - and see you on next Para pokreće svijet!


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