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PoRtaL day two - Saturday, March 2nd

Previously: Day 1

Saturday started off nicely. The Hungarian visitors - who slept at my place - woke up early enough for another day at convention. Jasminka made toast sandwiches, waffles and large amounts of coffee for breakfast. Awakened, we arrived just in time. First on the program were two workshops - Dunja was holding one about acting improvisation (I heard those who went there were quite pleased), while I did the Ars Amandi workshop.

Ars Amandi workshop on PoRtaL

Ars Amandi was probably the one thing I was most nervous about on this convention - how would it go? It's a mechanic for simulating romance and sex on a larp using hands, arms, shoulders and neck - the very subject would usually make people nervous and cringing. In the end, 10 brave people (three men and seven women) signed up for the workshop, which really surprised me. And we had people of all nationalities present on the con - 2 Serbian girls, a Bulgarian couple, a Hungarian girl, and the rest were filled with Croats with and without larp experience.

Considering the touchy nature, I got some advice for running the workshop by +Lizzie Stark who ran it several times in the States (interestingly enough, she also ran it this very weekend on the Intercon M convention in the USA). It helped. And during the course of the workshop I got to see people who had an awkward time holding each other's hand in the beginning end up living through some incredibly intensive moments. I was running it, and I was stunned too by the atmosphere. It was incredible. And we'll get back to Ars Amandi later...

Creating (Re)union

The next thing was a lunch break. The Create a larp workshop decided to move the workshop to the lunch schedule - so we had a working lunch. Brittany, Marko, Vesna, Ivana and me were off to Pedro pite, and the Mystery larp which was set to happen Sunday evening was born then. From the yesterday's brainstorm a final larp idea, style and general plot were chosen that lunch, as well as the larp name - (Re)union. I have to say here - many people pushed extra hours that day to create that larp. Marko wrote all the characters - 10 of them, an A4 page each!

Back to the presentations. Two more Hungarian ones - two different but related larps were presented. Chronicles of Demgard, Sandor's larp, was the first one presented. Many people showed quite an interest in how the larp is run and its rule system. Siro and I returned last year with very good experiences - it had shown. The next Chronicles of Demgard international event is The Sternn Pass Incident, set for September 20-22 and actually quite designed for international participation. I'll be there for certain.

Projekt Prijot by Tamas is a game organized in a very similar way, but in the Fallout setting in the imaginary Hungarian future influenced by the Eastern block past and the cold war era styling. The photos showed some amazing tech built for the game, like energy weapons etc. We got a little bit shocked when we saw a guy wearing the shirt from the Croatian football representation - apparently, he was playing a refugee from Zagreb in their larp. Projekt Prijot seems like a very impressive larp to be on.

Next one was a presentation by Angelina Ilieva about Bulgarian larp culture. It was quite interesting hearing about the Bulgarian scene and the larps they do. Of non-fantasy larps, it appears that other types ended up popular than here or in Hungary, and there was an interesting mainstream fantasy format of clan larps and clan organisation. Which is very interesting because some 7 years ago, Croatian mainstream fantasy went one way... It could have easily gone the other way into something quite similar to the Bulgarian larp scene. Very interesting - and certainly worth exploring further :)

In the next presentation, Brittany, Rebecca and Sean gave a presentation about SCA - Society of the Creative Anachronism. Fighting with rattan swords, re-creating the arts and sciences of the middle ages, brewing and making dresses all the way from shearing the wool off the sheep to producing a finished piece of period clothing. You can find it all there. And perhaps the stars are right for Croatian chapter to finally start - many larpers said that they wouldn't have time to run those things, but would come if someone else ran them. Of all the presentations, the SCA one sparked the longest-running questions & answers session, and it wasn't enough as people continued asking them questions afterwards. The interest about SCA is certainly great among our larping community.

The presentation block ended there, and from that point the program forked in two again - there were larps to be run. The first one was Koliba (or The Cabin) by Ivana and Vesna - the larp I was playtesting the week earlier.

Reading characters on The Cabin
The second thing was a discussion by Ana and Božo - why do you larp? A complex discussion, and it seems like everyone had something to share. It was from the heart - and certainly something that was welcome, I'd say. Like Siro's discussion yesterday, it was really a sharing of ideas, and of complexity of what everyone likes and expects...

After that it was time for a dinner break. I set up to run my larp of the evening - A Party Full of Secrets. But before I describe it, let me just say what else was going on during that time: A presentation of all larps currently known to be held in 2013., and the hanging out/networking etc. of the larpers. Of those who were not on A Party Full of Secrets.

Ready for the larp!
It was a larp party - and a pretty wild one at that. Ars Amandi wild for most of the participants. I'll publish the entire larp soon (Edit: this larp has been published now in full), but just to make some points. One pair was selected as a couple which is soon to be married.

It was them.
Others played their friends... From work, hobbies, school, or neighbors. All part of the one big group. Many of them sharing secrets. Not really those dark, chilly, murderous ones. Usually the light hearted ones, positive ones, or simply being the victims of curiosity - but those would ultimately lead to the group breaking down. After one last, wild party together. It started innocent enough. It ended with loads of simulated sex (everywhere!), intensive yelling sessions and friends breaking up before the final song was played.

The larp ending. The final song marked the slow landing, going out of character.
Intensive scenes might be too private to show - but I filmed some low intensity scenes at the start as well as the end of the final song and parts of the debriefing.

I had a great experience (this larp allows GMs to play normally), I had a blast - played my own black box scene, assisted in three others, and got myself into some really intensive situations, facing passion/Ars Amandi (which my students from this morning practiced and spread around like wildfore), violence, doing the harlem shake... and much more. Most other players had a similar experience and feelings about this larp were really positive - it was the longest and the most populated larp on the convention, with a running time of over 3 hours (with preparations) and 16 players in total.

Chronicles of Demgard and Terra Nova shirts

After the Party Full of Secrets it was over for the convention. Some people went out to party - most of us who had to function on Sunday didn't. I returned home with the Hungarians, and also Rebecca and her son. We cracked open another bottle of mead. There was still one convention day left.


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