I've never been more nervous about playing a game before. It was the start of my PAX West weekend and I am staring at an email. I have been invited to a game of Inheritance, a LARP about a 10th century danish family's misgivings.
I have never done a LARP before, (if you don't count WW2 reenacting), and I was invited to one facilitated by the game's very own designer! The other names in the email chain also complicated things-- I was going to play this game with some very high caliber players. I arrived early to the Gen Con offices, went to a bar nearby hoped an amber ale assuages some of my anxiety. It was a mixed result.
After introductions, Luke began the shtick-- one he has done countless times facilitating this twelve-years-in-the-making game of his. (For those keeping score at home, that is as old as Dogs in the Vineyard!) He described a little bit about each character we could be before opening it up to who wants to play who. This whole game is based on the death of the Patriarch of the family reuniting and exposing some old wounds. I won't get into the whole cast of characters, but basically the game is structured around the funeral of the Patriarch in the old ways and a will to be read, one taken care of by a Catholic priest and former adviser to the now deceased which will divvy up their belongings across his family. To complicate the matter, the brother Daxo, exiled for kinslaying his brother Baldr, has returned (along with his mercenary companion) looking to make amends and get a cut of the treasure.
I first-picked and played the Mercenary friend of Daxo, Arvundil. I was pitched that I'm Daxo's best friend and convinced him to return to his family and make amends. I chose Arvundil because I was unsure of my strength of my own ability to play. I picked him because I believe playing a one dimensional character with a clear, close tie to another would be safe. Safer than playing the head of a house or something. Before I even got to the packet each character has my strategy would be to support Daxo, my best friend. Arvundil, much like all other characters I imagine, are torn: I want Daxo to get that money (because I'll get money!) but Ran, the daughter of Tyr, is so beautiful and I kind of want her more. Getting ready to begin, between all the instincts and beliefs, I thought I'd begin by really focusing on one of each. I chose to support my friend Daxo as well as to "Always cause trouble" which I liked a lot. I was also looking at running with some other beliefs, but I knew my Polaris would be to always support Daxo.
Luke took us outside across the street to begin the LARP in a park at sunset where we had the funeral scene. It was a very nice touch. Being friends with the black sheep of the family put me in an awkward spot.
In the first part of the game, I would quietly support Daxo as he wrestles his way back into the good graces of his family, but I thought he wasn't be direct enough-- so I may have pissed off his Dad and broke the laws of hospitality and got kicked out during the night. I'm not used to the bullheadedness of rural folk and realized if I'm to help my friend Daxo and get my share of the loot, Daxo will have to square off against his youngest brother Ring. I must convince Daxo to fight his youngest brother (who has been telegraphing all game how much he hates Daxo). This should be easy. After the reading of the will and the morning after, things fall apart.
I'm setting up to talk to Daxo when his brother shows up and surprise attacks ME! not Daxo. I reflexively pull my own sword and kill Ring. Instantly. People start coming out and I'm holding the sword VERY CONFUSED. Tyr, brother to Thorvald (Ring and Daxo's dad and man I pissed off last night), gets crazed and comes at me with his axe. I kill him dead. Daxo is freaking out and tells me to put down my sword, which I do not (having killed two people and confused) and Daxo comes at me, which I too cut off the arm of Daxo and leave him dying. Having my entire plans ruined and having presumably killed my best friend too, I decide its best to get going and take the family's longboat out of here.
What cool game. The structure of the game is so delightful. The game takes turns being a very tight game with everyone kind of in one scene into distributed free scenes and back. This combined with how closely tied everyone's character is has to be so delicately placed. It was never one thing overpowering others. The fact this game felt asymmetrically balanced is astounding. I can't wait to play again!
I hide in a cubicle all day until the night time where I play RPGs and other games and stuff.