London Under

Yeah, this still exists, doesn’t it? A couple of people periodically nag me to write something on here again, and this time I’ve actually got something I want to write about so, yeah, back on this horse.

For the first time in a good few years, I went and played in a LARP, oh two months ago now. My usual line on why I run LARPs but don’t play them is because I can’t find any I want to play in, so all I can do is run the kind of game I want to play.

Criteria to get Alasdair to play a LARP: indoor venue in London, no hard physical skills (running/airsoft/rubber sword wielding are not for me) required, system-light, ideally a single-day event, and a setting that is not cod-medieval fantasy (I will make exceptions to the last one, but I will require Significant Reassuring about the nature of the game.). Oh, and the game has to be stand-alone. I like the World of Darkness as a setting, but the Isles of Darkness games are not for me.

But in fact, in about six years, I literally have not been able to find a game that ticks all those boxes. And then a friend tipped me off to London Under, a game based on Neverwhere, the works of Kate Griffin and Ben Aaronovitch, and basically directly using all the same kind of stuff I was reaching for in coming up with Armistice – which to be honest, makes the game much more accessible than my own efforts. In any event, it sounded absolutely perfect to me.

It pretty much was. When I wrote up my feedback, I had two minor niggles, and loads of things to praise. I’m really hoping there’s another event, although given the amount of work this clearly was to put on, I cannot blame anyone involved for saying that twice was enough (I missed the first event).

So, this post, in the short term, is going to serve as a aide memoire for me – thoughts sparked by playing in this game.

  • Playing games is plainly good for me. Feel enthused about the hobby in a way I haven’t in a while.
  • Starting players groups off geographically distant from the venue – doesn’t need to be more that 20-30 yards – gives a much more natural session open.
  • Longer sessions can be structured in chapters – and this doesn’t need to be subtle at all, in fact, having an obvious clock ticking and marking off intervals can really help.
  • Writing up very specific briefs for PCs and assigning them goals does not abrogate player agency, and is actively helpful to new players.

Some of these are probably obvious techniques to others, but the fourth one particularly goes against my own instincts, hence the notation.

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