My first larp was at DunDraCon, and was either a Firefly larp or a Buffy larp. I'm inclined to say Firefly because of how new at it I was and how awkward I remember feeling, and how I was basically playing Jayne and ended up asking this chick out as one of my objectives, which was rather entertaining because me, the person playing this character, was a thirteen-year-old girl. I'm also inclined to say Buffy, though, 'cuz I know my stepsis specifically introduced me to larps, and I remember her telling me I should sign up for that one, and I had a blast because I was the slayer (Victoria Winters, original, right?), and she was a vampire, and I was out for her and for this really creepy guy with whitish hair and sunglasses who seriously reminded me of the Corinthian from the Sandman graphic novels (rambling a bit, I know, but bear with me). A few years down the road and I'm getting more comfortable with them; I end up playing a gunbunny (literally; I had ears) in a cyberpunk larp, which is the first time I remember seeing Jarys around (he was Boombox), and I remember running into him in the halls a lot that year and actually remembering who he was. And then last year with the train and the killing and the fun (and the Jarys and Xavier thinking there was a party in my room for some reason XD). The curious thing about the last two was that, by then I was part of my own larping group, a bunch of middle and high school kids (and some college ones because we keep coming back) called Westfinder, and it'd given me rather a unique perspective on it.
The thing about Westfinder is that it was founded by high school kids, and a lot of the players are kids who've never had any other larping experience (besides maybe Wayfinder, which is what it's based on), and this leads to some interesting situations. We have a staff that is composed of members of Westfinder, and are therefore the same age and have had the same experiences. And games are written by anyone in the community and then submitted to staff to be chosen or not. We run a game per month throughout the school year. And our gamewriters have pretty much only been influenced by what books they've read and the games that have come before. We've had everything from Dresden File larps to pure high fantasy, to high fantasy taking place in the mind of a young girl who was in a coma due to driving her car into a tree because her mother was regaining custody of her, and therefore by the end of the game the princess with the evil queen mother and the layabout father who is being attacked by embodiments of her own fears is encouraged to wake up by all the friends around her because they've realized that even if she wakes up and that means their death, as they're only figments of her imagination, they care about her and know that it's that important that she goes on and faces the world at large. We've had some recurring settings Nolix%Uul and Nolix%Uul 2, 4.5 and 5.6, but for the most part we have one-shots. And only getting a 20-player turnout is low for us.
We have our issues - people are typecast, or the newbies are given bit parts and don't have a good first game - but we've found ways to deal with those; I love playing evil roles and don't mind being typecast, and because of our system in which we e-mail a teaser out about the game a few weeks in advance, encourage people to send in a survey with such questions as "rate from 1 to 10 the appeal of the following characteristics for you: evil, good, betrayal, loyalty, ambition, wisdom, magic, stealth, etc" people have been getting really good at making tailored characters such that everyone who plays has a really fun experience, and there's something in there for even people who don't affect the plot at all.
I know that this is vastly different from con larping because of the small registration time and the impossibility of creating tailored characters or really getting to know the people who will be playing unless you actually know them already, but I thought that it could offer a bit of perspective, and I hoped that you would appreciate hearing about it. And not become too annoyed by the ramblings of someone avoiding schoolwork >.>
Keep podcasting, I'm really enjoying it!
[Editors note: the Westfinders Gaming Troup is a section of Wayfinders. Westfinders is open to youth only. Check them out HERE ]