After action report: Dead Air

Dead Air was an Ars Magica larp set in the Alps tribunal, written by the old hands of the “Greater Alps Knitting Circle”, and produced by Carcosa Dreams.

One of two objectives from my character brief. Written for me by a 6yr old, so I wouldn’t forget.

Characters were mages of the Order of Hermes in its last days, with a variety of attitudes to that and to each other. The event premise was a Tribunal, a meeting of Mages to discuss and debate various challenges to the Order and its future.

Players filled in a form of play-style preferences, and were cast to pre-written characters. I was lucky enough to be cast in a double-hander, so I always had someone to bounce ideas and actions off. Lucky to be given freedom in the brief to make up our own adventures. Even luckier in that as a pair of players, we said we’d “Yes, and”, and by golly we did. It was beautiful to experience our adventures start as improvised story beats and fill out in the telling until we could hit the same punchlines simultaneously. There were times when we were literally one voice.

Happy times. It was both as it always had been, and a glorious evolution. The themes you the writers said you were aiming at – small relationships, imperfect founders – absolutely nailed. Thank so much for understanding casting, the radio message “The answer to your question is given in the last paragraph of your brief”, Team Moon, my bro Cal Black.

Me, at the time.
“Are you *sure* it wouldn’t help if I smashed a bottle over their head?”

Photo by the immortal Oliver Facey –

Nec. Stop whistling

Latruculous, best bro

It built on the tradition of NWO’s Ars Magica cycles of the turn of the century and triumphantly developed them with their experience of the last couple of decades. They still had lovingly written briefs, but they were shorter and had a one page summary with some suggested activities. I didn’t manage to internalise the whole thing, so this was really handy. They still had interlocking objectives, cleverly put together so pretty every character could get a satisfying arc. I think this is what these writers do best – several of them were involved in Odyssey, whose team managed to land an entire fest. It’s real hard, and they are the experts.

This was a character driven by props as much as anything save my bro, so that ephemera is probably worth recording:

  • The two metal goblets – for drinking champagne during Tribunal
  • The Divine Comedy – a book witten by my character’s mentor, which I used as a source of wisdom by asking folk in need of advice for a random page and line number. I think that’s cold reading? (Given by the organisers. A beautiful thing to have.)
  • Bast, the statue we stole from somewhere, made vocal by a kindly ref. (Usually lives n our mantelpiece at home.)
  • The black bag of brief, which I rarely referred to
  • The inert knife of the Prince of Persia (A copy of the actual prop form the film, which has been in my larp kit cupboard for years and had its moment of glory that weekend.)
  • The trousers. (And one of the best moments – Cal and I had precisely the same trousers, after some serendipitous Google search terms.)
  • Dead air the companion – never read it, should really
  • Larp-“safe” Champagne bottle – never got in a fight, sadly. It breaks in two if you hit someone. Thanks Mandala Studios, who made several for All for One.
  • Port bottle – no idea where this came from, never used it either
  • Nec’s Sigil – 3d printed, neatly done, I had to be taught how to use it after getting it so wrong first time.
  • Song book of the People’s Theatre, used with Kind Permission., and immortal line: “I left my arse in two canopic jars, standing on a bar in Phasis”
  • Neck rag – every costume needs a neck rag
  • Motion papers – I never raised one
  • Player pack – so full of joys
  • My brief, in the words of a six year old child of John Scott. So beautiful. I’ve no memory, and this was a great help

I had a glorious time. There were highs, there were lows, there were several points where I nearly corpsed and had to Have A Moment, and there are memories I’ll probably take to my grave. None of which would have been half so much fun without the magnificently costumed Mr Harrold, and yes, dear reader, we had the same kit without having compared notes. that much chemistry
Seriously, much admiration to H for his ability to ‘yes and’ everything I said, the story of the harem, the songs, the Tribunal Champagne Ritual, the prophecies of the Divine Comedy, the increasingly real cat Bast, (thanks to Helena Nash for the refcall confirming her godhead), all the secret staircase adventures and that final, perfect step into the unknown.
Latrunculus and Nec Iterare careened off other people’s plots with random glee, were sometimes very serious and sometimes Very Silly about their own plots, and got a surprising number of things ticked off.

Cal Black, best bro

Many apologies for every bastardised cultural reference, but above all else, I think this was my worst crime. Not that I’m sorry, and I would totally do it again.

“I have nothing to add. I left nothing undone. No story untold. No bottle unpopped. No secret door unopened. I left with the finest mage, the finest partner-in-adventure, one could hope for. (Oh, and Bast; the finest cat one could wish for.) We left at the perfect time, to a perfect future, to a place of pure magic.”

My words of feedback. …whether this is an IC or OOC reflection, I leave as an exercise for the reader.

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