Recollections of Blood and Tears – Two Short Lives in One Long Night.
At GenCon 2013, I attended the Blood & Tears LARP event run by Rob Justice. This was my second year participating. Any discrepancies below can be put down to my poor memory and tendency to lose track of what is canon and what only exists in my head, so apologies in advance.
Initially, I entered as Baron Callan Varl, a duelist and good old boy from House Adrente (the Wolf). Another player from House Burghe (the Bear) and I took up as old friends, laughing about hunting expeditions we’d been on. He convinced me to approach the Duke to inquire about cracking open the barrel of foxwine his wife the Duchess had been saving for a special occasion, and together we coerced him into it by appealing to his masculine pride (technically, in ven dramatic culture there are no gender roles, so he could have easily brushed this off). Unfortunately when we went to the cellar together, my “friend” turned out to be an ork (ork is the ven word for monster/other- anything that isn’t ven, olivanya (totem) or a domestic animal is ork) and murdered me. Mingling his blood with mine made me like him, and we rejoined the party with the mission to turn as many nobles as possible. Acting uproariously intoxicated, we aggressively sang the praises of the foxwine to everyone, and eventually succeeded in luring a young baroness to the cellar. As I was in the act of converting her, two ven with swords drawn burst in, intending to slay us. Fortunately, my Bearish companion had a trait that made him impossible to take by surprise, and since I had converted the young lady, the ork outnumbered the ven three to two. They wisely retreated, biding their time until they could reveal us without risk of dismemberment.
Eventually the investigators grew desperate, and as I was chatting up the Duke, three of them suddenly drew their blades and lunged at me, impaling me from three directions simultaneously. There was a slight pause as I tried to confirm with the staff (only two people for a 30 player game) how I should react (I wasn’t sure if I went orkish upon death or maintained my original shape), and then I collapsed most dramatically, ruining some furniture and a very expensive carpet by bleeding profusely on them. As I lay dying, a black veiled figure (usually a mark of shame among ven) bent over me and whispered that he could save my life, for a price. I didn’t see that I had much choice, so I agreed, and he had his servants carry me away.
It turned out my friend the Bear had suffered a similar fate, and also taken the deal. Our new master, a Marquis in the running for Earl of House Mwrr (the Serpent, well known for practicing forbidden sorcery) dressed us as his servants, and sent us back into the party with two instructions: 1) Find out everything we could about a certain Countess, and 2) We could only eat/transform someone with his permission. As servants, we were beneath notice, but also of little means. We managed to discover a few rumors about the Countess, but then a duel broke out and one of the combatants soon lay bleeding out on the floor. Overcome with orkish hunger (I had several nasty wounds that needed regenerating, after all), I cast my tray of drinks aside and fell upon him, fully revealing myself to the whole party. I was instantly set upon and hacked to bits. The Bear-ork was instructed by our mutual master to take both corpses into the courtyard and burn them immediately, presumably to hide his connection to events.
While taking a breather before statting up a fresh character, I suggested to the staff that the ork bodies were probably volatile and maybe they would burn a bit more violently than expected. So we shortly had flames licking up the walls of the castle, causing a bit of panic.
Some time later, I arrived again, this time as Baron Talis Yvarai, an extremely vain Fox who set about vamping his way through the party. I was doing my best to ingratiate myself with the Duke and Duchess, when someone mentioned there had been a fire. And ork! At the party! I immediately began inquiring, as ork are dangerous and it doesn’t do at ALL to have them at a civilized party. The chief investigator rebuffed me several times, which was quite rude of him, and I began immediately plotting how to ruin him in front of everyone. The black-veiled Serpent approached me, but I couldn’t very well be seen talking to a dullahan*, could I? He tried to explain that he had taken the black only until he had secured the position of Earl of his House, and I told him I’d be happy to speak with him then.
(*slang, “headless”, someone wearing dulla, the black veil).
At some point, I attempted to use my wiles to convince a Count practicing his bowmanship in the newly flame-free courtyard to “accidentally” hit the chief investigator who had acted so arrogantly toward me earlier. Despite my exercise of a painstakingly learned Ritual to elicit strong emotions in a listener, I was disappointed to find him strangely unmoved by my impassioned tirade against my rival (meaning the player shrugged off my Ritual-boosted Compel. I probably could have pressed the issue but the player was clearly disinterested. Technically I should have taken back my Favor, but I let it go).
Later, I was thumbing through a book of my own poetry that I happened to find in the castle library, when from a hidden room on the other side of the bookcase I heard a secret meeting taking place. The Duke and Duchess were gathered there with several guests, including the investigators and the would-be-Earl of Mwrr. I could only partially overhear them as I made a great show of perusing my poems, but it seemed there HAD been ork, and even worse, might still be! They seemed to be considering some ritual to force the ork to reveal their true nature, when another baron approached me and started making small talk. I was pointing out some of the choicer bits of one of my best poems from last year when he mentioned he was actually one of those new upstart merchant barons- shluah veth they call them- “proud dirt”, and rightly so. I wasn’t even sure if this fellow was Blooded or not, and he has the gall to speak to me as an equal? He should be carrying a tray of drinks with the other servants.
As I was dismissing him from my company, the Duchess emerged from her coterie and announced that a Game of Romance was to be held! Now here was something I could sink my teeth into! I immediately began composing a fresh poem with which to win the prize, when another Baron with whom I was casually familiar, a cousin Fox, approached me with a Marquis of his acquaintance and explained that he had written a play about my life and the Marquis was quite enamored with it and had requested an introduction. I was, of course, flattered by the attentions of so lofty a personage and did my best to maintain his interest despite the constant interruptions by my erstwhile cousin.
Eventually it became clear that the party was dragging its feet on beginning the Game of Romance (which was actually the excuse for the ork-revealing Ritual), so I took it upon myself to begin by reading my poem. Naturally my eloquence would draw everyone near, and honestly why even bother with the Game afterward? (also I had to go soon and I wanted to move things along). My cousin came over and offered me one of the few remaining goblets of foxwine to lubricate the pipes before I began, which I graciously accepted.
I was barely two lines into my masterpiece, and already drawing a small crowd, when I suddenly felt quite disoriented. I tried to cover my coughing fit with some especially vehement exclamations, but when I saw the spots of blood on the back of my glove, I started to suspect something was not entirely right. I valiantly continued my recitation right up until my eyes rolled back in my head and I collapsed. As I lay paralyzed and slowly losing consciousness, I heard my cousin eulogizing me so floridly that I knew he must have composed the speech in advance, he was never as masterful at extemporaneous verse as myself. I suppose the brat will have a much more dramatic ending for his play now.
I had to leave for another event then, but I heard later that the game had not lasted much longer, they had performed the ritual but no ork had been revealed by it (meaning none of the players performing the ritual could agree on whom to accuse, I believe a quorum of 3 was required), and things had wound down soon after. All in all, a fun evening’s entertainment, although I still think Rob could do with a few more staff members to help things run smoothly. Thanks, everybody!