All is Still in the Dead Air
We are approaching a landmark point in the process of building our November Dead Air event – casting. This is the intricate process of mapping the characters we are writing to the expressed preferences and requirements that players submitted on their booking forms.
This is a pernickety process and never easy; perfect matches are rare as hens’ teeth, and sometimes there’s a limit to how you can bend a character that fits a player’s requirements in all but one or two respects. But, we are hoping that we will be in touch around Easter with an update to the who’s who. Character sheet release will be much later, in early autumn to give us maximum editing and consistency checking time.
As promised, we can also advise on the concession discount – thanks to the generosity of our players, the concession offered will be £20 per ticket.
This will be made available direct as a discount code to for those that requested it. Give us a little time to sort out the plumbing.
A Bit More About the Game
Dead Air is a live, weekend game set in the world of Ars Magica, in the year 1347. This is a world much like our own historical Europe, but one where myth and legend is seen to be true, wizards hide in isolated towers, faeries haunt the woods and demons wait for the unwary. Traditionally, Ars Magica games are set in the high middle ages – 1100 to 1300AD – but we decided to instead look at the very end of the game background’s lifespan, in the mid-1300s. The romance and chivalry of courtly love and the high middle ages is long gone; the Templars burned at the stake, the Holy Land lost, war and famine stalk the continent, the first sparks of Renaissance invention are being born – and, of course, the Black Death and the terrible transformation it wreaks on the European world is literally just around the corner.
We wanted to explore the tensions around the very end of the Order – how it would face oncoming catastrophe, whether it could find a way to adapt and change to survive, what that might look like. To create more dramatic tension, we have used the setting of the Greater Alps – a region which, in game lore, is famous for mad, old, powerful magicians, for being steeped (some might say fossilised) in tradition, and for being very resistant to change.
The players take the part of members of The Order of Hermes – one a secret, Europe-spanning six hundred year old order of magicians which has, as the world has changed, slowly shrunken and decayed and is now a shadow of its former self. Trapped and hidebound by rules, traditions and laws that have not changed since the time of Charlemagne, the Order comes together to try and hold a Tribunal – a formal meeting to make decisions. Circumstances and recent history have conspired to leave the Order without its primary administrators and legal minds, and without a clear means to settle procedural arguments – which, for some, are the most important arguments of all.
Facing a plethora of existential threats, younger magicians despair of their elders’ obsessions with protocol, while others choose to seek forgiveness rather than permission for their plans to avert or escape the coming apocalypses.
Over the weekend of the event, the magi gathered in the Alps will try to come to some kind of decisions about the issues of the day, will explore what has brought them to this pass, and will seek to drive their own ambitions and plans forward against the broader backdrop. And by the end of the weekend, we will know the fate of the Order of Hermes once and for all.
How Does It Work?
Dead Air, like the freeform games that preceded it, is a little unusual for UK larp in that characters, complete with intricately plotted and interlocked backgrounds, are pre-written by the game team and matched to players. This is more in line with the old freeform roleplay tradition from the 80s and 90s, or events like the DUTT end-of-year event games, than fest or campaign larps. This can lead to concerns that players are in some way constrained from acting the way they might want to, or don’t have the “freedom” they do in other games.
While there is some opportunity to go on short adventures, Dead Air is, inevitably, going to be primarily a talky game. Persuasion, politics, blackmail and chicanery around the very specific rules of how the Order of Hermes does things will play a large part in the structure of the game; to provide players with the scaffolding to build that kind of game on, especially for a one-off, requires a lot of briefing in advance.
The trick of writing a game like this is to build these characters in such a way that their goals are achievable, that the experience of playing them is a rewarding and fun one (for a given value of fun, type 1 or 2) and to structure the characters in such a way that the player’s choices and decisions are paramount. Games such as these provide a narrower, but hopefully richer envelope in which to roleplay, but the background materials we generate can only give the player a starting point. What happens once we have handed the character over to the player is entirely up to them.
You can read more about our aspirational goals for writing Dead Air here. As previously noted, the original games Dead Air is descended from became notorious – infamous even – for the volume of background data. We tried to keep things to a strict limit this time and have, of course, failed but the combination of online resources and a little rueful discipline on our part means briefings should take no more than 15-20 minutes to read, and will have a front page succinctly summarising your goals, allies and enemies. We are trying to find some different and experimental ways to deliver that briefing this time round, and we’re hoping you will find that as much fun as we have found creating the media to be.
There’s Still Time to Book!
We have reached the threshold of bookings required for the event to be viable to run; however, there is significant expansion room available and we’d welcome a few more players.