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Garko the Man-Frog
Date: 2010-10-23 19:08
Subject: Entire Metagame Archive Online
Security: Public
Under four different Editors and three organizations, Metagame was the magazine of the Society for Interactive Literature (SIL), Interactive Literature Foundation (ILF), and Live Action Roleplayers Association (LARPA) from 1988 to 1999.

I have completed scanning of a complete Run of the primary SIL/ILF/LARPA numbers with the exception of Metagame vol. 1, no. 3.

After the Board of Directors of the SIL changed the name of the organization to ILF several of the Directors resigned at a subsequent meeting, and began publishing Metagame in Fall 1991 in the Newsletter format, running several issues with identical numbers. I don't have all these issues, but would be happy to post/correct them if copies exist.

The PDF Files are not OCR, and I have not been able to automate OCR processing of them with any success. I would welcome OCR contributions.

I have made the files available as Google Docs and will begin adding information to make it easy to find them, however this web page serves as a central discovery point for the publicly available files.

http://metagame.larpaweb.net/
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Garko the Man-Frog
Date: 2010-06-29 15:56
Subject: LARP Social Network
Security: Public
LARP Social Network. There might be something to this, it seems worth giving a shout to.
http://grou.ps/larpnetwork/home
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Garko the Man-Frog
Date: 2010-03-02 19:11
Subject: Not at Intercon J
Security: Public
I wanted to post a little note to all my friends mentioning that I would not be at Intercon J.

In a quarter century I've never missed an Intercon, so it's a little ironic that my first one is the Silver Anniversary.  

I didn't announce this right away because the Con asked if I'd let them announce the drop of Green Fairy, and I didn't want to interfere with that...I understand customer service and it dropped from a bad timeslot.  My apologies to anyone affected.  I don't in the end have a copy of the note the Con sent, but I did ask them to pass along my sincerest regrets.  I would like to have kept the game alive, but..it's a very quirky game and finding someone else to run it sight unseen seemed...unlikely.

So...there is exactly one thing a year at work I cannot miss.  It's a conference, normally on a weekday.  This year the Administration decided on short notice to move it to a different hotel on a weekend.  There is no "not doing it option" for me.  None.  I played with various idiotic schedules to sprint to BWI and fly to Manchester, but it's hopeless. I'll probably be done by 4pm Saturday but could be as late as 7pm, and you can't make plans based on that that other people depend on.

I'll miss everyone.  I strongly support Intercon J and OMB willing I will be back at Intercon K.  I apologize for the lack of the...Intercon...errr hmmm....under the table.

I am still supporting the LARPA contest and hope that's going well.  I wish my best to everyone who is going to the Con and wish I could be there.  I'll miss you all.

My best wishes and deepest regrets!
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Garko the Man-Frog
Date: 2010-02-09 02:43
Subject: Blue Threads
Security: Public

So...the first Blue Threads event, subtitled "The Seventh Circle" ran a week ago. 

I've typically been one to dissect failures, so I hope that no one will think I'm being unreasonable if I say it was a spectacular success.  It is, simply, rare to walk away from an event and after having fairly close personal contact, not be aware of any paying customers who left unhappy. 

Obviously there were a lot of lessons to be learned.  The event was "rough" on the "Third season of 1936: Horror" level of rough.  It's a new genre, and there is a lot we didn't know.  We also got crushed for time due to exigencies of City of Glass, the final regular season Threads event of 2009. 

We learned a lot about differences in pacing, and production for an all-adult genre.  There are a *lot* of kinks (no pun intended) to iron out next time.

Speaking of that, in the end the game skewed very heavily toward kink.  I'd seen it as both an opportunity for already kink-friendly roleplayers to experiment with acting out, and a chance for those who were curious to crossover.  The few curious folks who came out seemed to have a resoundingly good time, but in the end the skew was strongly enough towards Kink that most of the scenes were biased that way.  Ultimately in the Threads style, scenes are written to support the people who sign up.  This isn't to say all the material was hard-core...most was softcore or simply "PG."  But better than 90% of the attendees had some scene or kink background.

The player base was amazingly mature, respectful and advanced.  I just can't say that too strongly.  I can't imagine a better group of players to run for. 

So, with that brief report filed, I wanted to quote my Foreword from the Program Book, as I thought it was of interest:

Foreword

We want to welcome each of you to a new adventure.  We hope you'll enjoy this weekend and approach it with a smile and a sense of excitement. 

At the turn of the Century I was excited to work with a group of Writers to bring the 1936: Horror Roleplay event into creation.  In doing so, we took tenyears of experience in producing single-shot theatrical style Roleplay events, and combined them with a "rough but ready" tradition of Roleplay events which ran bi-monthly or more often.  Looking back those turn of the century events seem primitive and rustic.  Light on plot and long on waiting around. 

I have always felt that one of the purposes of Roleplay was to allow adults to fully explore their drives and fantasies, and that doing so has the potential to make us healthier more complete people. 

Sex has driven art since the shaping of the Venus of Willendorf, and all art can plausibly be viewed as an exploration of human expressions of the sexual urge and its extensions, including aggression

Blue threads has, as much by the interests of its varied authors as my intention, taken a heavy turn towards sexuality and its exploration through what is commonly called “kink.”  This has led a few to suggest that it is “inappropriate” or at least in some way a lesser or lower form of art than Roleplay which more appropriately focuses on fighting imaginary monsters.

Toward the end of the 19th Century, and during the dawning years of the 20th, Sigmund Freud and other Psychologists taught us a fundamental truth that artists long suspected.  Sexual Drive, as instinct energy projected from the unconscious part of our psyche drives much of our behavior.  Moreover the conflicts of this drive is the source of nearly all internal conflict, as our need to conform to society and control the sexual drive lead to tension and disturbances within the individual, promoting the conscious mind...the ego...to dissipate the psychic energy of these unmet and unconscious needs into other forms.

To me, Blue Threads represents both the next step in Roleplay Arts and a stunning achievement, though I am fully aware of being no more than an innovator...I did not invent adult roleplay.  But here, for the first time, we are beginning to explore the central mystery of the human drive.  Not its outlets...violence, gamesmanship...but the actual core drive from which all others emanate.

We are breaking new ground in the boundaries of roleplay here and...not unexpectedly...it's going to be a little primitive to start out with.  But I hope you'll join with me in seeing this as the first hesistant...possibly slightly ungainly...step down a path which will lead to the development of a potential for the exploration of our fantasies which goes beyond any yet offered by Roleplay or kink alone, merging the intent of roleplay with the liberating factors of kinky play.

    -  James Gordon Olmstead-Dean
        Washington D.C. Jan 2010

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Garko the Man-Frog
Date: 2009-12-04 10:50
Subject: Threads Blue
Security: Public
Earlier this year http://larpwriting.livejournal.com/81452.html,  I announced dates and startup information for an "Adult" themed event. 

We're gearing up for writing, reg and final production now. 
 
Threads Blue 
Jan 29, 2010 
Private Hotel Site, Washington Metro Area, Suburban MD
(Site info will be sent only to participants)

If you are interested, please e-mail me so I can get you onto the list.  Signing onto the list does not mean that you are registering for the event and committing to come.  It does mean you have a serious interest in this and followup events.

I shouldn't have to say this, but...I will show a draconian intolerance for kibbitzers who show up on the list to offer a lot of "help" which amounts to micromanagement and criticism, with no plan of actually coming to the event.  That's not fair to the volunteers working to make this project fun for everyone involved.

That said, I hope you'll drop me a note and feel free to join us in seeing the shape of the Threads Blue event.  Thanks!  
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Garko the Man-Frog
Date: 2009-11-25 22:47
Subject: 2009 LARP Roast - Kirt Dankmyer
Security: Public
I know we're all busy with the holidays, but I wanted to remind folks that the 7th Annual LARP Roast is coming up (Saturday 5 December).  This is an occasion when the local LARP Community comes together to honor someone who has done outstanding service in the past year.

For folks who don't game with him regularly, I'd still like to urge people to come out and support Kirt Dankmyer who is this year's honoree.  It's a fun, hilarious occasion, and there is an endless afterparty.

The evite, which includes details and menu information, is available online at http://www.evite.com/app/publicUrl/LZIOMXEBIDRVYNQERSTY/2009roast

Since the deadline for payment and RSVP, just three days away, is in the middle of the holiday weekend, I wanted to give everyone a last minute heads up.  If you would like to come to the Roast, we need to receive your payment of $45 on or before Saturday, 28 November 2009. If for some reason you can't pay for the Roast right now, please contact me and we'll try to work something out.  We can only accept "at the door" payments by pre-arrangement, and that arrangement must be made before Saturday 28 November 2009.

More information about the Roast:

http://www.larpwriting.org/roast/index.shtml

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Garko the Man-Frog
Date: 2009-08-17 19:56
Subject: IMA Cancelled for 2009
Security: Public
This is a short note to say that IMA is officially cancelled for 2009.

The responses I got back confirmed what I have come to believe

1) Many people enjoy the Convention, but it is a third or fourth priority for almost all of them
2) There is not a strong core audience for the convention at this point
3) Most importantly offers of actual advertising and recruiting are minimal. If I were to twist every arm that responded, I could not reasonably expect to get more than a half-dozen to a dozen new people. This ties back to (1) - many people would vaguely like the convention to occur, but making it happen is just not a strong priority.

I think we have to be realistic. Events do reach the end of their lifespan at least in current form. A couple of people commented about it being "too late to save IMA." We've been putting as much time as was *reasonable* into the Convention for nine years. "Saving" it would be an exercise in Pyrrhic victories...a "save" that cost more than the benefit."

In the end IMA as it is currently configured does not hold up to any level of Cost-Benefit Analysis.

I'm open to new approaches, and helping if someone wants to organize a grass roots effort in 2010. Feel free to contact myself or Eric Johnson after Danzig. I feel the Region could probably benefit from some pan-LARP event, but clearly it needs a new core audience and a new approach.

And at the risk of seeming brusque, offers that boil down to "I am willing to tell you what to do, if you do the work and spend the money" are less welcome than offers of actual time, organizational skill, and capital.
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Garko the Man-Frog
Date: 2009-08-10 11:48
Subject: History of the Intercon Name
Security: Public
Teem made a comment I thought I'd break out into a longer post

I personally think marketing of the 'Intercon' name hasn't been done well from the initial 'numbers vs. letters' split. (But I really wasn't involved in things then and I don't know all the whys of what was decided.) The sudden change to regionalizing the names of conventions--okay, it was sudden from our point of view in New England--wasn't orchestrated well. I tried, with a couple others, to get the name changed up here to 'Intercon New England' but we got outvoted. (I won't say outargued because I still consider the reasons specious.) Since I was doing much of the communications for the last five-six years, I tried to be careful in naming each of the conventions, but perception tends to win the battle. (And probably 14.2% of the people reading this post will care.)

Well there is a lot of history there, and I think it is worth recapping in full.

One thing to understand is that the suddeness from the New England point of view was based largely on perception, and I think it may be worth recapping both the actual history of Intercon and the myths I've collected over the years.

SILiCon left Boston to go to New Haven with IV, then moved to Trevose V, and Annapolis VI. The plan after VI was that the Convention would move to NJ or NY to be "equally inconvenient to everybody." The reality was that the long travel was a financial strain on everyone and only the "top circle" of attendees would go 250+ miles to attend a convention.

When the original leaders of the SIL withdrew support from the ILF which they'd co-founded at the Annapolis Convention, the ILF leadership held the Convention in Northern Jersey the next year as an olive branch and to make it clear that we were reaching out to Boston LARPers. In practice very few came, and the Convention was a disastrous and painful financial failure. It was run into the teeth of the 1992 Recession, and fared amazingly poorly

ILF went through an additional set of local political upheavals, in retrospect largely driven by the 1992 Recession. Job loss by some of the officers sparked Depression. With everyone stressed, depressed, and out of work, confrontation and infighting was inevitable.

Acknowledging political and financial realities, it was clear that if the Convention was to run at all, it needed to run locally. It was moved to Baltimore Maryland for VIII.

This began two years of misfortune, which it is a vague miracle that Intercon survived. VIII had a bad blizzard, but was already suffering because four hour games were rising in popularity and the Intercon format was "full length v. full length" which was bound to be Problematic.

In the meantime Stephanie ran 7.5 and proved the "all minigame" concept on a small scale. That's a bit of history worth noting. The modern Intercon - all Four Hour games and a Dance was introduced by my wife in 1992.

The ILF Board and Officers refused to issue a charter to run 8.5 until it was too late to run it. I ran the doomed Intercon IX - a convention of full length games at a time when all the good TSFL groups were producing in their own venues, and everyone clearly wanted a convention of four hour games. I asked the Board, which then controlled Intercon about making the Convention one of four hour games and was told that the "Board wasn't ready to do that yet." There is nothing like running a failed concept that everyone already knows is obsolete. The convention did about as you'd expect, dismally.

Stephanie proved the minigame concept at 9.5, which was the first con that you would find almost indistinguishable except in size from J, and took over X, moving the convention to Ocean City.

In the meantime I was working heavily to rebuild ties to younger less radicalized Boston gamers. This began what I think many people still enshrine as a "golden era" for Intercon with the Conventions running steadily and stably, one in Maryland and one in New Jersey.

In practical terms the road trip was hard and we always had to struggle to get attendance at the Jersey Convention, but we began to rebuild a Boston player-base. Internally, the Intercon system came close to extinction with IX, and between 1994 and 1996 I worked with Stephanie closely to rebuild it. She chaired the conventions and I served as a lead officer for the ILF. It's worth noting that this time period 1995-1998 was also the "Golden Age" of the hotel based Theatre Style Full Length game. Other people were also important. Mike Young and Dirk Parham did an excellent job of building Intercon XI.

Unfortunately 1997 was also the "year that killed LARP" with a string of expensive TSFL howlers that left audiences crying...and not for more. Comparatively Intercon prospered because it offered a more stable experience. But the failure of TSFL by 1999 was also spelling a cloud for the future of TSFL LARP in general in the Mid-Atlantic. The mid-90s also saw vampire LARP eclipse all other forms of LARP in the US as we recognized when we tried to organize an ill fated White Wolf game at sequential Intercons.

As early as 11.5 in Mt. Laurel, it was a declared plan that Intercon would return to Boston and the chief barrier was the lack of someone locally to take responsibility for organizing. New Jersey was the far edge of the range at which Stephanie and I could run a con "by remote control."

To his credit, Jeff Diewald was the person to accept the challenge, agreeing 1997 to organize XIII in Natick in 1998.

The turn of the century saw some really dramatic changes...

All the original discussions over Intercon in Boston centered around the concept that the flag of the "Annual Convention" would rotate. So, for example XIV would be in Baltimore, XV in Boston, and so forth...

Unfortunately there was some partisanship. There was a mythology that was at odds with the facts which I've often heard repeated. In this mythology, SiliCon was run in Boston until the original SIL members withdrew from the ILF and then was "taken" to the south. With XIII it was brought "back to Boston"at the insistence of Boston activists.

In reality of course no such thing occured. The Convention was moved to New Haven by the original organizers when they made Bob Vincelette Chair, and moved to Trevose by Greg Frock, who was at the time an intimate of at least some of the original SIL crew. When it moved south to Annapolis, there was some politicizing by myself and others for a "fair shot," but at the time the established plan was to rotate it back and forth from New England to Baltimore until it could settle in NJ. And after the split it returned to NJ, not Washington. Likewise, I and other "southern" Board members had canvassed heavily for Bostonians to join the ILF leadership, and the issue was not holding onto the convention with a deathgrip but finding someone willing to chair it, which did not exist until Jeff Diewald came along.

But...this legend led to some "regionalism" and it was put forward that Boston would run XIV. This wasn't as planned or talked about, but at the time, it seemed worth not fighting over. Thus through 2000, the Annual Convention was in Boston. In 2001, I decided that "enough was enough" and that it was time the Annual Convention began rotating again as we'd always planned.
There was reason behind my madness. The Boston Convention was prospering and the Baltimore Convention was failing. The reason was simple enough. TSFL had failed by 1999 and in 1997-2001, a series of powerful campaigns were sweeping the DC area. XPI began to draw a strong player base, the Mike Young's Dark Summonings and my Mersienne Medieval Fantasy. The failure of TSFL was proving to have a catastrophic fallout for Intercon and we desperately needed a new player base. The number of campaign games meant that a campaign that was only starting in May of 2000 had created an entrenched and loyal following within 12 months, something no TSFL game had been able to equal.

With Intercon Millennium we had proven that the Convention could draw a heavy party-base. That it could galvanize the Campaign Crowd by being a place for them to hang out that was not campaign focused.
Intercon IAGO was the last effort in the south to organize a con with a traditional rotating chair. Intercon had prospered with Stephanie or I as Chairs, and a few other people had given talented service while one of us acted as a primary staff officer. But as Intercon became more specialized the idea of tapping a random layman to serve as Chair was doomed, and the implosion of the attempt to run a second Millennium Convention was emblematic of this.

So...successful campaigns, a successful model to harness campaign players, and a track record of intimidating failures that looked like it could doom Intercon in the South. I wanted to pull out all the stops to produce a really first rate convention, and I felt that returning the Annual Convention flag would be a boon to this. At the same time some of the partisanship in Boston seemed to have been quieted, and people were behaving quite sensibly.

I don't want to sound accusatory talking about "partisanship in Boston," and not in Maryland. It is the case though that it fell out that way. Boston had a large student population of people who had free time and few real life constraints. It was usually the younger and more radical of these people that lent support to partisan ideas, based on half-understood stories about the past. That population largely didn't exist in Maryland because the large student population didn't exist. The truth is I could not *find* anyone in Maryland to care about the "Annual Convention" title.

At the same time, another major strain was going on. The ILF had died. The Board of Directors had decided in the late 90s to back Sandy Antunes' plan to produce Metagame as a print magazine. Sandy was a reasonable and not unrealistic guy. At the Board Meeting where the idea was presented he said "99% of all gaming magazines fail." The Board heard "we can have a print magazine."

Even in 1997-98 it was clear that print was dying and the Web becoming ascendant. But that was a "silly thing to say," if you asked already-graying 90s TSFL players. Sandy thought maybe having the backbone of an NPO to subsidize a core print run would give a "margin of viability" that other magazines had lacked. In all cases before the early 2000's recession firmly hit the US in 2001-2002, it was hitting Europe and killing small business chains. A major distributor collapse and gaming industry downturn torpedoed Metagame, and the ILF became insolvent, and was turned over into LARPA.

The ILF was already becoming irrelevant. It had never had the slightest buy in from boffer gamers, and had scant support from vampire. In practical terms it was the organization for Theatre Style LARP and might have done better to sell itself that way. Instead it tried to be everything to everybody and ended up being nuffin' to nobody.

So...the world was changing and if Intercon was to be saved changes needed to occur.

It was never my intention to "take the official number back" from Boston. The actual plan was more what Teem describes. Each regional convention would have a name "Intercon New England, Intercon Mid-Atlantic," and the designation of "Annual Convention" with a Roman Numeral would be an honor that floated between them.

In practice this was not the way it worked out.

Another myth that I got to hear often a few years ago, but is less common now is how the NEIL Convention "declared independence" from LARPA, and what not. In fact nothing could be further from the case. The establishment of NEIL came after a set of ugly internecine conflicts among the New England convention staff in which I as ILF CSO had been repeatedly canvassed by parties on both sides to intervene.

Not having been born yesterday, I well understood the actual situation. If I intervened on one side, the other side would cry foul that "people 400 miles away with no vested interest were making decisions for a Boston Convention" and I'd be roundly stoned by them. In the end the ILF had ultimate fiduciary responsibility for Intercon, but no effective channel to exercise management control. It was clear that nobody wanted a bunch of Marylanders telling them how to run the local con, right up until they got into a hopeless brawl with each other in which case each wanted me to play referee...but only if I favored them.

At the same time I had my own problems. Intercon in Baltimore had ceased to be financially viable around the time of Millennium. It had never been prosperous and no Intercon had ever done more than make a small profit. Increasingly I was the sole financial support for the Con. I already ran a chain of events every year most of which lost small amounts of money. The difference is that when those events ran, I could take back any nominal receipts to cover losses. With Intercon I was using the same infrastructure to stage the convention I was to stage the 1936 Campaign, but I wasn't able to take any money back...it belonged to the ILF, an organzation that I already provided most of the funding for. I could pay in, but not take back.

The remedy to both problems was clear. The regional cons ought to be autonomous, licensing the shared Intercon name with a set of agreements as to the fundamental things that "made" an Intercon - an Open Bid Process, Non-Discrimination, and Shared Promotion.

Oddly this initially met with resistance. I think the keystone is that while everybody in Massachusetts generally did not want an organization with a Maryland center running their con, they did not have a strong agreement on who would run it, and the early political infighting was still going fairly strong. So I was in the odd position of having to "push" New England to form a leadership group that would run the Convention. A further complication was that I chose to push the requirement that the the organization have some sort of elected structure and constitution. It needn't be Democratic, but it must at least exist and show "community participation and support."

In the end leadership did emerge and NEIL was formed.

I don't think it's mine to go into the political history of NEIL and I doubt that everyone would agree on it in any case. I took the whole number for the next local convention, with the intention that it would be passed back and forth between NEIL and the shell organization formed to fulfill the same organization for IMA.

I'd explained the theory of the Roman Numeral designating the honor of being the year's Annual Convention several times. Certainly there are other organizations where this occurs...several regions have conventions, but annually one is the "Annual Convention" and has a number and is larger.

The NEIL Board decided instead, for whatever reasons to establish its own numbering scheme separately, using letters. I honestly think that the reason was simply that the concept of the rotating Annual Convention was not broadcast well, and there was still some feeling that the rotating Annual Convention number that had "belonged to Boston" since it was settled there to promote XIII was "taken away" with XIV.

In the long run, it is likely that IMA was doomed when TSFL precipitously collapsed in 1999. The new strategies I developed kept it vital for an additional 8 years, and I think that is nothing to sneeze at. In practical terms, I think it has been made obsolete by its competitors, and that what energy remains to it should be rolled back into other LARP conventions and events.

In historical retrospect the great changes in Intercon were driven by the economy. The stress and tension of the 1992 Recession drove the SIL/ILF split, and the 2000 Recession drove the failure of Metagame, the dissolution of the ILF and the formation of NEIL. The end of IMA is so firmly tied to the current recession as to be indivisible. The one thing we are improving on is practicality efficiency in these changes.

I'll make a final annoucement later this week but it seems unlikely that IMA will run this year, and I personally do not think it is likely that a group will present an organized plan to revive it next year. Last year I discussed the concept that both Intercons should promote the "25th Anniversary," and I hope that whether or not the number XXV is used, the New England Con will consider promoting the 25th Anniversary if IMA does not exist.

While the New England Convention seems "huge" compared to IMA, it is tiny and a mere flicker. Gaming Conventions of less than 500 are considered little better than "student conventions" and barely show up on National Radar. The growth to 300 clearly suprised everyone, and I get a sense of question in where to go from here. I think that this is a time of promise and concern for LARP. if it is properly nourished and organized, the NEIL convention will continue to grow - though that may mean making scary choices to move to a larger venue and embrace carrying the flag of LARP nationally. Unfortuantely I think in many ways IMA is mostly constituting a distraction to the central issue of the growth of Intercon as the intellectual center of U.S. LARP, and at this time I think that is where we need to look for the future growth of LARP as the decade of the 2000s draws to a close.
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Garko the Man-Frog
Date: 2009-08-06 13:19
Subject: The Fate of Intercon Mid-Atlantic - A Discussion
Security: Public

Last week I circulated this message to some of the people who were nominal leaders of the Community that has produced IMA in the past.  This week I am posting it for public discussion.  The short version is that after looking at last year's attendance, the economy, attendance patterns and falloff in other events, and the overall situation, I am strongly inclined to cancel IMA.  We have until 27 September to cancel without prejudice, and only about two refunds to issue.  My recomendation will ultimately be based on the replies here.

I want to get the tone of the message across.  This is not a "ZOMG my Con is dying please HALP!" message.  If anything the Con is dying largely because my other project, Threads is more wildly successful than I would have expected, and that an two other events, one of which I also organize, are making IMA obsolete.  So I'm not weeping here. 

What  I want is a calm, realistic Community Discussion to determine for how many people IMA serves a special need that is really not met by any other event. 

The Details and Discussion...Collapse )

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Garko the Man-Frog
Date: 2009-07-30 17:40
Subject: Adult Event - Threads Blue - Jan 29, 2010 
Security: Public
Background

About twenty years ago,back in 1991, if you were cool and sort of proto-gothy, you played Cyberpunk RPG.  1991 was a seminal year for LARP.  NightLife and Vampire the Masquerade were about to blow Cyberpunk out of the water, and the latter was about to establish an eighteen year dynasty of LARP.  But we didn't know much about that. It was May and even the lamentable NightLife hadn't been published yet.

I was running a game called "The Second Circle of Hell" up in a hotel room at the then Sheraton Hotel in New Carrolton Maryland.  It had kinky overtones, borderline nudity, making out, and toe sucking.  That same evening I got to do an audit of an event some friends of ours were running called "Lady Jhayne's Party."  It was notable for being a cyberpunk game that was both goth, and had some vampire overtones. The atmosphere was a sort of art-house party/private sex club with a lot of erotic staging and byplay.

There have since been other heavily adult themed games. "Second Circle of Hell" had more closed door runs, "Stardust," "Fete D'Ogun," "Orgia," "The Green Fairy".  In the past few years I've also followed the work of J. Tuomas Harviainen and Nina Hämäläinen in Finland, who wrote the "Soft Core" series of LARPs, as well as "Sin Filled Nights of Bratislava" which I reviewed here.

Since 1991, I have had, off and on, the idea of producing an adult themed game.  Several years ago, I even began investigating potential outdoor venues as a serious adult game would be inappropriate to run at the Property where Threads is run.  I always ran up against several problems.  Obviously one of the first and foremost is dealing with the potential "flake factor" among some of the players.  This is always going to be a problem and will get worse if adult elements are involved.

The other potential issue was comfort levels.  The Threads of Damocles LARP Community splits more than 60% towards people with some kink experience, but not everyone has been to BDSM events, and is comfortable doing a lot of public play.  How do you set up an event to provide opportunities that are challenging to people at one comfort level, without having others just have to sit watching and bored.  

Until Threads this was almost impossible.  Either you needed like Tuomas to be running for your local kink community and have all kinky people, or you needed to "tone it down."  Because there was no way to let people select scenes by comfort level.

This Winter, I conceived of the idea of using Threads as a springboard for a truly adult themed game.  The universe is broad and was designed to accomodate "all manner of shit."  The game doesn't have to heavily impact the principal continuity and the licensing on Threads is such that anyone can run it under a creative Commons license, so there's no issue with "material."  Threads already had a lot of adult themed material.  But I wanted to produce the sort of scenes we did not produce in the regular season.  Realistically there are scenes whose very PRESENCE would be disruptive to a Threads Game.  While I could theoretically bid "Orgy in the public space," the presence of a provocative event like that would overshadow and eclipse the game, become a focus that unbalanced the rest of the environment.  I think we can all feel that and I think we all pull our punches.  I want to create an event where this isn't necessary.

I think the Soft Core series, which Tuomas describes in the introduction to "Bratislava" is more an inspiration than "Bratislava," at least in terms of Blue Tracks.

There have been outright adult/kink games like "Midnight Seductions" in Philadelphia.  But...those have been called wanting in terms of being anything other than a "meet market" game...little more than an excuse to dress up in costume.  I think most of us want more structure and organization than that.

At the same time I've been increasingly taken with the idea of theatricality and theatre in the kink scene.  This is really something that is just emerging as a thing of its own in the past few years, and there are some brilliant local people who have driven aspects of it who I greatly admire as artists.

However, rather than set out to create one artistic vision that is *mine* I want to create an environment where a stellar collection of artists can come together completely freed from the constraints of having to "tone it down."  Any scene is welcome here, though a sufficiently outre scene may not garner many applicants.  I expect a fair number of small scenes.


Announcing


And on that note, I'm announcing 
Threads Blue 
Jan 29, 2010 
Private Hotel Site, Washington Metro Area, Suburban MD
(Site info will be sent only to participants)

(thanks to jadasc for the name)


Target Audience
The first Threads Blue game will be designed to be attractive to people with no previous association with Threads.  We hope to get a lot of new people, many of whom may never play a regular Threads event.   Threads is a huge and disparate genre, and you don't need to know "all about it" to come play anymore than you need to already know the background for four hour games you play at an Intercon 

I expect a fair number of people to come and spend a good bit of time watching and deciding if they want to get their feet wet.  I plan to arrange some interactive elements of the blue tracks that allow people to experiment with various aspects of alt-culture if they choose without feeling pressured.

I also don't think authors are going to develop anything that will leave regular Threads players who are not interested in adult themes feeling the "missed out" by not coming. 


Club Rules

The overall concept of comfort at the game is "sex club rules."  In short, you must be okay with watching or seeing or hearing anything.  You're welcome to turn away of course, but you can't make people stop doing things because they squip you.  However you are NOT presumed to be okay with ANYTHING you do not instigate.  Look don't touch without permission.  Dungeon rules will be effectively the same used at some of our local leather events and locations, particularly DC Crucible and Camp Crucible.  
We'll provide safety instruction and other information for first-timers so that nobody feels they are "dumb."  


A Unique Genre, building on the Past
I expect to see things other than sex explored.  Esoterica is another area where I think there is always a certain amount of "holding back" because nobody wants to risk being too over the top.  Certain types of experimental art tracks press the envelope enough to distract from standard Threads.

I think this will be an exciting and in many ways a totally new thing.  I think the framework of Threads (which is frankly already a fairly kink-heavy event by most standards) provides an excellent foundation to work from in creating something that is not quite like anything that has been done before.

Getting Invited

Threads Blue is *invitation only* So how do you get invited:

1) If you are on the Threads-Adult list you should have already been invited.  If you aren't for some reason e-mail me at gordon@vialarp.org

2) If I know you, drop me a note.  The event is "invite only" to protect against weird walk-ons, not to be overly selective.  If I know you and you can act like a civilized human being, you're in.  e-mail me at gordon@vialarp.org and say "I am interested and would like to receive information."

3) If I don't know you, I need somebody who is attending to vouch for you.   That's all.  So you can "invite a friend."  We just want some line of contact so that we don't have total strangers off the net

When you are invited, you'll receive the Evite (to say whether you are going for sure or not) and an invitation to the Google Group for the game.  Please accept both even if you are a maybe on the Evite, and set the Group to Web Only. 

Who should you invite?  Well people that you think would not be uncomfortable at the event, and who would not make others feel out of place.  This is not the time to play a fun trick on your Joe Vanilla friend just to "see how they react."  We want everyone at the event to be happy and comfortable so that it is a really great time.

This is a big adventure, and the culmination of a decade of thought and planning.  Please join us!
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