Swat LARP to Deal with Social Justice and Magic

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

There will be no foam swords in sight at this year’s live action role play (LARP), according to Committee Member Riley Collins ’16. Titled “In the Wake of Dreams,” the fourth annual LARP will take place on Saturday, April 9.

The new production, however, will break the mold as far as Swarthmore’s past LARPs are concerned.

“This will not be what a lot of people think of when they think of LARP,” Collins said.

Set in the 1920s, the game will deal with themes of class, addiction, and politics. Magic, rather than alcohol, will be banned in this fictional Prohibition-era universe. On the evening of April 9, two celebrations will occur in this make-believe world: one among politicians and corporations of the ahistorical Prohibition, and one at the end of a long week of work at a speakeasy among fellow workers. According to Collins, “People should expect a night of intrigue, adventure, a very good party, and stories to tell friends for the next year, until they do another one.”

Collins claims that LARPing is essentially a form of escapism; uniquely, though, the escapist is put in control of the story’s plot.

“It’s like a movie without a script, a free-playing video game where everyone is the player character,” he said.

Additionally, he categorized LARPing as an art form which, though largely popular in European nations, has become increasingly acceptable in the United States for educational purposes.

“They’re discovering it’s a whole lot easier to teach kids when they think they’re playing,” Collins said, noting that this use interests him greatly.

LARP Committee Member Leonie Cohen ’16 spoke to the planning of this event. In charge of writing character sheets, Cohen has been involved since the production’s first year. “Our committee, or writing team … we’re bringing different things this year—a lot of different ideas,” Cohen said. The group has designed a setting for the event, and is beginning to draft a specific plot for the characters to follow.

After filling out a registration form, participants will be directed to a character survey. This, Cohen claimed, is a crucial step in planning the story:

“The character survey’s a really fun thing to write … [The participants] should just put as much into as they can and as they want to. And we take everything we can into account and give them the experience that … they can enjoy.”

As the date of the event draws closer, the organizers will post more information about the plot.

Illustration courtesy of James Howard ’18.

CORRECTION (2:23 p.m., February 26, 2016): An earlier edition referred to Riley Collins ’16 as the producer of “In the Wake of Dreams.” This was inaccurate, and the article has been modified to reflect his actual position of committee member.

Jacob Demree

Jacob is a freshman from Mount Laurel, NJ, who has loved reading ever since reading Bob Books and writing ever since scribbling notes to his parents and siblings. Trying to see if a quadruple major is possible, he spends his time searching for endnotes, reducing margin sizes, and, of course, reading The Daily Gazette. When he’s not doing any of these things, he enjoys reading non-required materials (and not annotating them), playing guitar, gangsa, piano, or melodica, helping out social justice efforts on campus, and hanging out with friends and family at museums and Sharples. He plans to start planning his program of study before the end of his sophomore year.

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