Imagine, Build, Create Together – Getting Ready for Astra Larp (Full Moon Special #10)

Astra Larp

Astra Larp, a twelve day pervasive larp designed and run by the co-alpha and I, starts in exactly seven days, on Wednesday, October 15th. As we near launch time (on the 15th, sometime during the morning), wrap everything that’s left to wrap (err… many things), the Full Moon will slowly start to wane and hide and offer a better cover of night during the larp’s gametime, which I’m sure our players will appreciate.

Today, it is high up in the sky, reminding me it’s time for another FMS here at the Skirts’n’Wolves blog. Since there’s not much I can even think about nowadays which doesn’t revolve around Astra (and the Rikon sci-fi convention, happening this weekend in Rijeka – which I had mostly covered by the costume and cosplaying articles in the past few weeks), let me indulge in a bit of awe regarding Astra. (The info is available here in Croatian, and here and here in English – and there’s more to come once the game starts and, especially, after it’s over.)

Imagine

A year and a half ago, at the end of Izgon – a month-long pervasive game in Croatia, which marked plenty of changes in the way the co-alpha and I larp – there was a joke, maybe half of one, where several people (the two of us included) thought how awesome it would be to participate (or run) a pervasive spy larp, in some time, once we all get back to our normal selves after all the joys and challenges of Izgon. It sounded almost too good to be true, and it was another one of those games we’d like to see – some day. After all, it’s a hell of a job, building a pervasive larp, especially one based on secrecy (similar to Izgon) and a lot of lovely things people aren’t supposed to find out until the game itself starts. It was a job someone else will do, we thought. After all, she and I had been larping for what, a little under two years at the time? How the hell would we even dare undertake such a journey?

Last February, the two of us started talking, dreaming and, basically, laying the groundwork for what will eventually become Astra larp (under the codename of Jo, or Žo - it’s a long and lovely story, one we’ll disclose in full in the game’s documentation). The start of it was not really promising – except that we really wanted to do it, because it sounded like so much fun! – until we tried out several things and somehow managed to settle on a story that not only appeals to both of us, but also challenges us in a wonderful way. You should probably know that we’re both active in the genre writing department and that we love a good creative challenge – and sometimes we have totally different views of what good and fun is. The second we hit common ground – and it took us some time to get there – we got so frakkin’ excited that the gdocs brainstorm file grew into unimaginable lengths in a manner of days. (I can’t wait to share the alternative story ideas. I still can’t believe we even thought of some of them!)

Build

The basics were decided upon before Summer started, and the larp’s idea went public sometime during May. You might have noticed I simply love talking about schedules and planning here on the blog – and you can definitely be sure we had a nice lovely schedule all set out, all serious about making the majority of background writing and little extra stuff well before August. Yes. It was lovely.

A couple of weeks into July, I hit a major quarter-life crisis (I’m turning 27 next month) and for the following months we had to deal with the repercussions it had on our lives and – last but not the least – the delay in Astra larp design. (I should’ve dealt with it better, and definitely thought before I spoke, but now it’s done and it’s time to move on – into new, scary realms of pervasive gaming). Instead of writing through the Summer, we spent the better part of early Fall honing the details and catching up where we left before the heat and the flood and the explosions. (Private, tiny ones – which sometimes hurt even more than the other kind.)

The co-alpha poured an enormous amount of effort into reading and writing for Astra, while I’m still late with more stuff than I dare mention – which is why this week I’m on a different sleeping schedule and why I’m slowly beginning to realize that missing out on co-organizing Rikon for the first time in 9 years was actually a great, albeit random call on my part. Most of the stuff is done anyway – the important stuff is just about to get finished – and we’re slowly getting into panic-management mode. The road was long and bumpy, but I still have this incredible confidence that it will all be worth it, in the end. The last couple of days saw a new influx of smiley emoticons and tiny hearts we send each other all over the brainstorming and planning docs, so I guess it has been worth it so far already.

Create

Imagining and designing Astra as a two-person team has been unlike any experience I’ve had so far in my life. In the middle of it, some projects came to life at work, some new ones were planned, and every week, I’d go back to the endless Astra/Žo brainstorm and planning documents (sometimes Trello – I hate to admit that I’ve been lacking on that front, while the co-alpha picked it up swiftly and expertly) and thank the ever-expanding universe I’ve been privileged to work with her on this larp, not anyone else. She’s an overproductive maniac – we both are, on our good days – and the amount of creativity we’ve both poured into this Astra thing has been, well, previously unimaginable to me.

If for nothing else, having that experience has made Astra larp already worth it, nevermind the delays and the schedules and the panic. Because, in the end, when all the surface layers and insecurities are peeled off, and when I go back to the core and the beginning of it all (and I’ve been writing, like I said, for what – nineteen years straight?), the creation part of the process is what really matters to me. Before NaNoWriMo, before a couple of fanfics, before Astra, I didn’t really understand what it means to create something along with another person, a person who gets you when it’s important, a person who can stand you on the bad days (and weeks and months), a person who will lovingly mock you for bad grammar in the brainstorm files and then smoothly go into adding yet another layer of the game, yet another mystery to be solved, yet another reason for you to love her.

Well, the Moon has that effect on me – it makes me personal and enthusiastic and fluffy.

So does she.

Let’s see what more we can create together in the month to come, shall we, darling? After all, Astra’s just about to start…