Writer's block, eh? We meet again. Anyway, what I've been wanting but failing to write about for the past couple of weeks are adventures of a geekier kind. Y'know; fantasy, roleplaying, boardgaming, LARPing... that kind of stuff. The kind of stuff I live for.
This place isn't New Zealand so much as it is Middle Earth, you know. I am aware that general propaganda attempts to claim otherwise; that this is merely the place where the movies based on the stories of Tolkien were filmed. But I know better now. This is Middle Earth for real, I've seen it with my own eyes! Just take a look at this photographic evidence from Hobbiton (click on them for larger versions, and also a thousand thanks to the lovely Viv for the photos):
So yeah, it's real alright. Bag End, the party tree, Sam's house, the Green Dragon Inn (where they have the best ginger ale in the world, no kidding!). I was running and jumping around, investigating everything and soaking up the magical atmosphere, spontaneously doing cartwheels and squealing out of sheer delight. Just generally being the happiest elf in the world.
In the time I've been here so far I've managed to miss a gaming convention in Sweden, but I couldn't care less. I've been to one in New Zealand instead: Battlecry. There were both differences and similarities compared with the ones I've frequented in Sweden, but there was no mistaking that the general atmosphere of geekiness and friendliness was just the same. I felt right at home. It was all set in a big stadium filled with tables where people played miniature wargames, roleplaying games, boardgames, card games, and sold stuff. Everything in the same huge place. I'm not used to that, but it seemed to work out fine without the noise levels getting overwhelming. There were maybe a couple of hundred participants, and most of the activity seemed to take place during the day. People didn't sleep at the convention itself either, which I suppose would account for it being mostly a day-time thing. No LARPs this time around, but I did get the chance to roleplay something other than D&D (which by all means can be fun, but if I'm given the choice it's not really my preferred cup of tea). An adventure set in the world created by Peter Hamilton in his Void books, which made me even more keen to read those books. Also a Doctor Who adventure, which was epic and fun in much the same way as an actual episode. Lastly I also got to play the Firefly boardgame, which was so much fun I will very likely buy it at some point.
And the LARPing (which means Live-Action RolePlaying, hello non-geeky readers!). Judging by my (admittedly few) experiences so far there are some differences from the genreal LARPing culture in Sweden. So-called day games, lasting for only a few hours, seem to be common within campaigns (even if weekend-long games also happen). NPCs (Non-Player Characters) are also more common, played by crew who volunteer and get briefed concerning their role (and hitpoints) the same day. So crewing is what we did, and we got to borrow gear including weapons and makeup. Off-signs are used frequently, and "talking roleplay" means LARPing but without hitting each other with foam weapons. Also, New Zealand LARPers seem to have a considerably more relaxed attitude towards what constitutes a good enough costume, and there doesn't seem to be the same prestige involved when it comes to creating your own gear, compared with what I've experienced in the Swedish LARPing community in general. And the surroundings are stunning. Good gods, every single place I've visited in this country is positively magical, perfect for LARPing! Running around barefeet through gullies and along the waves on a sunlit shore, talking and hunting and screaming and fighting the players, and dying countless times by their hands. It burned my footsoles and left black sand in my hair for days. So totally worth it; I had ridiculous amounts of fun.
And there is a club at the university that does roleplaying and boardgaming, which means I can get my fix of geekiness on a weekly basis. Dreams keep coming true spontaneously. New Zealand and its lovely inhabitants continue to make me feel so at home that I want to stay here. Ahwell, settling down isn't something I'm even considering anytime soon, but I sure hope I get to see this place again after I leave.
Love and fantasy,