Actual Play – Blood in the Bayou (9/6/2015)

p186700_b_v9_acGM (counter-players): Kat Jones, Evan Torner, and guest GM Jason Morningstar.
Players: Lizzie Stark (Raven, witch), Kristin Firth (Omar, human psychic), Scott Morningstar (Sam, human), Karen Twelves (Sexy Beast. werewolf), Stras Acimovic (Jolene, veteran werewolf), Shervyn Von Hoerl (Mimi, vampire warrior), Alex Roberts (Tanith, vampire), Liz Gorinsky (Celine, vampire), Barbara Ng (Cross, used to be married to Celine, human), Sara Williamson (Kim, human vampire wannabe), Jay Treat (alpha werewolf), Shawn Roske (Vanessa, human), Misha B (werewolf), Sean Nittner (Axel, vampire owner of the Nosferatu club). I may have missed some, this was going from memory.
System: Blood in the Bayou

Played out in just 52 minutes (the length of an episode of True Blood), this was one of the funnest larps I’ve ever played.

We started (the first hour or so) with Evan and Kat handing out roles that has brief descriptions, two suggestions for play, and three questions to answer. For instance I was:

Axel
Hedonist Club Owner
Revel in the sensual
Don’t take anything too seriously

1.) How did you become the owner of Nosferatu’s
2.) How did Jessie/Sam earn your respect?
3. ) Who do you pretend to hate this character?

I mean… already, it’s just dripping right? Once we had our characters we went around the room and introduced them, as well as answering the first question. For me it was performing diablerie, the worst of vampire crimes, on the previous owner Siegfried Van Helsing and taking not only his club, but also his powers. Like you do.

Some of the characters had multiple gender/name options, so the second question was answered once you knew who was in play. If the character you were supposed to have a relationship wasn’t in play, the counter-players (GMs) would match two characters missing a connection with each other and tweak the questions (if needed) to suit each other.

For mine, Sam (a mere mortal but part of a vampire hunting family) earned my respect by walking into Nosferatu’s once and showing no fear of Siegfried.

Finally, the third question was answered by finding another person you didn’t already have a connection with and building something with them. I picked Kim, the mortal who wanted immortality. I constantly dismissed her, saying she didn’t know the cost, while secretly wanting nothing more than to sire her myself.

I was also tied up in an affair with Vanessa, and killed Tanith’s sire. All sorts of juice bits.

A final conceit of the game was a living world. Each location we played in (Jacks’s Tavern, The Woods, Nosferatu Club, The Graveyard, The Hospital) had a folder with a sheet of paper in it that told everyone who looked in there what was true of the place. The decor, the vibe, the dead bodies in the freezer, that sort of thing. As we played and the world changed, we updated these sheets, changing the world around us.

Each counter-player was assigned a location or two and stayed in that area to provide provocation as needed. It was rarely needed.

Sex and Violence

We started the game split up into our faction locations (Humans in Jacks, Werewolves in the woods, etc). Our counter-players then gave us a prompt to start the game. Apparently this prompt was taken very, very, differently.

The Werewolves were told that a war with the vampires were brewing and they had better make the first move. RAWR, lets kill some vampires. Let’s also get the crazy necromancer witch to cast a spell that would control the undead. Death and victory awaits!

The Vampires were told that a ware with the werewolves was brewing. And we were like… meh. War is boring. What has our prince done for us lately. We’d rather lounge around and be sexy. Oh, and fuck you counter-player NPC, we’re going to eat you too.

So you can imagine what happened with the two forces same together.  Sex and Violence, just not in that order. We had Werewolves and Vampires fighting, only to later be making out in the hospital bed. We had humans barricading themselves up in Jack’s to hide that they had killed Jack long ago and stuck him in the freezer, but it was okay because Raven the Witch was going to bring him back to life. We had so much posturing and bravado, and feigned indifference. Oh my god, it was delicious.

What Rocked

The “combat” mechanic for the game was just awesome. Two people basically got to describe how they were awesome, landed brutal blows, got all kinds of bloody, etc. They kept narrating until one of the decided to lose and describes themselves succumbing. At that point the winner writes down the losers name and at the end of the game, says something awesome about them in the debrief. Very cool.

I was playing an idiot of a character who was trying never to let on that he had no idea what he was doing. If anyone challenged him his aloof response was usually “whatever”. I was doing my best to channel Paul Rudd’s character Andy from Wet Hot American Summer. Also I touched my chest a lot (making it sensual) and laid down on lots of things (pianos, coffins, walk in freezers, whatever). Playing a total hedonist that was way over his head was so much fun.

In particular my relationship with Kim was just so ridiculously pretentious and emo. “No Kim, you don’t know what it means to be like us… I’ll never turn you” all the while showing all the body language that meant I was just about to turn her. Similarly Kim held the sword of the vampire hunters always holding it close… was it a threat or an invitation… And, we would certainly have ended in a romp of sex and undeath had it not been for Celine, protecting Kim from her own desires… and of course from Axel.

Other great moments… there as some discussion of the bones in an urn or something. It was one of those major plot points that whipped by me but seemed to drive a lot of action. It turned out to be totally fine that I was oblivious to all of this enough through a drove a ton of the action of the game. Yay, captain oblivious!

The counter-players did a fantastic job of bringing everyone up to speed as we entered new locations… especially those with fights going on.

Our end of game debrief was awesome. We got to hear a lot of great moments from the game that we missed when they happened, and we also each had a “next time on Blood in the Bayou” scene that we narrated as a teaser for the next episode.

What could have improved

These two are related I think:

  1. There wasn’t quite enough time to get everything in. I had some fun interactions with the human’s in Jacks but I wasn’t really sure what they were up to or how it affected the vampires. I did have one creepy scene with Vanessa as I delivered their missing shipment of True Blood personally and int was all kinds of fun finding the frozen body of Jack in the freezer, but I wasn’t sure what it was all about.
  2. The vampires and the werewolves started off pitted against each other so we had a clear agenda (even if we were blowing it off) to engage with each other. I wasn’t sure where the humans fit in with that. They seemed a bit isolated from my perspective, though that may have just been me.

Our location (The Nosferatu Club) ended up being pretty much abandoned except at the beginning and the end of the game. Physically it was located between other locations so it ended up being something of a thoroughfare. It wasn’t a problem (much more interesting things were happening in the Woods, Jacks, and in the hospital beds…ooo la la) but I think if given the option, I’d make each location more of a specific destination.

Final thoughts

I <3 this game so much. I could have spent the whole con playing a season of the show!