I survived the zombie apocalypse, and all I got was this stupid blog post.
Dystopia Rising may be the nerdiest thing I’ve ever done.
If you’ve been paying attention to this blog, you know that’s saying something.
Awhile back, I theorized about the “Progression of Nerdery,” and of how certain hobbies/interests/fandoms are seen as geekier than others due to how they’re enjoyed. One of the reasons Live Action Role Play (LARP, for short) is seen as so nerdy is because it skips right to the “Funny Hat” stage of things– it’s not something that can be easily, passively consumed like a book or a TV show. Likewise, no matter how embarrassing your taste in TV shows or books or whatever may be, it’s still something you can theoretically conceal. LARPing requires at least somebody to see you for the nerd you are, even if it’s other players.
Or, uh, in this case, the whole dozens of people who follow this blog.
So yeah. Dystopia Rising (I’ll abbreviate it to DR more often than not). It’s a post-apocalyptic LARP in which people run around in the woods and smack each other with foam swords. There’s a whole network of DR games across the country, with more games popping up on top of that. The Texas game has been going on for several years now, and I have a bunch of friends who are really into it. I’ve actually made it out a handful of times before, though my busy schedule kept me from becoming a ‘regular.’
But I made it this last weekend! And because I haven’t been reading enough, you guys get to read about it. One of the fun things about DR is that I get to use a bunch of skills that I otherwise wouldn’t in real life: acting, camping, and zombie survival.
Set in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-filled world, Dystopia Rising is pretty much Live Action Fallout (though with a bunch of other post apocalyptic influences as well). The clever thing about this is that it makes genre-appropriate costuming so much easier. Very few people are going to have a cloak or tunic or whatever in their closet to pull off a decent looking Ye Olde Elves and Dwarves Fantasy outfit. However, since DR is set in the post apocalypse, all you’ve got to do is rummage out some stuff from the back of your closet/the clearance rack at the thrift store, and you’re set! Of course, there are some people who have cobbled together super impressive sets of post-apocalyptic armor out of old tires and license plates and other random detritus.
Immersion is the name of the game in DR, in that from opening to start, you are ‘In Character’ pretty much the whole time. This has its ups and downs. For example, I found that the simple act of eating in character goes a long, long way in establishing what your character is like. Especially considering table manners aren’t a huge thing in the post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland. OM NOM NOM. On top of that, weather can be a real influence on the game. A hot and dry day will kick up a lot of west Texas dust, giving everything a sort of hazy feel. Or, if it rains … well, that’s when I learned that leather armor can be surprisingly warm when it’s damp and miserable outside.
On the other hand, ‘Immersion’ also means that game is pretty much on ALL THE TIME, so there’s a more than likely chance you may be ambushed by monsters in your sleep at some ridiculous hour of the morning. To be honest, I find that last part to be a little more annoying than terrifying. Then again, I’m also a bit more narrativist when it comes to my Role Playing Games– I don’t mind having a character die, but I prefer said character dying as part of some grander story, rather than ‘bushwhacked by a creepy monster when you go out to pee.’ Also I’m getting older and staying up ’til the wee hours of the morning holds less and less appeal. Kids, off my lawn, etc.
Although, it’s worth noting that the staff and NPC’s aren’t out to get you. Or, well, they are, but not in quite as a super bloodthirsty manner as they could be. You’ll see this first-hand, as everyone who plays DR is required to do at least one NPC (non player character) shift. NPC shifts are awesome. More often than not, you’re just a random zombie or cannibalistic raider, so your only purpose is to get killed by the Player Characters over and over and over again. It’s kind of liberating, in comparison to the low-level paranoia of self preservation that comes when you’re playing your own character.
The staff who run the game are great, great people. Probably the best bunch of game-staff I’ve had the pleasure of running into. Dystopia Rising goes out of its way to be a very inclusive, welcoming game (albeit one about horrible people in a crazy post apocalypse). Heck, look at some of the pictures on the Dystopia Rising website. There’s a roughly 50/50 gender split in the players, which is sadly something you don’t see very often in a lot of other geeky pursuits. Though now I’m kind of curious as to what the demographics look like in, say, Amtguard, or the SCA, or other “funny-hat” LARPs.
Sleep deprivation aside, Dystopia Rising is a great (if super nerdy) way to spend a weekend if you’ve got the opportunity to do so. They’re always happy to see new characters (to the point where they run a “Newbie Mod” on Friday night to bring you into the game). And as I mentioned earlier, there are other branches of the game across the US (and even one in Canada, gasp!) so there might be one near you. Well worth checking out, if you’ve got the time. Tell them DC sent you.