I played this last Saturday and I’ve been mulling over the experience since then. It’s taken me this long to seperate my emotional experience from a subjective look at the game.
It’s hard for me to say when I didn’t have a good time. In part this is ‘if you can’t say anything nice…’ but in part this is because I worry that I will look like a whiner, or I will insult the people who I gamed with, or the Lovely Scott who ran the game, or the people who wrote the game, if they should find this blog. I don’t want to upset anyone.
But I didn’t have a good time playing Black Hart of Camelot. Overall, that is. There were lots of good things about the game, such as in character moments, the lovely setting Scott, Luke and Sam arranged for us, the effort everyone had put into costuming and the atmospheric weather.
I couldn’t put my finger on why not for a few days. I put it down to having a cold, and therefore feeling fragile when people called me ‘whore’ before and after the game. (In a loving, caring, smack-talk way). I guessed it was maybe because I am over the emo-love thing, and the game for me was about agonising over not being with the person I loved. All my friends who played the game had a brilliant time, after all, so if my experience of it wasn’t the best then it must be my problem.
I also know that I had difficultly getting into character at first. There are so many stories about Guinevere, I didn’t know which would be appropriate to mimic. I also am unsure about the court etiquette and whether I should stand when Arthur did, etc. This is largely my own fault, and could have been solved with more research. I am usually pretty good about immersing myself in characters quickly, so I felt wrong footed to start with.
I had a revelation a couple of days later. Guinevere was isolated. Almost completely. Unlike everyone else in the game who had at least one person they could completely trust I had no one. I’m going to dive into spoiler territory here, so if you haven’t played the game and wish to you should stop reading now.
Guinevere had Arthur of course. But she was betraying him, and feeling awful about it. He also had the power to have her killed, in fact, he would have to if the betrayal got out (so I thought.) Besides that, King Arthur was run off his feet with the number of people who wanted to speak to him. This means that he had almost no time to spend with me.
There was Lancelot, whom I knew cared for me deeply. However, Arthur asked us not to be seen together, to keep up appearances. Lancelot was therefore largely absent from me, and I got to watch him have long conversations with Elaine, whom I knew wanted to make him her king.
My family was there, but I did not feel I could confide in them entirely. My sister Guineth appeared to be all sweetness and light, but she was secretly plotting my downfall and ended up betrothed to Mordred. (ew, by the way. I’m going to be his step-mother/sister-in-law?)
My father appeared to be concerned about me but was actually possessed by a demon.
Most of the other characters either had no need or wish to speak to me or were actively avoiding me because they knew of my adultery.
It turns out that LARPing is less fun when you don’t have people to talk to. Now, for all I know, the character of Guinevere is written in exactly this way to create a feeling of isolation in the player. Or it could have been just the way our particular run of it worked out. Lancelot discovered early in the game that people knew about our affair and he was terrified of the consequences. We agreed to speak to Arthur early in the game and come clean. If we hadn’t done this, perhaps the game would have been different.
I’d love to hear from the previous player of Guinevere, as depending on events within the game, the isolation may not have happened to the same extent.
I don’t regret playing in Black Hart of Camelot. I am a bit scared to post this, because it seems so negative, but at the same time I should express my experience of the game.
The GM and the other players did a fantastic job. I especially want to thank Bryn, Norm, Sophie, Jackie and Donna. It was in many ways, an excellent game. I’m especially pleased that I pursued something that wasn’t a specified goal (do something about my inability to grow pregnant) and Nimue’s gift was determined by the GM to have worked. So, rather than cause Camelot’s downfall, I have actually strengthened it. I’m going to focus on that for my experience of Camelot.