OK, so this entry is full of spoilers for the fantastic LARP by Anna K, Masquerade on Fleet St. I’m writing it up like an actual play report, but if you think you might ever play this game please don’t read it!
Mystery is everything in this game. Secrecy and intrigue. Set in 1900 at the prominent judge Rex Solomon’s house, the game is a masquerade ball to celebrate his daughter Bella’s 16th birthday and the reopening of the long closed opera house. We played it at Turnbull House on Saturday.
Sam and Sophie came over before hand and we got ready together. Sam made her dress, isn’t she talented? Mine is a hired skirt and cobbled together top from stuff I found on sale at Supre and Equip. I’m a big fan of Sophie’s mask. It’s epic.
Still with me? Don’t care about spoilers? Here we go:
I was cast as Bella Solomon, whose birthday party it was. My darling, doting father was played by Ants which made me extremely happy as he’s a very good LARP buddy. My governess, Henrietta, was played by Ruth. Sam was my Godmother, Athena, and Jon B was Ants’s manservant Mr Ratsley.
The night started with a speech from Judge Solomon welcoming everyone to the house and speaking a bit about the Opera house. It worked very well for getting me straight into character: I felt nervous and I felt a lot of love for my father. I was excited that so many people were there and I felt anticipation for the night to come. (I Love that photo. The photos from here on in are all by Mat Brunton, partner of the GM. Big thanks to him for taking so many lovely shots and allowing me to use them!)
I spoke to various people, mostly people who said happy birthday and complimented me on my dress. (This is why I’m typecast, I so so love how everyone told me how beautiful I am all night long, even if it was just in character ;p) I was approached by a mysterious man who gifted me with a birthday present, a charming blue and white mask on a stick. He told me that he made them and that he’d like an audience with my father. I didn’t think anything of this at the time, but it was actually a very important moment in the LARP.
Henrietta told me to mind my deportment and then I was more or less left alone for a bit. During the previous conversations I had been circled around by a certain pale man…a pale man that I had been seeing in my dreams and also when I went out on walks. He had told me that he was trapped and I desperately wanted to help him. When I was alone he approached, and advised me not to talk out loud because no one else could see him. I utilised my fan and turned to the wall so I could converse with him. He told me he was a ghost and that there were dangerous people present who wanted to hurt the guests and bind him to the world. Later he was revealed to be Edgar Allen Poe, he was played by a newcomer to the LARP scene and he was my favourite person of the night. He was sweet and panicked and he kept me in the loop and I felt so proud of myself when I was able to help him. He kept rushing around and telling me when people had weapons.
I revealed to my Godmother that I could see and hear him and we had a talk about the supernatural. I told her about the mysterious papers wrapped in black silk that I had discovered and gave them over to her care. She asked me to help with the seance during which Edgar appeared to everyone, the lights flickered on and off and he warned everyone to beware of the The Ravens. The Ravens turned out to be a cult, who had been killing people in the style of Edgar’s stories and had infiltrated the party. It was all terribly concerning.
After the seance I spoke with my father and asked him he thought it was true. He said it was just smoke and mirrors and even though I told him that I had seen Poe before the seance and in fact, could still see him in the room, he said it was just a parlour trick.
My best friend Mariah introduced me to Lucy, and Mariah and Gretchen said some peculiar things about how alike we looked and how lovely it was to see us together. It made me a little uneasy, but Lucy was easy to talk to. She asked me about my mother and I confessed that I had never known her as she had died in childbirth. She was very inquisitive on this subject indeed.
I approached Father Geoffrey, because it had reminded me that now I was of age, I had a right to know who my mother was. Father Geoffrey had always been there for me and I trusted him to tell me the truth. Mash was awesome in this conversation by the way, I really felt he cared for me. He told me that my mother had loved another before my father and there were some strange circumstances around what had happened to this previous lover. More than that he didn’t know.
I spoke again with the man who makes masks and he asked about my mother, I said that she was dead and he asked if I was sure that was so. He said that what I knew wasn’t correct and that in fact my mother was still alive. I was astounded, and he said that he would send her to see me.
Soon Lucy appeared and asked me to speak with her in private. We went into the foyer to be away from my father. In an alcove she revealed that she was my mother. She was frightened though and saw something that made her run off, quickly, she promised we would speak later. She went away and I decided my time to swoon had come. I saw Athena waiting to speak with me and fell on her. Sam, unfortunately, was caught off guard and staggered herself. Both of us then managed to step on our skirts and we kind of swayed around for a bit. I finally realised that the only solution was to crumple so that’s what we did. Plenty of people were around to panic and ask what was wrong. My father came rushing over to check that I was alright and he ordered a chair for me.
While Athena and I waited to be helped up she asked me what was wrong and I told her that my mother might still be alive. When anyone else asked what had happened I laughed it off as either my corset was too tight, or my first taste of champagne had gone to my head.
I think I spoke to Gretchen then, about what had happened. And Lucy, and probably some other people, and I’m not sure who said what. I was told that Rex Solomon wasn’t my real father, it was Mr Beckett, my mother’s first love, whom Rex had framed for the Opera house murders. I was told that Rex was my father and that he had loved my mother, and that Mr Beckett was coming, he’d escaped from prison and was going to take bloody revenge.
When I next saw my father he wasn’t well, he was coughing and seemed weak. He assured me there was nothing to worry about. I insisted that he speak with me and he told me not now, there was going to be another ‘show’. Frustrated, I stood back. Just then there was a scream from outside and everyone rushed out to investigate. I seized the moment to ask him what had really happened with my mother. He assured me that she had died on the night of my birth and that he would like nothing more than to see her again. I gently suggested that she might still be alive and he said he hoped very much that it was so. We also got talking about Ratsley and I said something like “And now he’s dead” all satisfied like. Rex was shocked that I would speak so about his manservant, so I told him how he had been creepily watching me and acting overly familiar. I was quite satisfied to see him as a ghost.
I spoke with Mariah and convinced her to lose the weird talisman that Edgar Allen Poe had told me about. He said it was given to her by the Ravens and that he couldn’t approach her to protect her while she was wearing it. I asked to see it and then Father Geoffrey came by and examined it. When she told him who had given it to her, he said it would definitely be an evil item and he took it away. Poe was pleased, Mariah was the next target of the Ravens for sure.
I spoke with the Eastern European prince, I agreed to meet Lucille in two hours at the docks and I complained to a number of people about the dearth of eligible young men to be introduced to. One of my goals for the night was to find a husband after all, and none seemed forthcoming. Also Mr Ratsley appeared as a ghost and was surprised that I could still see him, but I didn’t speak to him.
The most epic moment of my night was entirely instigated by me, so I feel very proud of myself. My father had told me he was dying and then disappeared upstairs. Edgar Allen Poe had said there was some sort of exorcism occurring in my father’s chambers. I thought ‘screw it’ and started up the stairs, determined to get some answers.
The door to my father’s room was locked, so I pounded on the window and shouted ‘Father! Let me in!’ and pressed my face against the glass to see inside. After about a minute of knocking and demanding, I was allowed to enter. Inside I was disturbed to see that Edgar Allen Poe was being bound into a pen by a strange man in a silver mask. I wanted to help him, but I wasn’t sure how. My hesitation meant I was too late. Once it was completed my father was still dying, he bent at the waist and coughed and I fell to my knees next to him. I rubbed his back and clung to his arm and told him that he was going to be alright.
I asked the housekeeper to fetch Lucille, so that Rex could see her before he died. Father Geoffrey appeared to do the final rites and I forgave Rex so that he could pass into Heaven. Lucille appeared and we both told him that we loved him and forgave him. He said he would confess to the police what he knew about The Ravens and then he died. Lucille and I clung to each other and cried (I really cried. It’s hard to wipe your tears away when you’re wearing a mask by the way.)
We picked ourselves up, taking comfort in the fact that we were reunited and Rex’s death had made things a lot clearer.
Rex had stood up, a ghost now, and was speaking with his manservant who was explaining about limbo. I asked the GM if I could see him yet and she said, yes I could. I said ‘father! You’re still here!’ He looked up, confused. He snapped at Ratsley told him to be quiet. Then he looked at me and said ‘Bella?’ Ants’ expression was priceless, totally freaked and confused.
I said, ‘yeah, I told you I could still see Edgar Allen Poe before. I guessed that you didn’t believe me.’
He smiled. I smiled.
My father’s associate was present as a ghost too, I hadn’t spoken with her much in the evening but she had made some pointed remarks about class and appropriate company for me which had rubbed me the wrong way. It was revealed, I can’t recall how, that it had been her that had staged my mother’s death and concealed it from Rex. I confronted her ghost and she confessed it was true. I told her to go to Hell and she replied that she rather preferred Limbo thanks. It was a pretty awesome interchange.
I went downstairs with my mother, invited her to move in and when we caught up with Mariah and the others we told everyone the truth. It was pretty awesome. I couldn’t even be that sad about my father dying since he was still around.
I tried to look for the mask-maker, to find out if he was actually Mr Beckett and my father, as someone had told me, but he had fled the party. By this time in the night there were an awful lot of ghosts wandering around and I was quite worn out. I sat down with my mother and we chatted with Athena and others until the end of the game.
Well, if you read all that, I guess I’d better reward you with another photo.
If you were there, I’d love to hear your story too….I’m sure everyone had very different experiences!