Hey, Welcome back to Lawyers & Liquor, the premiere home for the legal and not-so-legal profane ramblings of the Boozy Barrister. Today we’re going to keep going with my recounting of my recent descent into the world of NERO and LARP in general, specifically the NERO variant known as “Fables of Fenorra” in the lead-up to this weekend’s trip back out for my second visit to the mystical and magical world where, apparently, everything is falling apart and chaos reigns as we hit each other with foam weapons.
Before we begin, though, let me stress: If you want to get in on the madness there is a Fables of Fenorra event going on this upcoming weekend at Eagle Pass Camp in Wales, Mass, ran by the guys over at Epic Adventures, LLC! You can register at the door on Friday, June 15th, or online at the Epic Adventures website! I’ll be there causing trouble as Dart the Cowardly Alchemist, and you should stop by if you want to figure this shit out for yourself.
So last time I talked about how I ended up getting sucked into agreeing to go to a LARP event, which if you skipped over that entry is a “Live Action Role Playing” event where people beat the shit out of each other with padded weapons and act out characters in a complicated fantasy world. This time, let’s just get right into meat of the thing: How my adventures went.
Friday -The Trip Begins
As I am wont to do, I wasn’t going to slide away into a fantasy land of shit that doesn’t matter until I had already dealt with the fantasy land that is the representation of my clients. As such, the trip up to the wilds of Massachusetts didn’t start until after the office was closed for the day and I’d had a chance to swing by the house to pick up my spouse and the sullen teenager that’d been roped into attending. The teen was, of course, sullen because they’d found out that while at the campsite where we were stepping into the breeches of another person, there was no WiFi connection that would allow them to spend the weekend on the Facebook or whatever it is the tragically hip children of today do. Because of that, we didn’t arrive on site until well after dark, trekking through the backroads that comprise the Connecticut/Massachusetts line.
First, please let me assure you that I use Apple Maps and other such tools when driving on the backroads, in part because I haven’t had to read a map in about a decade and because I’ve seen The Hills Have Eyes. There was absolutely zero chance I was going to get raped by hillbillies, which I assume in New England are like normal hillbillies but with lobsters instead of crawdads a-boilin’ on the stove, by getting off track with not only my family in the car but a load of theatrical makeup in the trunk. It would have been a mash-up between Deliverance and Puddles Pity Party all at once, and yours truly most definitely does have a purty mouth.
So I followed the GPS until it brought me to the end of the road with a foreboding sign that read, simply “Campground” and pointed down a dirt path surrounded on all sides by trees. This was not a good sign, as I plunged onwards down the path to the camp in my little Mazda, thinking of all the horror movies I’ve seen in my lifetime. While my spouse remained calm, and the shrieking from the backseat told me we had indeed lost phone service, I still had a certain amount of trepidation as we bounced over this narrow path. First, it was the sort of narrow path where if it dead ends there is absolutely no room to turn the goddamn car around, instead forcing you to reverse through a mile of narrow wilderness to reach the main road again, and second there was a goddamn taxidermied deer tied to a tree with baling wire.
In short, I was fairly certain we were going to die, and die horrible slow deaths, right up until the road widened and we disgorged ourselves into what appeared to be a fairly modern campground with a smattering of buildings and, thankfully, lights.
This was to be the magical land of Fenorra, which in addition to a bevy of magical creatures and a good smattering of wonder, now also featured one fairly shaken and very tired attorney.
It wasn’t more than a few moments after our arrival that we were greeted by our friend, who we’ll call Wilson here, that had invited us up. Wilson is a generally amicable man in the real world, a programmer from out in the land of Starbucks coffee and bad grunge bands known as Seattle who, because he had formerly been an East Coast crawler and had married a fellow East Coast crawler that partially owned the franchise we were attending, winged his way across the country to play in the game. And while Wilson is normally the type to wander around in a button up shirt and nice pants, this weekend he’d instead adopted to move around shirtless but for an open cloth vest with what appeared to be stones sticking out of his skin, which, friend or not, is a terrifying sight to see after completing the crawl down what could best be described as the Oregon Trail of service roads to the campsite.
“Boozy!” he cried as he walked up, slamming his fist into his forehead with enough force that I suddenly wondered if he was intentionally trying to injure himself for the group’s sweet, sweet insurance payout, “you made it! Alright, so we’ll get you guys over to registration so you can sign the waivers and pick up your characters sheets, and because you guys have the baby with you you aren’t staying in a cabin but rather we’ve got you guys in the tavern which has lockable doors and real beds. You’ve already missed the opening weekend battle and…”
“Wilson,” I interrupted him, “why was there a full goddamn deer corpse tied to a tree on the road?”
“Oh, ” he waved off nonchalantly and as if it explained everything, “that’s just the neighbor.”
“…that does not answer my question.”
“Quiet,” my spouse, who was climbing from the car, interrupted, well aware that if I was allowed to continue we were in for a rambling rant on how that’s the sort of shit serial killers do right before wiping out a campground full of promiscuous teens, “Wilson, sweetie, it’s so good to see you.”
It was around this time I realized that my spouse was also punching themselves in the forehead as they spoke. I started to wonder if this had all been a clever ruse, the whole damn thing from marriage to the present, simply to drag me out to the woods for the ritual sacrifice of the cranky lawyer. Suspiciously I eyed the teenager, who was still staring in despair at their phone, wondering if this was all merely part of her plan to get my brand new iPhone 8 Plus. Still, cautiously, I ventured a question.
“Why are both of you punching yourselves?”
“OH! This is how you show that you’re out of character to everyone else, you put your fist on your forehead,” Wilson explained. I considered this information for a moment, and guessed that the fact I was still wearing a suit and tie from the office would merely be interpreted as people in the game thinking I was a goddamn time-traveller or something. The situation seemed obvious. Still, when in Rome one must become the Prime Minister and sexually harass female staffers – or however we interpret that saying since the fall of Berlusconi. So, cautiously, I put my fist to my forehead and tried again.
“Can we get back to the fucking deer?”
“Don’t worry about it. Come on, let’s get you into registration and then you can get into my pants.”
“Hush,” my spouse told me as they followed the form of Wilson rapidly departing into the night towards the glowing windows of the main building, “it’s all fantasy made real.”
“He told me I have to get in his pants,” I answered as I trailed alone, unwilling to be left alone in the darkness with the deer defiler, “Fantasy is exactly what I’m worried about.
Wilson led us, with a minimum of fuss and with our fists firmly applied directly to our foreheads, into a rather modern house-like structure in the center of the campground. The building was constructed just like you would expect someone’s actual home it be, and literally reeked of the scents of fresh paint and new drywall, an obvious recent addition to the grounds, and bustled with the activity of the gamerunners and the NPCs as they fluttered to and fro wearing theatrical make-up to make them seem like members of the Undead. I would find out, later in the evening, that we had showed up during the game world’s fiction “Season of Dying,” their Halloween-themed event where the monsters that typically only come out at night get free roam during the day and raise the difficulty level of the game because everyone fucking dies. But, as Wilson’s husband John would tell us moment’s later, this was fine because during their first event new players were allowed to die as many times as they wanted without a penalty.
John was, and still is, a jovial sort of person, a counterpoint to the quiet yet amicable intensity that Wilson himself exudes, and makes the couple a creation of sweet and sour for many people who meet them. While Wilson is a sweet heart wrapped in a gruff exterior, John is a sweet heart wrapped whose exterior was formed when he fell into a cotton candy machine and decided to just roll with the outcome. While I’m certain he has a sharper side and the ability to devastate people with mere words, I’ve never experienced that side of him, so it was with some amazement I watched him dart from one side of the room to the other, mustering NPC skeletons like a general mustering an army, to send them out to attack the people who were paying real money to live in a fictional world.
“Alright,” he said to one group of NPCs, “just wait outside their cabin and when they come out kill them, got it? And remember, make sure they have fu…HEY BOOZY!”
He had spotted us, dismissing the skeletons with a wave of his hand, and came over with a thick sheaf of papers that I would later discover were liability waivers. I quickly punched myself in the forehead.
“You don’t need that in here,” he said, dismissing my attempt to join in the native culture, “but you do need to sign these waivers, the parental releases, and get your character sheets, then go get changed into your costumes.”
As he handed me the paperwork I felt at home. A review of liability waivers was something grounding in a world of talking skeletons, shirtless friends, and, I cannot stress this enough, deer corpses tied to fucking trees. I was slightly disappointed to see that the waivers were, indeed, relatively comprehensive and covered most of the incidents that could befall an unwary wizard in the world. However, much like a real goddamn wizard, a lawyer knows the right incantations to get through any issue with a waiver and I gleefully signed them and received my character sheet, as did my spouse.
“Dad,” my teenager, having accepted the loss of their phone for two days and moving on from the grieving process related thereto, said, “I don’t have a character.”
“I got this,” John said cheerfully as he took the waivers back, “Let’s go over into the staff room and I’ll help you make a character, then we can get you outfitted with some loaner gear for this event.”
That was, by the way, the last time I saw my oldest child until Sunday. I don’t know where they slept, ate, or showered for the remainder of the weekend or if they even did. I’m a magnificent fucking parent.
With all that done, Wilson slung a bag at me and exclaimed “Awesome, here’s the gear I packed for you! Let’s get you up to the tavern and you can change into costume, then I’ll take you guys over to my bunk and kit you out with armor and weapons.”
And thus began the weekend of transforming myself from Boozy the Barrister to Dart the Bard…
…Which we’ll talk about tomorrow.
Because I’m a mean S.O.B.