LARP: The Queen of Hearts

PREMISE:

Tonight is the night the Queen of Hearts has her annual celebration. There’s food, music, conversation, and, as always, intrigue. She has invited the royalty of nearby Kingdoms to attend, but then something went wrong. A spell was cast to assassinate the Queen. A spell that was intercepted with another spell, and somewhere, something (or someone) went back in time and changed things. Has everyone simply been granted another chance?

BACKGROUND:

The Queen of Hearts is a vampire mage of many thousands of years, and all of her clan and entourage are vampires, turned by her. Her Knave stole some “tarts” (all of a summer’s day) and she has turned them.

The King and Queen of Diamonds are known as powerful wizards. Tradition says only Royalty may do magic within the Courts, although there are magical items and special abilities that can also be used. Despite the magic of the Diamond clan, they have been unable to find their lost princess… and she is presumed dead.

Hearts and Diamonds are traditionally rivals. It is said by the Hearts that Diamonds possess only ice in their veins. It is said by the Diamonds that their purity is like light to the Hearts’ darkness.

The Court of Spades is the only one with a known Assassin (the Ace of Spades). The Assassin of Spades will not die by age or disease, but only from combat.

The King of Clubs is a new monarch, having ascended to the Throne after defeating the previous King. While Spades and Clubs have been enemies traditionally (the Queen of Spades assassinated the past Queen of Clubs), the new King of Clubs may still open up negotiations where there once was rivalry.

CHARACTERS:

Queen of Hearts: ALISIA

You have been a Vampire Queen for a thousand years, and there are few things that can destroy a creature as powerful as you. Who has such a thing? Why would they do it? You suspect it might have something to do with the delicious Tarts your Knave stole for you. The Queen of Spades is one you can trust not to be involved…she’s been very close in recent years. And, of course, you can trust your Knave. You don’t know the new King of Clubs very well… but you know he killed the old ruler to become King. You invited the Diamonds, but…you’ve never liked them.

Knave of Hearts: THE LINTKING

You are the Queen’s Knave, her fetch-and-errand boy. You serve the Queen, and when she was hungry, you saw the Tarts playing on a summer’s day, and stole them for your Queen’s liking. Your Queen has turned them into one of her kind. You have done this thing for her before… like the one you had turned into a Cat for the Queen’s pleasure. You suspect the Diamonds may have had something to do with the magic thrown about, as they’re known wizards… but would the Wizard turn against the Witch? Who cast the counter-spell?

Tart: THE BARBARIAN

Was actually the three of Spades… the Queen of Spades knew it, and was getting chummy with the Queen of Hearts in order to find out more about the process of vampirism.

Tart : CHATTERBOX

Was actually the Princess of Clubs, playing with the Three of Spades on a summer’s day while there was a rendezvous of royalty.

Cat of Hearts: RAINBOW K

You are the Opener of Secrets for the Queen of Hearts. A spy. You are also her pet. You are supposed to listen and report back to the Queen all that you hear. Once upon a time, you remember that you were a princess… but that was a long time ago. Now you’re a cat and you like being a cat.

The reason the Diamonds can’t find their Princess is because she’s all but forgotten her previous life.

Knight of Hearts

You were assigned to protect the Queen of Hearts, but your true loyalty is to the Queen of Spades. You are not a Vampire, although you have been given a spell to appear like one, even to the Queen of Hearts’ satisfaction. While you believe the Queen of Spades and the Queen of Hearts to be close allies, you know the Queen of Spades never trusts anyone. If you had to make a choice, you would choose Spades. After all, she has given you your special magic.

The ‘special magic’ was one of the few magical items in the game: a “spell-reflection” that could have been stolen, but otherwise was “always on,” so any spell cast against him would reflect to the caster.

Queen of Spades: MYSELF

Notable only that Spades are known for keeping secrets, the Queen of Spades killed her husband a while back, which is why there is no King of Spades. She allowed the Three of Spades to be stolen and turned by the Queen of Hearts in order to learn enough of the process to infiltrate the Hearts with her Ten of Spades (now the Knight of Hearts.) She had her assassin kill the Queen of Clubs as the Queen of Clubs was getting too powerful. She specializes in reflective spells, which is how the spell cast against the Queen of Hearts was diverted, and why the Ten of Spades wears her special item now.

The Assassin of Spades

You are the personal assassin of the Queen of Spades. You have been in her service for a thousand years, and will be for a thousand more, if you are not killed in battle. Tonight she has requested you once again act as her bodyguard and spy. You know that there is something between the Queen of Spades and the Witch-Queen of Diamonds. Given how Diamonds dislike Hearts, this means something interesting is happening, and you think that maybe you will be sent to kill someone tonight after all. Nobody as neat as when you killed the old Queen of Clubs, though.

Knight of Spades

You may be the Knight of Spades, but in truth, your Queen has had you secretly practicing your spell-casting for many years. Your magic grows in secret. On the outside, you are not prepossessing: you sometimes act the fool… but that way you get people to tell you their secrets.

He had a special ability akin to most Spades: the ability to magically request one secret of a person. Of course, it didn’t have to be THEIR secret…

Wizard-King of Diamonds

You know that there are not many magicians powerful enough in this group to cast such a spell as to assassinate the old Vampire Queen of Hearts. You also know that there are not many magicians powerful enough to subvert such a spell. So, which were you? Your only motive is that you think the Queen of Hearts ate your Princess of Diamonds long ago… You know the Queens all have their spells… but maybe there is a secret magician in the bunch? You suspect that the Clubs, and their rivalry with the Kingdom of Spades (a known ally of Hearts) may be at the bottom of this.

Witch-Queen of Diamonds

Your husband, the WIZARD is attempting to gain the power of HEARTS or CLUBS. You received word that your Princess was sold into slavery to the QUEEN OF HEARTS by the KNAVE OF HEARTS. Your magic has told you that the Princess still lives, but you don’t know who she is. You are looking for revenge. You know you could cast a spell against the Queen of Hearts, but you don’t know if you could give her the final death. The QUEEN OF SPADES has offered you a gift of magic that might make the difference, if you can deliver the KING OF CLUBS to her. Problem being? The new King of Clubs is an ally!

Barbarian King of Clubs

You are the new King of Clubs. The old King, who you bested in a duel was an ally of the Queen of Hearts, but you really haven’t made any overtures to her. You know that you hate the Spades for the way they killed the old Queen of Clubs. You suspect that the Queen of Spades stole the missing Princess of Clubs. What has she been turned into? How can you trust the Queen of Hearts if they’re close friends with Spades? On the other hand, maybe if you make the Queen of Hearts your friend, you can get closer to the Queen of Spades…?

Knight of Clubs

You are going to attempt the assassination of the Queen of Hearts. You know you have allies, only… who? The Witch-Queen of Diamonds may be one… The Queen of Hearts has too many of the royals under her evil spell. You know your King will be trying to make a new deal with the Kingdom of Hearts. Maybe you can use this to your advantage!

The spell that the Knight of Clubs has was a sphere of true sunlight. My backstory suggested that it had been created by the King of Diamonds once, and stolen, and I kind of let it out through the party that there were weaknesses for vampires like that.

ADDITIONAL CHARACTERS:

I sorted the people with character concepts out of the deck, using Knights as Jacks or Tens, as appropriate. I then had anyone additional who wanted to play (we had some folks show up after characters had been developed and distributed) pick a card (“Any card…“) after which I would introduce them to the person playing their King/Queen, telling them to meet together and get a purpose.

SPELLS, ARTIFACTs, ABILITIES:

Invisibility: The Assassin of Spades

This was actually something all vampires could also do, but it was a special ability of assassins as well.

Healing: King of Clubs

Fairly unlimited healing as the province of Kings.

Hide: Knight of Spades

Make something or someone invisible, even to magic.

Bedazzle: Knight of Spades

Cannot be used on Diamonds.

Sends person into a state of confusion for two minutes. They cannot cast spells during this time.

Cardiac Arrest: Knight of Spades

Vampires are immune.

Resisted by Queens.

Gives person a heart attack and kills them.

Backstab: Assassin of Spades

Special Ability. Cannot be used on Vampires.

Attempts to kill one person.

Poison: Assassin of Spades

Vampires are immune.

Poison one person or object.

Call Lightning: King of Diamonds

Spades are immune.

This brings down several bolts of lightning on someone. Will incinerate vampires, but may be resisted by the Queen of Hearts.

Raise Dead: King of Diamonds

Cannot be used on vampires.

Bring one dead person back to life.

Cure: Queen of Diamonds

Cannot be used on vampires.

Cures poison, disease, madness, releases people from mesmerization, heals all.

True Form: Queen of Diamonds

Returns someone to their true form.

Sphere of Light: Knight of Clubs

Harmless to anyone except vampires.

This spell creats a point of sunlight (as determined via flashlight beam) to destroy vampires.

Word of Safety: Knave of Hearts

This creates a physical/magical shield for one or two people for two minutes.

Polymorph (Limited): Knave of Hearts

Can be resisted by Queens, Wizard of Diamonds.

Turn someone into an animal for two minutes.

Always fun in LARPs.

Blood Thirst: All Hearts

Special Ability. Can be resisted by Diamonds.

Heals the vampire of all damage by transferring it to the victim.

Mesmerization: All Hearts

Special Ability. Can be resisted by Queens and King of Diamonds.

Allows the vampire to hypnotize the victim into doing one small task. Cannot be completely against the personality or character goals.

PLAY:

We started fairly late, so I pushed to make this a fairly quick scenario. If you’re interested in using it, please feel free to ask any questions on developing it further and in more detail.

Most of it was a matter of discussions, and reporting back to the Queens/Kings. No one was killed, and I didn’t see any spells get used. I gathered everyone back up at about 35 minutes to go ahead and make their guesses and reveal their “secrets.”

There was a little confusion by the Queen of Hearts as to which of her subjects was the Princess of Diamonds, but otherwise, everyone seemed fairly satisfied as to what was said, and how it played out. No one guessed the Knight of Clubs as the “real enemy,” although some people figured out that the Queen of Spades did the resisting spell. I didn’t get a chance to make peace between the kingdom of Clubs and Spades, but otherwise, we had fun.

Spikards Vs. Primal Powers

Jvstin wrote, “A Primal Power is a locus or node of energies which is powerful enough to permanently affect a section of reality greater than the shadow from which it springs.”

My commentary to him was that that was basically my definition of a Spikard.

Jvstin wrote in his blog that his definition of a Primal Power was:

A Primal Power is a locus or node of energies which is powerful enough to permanently affect a section of reality greater than the shadow from which it springs.

My commentary to him was that that was basically my definition of a Spikard.

There are a number of people who shy away from using Spikards as a terrible second series plot device. I actually like them. I like them because I use them as bound gods. If you have the ring of Pele, you tap into the powers of that goddess. Eventually they can overwhelm the user…or turn the user into thinking they’re a god themselves.

So what do I think, is a “Primal Power”? ArrefMak asks:

What sort of things rival the far-reaching powers of Pattern and Logrus?

For years I’ve figured Trump was the building block of the Universe.

I asked Jvstin about why primal powers would have a fixed location. He responded (read his blog) in reference to their relation to being “poles” of the (multi)verse, creating and changing (his word is “organizing”) the Shadows around them in order to make that location indeed, “fixed.” [Which is a theory that would relate quite well to the difficulty of using a primal power near its source…]

When I was saying that I saw Trump as the building block power of the universe, I wasn’t being entirely facetious. Ignoring the “Trump requires another Power” argument, I see Trump energy as being the common thread to mark Reality. Its energy is fairly ubiquitous: part of the metaphysical “aether” that defines the welkin [such as it is] of raw Shadow. When the form of Shadow is damaged, so are the Trump connections (similarly, distance from the Trump source…which is how I explain Trumps that contain Pattern: having another power to back it up changes the magic in any case.)

A “real” person is an anchor that a Trump can follow. [I loved the idea of Trump viruses just for that reason.] Similarly, a real “place.” Advanced artists in my campaigns can create “Shadow Trump,” namely Trump that connect to Shadow items. The side effect is that the idea of “reflections” continue: those items often gain a level of “reality.”

So in my [basic] cosmology, Trump is _the_ primal power. Locations without Trump are weaker, not “real” locations. Since Trump energy is “everywhere” location becomes less of a concern.

The Pattern is kind of a reversed Spikard in my campaign. As I explained how a Spikard can imprint itself on someone, those who walk the Pattern bring their experiences and “imprint” onto it, adding to its self-processing power (where a Spikard would require someone else to do the processing.)

One of the reasons I would use the second series heresy of Pattern Ghosts would be for the Pattern to try to ‘figure out’ tough concepts. Kind of like the Pattern dreaming… but not in a sentient fashion.

The concept of reflection is an important one to my cosmology, and to some extent, I think of the Unicorn and Serpent to be the “observers” of the reflections. [One of the reasons I explain a powerful Llewella…] It’s an internal balance.

Trump Laws: Proposed

[from MaBarry’s notebook]

I don’t know exactly what I was doing with this list, but there’s some interesting thoughts in it. Written below it is the word, “Alexithymia” meaning, “able to only poorly differentiate between emotions.”

1. Tarot requires knowledge of images. The questions are irrelevant.

2. Requires a patron totem (can be a card image) or power.

3. Can be used to ‘remember’ a Shadow.

4. Images can be blended: will warp an original image.

5. The cards can be used to spy on peoples’ thoughts.

6. The order the cards are in is important.

7. There is a secret set of ‘master’ cards that relate to archetypes.

8. Each card is individually made and ‘spelled’.

9. Communication through the cards cannot be false.

10. Using them backwards can be dangerous.

11. Each card has a special meaning.

12. Cards cannot be duplicated exactly.

13. Cards are ‘sealed’ by the Artist to prevent changes after they are drawn.