Sunday, June 30, 2013

Black and White

The lake looks weird, doesn't it? Like there's some kind of fog covering the surface. It doesn't seem to bother the ducks.

So why don't you try touching the surface, see how it feels?

Sure, and what if that stuff is toxic or something? Maybe I better tell someone.

Who? And what are you going to say? Help me, there this kind of weird fog on the lake?

Yeah, maybe not. Okay, I'm going to touch it. Just let me hold onto the tree here so I don't fall in...


We used the first warm day of spring to play a game suggested by Matthijs at Norwegian Style. The original idea was to go out with three people who take turns to play. One players has an encounter with the supernatural, the second player is the guide who asks questions and the third is there as an observer.

We chose Hamburg's biggest cemetery because it's huge, very park-like and not as overrun as the public parks. It took us a while to get started, but a partially frozen lake inspired a journey into another land. A land where everything was either black and white - the gravemarkers all a pure white, everything else, trees, flowers, grass, black or a dark shade of grey at most. No sound to be heard except our own footsteps. No-one around. Someone had to have been here and not long ago because there was a touch of colour, two red candles burning on a grave. It was clear that our time was limited from a hourglass suddenly in our possession. Turning it over stopped the sand, but when held upright again, a big chunk of sand fell through all at once.

Some more exploring brought us to a ring of old gravestones arranged in a circle. We stepped into the circle only to discover that the moment we turned around, the circle has closed itself. And our time was running out. When the last grain of sand dropped to the bottom of the hourglass, the ground gave way beneath us and the next thing we knew, we were floundering in the icecold waters of the lake, back where we started.

This was our first experiment with this kind of freeform roleplaying and it turned out brilliantly. We didn't really plan anything, just went outside and waited for inspiration. Since my friend came up with an idea first, I acted as the guide and merely asked questions or suggested things to do or try (we didn't have a third player).

Someone at the Story Games forum has told me about the concept of Derivé, a journey through a (urban) landscape, subconsciously influenced by the surroundings. This is very close to what we did here and we lost ourselves so much in our imagination that we needed to just sit and slowly come back to reality after we were done.

It was actually the first time since my childhood that I went outside and, armed with nothing but my imagination, played a game of make-believe. It worked every bit as well as it did back then.

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