Intercon anecdote

Intrigue In The Clouds is a famous convention LARP, but I didn’t know that when I went to sign up for games at Intercon. If I had known of its fame, I would have put it as my first choice. Putting it as my second choice got me on the waitlist. Live and learn.

I spent the next few weeks hoping enough people would drop that I would get to play. By Saturday of Intercon, it was clear that this had not happened, but experienced Interconners encouraged me to put on a costume and show up at the game anyway, just on the off-chance. You never know, they said. A lot of people are sick with flu, after all.

So I put on my starched white blouse and crinoline petticoat and long full skirt (not quite the right decade, but close enough) and got it all arranged so I could walk without tripping. Collected my fan and reticule and presented myself to the game masters at twenty minutes to eight.

They shook their heads. “We haven’t had any drops – ”

“No problem,” I started to say. “Thanks for – ”

“But.” The GM held out a packet, and I stopped talking. “I wrote this for my eleven-year-old son to play the last time we ran. It’s not a very complicated character, but you don’t have time to learn a complicated character anyway. Would you mind playing a newsboy?”

I put my hand right out for it. “I’d love to play a newsboy.”

He eyed my outfit. “You can’t wear that, is the only thing. Can you come up with a costume in time?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “I’ve got twenty minutes. I’ll be right back.”

Cue me flying down the halls of the Crown Plaza as fast as the ridiculous crinoline would allow, texting to my compatriots once I hit the elevator: “I’m in! I can play Intrigue if I play a newsboy! Where the hell am I going to find costuming for that in 19 minutes??? :D”

Compatriot #1: “LOL”

Compatriot #1: “You just need to find a newsboy cap somewhere.”

Compatriot #2: “That’s exactly what I was going to say!”

It was something I already knew. But I didn’t own one, let alone have one on hand. I knew some people at the con had them…I’d seen at least one for sure, maybe more than one…maybe I could ask at the registration desk? Would that be crazy?

The elevator doors opened to reveal a lady dressed in a mirror image of the same over-the-top Victorian garb I was wearing, except her skirt was green, and she’d added a wig.

It couldn’t possibly hurt to ask, right? “Excuse me,” I said. “Are you playing Intrigue In The Clouds?”

She smiled. “Yes I am!”

“So am I!” I said. “I just got in off the waitlist, and they gave me a newsboy character. So I have to go change. Would you by any chance know anyone who might be able to lend me the right kind of cap?”

“Actually,” she said, “I have one. Come with me.”

Back into the elevator! All the way up to the sixth floor! I texted my companions: “I just found a lady who will lend me one!!! I love Intercon!”

She rummaged through a box of costumes and came up with the cap. I told her she was my new favorite person. With fourteen minutes to go, I booked it for my room.

I tore off and left heaped on the floor my belt, skirt, blouse, and crinoline. I left on the black leggings I’d been wearing under the skirt and pulled a plain black shirt over my head. I swapped out my black flats for high black boots, grabbed my black-and-gray patterned scarf and tied it so it hung long, like a muffler, then added the cap. The cap helped a lot. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for a jacket. Ideally, I’d need a man’s suit coat a little too big for me, sleeves rolled up, but with seven minutes to go before game start, idealism was going to have to bow to reality. I searched my collection of paperwork from other games for something that might serve as a newspaper prop.

My roommate (aka Compatriot #2) entered in search of something he had forgotten, and admired the effect of the cap – “Wow. That really works.” I asked if he had a suit jacket. He didn’t. I pulled on my purple velveteen jacket – too fancy for the character, but nothing to be done about it – and checked the mirror. The cap made all the difference; with it pulled low over one eye, I could look up in an appropriately ragamuffin sort of way.

“I just need something that looks like a newspaper – ” I told my friend, turning back to my search.

He handed me his day-old Wall Street Journal.

I love Intercon.

Then I ran down the hall and down the elevator and down the other hall to the event space, skidding to a stop in front of the GM at two minutes to eight.

“Paper, mister?” I said.

He raised his eyebrows. “Very nice. And right on time.”

And the game was awesome, by the way. Its fame is justified, and if you’re going to play something that complicated with no prep, a paperboy is an ideal way to do it, since you can wander all around and nibble little bites from all the intersecting plots. I had a blast inhabiting that universe for four hours.

But my favorite part was the nineteen minutes before the game began. Best part of Intercon. No question.

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