Rules of Play
What Is Eskhaton
Eskhaton is a larp focused on the gathering of cults that worship extra-dimensional beings and know that the end times are coming. It is set in modern times and is expected to running in April 2019 in the New England region with anywhere from 100-125 players.
Eskhaton’s story centers on five major cults that worship apocalyptic extra-dimensional beings that will destroy Earth and transform it. Inspired by Lovecraftian myth and the cults in it, the central story focuses on the cults that have long been in decline or side-lined into the shadows, knowingly worshipping beings from beyond, and hiding from the dangers of exposure to a hostile society. A prophesied ‘end time’ is coming that all of the cults agree on and they are now gathering to work together (or not) and the central conflict is on how much members of these cults can agree to work together knowing that the apocalypse is coming. Each of the gods associated with the cults have their own apocalypse outcome, and the cultists in their interaction will discover which they believe most in. The characters portrayed are cultists or infiltrators of the cults, and the dawning horror or exhilaration of the end is central to the game’s main story.
Players will have a number of tasks before them. The primary “goals” of the event are to create or destroy an alliance between the cults, to share information on threats to the cults, to formulate a plan for dealing with those threats either separately or together, and to perform rituals that further goals. Players can expect diplomacy, drama, interpersonal relationships, moral dilemmas and the experience of casting rituals or dabbling in dark magics.
Along the way there will be:
Debates—debates about the true nature of the extra-dimensional beings, the nature of magic and ritual, the necessity (or not) of working together to achieve a common goal, whether the apocalypse should be averted, who should lead in the coming times
Mysteries to solve—what is the true origin of the cults, what do the extra-dimensional beings want exactly, what is magic and why does it work, what else is there in the universe
Personal stories—believers of the cult vs. those along for the ride, relationships with the cult as family or friends, feelings of horror and fear of the end coming, desire for power and recognition or revenge, personal curiosity and morbid fascination, living in a group that accepts all
Politics—the jockeying for control of a cult, the politics in negotiating the alliance of cults for the end times, the dismissal or destruction of rivals, laying a path for productive outcomes and a secure future to the shared agenda
Contextual drama—ritual and magic being performed and the emotions or experience of that, fear of infiltration by law enforcement or outside interests (i.e. cultist hunters), encountering the monstrous and unknown, insanity and delusion as coping mechanisms
Safety and Consent Mechanics
We wish to ensure peoples’ comfort and security levels, so we will have safety and consent mechanics in play. They will be chosen based, in part, on responses to the player surveys that we conduct. We have used mechanics like “Check-Ok,” safe words, and green/red/yellow cues in the past, and those used for this game will be along those same lines. As the nature of Eskhaton is dark and the themes may include uncomfortable subject matter, training will occur in workshops designed to encourage safe and consensual play that allows players to navigate the content with each other.
Our games are mediation based. If players come into conflict, they are empowered to resolve the conflict for themselves. We will be holding a workshop at the beginning of the game to ensure that people understand the basics of mediation – what is mediated conflict and how it works. The outcomes of mediation are designed to allow for consensual ‘yes, and’ style gameplay. This includes the use of magic and ritual, which are core to the game, but will function principally the same as any other conflict.
Reverie Studios will be implementing a ‘safety team’ assembled from volunteers and customers that represent a body of accountability for our code of conducts and ethics. We will strive to make this team a body that represents inclusivity, diversity and responsibility. This team will review core elements of Eskhaton to ensure it has a high standard of safety.
Characters and Groups
The characters will nominally belong to one of five different cults that all believe in and have association with the same themes. All five cults believe in extra-dimensional entities and worship them in one way or another. All five believe in an ‘end time’ that will come that will end the age of man and usher in a new time that they will belong to as preferred servants of the extra-dimensional powers. The five groups have different outlooks, preferences and styles, and may disagree on some issues large or small such as the correct way to interact with the non-cult world, or the way that a ritual is done.
Leadership and Status
The leadership of the five cults and their individual structure are described in the cult faction supplemental information that will be provided to players. These documents will describe how each cult handles status within its own ranks. At the gathering of the cultists, each cult will have a voice clearly defined at the start that will be involved in any starting discussions about the alliance (or not) to be made among the cults. All players will be encouraged to engage with the politics and diplomacy of the event, but they can be as involved or not as they choose or as their characters choose.
What is most important to us in running this game is that you have a strong, immersive experience portraying a cultist who is preparing for the prophesied end times. While there will be plenty of things to do, there will also be time to explore your character and to live in their shoes for a bit. The draw of playing a cultist will be to participate in fun cult activities and to roleplay as someone who lives and thinks different in a different world. Because everything is on site, there is more opportunity for bonding experiences, as well as intense emotional moments. We will provide safe, out-of-character spaces, as well as trained counselors in case they are needed, and have sufficient staff whose goal is to make this event as comfortable as possible for you to relax into. As well, our workshops will address issues of consent, safety, trust, comfort, and gameplay.
Reverie Studios, LLC believes strongly in collaborative storytelling. We design our games to be immersive and theatrical, and we work hard to give our players a moving experience that will stay with them even once they are back in the real world. The ideas here provide a framework for the stories that we create and the characters that we write. We hope that you will take these precepts to heart to help us create a powerful and entertaining experience for you.
Every character we write is built along one fundamental principle – it must be a character that we would want to play ourselves. We carefully construct intricate, detailed backgrounds with a web of connections to other characters, in order to provide a fully fleshed out game experience. All of our characters have rich histories, clear motivations, and a list of allies and rivals that we hope our players will use as tools to fuel their roleplay.
Play for Interesting
The event being run is not a game that can be won; it is an event to be experienced. Character histories are filled with angst, drama, secrets and emotions, and these should drive your in-character decisions. To better achieve this, we encourage our players to adopt the philosophy developed by several Nordic larp communities – Play for what is interesting (aka play to lose). The goal of this play-style is not to strive towards successfully achieving particular goals, but to collaboratively build dramatic moments. An excellent example is in the way we want our players to handle a character’s secrets: the “winners” of our game aren’t the ones who managed to stay safe and maintain their secrets, but the ones who allowed their secrets to emerge in the most entertaining way for everyone in the game.
Try not to interpret your characters in a way that prevents them from engaging with other characters, the plot, or the drama. Instead, find reasons for your characters to risk themselves, or speak with rivals and those you may have in-character reasons to fear. Information discovered should be shared, not hoarded and protected, unless there is a more exciting and interesting moment for that information to come out.
We hope that you will embrace these ideas as we have and will join us, and the other players in our games, to create immersive, dramatic experiences that you’ll tell stories about for years to come. We want this game, and all of our games, to be the best thing you do this year. Please help us achieve that goal!