After a weekend of anticipation, I joined the second session of Oblivion at Dreamation 2015 – and although I hadn’t played through session one on Friday, it was still relatively easy to understand what was going on. Oblivion is a LARP (live action role playing game) that encompasses post-apoc, sci-fi, and superhero genres.
Despite a locally notorious rulebook (known for being very detailed but a bit heavy and intimidating), Oblivion was really easy to pick up. I’m terrible at numbers, but there were only a few stats to keep track of for the purposes of the module.
Part of what makes Oblivion easy to enjoy is that the location you’re in – wherever you happen to be in New Jersey at the time – is where you really are in the game, just in the future. So there I was, sitting with a crew of shady looking characters, dumped into this strange, survival-based culture.
We were greeted by 404, our in-game guide a highlight of the game. He explained the how and why of the scenario, including our objective. Once we entered the module – the subnet – we were essentially LARPing as our characters’ avatars within the subnet. 404 helped guide us through. The lighting was at first disconcerting. Everything moved like code – it looked like “The Matrix” and “Tron” in there.
Module Setting and Preparation
I later learned that this set took weeks to build and hours to set up. This made me realize how prepared this group was. The module set looked like it took a full day to piece together, which means they must have packed and organized everything rather precisely after constructing it off-site.
Playing a Talker
I’d gone into the game wanting to play an Advocate, which is a political class. My hope was that persuasive behavior could affect aspects of the module, and this proved to be true. Despite the fact that the mod took place within a computer network, my character Zay was able to use a combination of her smooth talking skills and computer science knowledge to convince and deactivate programs (combatants). I love playing this type of character, and seeing a dynamic staff react to my roleplay was extremely rewarding.
Oblivion incorporated real-life technology into the game, having us play a challenging game on a tablet that enabled us to advance to another level. My character ‘amused’ the NPC computer, which was fun to hear.
Gameplay in the dark is always a challenge for LARPers. Whether you’re playing outdoors at night or in a dark setting (like this module), it’s a bit tougher to avoid head shots in the dark. That said, the Oblivion mod was full of controlled combat. Staff and NPCs led by example, and at one point a fancy technical slow-mo effect was called. It was interesting because my character felt panic, but everything moved slowly, like a horrible tragedy.
A Welcoming Attitude and a Safe Exit
The welcoming attitude and high level of role play is the most appealing aspect of this game. Key NPCs did not rush us through anything. Like most campaign LARPs, there was not a formal debrief, but we were given the fantastic option of hanging out in The Rec Room, an in-game bar area full of engaging personalities. After some intense combat, this provided a cool transition back to the real world.
I definitely recommend the game based on what I’ve seen of it – and I can’t wait to experience more of it.