The Quest is a reality competition show set in the fantasy world setting of Everealm. Twelve Paladins must endure training to find the one true hero and defeat the enemy, Verlox. Having the show remind me of a LARP without a budget had me surprised when only one Paladin showed her true colors as a LARPer! I was proud to interview fellow LARPer Adria Kyne!
A thank you to @ for the pictures!
Adria Kyne can be found @
Tina Degenhart: How did you hear about The Quest and how did your interview process go?
Adria Kyne: I’m on a Boston-area geek culture email list, and someone posted the announcement to it. The poster said that they were looking for LARPers and cosplayers, and it sounded cool. But I actually thought that some friends of mine would be perfect–one of them is a fantasy writer, the other an artist, they’re both black belts, and they’re both interesting and hilarious. The initial interview was at a local restaurant; about a hundred people showed up, and my two friends, my boyfriend and I entered sorta as a team. My two friends were asked to come back on the spot, and they called me back the next day.
The next stage of the interview was to meet the casting team at a hotel, where they videotaped an interview of us. The only thing I remember specifically was one question: “most of the other contestants are in their 20s. Do you think that is unfair?” to which I replied, “I can’t help it if I have superior experience and wisdom. They’re just going to have to keep up with me.” 🙂
Then they asked us to make a six-minute video showing us doing our hobbies–I showed some of my cosplays, some LARP fighting at an event I attended, running, weightlifting (I had a personal best in deadlift that day!); archery; and kung fu.
I got a call a few weeks later asking me to come out to Los Angeles to meet with the producers. All I really remember from that interview is saying that I hoped there was a dragon, and their (in hindsight) significant looks at each other. This was the first time I saw the other paladins–we were kept very carefully away from each other, but I got a few glimpses. I remember seeing Patrick and Jasmine, in particular.
Then a few weeks after that, I got the call…
TD: Alot of people didn’t realize you were a LARPer! Do you wish that they would have mentioned more of that? And were there any moments that you felt your LARPing background helped?
AK: I think that they were trying to present the show to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, and so they avoided using niche terms like ‘LARP’ in marketing it. There definitely were times when my LARPing background showed–when we were first brought to the castle and locked up, I knew that we needed to wait for the hook, not risk our safety to get out. The first banishment meeting, I tried to shape the discussion in terms of the story–what makes a hero–and not in terms of the reality competition. I don’t know that my LARP experience ever actually helped me–but I do think it helped me have fun. 🙂
TD: What was one challenge you weren’t able to try that you wish you would have been able to?
AK: They all looked pretty neat–I’m really glad that I didn’t do the dragon egg challenge, though, because apparently the slime was so stinky that days later when Patrick left Everealm he still smelled. (Sorry Patrick, you know it’s true!)
TD: Either aired or behind the scenes, which was a memorable moment for you?
AK: The first night we were in the castle, we stayed up late in the common room talking and laughing and singing songs–that was the genesis of the esprit de corps that is visible later. It wasn’t filmed, unfortunately.
TD: When they told you that you would be back for the final episode, what did you think?
AK: I’m pretty sure that I squeeed. I was so excited that I would get more opportunities to play with swords! It was pure pleasure working with the guys from the Vienna Full-Contact team, and I love swordplay.
TD: All of the Paladins have at one point mentioned how they started to get in great shape on the show. Could you go into detail on some physical things you guys would do that maybe we didn’t see? Such as how much running was there really?
AK: Well, our rooms were basically on the sixth floor. So every time we had a meal, needed to go to the privy, or were heading outside, we had a LOT of stairs to climb. There were a couple of days where the stunt coordinator and the fighting team had us do some conditioning work–carrying buckets full of gravel, some calisthenics, that sort of thing. Many of the challenges, as well as the Hall of the Fates, were not particularly close to the castle–so there was a lot of walking/running just to get places, too.
I don’t know that I got in great shape on the show, though. I was already in okay shape–I had been training for the Zombie 5k, lifting weights regularly, and of course LARPing can be a lot of exercise (I wore a pedometer the last time I NPCed, and walked/chased people through the woods more than 10 miles in one day). Other than the times that we were involved in challenges, we had to stay in the castle, so over the month we were in Austria I think I actually got less exercise doing the show that I ordinarily do. Andrew and Shondo resorted to doing pushups in the hallway in order to burn off their extra energy.
TD: Did you ever feel at any point that you were suppose to react a certain way to something or did you feel completely free to make any choices you wanted while in Everealm?
AK: We were never told to react in a certain way–they presented us with situations and filmed the results, without coaching.
On the other hand, in LARPing we sometimes compare ;sandbox’ or free-form vs. ‘on rails’ story modules. I would say that we were 100% on rails. The writers had a precisely predetermined story arc, supported by expensive locations, staff, and equipment, that left little to no room for us to improvise. For example, when we got the map fragments off of the traitor and went back to the common room to look at them, we all thought that there was some mystery for us to figure out, some puzzle to solve. There wasn’t–the point seems to solely have been to grab footage of us looking at maps. Or when Ansgar fought off the ogre–we were supposed to put together the scorpion to defend the castle, but they withheld some of the pieces. (not that I think it would have been a good idea to shoot at the actors with a scorpion).
They were also careful to stage the fight in a place where we couldn’t run down and help Sir Ansgar. The ‘players’ simply were not empowered to have an impact on the direction or progress of the story. But to be fair, it takes a huge amount of experience and skill to write well for roleplaying–it’s not something that you can pick up casually; the best game designers I know have 20 years of experience in writing for LARPs.
TD: After watching the show was there anything you learned after it aired that you wish you would have know about during filming?
AK: I wish I had known that some of the other Paladins had formed a formal alliance, where they promised to vote for each other no matter what. If I had known that they were doing that I would have done some things differently. I know that alliance-forming is a reality TV tradition, but considering that we were supposed to be determining the One True Hero, not angling for prize money or whatever–I don’t think that behavior was in the spirit of the show, and I would have had some serious discussions with the other paladins about that.
It’s just different for me–as a LARPer you engage in collaborative storytelling. You don’t ‘win the LARP,’ you work with other people to tell a great story. ‘Winning’ the show would not have been meaningful to me if I did not feel that I had acted as a hero. I think that some of the other paladins would have had a very different (and perhaps more meaningful) experience if they had invested in the premise of the show–heroism–rather than trying so hard to win. in some ways, I wasn’t really playing the same game as some of the other paladins. I lost, but I am completely satisfied with the way I played the game, you know?
I’m not trying to be judgmental of other people’s choices. If you haven’t had the kinds of transformative storytelling experiences that you can have in LARPing–a heroic death, a memorable failure, personal sacrifice–it can be hard to understand why it’s worth it to play your character, even when it’s tough, rather than making out-of-character choices (metagaming) in order to ‘win.’