Collateral Emotions is meant to be a tight and personal larp. We want it to be close to home, realistic and down to earth. The scenery might be abstract and similar to a blackbox but the larp itself is about very mundane situations – going to the bathroom, eating, talking about everyday things – while under extreme pressure and in a very dangerous situation. It is also an unapologetically political larp, telling a story about our different reactions in the face of oppression and fascism and a tragedy that hopefully teaches us something about what is happening, right now, in the world, or our responses to it.

Collateral Emotions is also a personal project with a smaller budget and much more intimate feel than many of our projects. We want participants to be ready to engage on a personal level with it, talk about it with each other and with us, and tell a story together. Most of the hours will be spent in tense, drawn out situations with very little action, and so we want a story told in the pressure-cooker tradition. Long glances, wordless communication and small gestures of hope or love are encouraged.

The Setting

The drama itself is centered around two groups. It is set in today’s United States, in an unnamed city.

  • The Attackers – A politically minded group of young people, determined to save their nation from what they see as the brink of fascism. The nation itself has been taken over by a government who is extremely right wing, with policies reflecting hate and bigotry being enacted across the country. These young people are determined to gain media attention and have their message visible all across the nation – and they are radicalized enough to go to great lengths for this to happen. They have located a government facility, one that is seen as a key component in the government’s repression, where they will take hostages and demand to have their voices heard. The attackers are idealistic and radical. Some of them are violent, others believe that they shouldn’t use violence should push come to shove.
  • The Hostages – A group of perfectly ordinary people, trying to make ends meet. Some of them are from a small town who were saved by a government job, others are career professionals and others are opponents of the government who just needed a stable paycheck. They come from all walks of life except the immensely privileged ones. In general, they see the country as going in the wrong direction, and they are opposed to many of the policies they are enacting, but they are not willing to do anything about it except through ordinary democratic means. Most don’t have the time away from family or social life to engage themselves politically. Many of them are parents.

The larp will not concern itself overly much with the police response or actions from without. There will be some input for the participants, but to a limited degree.

The Acts

The larp is set in four acts. They are:

  • The Initiative
  • Settling in
  • The Long Haul
  • Endgame

In between each act, there is a time jump. There is also a small break where players can discuss their character journeys and play calibration. The act narratives are roughly as follows:

Act 1 – The attackers storm the building, some of them armed with small arms. They are masked and aggressive, and the atmosphere is oppressive. Every move is watched, every moment is tense. People are rounded up and put under guard.
Act 2 – The attackers settle in. The strict guarding schedule is loosened a bit, personal relations start to form and negotiations begin. Everyone is still set on a quick resolution to the situation.
Act 3 – Negotiations run into trouble. Different strategies are debated, manifestos are planned and the attackers have to plan for the long term. Patience is dwindling among some of them while others see it as the start of a success. Personal connections have formed. A few more days and nights pass by.
Act 4 – The endgame is near. The negotiations break down, tv companies refuse to send the manifesto. Tensions rise from the outside, even as the people inside try to plead for a peaceful end. Some of the attackers waver in their convictions, others keep them in line through manipulation or pointing to the fact that they’re all going to be sentenced to death anyway. The police storm the house at the end, with unclear outcome.