Casting a larp is an enormous task, especially when you need to match 104 characters with 104 players ...for three subsequent runs. Well, let’s just say that we’ve had quite a busy week behind us. Our casting team spent 35+ hours going through the players’ answers to the casting questionnaire, and matching them to our available characters. Before that, our hero Ville had already spent countless hours processing the data for the script and running your answers through it.
We’ve done our very best to make sure everyone gets the experience they are aiming for. However, as always, some compromises were required, and it was of course impossible to fulfill every single wish.
We used this priority list in trying to find an enjoyable character for each of our players:
What ended up not influencing the casting (except in some rare cases):
All in all, we are very happy with the results and on how many wishes we were able to accommodate. However, no matter how many hours we put into this, we are bound to have made some errors. We’ve been going through Excel sheets for the past week and a half, so even though we’ve checked and double-checked and triple-checked, there might still be errors. So, how to proceed from here?
First, we will publish the casting document for each run. You get to know the name, job title, and starting group of your character right away. Within a week or two, we will send everyone further information. You will receive a short description of your character, your preliminary shift (if any), costume information, the character groups your character belongs to (some characters have up to five character groups and some just one), the age of your character, and the list of your character’s closest contacts. The list is not your final contact list, but these are the most important ones. There is also information in case your character has a predetermined fate, or if there are other very important aspects involved (though sleeper agents are not revealed at this point).
We would kindly ask you to wait until you receive this latter personal information email before contacting us in case you have concerns, as not every character is what they seem they are. It saves us a lot of time and effort, as then we don’t need to answer questions for which the information is already soon on its way. If you have concerns or questions after receiving this email, whether about themes, close contacts, character groups, shifts, or other aspects of the game, do not hesitate to contact us!
In case you have major concerns regarding your character, it might be possible to swap characters or make some minor adjustments. If there is nothing we can do instantly, there are bound to be cancellations during spring, and we might be able to switch characters later on.
That said, we encourage you to embrace the themes, aspects, and unknown players, and to dive head first into your character. If your closest friends haven’t been cast as your contacts, you can take that as an opportunity to get to know awesome new people you just haven’t larped with before!
We would like to remind you that the short description is just that: a short description. Even though it tries to capture some of the meaningful themes for your character, there are loads of things it does not touch on. There are lot of stuff in store for every character!
So, all in all, this casting was an enormous task, and it sure felt like an impossible one for a few times along the way. But we did it! We hope you are as giddy and excited when you receive your characters as we were when we cast them.
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
are no romantic feelings between them; they might just be friends. Or a character might have a partner among the survivors on one of the other ships in the fleet. In these cases the romance is not a theme we expect you to play, but the npc is someone whose fate your character would care about. There are also characters who do not have any kind of a romance at all, past or present. All examples above are considered not to have a romantic contact in terms of casting.
Roughly 50% of the characters have some form of a romance as a supporting theme, and about 20% have romance as a main theme. What we mean by “a main theme” is that it doesn’t mean that these characters don’t have anything else to play, but in most cases their romantic partner is their closest and most important contact, and in all cases it is mirrored so that the romance is the main aspect for both characters. Romance as a supporting theme means that the romance can be a relevant aspect in the game, but if it doesn’t play out, there are lot of other interesting themes to explore. In these romances, there might be some imbalance concerning how important the romance is for a character (e.g. a triangle drama).
A little bit of insight into our larp culture: in Finland, it is very common that characters are written by the organizers and all the plots, themes, and contacts are ready-made. Larps in which you write your own character and create your own contacts are still a minority in Finland. It is very common that there are quite many romances written into each game. Most of us are used to writing and playing these themes. Within the past few years, it has become a standard to talk with your contacts about their boundaries and the experience they are looking for. Since we have a tradition of prewritten contacts, it is very much frowned upon to do ‘contact shopping’ to choose the players you want to play with while ignoring others. This doesn’t mean we expect you to play with someone you do not feel comfortable with or someone you feel threatened by. What we want to say is that if we can imagine we are in a distant spaceship instead of an elementary school, we can also imagine that our character is attracted to someone we are not. Romance is just one way to create meaningful links between the characters, and the same applies to friends, families and colleagues.
Since we have people coming from all around the world and from very different larp cultures, we want to highlight a few things concerning playing romances to create a safe and pleasant experience for everyone. These are pretty common sense things, but it is still better to state them:
Romances can provide extremely intense and meaningful experiences in a larp. Even if you have some doubts on playing romance, I would encourage you to embrace with an open mind all the plots written in your character. However, your safety and your preferences are our priority, and if you have any issues or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us!
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
Pictures by Axelle Cazeneuve, editing by Laura Kröger
Our second big team meeting took place a week ago. We have a team of over 50 members by now, and more are recruited through spring! Even though it was not possible for all to attend the meeting, over thirty of us gathered together to enjoy good food and to get to know each other better. We had a chance to share ideas and to present each department’s progress with the others. And now we want to share some of that progress with you and to introduce our teams!
The organizers of Odysseus can be divided to five teams, though naturally there is a lot of overlap. And it is up to the producers to ensure that the teams communicate with each other and that the overall vision is followed. Here are the teams plus a little sneak peek of what we have done so far and we are planning to do!
The production team is probably the least coherent group, as it takes care of pretty much everything concerning practical arrangements and project management. To this team belong the widely varying subjects of communications, safety, player management, finances, food services, etc. We take care of the players and make sure that everything goes smoothly, and that all the relevant information is available both within the team and for all the players.
security team (as well as the game masters). They also work hard to stream land missions for everyone to see. The team is responsible for creating the integration to the Empty Epsilon space simulation software as well as the scenarios we use within it. And much more that will be revealed later on a blog post of its own!
This team takes care of all the lights, sounds, and other effects during the larp. They work closely with the prop and IT teams to create the feeling of actually being on a starship. It is up to them to create proper lighting to support the function of each room and to visualize the different states of the ship. The ship will have at least four different states that all have a distinct feel created through lighting, sound effects, and information provided via info screens. For example hyperdrive jumps (which happens on set intervals) will be clearly visible by sounds and lighting to everyone aboard, not just the bridge crew issuing the commands. Our technology team will be in charge of not only planning but also the acquisition and installation of all our technology. More details on our technology will be available on a later blog post!
Our story team is responsible for creating the narrative as well as planning and writing all characters in the game. Every character is pre-written with a background, agenda, and meaningful contacts. We have thirteen writers and a few backup ones to create an unforgettable journey for everyone. Our story team plans the overall story arc of the larp and each individual event, mystery, and dilemma to be solved within the game. You will definitely hear a little bit more about the team later on!
This will not be an ordinary run-of-the-mill starship. Our props team plans all uniforms as well as helps in drafting ideas for civilian costuming. The team also creates all the graphics for the game, including all details such as ID cards, posters, instruction guides, and so on. There will be much more information and sneak peeks to the amazing job our props team is doing!
We are all super excited to create this experience for you all, and we hope that you are equally excited to embark on this journey!
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
Photos by Essi Vallenius, HANSCA concept by Janne Koponen and prop concept pictures by Mia Makkonen.
Selecting players is one of the hardest parts of creating a larp. We would love to take everyone on board! Since it is not possible, we want to describe how the players were selected to Odysseus to make the process as fair and transparent as possible.
Altogether, we had 357 sign ups (94 were sponsor ticket purchases). That is an absolutely stunning number! If we had proceeded with the original plan of two runs, we would have been forced to leave 150 people out. With the decision to have a third run, we were able to pick most of you aboard.
However, most is still not all, so I’ll start with why cannot we take everyone. In each run, we have 104 characters, each of whom has a basic concept, a story, and contacts that fit to the style and themes of the larp. Adding more characters would mean a lot of extra work and risk breaking the consistency of the game. Rather than increase the number of characters, we want ensure that all existing characters are given all the creative energy they need to be as good as possible.
The second main reason not to increase the number of characters is practical. In every larp, there are cancellations. Life will inevitably get in the way for some, and in a pre-written larp, having no-show characters could ruin the game for many other players and characters. In our experience, the number of cancellations tends to total around 10% of the players, and with three runs and over 300 players it means roughly 30 spots that will likely need to be re-cast at some point.
I know it can be disheartening to be unlucky in the initial lottery, but the first wave of cancellations is just a few weeks away as the deadline for ticket purchases kicks in. So even if you were unlucky now, the chance of getting aboard at a later point are pretty good! We will offer empty spots to our waiting list first; only when the event is drawing very close, we might look for players also elsewhere.
How was the initial casting done? We entered everyone to an excel sheet and generated a random number for each player. Based on these numbers, we first randomly filled the local run, then the first international run, and last the second international run. As we stated before the sign-up, those who had chosen only or preference for the local run had a higher priority in local spots than those who chose to prefer the international run. As there was more interest for the local run than spots in the game, those who preferred the international run were not considered for spots in the local run.
Our limit of 30 Finnish players for each international run were not exceeded in either of those, so we didn’t have to exclude any of the Finnish players based on that, but we did come pretty close in both runs. The same methods were used for the discount tickets. The chance for getting a spot was slightly worse with the discount tickets than with the standard tickets, but not much.
We left a few spots unselected in the lottery and went through the ones in the waiting list and picked some who had never larped before or had very little experience to join us. It is our firm belief that first-timers should be given a chance to participate to increase the number of larpers and awareness of this great hobby. We hope you all agree with this one!
After we had selected all the players, we went through the wishes on whom the players wanted to participate with, and swapped players from one run to another to make sure that as many of you as possible could play with your friends and spouses. In cases where your friends were unlucky and did not get a spot, we did not remove you if you had a spot (unless it was explicitly stated that you would only participate if the someone else was also included).
We cross-checked the list quite a few times, but if we still managed to miss something, we’ll do our best to fix all issues!
I hope this opens up our selection process, and I truly wish that all of you who didn’t get a spot and really want to be a part of this experience will be able to jump aboard later through the waiting list!
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
Hi, my name is Sanna and I’m a co-producer of Odysseus. I’m also the one who takes care of the applications and IT systems on board, in addition to participating in story design.
My larp life started few years ago. I had been roleplaying before (and even tried larping a little bit), but somehow it just didn’t work out. In 2014, my friend persuaded me to try larping again, and this time I got to be a dwarf princess. I had so much fun running around with my two hand axe, almost getting killed, and surviving just barely.
This ignited my spark. All it needed was the right character and I was sold. It didn’t take me long to start writing characters and getting involved as an organizer. I started with small projects and have gradually gotten into bigger ones. I love to create characters and plots and to weave webs of events intertwined with character-specific stories.
The whole thing with Odysseus started when me and Laura were writing a larp called Vigor Mortis III together. Our teamwork just, well, worked. We were on the same wavelength and ended up inventing even crazier and crazier evil plots for our characters. Co-operation worked so well that we decided that we should make a larp together and then... may I present to you: Odysseus.
I am a little bit horrified about all the technical applications we are doing. I am so glad I have a good team. We already started the work a year ago, but there is still a lot to be done and a huge amount of coding needed. Even though we use Empty Epsilon to steer and fly our ship, we still have many other systems such as the interfaces for Engineers, Scientists, Medics, and other passengers. Our goal is to provide information for everyone, not only to the ones making the decisions on the bridge. We aim to make everything as transparent as we can. We want to provide the tools for you to gather information you normally wouldn’t get in a game like this.
Sanna, Co-producer of Odysseus
“I cannot change the laws of physics, Captain! You’ve got to give me thirty minutes!”
Our ultimate goal is to make ESS Odysseus work as a whole, from the bridge controls to engineering systems to ambient sound and lighting. When an enemy ship is approaching, everyone will be aware. When a radioactive leak is detected, everyone will be warned. And when the unfortunate engineer accidentally pulls the wrong cable, everyone will hear the ship’s engines shut down.
The onboard engineering team is given special focus. It is up to them to fix everything that inevitably breaks up, be it damage received in battles, systems breaking due to a premature hyperspace jump, or disasters caused by the lack of maintenance.
We’re devising all sorts of tasks for the engineers, ranging from system calibration, power rerouting, brain teasers, to mechanical fixing of things. As an engineer, you can expect everything from routine, repetitious maintenance work to hectic repairs in the midst of battle.
A lot of thought has gone into the balance of active work and time available for personal plots and relationships. Each system that is fixed will need some time to re-calibrate itself to become functional again. There can only be a limited number of systems re-calibrating at a time, and thus all systems cannot always be fixed. This will allow engineers some spare time also during on-duty hours.
We’re also taking reuse and documentation into consideration during development. All of the software and designs will be available as open source for other larps to utilize in the future.
We are eagerly waiting for you to experience what we create!
Sampo, System development team
Photos by Axelle Cazeneuve.
Here you can find instructions on how to buy a ticket or sign up – and what happens then. So check this page out to be ready to refresh your browser!
Sponsor tickets are available on Sunday Dec 9th at 20.00 CET. It means 21.00 in Finland, eight o’clock in central Europe, and 19.00 in UK.
At that time the link in our Tickets page becomes active. Clicking it will take you to the online shop of Illusia ry (provided by Holvi).
There are two ticket classes available: “Odysseus Sponsor ticket International run” and “Odysseus Sponsor ticket Local run.” It will not be possible to change the ticket after the purchase, so make sure you pick the right one!
There are four language options in Holvi (Finnish, English, German, and Spanish) and you can change the language in the top right corner.
NOTE: For the local run Sponsor ticket, all the questions and information is in Finnish, so that should tip you off, in case you accidentally pick the wrong run.
Click the correct product, and you will end up on the product page where you can add the ticket to your basket.
IMPORTANT: It is allowed to only buy one ticket per person (per run)!
The system allows the purchase of multiple tickets, but we do not. We will refuse any purchase with more than one ticket (per run) since we ask information about the signee during the process.
After clicking Add to basket, you will see your basket. You will then be able to proceed to checkout. On the checkout page, we will ask you the questions below.
Note: The ticket is reserved for 30 minutes, so fill in the questions within that time frame.
Name (first name and surname)
Fill in your first name and your surname.
Fill in your email and make sure it is the correct one – you cannot correct it later!
Where you come from? You can write in the country in which you live or where you are from. The purpose of this question is to ensure an even selection of nationalities when accepting players for the standard ticket.
Fill in your age. The purpose of this question is to ensure a reasonable age distribution when accepting players for the standard ticket.
Are you a beginners, or have you larped a little or a lot? The purpose of this question is to ensure an even experience range when accepting players for the standard ticket.
Gender you wish to play in Odysseus
Fill in if you wish to play male, female, or other gender, or if it doesn’t matter to you. The purpose of this question is to allow us cast players to the pre-written characters with pre-written relationships.
Favorite character groups (minimum 4)
The players who have decided to buy a sponsor ticket are guaranteed to get a character from one of their preferred character groups. Choose four (or more) and type them here.
Officers: Military leaders who make the hard decisions. Requires players to be willing to play inclusively, delegate tasks, and possibly co-operate with the organizers in some situations.
Bridge: High ranking military personnel working on the bridge of Odysseus, steering the ship from one crisis to another. Many of them are officers, but they do not make as many decisions as their superiors.
Military: Characters that have a military rank and expertise but are not part of the original Odysseus crew. They have tasks on the bridge as well, but they have more freedom and more personal plots than the bridge crew.
Pilots: Those flying the fighters in space battles and engaging in relationship drama outside the cockpit.
Marines: Soldiers who are sent to land missions and to track beacons left behind by their ancestors in hostile planets. Also responsible for securing peace aboard the starship.
Engineers: Those fixing and calibrating and enhancing the ship and saving the day after catastrophic jumps or damage from a space battle. They spend their time in the noisy engine room or running around the ship and preventing disasters.
Medics: There are bound to become injuries – and with injuries come the medics. Whether a soldier with an injury from a battle or a civilian having a stroke or a medical condition, the medics are there to help! They are also in charge of routine check-ups and other medical requests.
Scientists: Be it a puzzle left behind by the ancestors, a device belonging to an ancient alien race, or a piece of code to be cracked, it is a task for the scientists. They work hard to make the breakthroughs needed to overcome this desperate situation.
Politics: The human race has received an enormous blow, and it is up to their leaders and politicians to steer the course for the remains of the once glorious civilization. What kind of a political system will be created from the ashes of the old one? Will the soldiers dictate it, or can the politicians rally the will of the people?
Religion: In this time of sorrow, it is often faith where people find solace. Religion and science are strongly linked in this world, so the followers of the High Science are scientists, and the priests of the Old Ways are the ones who have the keys to unlocking the mysteries left behind by their ancestors.
Civilian survivors: A police officer, an anthropologist, a journalist, a judge, a student, does it matter what you once were? What is your place now? Are your skills and expertise still needed, or do you need to find a direction for your life? Perhaps you were a criminal, finding in this disaster a chance for redemption – or means to even greater power?
Velian survivors: People from a remote planet find themselves in the same situation as the rest of the passengers. They have a unique religious culture influenced by the ancient alien civilization that inhabited their home world long ago. The cultures will collide and the Velians will need to find their place in this new society they are formerly only vaguely familiar with. There are some old ghosts from the past resurfacing at the end of the world.
Mystery: Characters than can be a part of any other group, but who are not quite what they seem. They have knowledge, secrets, or predetermined fates. They will also have an unforgettable journey, but they are also there to support the others and help lift the experience to greatness. This group will have more metagame instructions than the rest.
IMPORTANT: Unfortunately technical limitations prevented us from typing the options directly in the purchase window, so it is advised to pre-select your favorites!
T-shirt (style: ladyfit/unisex, size: S-3XL)
Fill in the preferred style and size. The sizes range from S to 3XL(/5XL), but if those sizes are not suitable for you, we can make custom orders, so feel free to also choose sizes outside the standard selection. You can find the size chart for planned products here.
After answering all the questions, click continue. You will be asked your contact information. This page is not created by us and we will not have access to this contact information. Instead, it is for the supplier (Holvi) and required for the payment. You can find the supplier’s terms and conditions link on this page. Fill in the information (only name, e-mail, country, and accepting the terms are mandatory fields).
After clicking Save and Continue, you are taken to the payment page. You can choose to pay with an international credit card (Visa or Mastercard) or via a bank transfer (available only in Finland). Choose the payment method and follow the instructions.
After the purchase has been successful, you should receive the following message as a receipt (with the information from the chosen run):
“Thank you for your support and welcome to the Odysseus larp! You have secured a spot on the international run of Odysseus played on 4th to 7th July 2019 in Helsinki, Finland. You will receive a casting questionnaire, and you will be added to the player email list on January 2019. If you have any questions prior to that, feel free to send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or ask it on the wall of the Facebook event!”
Congratulations! You have secured a spot on the awesome journey to the stars on board the starship Odysseus!
Standard tickets are not distributed via the “first come, first served” principle, unlike the Sponsor tickets. We have a short sign-up period from Sunday Dec 16th at 1pm. to Dec 23rd at 9pm. CET. You can fill in our sign-up form at any time during that period. However, we might close up the sign-up early if we receive massive amounts of sign-ups. If this happens, we’ll try to give a heads-up on the Facebook event.
On Sunday Dec 16th at 1pm., the sign-up button on the ticket page will activate and lead you to a Google form on which we ask the following questions:
Age (Question is to ensure a reasonable age distribution on random selection.)
Country (Question is to ensure an even selection of nationalities on random selection.)
Experience (Question is to ensure an even experience range on random selection.)
Gender you wish to play in Odysseus (Male, Female, Other or Any) (At this point we only need to know the gender you wish to play in order to ensure a reasonable gender distribution for pre-written relationships.)
Favorite character groups (Question is to ensure reasonable demand for all the different character groups.)
Run (You can choose which run you wish to sign up from the following options.)
You can also choose to keep your name in the lottery for the possible third run as well as sign up for the discount tickets.
After pressing “Send,” you will receive an email with copies of your answers. This email is also a confirmation that we have received your sign-up.
The sign-up ends on Sunday Dec 23rd at 9pm. CET. However we might close sign up early if we receive a huge overflow of sign ups, but not until Monday evening December 17th. If we have less sign-ups than available spots, everyone will receive a spot and the sign-up period will be extended.
If we have more sign-ups than empty spots, we will randomly select players who will get their spot. The random selection will be anonymous, but we will use age, nationality, the gender you wish to play, experience, and favored character group information to ensure a balanced and diverse larp. The casting will be announced on Jan 6th. Those who have been selected will receive payment information and have until Jan 14th to buy the ticket. When possible, payment should be done as direct bank transaction (mainly Finland), but when not feasible, we will provide a link to through which the payment can be done via international credit cards (Visa or Mastercard).
If payment is not confirmed by Jan 14th, a player’s spot will be given forward. Those who are left without a spot in the original casting run are automatically added to the waiting list and are offered a spot if someone cancels their participation.
We will send out the casting questionnaire in mid-January to all selected players. It needs to be filled by the end of January.
Hopefully this guide was useful! Feel free to ask any questions you still might have via email or on the Facebook event page!
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
Ticket sales are starting in a few days, so it is the perfect time for us to dust up some facts and convince you that this is definitely an experience you do not want to miss!
So, what is Odysseus? Glad you asked! Odysseus is a thrilling space drama in which the remaining survivors from a distant human civilization fight for their survival in the void of space. We want you to experience the drama in the midst of an escape from an overwhelming enemy, the desperation of a lost past, and the glimmers of hope that shine far in the future. Odysseus is a fully pre-written larp, which means that everyone will receive a fully written character with a backstory, agenda, and meaningfully constructed contacts and relationships. The passengers of the starship Odysseus have friends, family members, rivals, lovers, colleagues, and enemies. Every character has personal plots on top of their shipboard tasks. Those who have more responsibilities in steering and fixing the ship have less personal plots than the ones who have less concrete tasks, and vice versa. There are major plotlines that effect on everyone aboard, and these will be transparent and relevant to as many characters as possible. Check out our character page for some character teasers!
What kind of players is this larp aimed for? We hope that our players look forward to playing intense relationship drama ranging from romance to family dynamics, friendships, and rivalries. But interpersonal drama isn’t everything! This is, in the end, a larp about survival, about a hectic journey through the unknown. There are lot of tasks aboard from steering the ship to land missions, and from locating lost beacons to solving mysteries of an ancient alien civilization.
The genre that might describe our larp best would probably be Hollywood drama. We do not aim for exact realism – instead we want to weave an intense story that allows our players to laugh and cry, be heroes and villains, make sacrifices and hard choices, and to feel joy and devastation. The larp is not an open sandbox; the characters and their connections are predetermined. This allows us to create secrets and revelations and tie character arcs together.
Are you from outside Finland? Why join this game? This is a perfect opportunity for the international audience to experience larp the Finnish way: story driven, characteristically pre-written variant of Nordic larps. If you want to learn more, check out our introduction to Finnish larp! What we wish from our players is that they are willing to embrace the story heavy design and respect the pre-written contacts and dynamics. We also expect everyone to respect the boundaries of other players and to pursue an inclusive playstyle where we all together create the memorable story for the larp.
Convinced you want to join but worried about the practical stuff? No worries! The larp lasts for 48 hours and can get pretty hectic, but we don’t want our players to get exhausted and cranky. We’ll make sure all players can get at least 7 hours of non-stop sleep and a possibility to take a naps during the day. If this is not enough, it is also possible to sleep off-game or to go for a civilian character (these have the luxury of sleeping whenever they want).
More practical concerns? Again, no reason to worry! We have very good facilities for the larp, with several water toilets as well as showers that are available throughout the larp. We have an industrial kitchen and a team that will conjure all the meals respecting your diets. We take safety very seriously, and we expect everyone to follow our code of conduct. There is a designated safety team throughout the event to provide low threshold support for any concerns you might have.
As a cherry on the top, we have highly talented IT, prop and technical teams creating the illusion of traveling through space by allowing the crew to really shine via fully simulated space travel and battles, monitoring deep space scanners, initiating hyperdrive jumps, fixing the broken engines, making medical examinations or just relaxing in the mess hall.
So, convinced yet? Join us on this epic adventure and help us guide the starship Odysseus through crises and dangers towards the destiny of humankind!
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
For the civilian characters, the emphasis is on personal plots and relationships. Their main themes are surviving the unspeakable tragedy and the helplessness of the current situation, as well as making the best out of it. We put a lot of effort in creating interesting themes, fates, and surprises for these characters. They have far more flexibility in general, and they are far more able to decide freely when they want to have time to just relax or sleep (plus there is no need for rental uniforms).
The CREW And characters with set task
Around half of the characters have some kind of a role aboard the ship, whether they are the original crew of the ship or late additions that are already signed for specific tasks. For these characters, the major thing is taking care of their tasks throughout the game. Basically all of these characters will need a rental uniform.
Bridge and officers
There are 8 stations on the bridge. These are the commanding officer (captain/xo), navigations officer, weapons officer, communications officers, and science officers. The bridge crew works in two shifts throughout the larp. While there is no need to have all the stations manned at all the time, certain information (eg. scanners and communications) need to be monitored 24/7. This means that characters associated with the bridge will spend a lot of time steering the ship, making plans, communicating with other ships, preparing for battles, and maneuvering as well as monitoring different data streams provided by the systems.
There are four fighter pilots stationed in Odysseus, and a couple of extra ones will arrive with the other groups. We aim to prop two or three cockpits in the hangar bay. These are two-man fighters with one pilot and one weapons officer. Both pilots have headsets that let them communicate with the bridge and with each other. We are seeing good results from Empty Epsilon as a platform that will allow us to use several ships in the same scenario. This would let the fighters and the mothership see each other on the map and make maneuvers together. There will not be a high emphasis on space battles, but there’ll likely be a few bigger ones and a some close calls and minor clashes on top of that. In the meantime, the pilots’ gameplay will involve personal plots, and they might be assigned to assist marines with internal security.
Marines will have two major roles on board. As they have acted as internal security since the declaration of martial law, they will be there to break up fights and make sure that everyone follows orders. They are also the first and last line of defence in case the enemy manages to board the ship. Their priority task, however, is to perform land missions. There are three teams (one of them added during the game) who will be transported to planets to execute search and retrieve missions. Our current plan is to have four team members and two interchangeable specialists in each team. We aim to stream the missions on the screen aboard the ship through headcams. Each team will have two to three missions during the larp.
Some members of the military are not part of the crew of Odysseus. They come from other ships or the space station Atlantis. They will have a bit more flexibility in their gameplay than the original crew, but they are still members of the military, so they will most likely be assigned to new positions during the game. Most of these characters will require a rental uniform. Some of them might have a higher rank or special skills. They have more personal plots and contacts with the other passengers than the base crew. They can decide more freely if they want to play their personal plots and connect with the civilians, or to have more tasks and be more involved in military gameplay.
It is up to the engineers to fix everything that inevitably breaks up. It might be damage received in battles, systems breaking due to premature hyperspace jump, or disasters caused by the lack of maintenance. There will be maintenance tasks throughout the larp that need to be performed routinely, or they might be necessary to under certain conditions. Maintenance work comes as different types of “puzzles” for the engineers, ranging from just pulling two levers at the same time to setting calibration values to connecting wires. We are creating mechanical things to fix, crawl spaces to crawl in, and brain teasers to solve. For the engineers, these will be the main content of their game, but don’t worry: they will also have personal plots and relationships.
Medics are the ones who are doing their best to keep everyone operational. It’s up to them to patch up those who are wounded, and they will be performing routine medical check-ups and taking care of those passengers who have conditions requiring medical attention. There are two medics stationed on Odysseus, but considering the situation, all civilians with medical training have been drafted to help. Thus this group includes characters who are not originally part of the military. The medbay needs to be manned around the clock, so medical personnel will also work in shifts.
There are several scientists on board the Odysseus, since the ship’s latest trek was an exploration mission involved with scientific discovery. The scientists have different mysteries to solve, and they will uncover these in cooperation with both the EOC and Velian religions and the medical personnel. The scientists will be solving the riddles discovered in the beacons left behind by their ancestors, as well as mysteries of an ancient alien race and the technology they left behind. It is also their job to find out weaknesses and patterns in the enemy ships. Scientists do not have as strict shifts as the military personnel, but they too take turns on duty as there might be need to keep working around the clock.
Roughly half of the characters do not have specific tasks at the beginning of the larp. Most of them will be at some point drafted to help out or they are assigned to start learning some of the posts on board in order to guarantee the continuity if something should happen to those originally holding the post. However, most of them have the luxury of being able to say no. Civilian passengers have much more flexibility with their gameplay. They are able to choose their sleeping times more freely, and they have more time to focus on personal plots. Civilians come from different backgrounds and have vastly different personal agendas. There are politicians, priests, celebrities, law enforcement, criminals, and a group of survivors from the planet Velian. The civilians’ plots and contacts intertwine with each other as well as with the members of the crew.
Not wanting to make decisions or spent huge part of the larp tied to certain tasks? Waking up the middle of the night is not your thing? Want to experience the Finnish larp design and plots to the fullest? Then the civilian character group is perfect for you. We work very hard to make the whole experience as inclusive as possible. We aim to build technology and effects so that different alert states (Code red, code yellow etc.) are visible and playable to everyone and not just for the few players on the bridge. We work to project the tactical view to the big screen in the mess hall during the battles. Likewise, with the land missions. There will be a ‘pirate radio’ to leak interesting information to the civilians should the military decide to hold too many secrets. Civilians are able to move freely around the ship, and only very few places are off limits. Thus the passengers should be able to feel everything that is going on and not be cut out. It is up to them to decide whether the military should be allowed to make the big decisions for the entire civilization under the martial law, or whether those who were voted into power should have a say.
Politicians and law enforcement
There are senators, aids, diplomats, judges, attorneys, and police officers on board. They have interesting backgrounds connecting them with the other characters, and they are the ones to whom the other passengers look when it’s time to make decisions. They can concentrate on their personal plots or give more emphasis on the role they possessed before the attack.
There are those who have lived questionable lives before the attack. For them, this might be the time for atonement, or it could be a stepping stone to even greater power. There are bad people, there are unlucky people, and there are those who have just made some mistakes and paid a heavy price. These characters can go for many different directions, and they have a lot of personal plots and interactions with the other passengers.
There are two major religions. The Faith of the High Science is the most populous religion, and it is strongly connected to scientific research. It is not so much of a religion as a way of life. High ranking members of the faith are respected scientist who have dedicated their lives on helping others to succeed. The second most populous religion is The Old Ways, whose followers worship their ancestors and wish for a return to the lost paradise of humankind. Both major religions need to cooperate in order to solve the ancient mysteries introduced in the game. For the religion-based characters, theological debates and realizations are a major aspect of the game, as well as offering solace to those trying to recover from the unspeakable tragedy.
Roughly fifteen passengers come from the planet Velian. They start the larp in a different location with around same number of players from the EOC Space station Atlantis. They will spend the first hours of the game to solve problems of their own before being united with the rest of the players aboard the Odysseus. Velians live in a domed city built by an ancient alien race on a planet that is otherwise uninhabitable. Some EOC anthropologist and scientists have travelled to Velian to discover its mysteries, and the Velians have sent a few ambassadors to EOC, but due to long distances, interaction has been sparse. It is a common theory that Velians originate from one of the missing Genesis ships that never arrived to its destination. Velians have a very unique culture. They live in a strictly theocratic society and follow the teachings of their spiritual leader The Guardian. Velians have much to contribute in solving the riddles of ancient alien technology as well as the mystery concerning their shared inheritage with the EOC population.
There are mystery characters the outwardly belong to the other groups. These characters are not exactly what they appear to be: they might have some special information and instructions from organizers, or they might have a pre-defined fate to die or get injured at some point during the larp. Or it might be something else. These are not exactly NPCs, since the players can play their characters as they like and advance them to the direction they want. But it is necessary for the players to respect the instructions from the organizers on the fates of these characters. The characters are cast based on the casting questionnaire, and there are a few specific questions which we use to determine which players would most enjoy playing the mystery characters.
I hope that I managed to get you excited! Of course plans may change and new plans arise, but we will always put a lot of effort on creating a balanced experience for everyone. We hope that our players give some time to consider what kind of experience they are looking for. Our firm goal is to ensure that every character has the potential to be great with the right player; a player excited about the themes for that particular character and character group. We will ask your preferences in the sign-up form for the standard tickets, as well as again in the casting questionnaire. We are very excited about all of our character groups! Hopefully, you are as well!
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
Photos taken by Axelle Cazeneuve.
We have secured the location. And it is exactly what we wanted. No, we skipped the bunkers, caves, and such, and went for a school building. Now, I can hear what you are thinking: “Why the hell choose a school building?” But yeah, this was exactly what we wanted, and we hope that by the end of this post, you are as excited about it as we are.
Let’s start with the basics. First, this is the most science fiction of all such buildings that we have ever seen. The surfaces are basically grey and white, with a lot of metal details and elements. Take a look at the main hall of the building!
(Pictures from: http://www.arkhakli.fi/koulutus/_torpparinmaen/torpparinmaen.htm)
There are a lot of very cool details, such as most of the ceilings having metal nets covering pipes and wires.
There is also a big metallic maintenance bridge crossing the main hall high up in the air. It will be used in the larp for maintenance tasks.
There are several classrooms around the main hall. All the rooms have big windows to the hallway, so that it is possible for others to witness what is going on in the bridge, medbay, or science lab even if it doesn’t involve your character. All these spaces look incredibly cool!
The location is spot on as it is, but even better: we will have it for total of six weeks, allowing us to spend three full weeks to make it into a starship. A lot of time, money, and effort will be spent on details. We have a designated team doing the planning, and an experienced group of designers for the props, lights, and details for transforming the location. We will create a fully equipped science lab and med bay. We have a bridge with eight workstations for the officers, allowing them to steer the ship with a fully fledged simulation software. We’ll also have an engine room full of machines and puzzles. For the corridors, rec rooms, main hall, and sleeping quarters we’ll bring a lot of details.
Another bonus is the location: The school is located in Helsinki, only 10 km from Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
In addition to being an awesome location by itself, there are two cherries on the top: first, a fully functional IT infrastructure we can build on. Second, it offers very good facilities and is fully accessible with an elevator connecting the two floors. We have a catering kitchen that allows us to easily produce full meals for the players. We’ll have plenty of water toilets and sinks for washing hands, as well as two shower rooms with five showers in each. The showers will be available around the clock, one reserved for non-male and the other one for non-female players. We plan to have some reservable spots for a private shower turn for players who are not comfortable in using showers in groups.
There is, however, one downside. Since the building is a public school, the use of alcohol is prohibited. This means that the larp has a strict non-alcohol policy. This also includes the afterparty. We will offer free soft drinks and snacks in the party, and it is of course possible to leave the location after the short debrief and to head to a bar in Helsinki. However, we do hope you’ll stay to chat and party with us, as there are plenty of occasions to go to a bar but only one to spend a wonderful evening with all the amazing people participating in this event!
You can find a few more pictures of the location behind this link:
Laura, Producer of Odysseus