Fall Update for FANWAR LARP

Hello All Fanwar LARP Families,

First off, I want to thank all the families that have attended LARP online and outside this past spring and summer, and let
you all know how much it has made the difference for me to be able to keep LARP happening in its many forms through
this historical crisis.  Your continued involvement in our program has been fundamental to everything, as we have
broken new ground in formats and systems of larping, adapted to the numerous challenges and restrictions, and
eventually finishing our season with a fantastic camp filled with music, magic, art, challenges, puzzles, and a healthy
dose of good old fashioned humor.  Though the work to keep these camps going has been overwhelming to say the
least, I feel very happy to see the joy and involvement, growth and determination that all of these kids exhibit, and it
keeps me going through the hours of prep and writing required to keep pace with these kids.  Thank you for sharing
them all with me all these years.  I hope that as things move forward I will still get to work with them all and that we
continue to grow in the best way possible.
It appears that the five months of free online gaming for all the families has been worth it.  Since we had to switch
quickly to an online format, I opted to allow all students to donate payments instead of requiring anyone to pay fees for
these events.  I felt strongly that we were all going through this economic hardship together, and I did not want any
families that had suddenly lost their economic stability to be shut out of online larp as well.  Thank you to the many
families who continued to send in their payments as if events had not changed, as it has allowed me, up to this point, to
survive and keep working at the job that I love.  I know that for many of you it is difficult to pay for larp during these
times, and so it is all the more critical that those that were able to continued.  If you were planning on making
payments/donations for league events, please check in with your child to be sure that they made the payments, as due
to the fact that I no longer required it, many people never got reminders.  I know that some families just realized this
and are now making catch up payments, and I cannot thank you enough.
Our summer camps were not donation based, and we were so happy to have gotten almost all of them to be live outside
(only two of the seven camps were forced online).  Being outside again with the kids was transnational for all, and
brought us a much needed familiar social interaction and joyful physical activity.  We had no health issues or problems
and all of our safety measures appear to have been very effective.  Thank you to everyone who followed them closely
and the work that went into everyone keeping each other safe.  When we did have to do camps online, they were
amazing on an entirely different level.  Students brought their “A” game to these camps and some of the most
memorable and exciting role play and plot encounters emerged from these online camps, filled with wonderful
opportunities for adding soundtracks and performing songs together, and even the completion of a plot line that I have
been running for sixteen years!  I feel blessed to have such a flexible and persistent group of kids and young adults that
are so dedicated to the art of larp and the community it embodies.  We had some really emotional and heartwarming
experiences online that I don’t think I will ever forget.
Unfortunately, though the camps happened, our attendance was only about a third of normal, and the costs to run these
camps was thousands of dollars more than usual, due to safety, staffing, and protocol increases.  Thus it looks like I will
be forced to make some changes for the fall season, which will look very different than seasons past.  While I wish that I
could say that I have found a way to provide outside camps and events for the fall, the reality is that the increased rate
of infection in our area combined with the lack of local cities and counties willingness to permit any activities like LARP
during a pandemic, means that my job as a LARP director will be very limited and outside events likely not available until
the spring.  I am continuing to look into possible options with secure sites and layers of screening of students, but it isn’t
likely outdoors will happen this fall or winter.  Thus I am faced with some hard choices for staying afloat this year.
After five months of running online leagues and events, I realized that there is only one way that will work for me to
continuing running events for the kids through the fall and winter and still provide all the things larp stands for;
quality interactions, positive self expression, creative role play, healthy life choices, etc.  I must change the way I provide
larp until such a time as we can get back outside and back to the way to are use to.  For the fall and winter I will be
providing a new online model for larp which rather than trying to run large events with lots of help, takes the opposite
approach, and presents small, personally tailored events, to small groups of kids, with me directly, with no interruptions,
on a schedule that works for you.  Instead of the usual Wednesday, Thursday, and weekend events which players feel
they must attend to follow the story, they schedule a private quest, mission, project, or character development session
with a small group of their friends who they want to larp with that day.  The event can be scheduled on various days or
times of the week, and thus can fit into the schedule that works for all involved.  Even more important to me, it means
kids are on the computer less.  I have not been very happy with the amount of time students have had to spend online
over the past five months in order to keep up with the larp storyline.  It is one of the main reasons I am not doing
leagues this fall, as larp is usually a very physically active event, and kids really need that activity as well as the creative
role play and social life.  There is a very good chance that students will have to spend a majority of this coming school
year at home, online again.  If that is the case, I do not want to be contributing to an already unhealthy amount of
screen time.  Thus, by changing my online larp programs to be individually tailored and signed up for by groups, parents
and players can decide just how much online events with me they want, and shouldn’t feel like they need to do any more
than that.  Since they also are working with me directly, players can get right to the key elements of the story they wish
to explore and know that the events that transpire are part of my world and story directly. These larp experiences will be
designed and created by me personally, for them, and their personal group, with whatever goal that group has in mind
for that day, from dungeon exploring, to castle building, to poetry competitions and riddle battles.
I am excited to be able to offer this new type of larp for the kids, and having run to big camps online this summer, it
became clear just how well this could work for the kids if we reworked it into a better design.  While I was able to
provide quality larp for our leagues through the spring and summer, it came at a huge cost to me and many of there
experienced players who had to constantly be in correspondence night and day to keep each-other in the loop, and to
maintain the continuity of story players expect from FANWAR.  To expect players to continue to work at that pace as
school starts again would irresponsible of me, as these Game Masters and Helpers have already gone above and beyond
their usual duties to keep things running these many months.  I am glad that I was able to pay many of these helpers
and Game Masters for their work and provide them with support in these difficult times, and I wish I could continue to do
so, but the model I have used for the past five months cannot be sustained now that the summer camps are over and
my big events for the year are all gone.
So, if you are interested in signing up for some of these special online sessions with me through the fall, please let me
know with a quick email or text.  It would be helpful to know how much time to set aside for those activities, vs time I
should be spending looking for other work.  I will be sending out a followup email likely later this week with more details
on these new online sessions, with forms, dates, times, and the usual info.  If you have requests, ideas, or questions,
don’t hesitate to send them my way.
Thank you all for letting me be a teacher for your kids, and thank you again for keeping larp going through your
generous donations.  A special thank you to the Shafers and Spetzlers whose tremendous gifts this summer have made a
lifetime of difference in safety for Molly and I.  We can never thank you enough.

All my best,

Christopher Melville
Fanwar LARP Director