Actual Play – Midsummer Mischief (7/18/2015)

Midsummer MischiefDirectors: Karen Twelves, Mary Mattingly, and Eric Fattig
Players: Lance, Jon Edwards, Lovesong Cahill, Avi Warner, Sean Nittner, Dale Horstman, Jennifer Warner, Colin Fahrion, Adrienne Mueller, Noam Rosen, Matt Klein, Jeremy Tidewell, Karen, George Duryea, Alexis George, and more.
System: Midsummer Mischief (LARP)

Three years later, Karen brought Midsummer Mischief back!

Karen spent a lot of time first cleaning up the the formatting on Midsummer Mischief, both in terms of layout and text. She also had a prep day where Mary and I helped her sorting all the envelopes (for various room), item cards, secrets, goals, and back stories.  On site she had Mary as her traveling GM, Eric Fattig (not pictured) as the Pig Man, and herself as the primary GM/Facilitator/Knower of things.

End result. An awesome day!

The extraordinary adventures of Mr. Rupert Baxter

For my own part, I tried to get my old job as secretary back and umpteen million times before bitterly throwing in the towel and becoming Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe’s true confidant. With him I conspired to poison the pigs, blackmail the judges, defoliate the flower garden, and rig the tug-of-war content (a feet that required obtaining an airgun and shooting all the the members of the Blandings team in order to weaken them).

I also tried to help my good friend Freddy with his fiance Angie, the promptly feel in love with Angie and tried to steal her from Freddy, and then once Freddy was defeated (though we never got a chance to biff, Thanks Emsworth!), took pity on him and tried to re-unite the on-again, off-again couple. Freddy let the constable know I had stolen flowers and I used his shameful secrets to barter favor with Lady Constance Keeble. All in all… scandalous.

Might I mention that I was also shot by the air gun, framed for having the airgun (which I later took up, so that accusation eventually became true), and was dosed with itching powder, causing me to dance the funky chicken!

Finally, I proposed the the librarian Mrs. Maudie Stubbs, only to have her turn me down for Colonel Mustard Potts and later accept my position as secretary of Lord Emsworth! Why, I should have told Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe her secrets! That would have caused a kerfuffle!

All the other mischievous bits

And those were just the plot threads I was personally involved in!

There was also a missing scarab, eventually reunited with it’s owner. There were scandalous memoirs, thankfully never collected and published. There were engagements, secret weddings, imposters posing as other people, and must we not ever forget, and brief uprising and then fall of the healthy habits of vegetarianism!

Lady Fish and her son Ronnie seemed up to no good but I never found out exactly why. In the end Ronnie was engaged to Miss Myra Schoonermaker, so I assume alls well that ends well. Ronnie also pulled of quite an impressive White Elephant sale. No small task!

At the Fete’s conclusion, a tea set was given for the “satisfactory” flower arrangement, various titles were handed out, and we all deemed that Lady Constance Keeble, the Châtelaine of Blandings and Lord Emsworth’s sister (played by Jeremy Tidwell), was our crowd favorite!


What Rocked

A delightful day in Blandings castle. Personally I got myself in and out and back into all sorts of trouble. I had lots of fun plotting with Avi (Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe), thinking I had a friend in Dale (Sebastian Beech, that two-faced scoundrel!) and trying fruitlessly to win back the favor of Lord Emsworth.

Mechanically the game operates on a lot of secret information. Folded pieces of paper that even the owner doesn’t know the content of, except that there is a trigger written on the out side “Open if X happens”. The results are hilarious. Sudden changes of allegiance, star crossed lovers becoming engaged, and all sorts of other shenanigans. Compared to some other parlor larps that often pit people’s interests against each other, MM gives every character so many varied goals and secrets that they will always have something to pursue, even if they are thwarted at every turn (as I was!).

What this means is that there is no GM character plot advancement (except for progressing the days). Virtually everything you seek is out there, and your fellow players have the power to bestow it on you. The primary GM role “in game” is to control the pacing (passing of days), call out changes that happen at the end of the day (engagements, positions such as Châtelaine being assigned), and adjudicate contents (of which there are few, and sometimes even those are handled by the players).

Outside of the player interaction, the GMs handle things like granting access to people’s rooms, the lake, the pantry, and the stys. There is an exhaustively elaborate list of what improves and what hampers the pigs appearance and demeanor. Options of “comatose” are possibilities! Mary, Karen, and Eric did a fantastic job of keeping the action moving the entire game, facilitating mischief, and giving everyone ample opportunity to get themselves in trouble!

What could have improved

The game was originally laid out in Lotus Notes. It’s a bit dated. Karen cleaned it up remarkably but it’s still very text heavy. The result are long character sheets (a page or more of background, secrets, goals, and relationships) and lot and lots of little sheets of papers with special abilities, items, and other oddities.  It’s difficult to manage before the game and a bit fiddling to handle in game (keeping all those slips of paper in a badge holder is good, but there are still lots of them).

The game is written with a very white, rich, gender binary, heteronormative perspective. Karen and I talked about this a lot before the game. It’s very fun, but is very fun like Jeeves and Wooster is fun. White, privileged, and ignorant of social justice issues. Karen made a point of saying at the start of the game that we were welcome to break the normative standards presented in the game, but it’s an uphill battle with this game because the mechanics include rules for characters becoming engaged or getting into a fight (a biff) and with one exception (there is a woman who can biff), all of these rules enforce the game’s assumptions. The game is written based on the P.G. Wodehouse canon (all of these characters exist in the fiction) and to make it more widely accessible would inherently take it out of that setting.



  1. Adrienne

    Thanks so much for the write-up, Sean! I agree with all of your ‘rocks’ and ‘improves’. It really was an ungodly amount of text that Karen was handling. And thank you to her, Mary and Eric for running the show so brilliantly and seamlessly. It was a wonderful event at Blandings.

    – Gally’s very sweet and shy reminiscence about Dolly.
    – Baxter’s airgun shenanigans
    – Hearing about the things that people do to pigs when they think nobody is looking.
    – Aaaaall of my chats with Julia and Constance.
    – Watching the Freddie/Aggie drama unfold. Whoever played Freddie made a spactacularly tragic lover and Aggie an awesome betrayed fiancee.
    – Courtship with Ronnie. I was so aggressive and he was so retreating and then our love was so beautiful and pure. I initially leaned away from playing a young lady so I could avoid exactly this sort of scene (as the female) but I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in it than Noam and I had a blast.
    -The British accents! How did you all get so awesome at this? Beach, Potts, Stubbs, all the Emsworth’s. So good.

    – Who was going to magically fall in love with me (or was I magically going to fall in love with) when they said the word Christmas?
    – Who shaved off Emsowrth’s beard?
    – Who was the jewel thief? (I was pretty confident it was the American guy, but I don’t think it was confirmed.)
    – Was Stubbs the one woman who could biff?

    Minor Points:
    – Julia burned a ‘tell me your secret’ card early, while witnessed by Constance. They were the ones most likely to care about my identity (which a half dozen other people found out about but (with the exception of Baxter) couldn’t do anything with), but I imagine the aunts might have felt inhibited about ‘going after’ that information again.

    – Gally gave me the info about being in love with Dolly Henderson (my main goal) without my needing to spend any cards. This was great, but it also meant I solved that goal pretty quickly and without a lot of work. Kind of good because I was free to leisurely explore all the other interactions without worrying about my goal. (Which, once given, is hard to deprioritize – no matter what recommendations the refs give.)

    – Unclear whether when I talk to Gally that I should also have asked if he had sex with Dolly. Text suggests it’s not part of the conditions to ‘unwrap’ the rest of the goal card, but once you unwrap the card it assumes not only that we’ve talked about whether he performed any acts that would spawn a lovechild AND that I’ve told him who I really am. (Neither of which was the case.)

    – Should have used Constance’s private chat about ‘controlling one’s men’ to stand up for Gally and a man’s right to make his own choices. Would have given us some more hurdles to overcome in act 3 and 4.

    Had a ton of fun. Thanks for a great game, guys!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *