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.


Actual Play – Midsummer Mischief (7/4/2012)

Directors: Karen Twelves and Keiran Stockley
Hosts: Mary Mattingly and Eric Bohr
Players: Sean Nittner, Shannon MacNamara, John Kim, Mary Mattingly,  Eric Bohr, Jon Edwards, Eric Fattig, Lovesong Cahill, Andrew Fittingoff, and many more!
System: Midsummer Mischief (LARP)

In a bit of spectacular irony, Karen put on British LARP on Independence Day.


As a LARP, and an enormously complex one at that, I can’t detail the entire story. It’s just too vast and I don’t know the half of it. Instead I’ll tell it from my perspective, that of Lord Emsworth, 9th Earl of Emsworth, Justice of the Peace, the honorable Clarence Threepwood, and owner of Blandings Castle.

First, let me introduce the guests


The premise of Midsummer Mischief is that Blandings is hosting a summer Fete, a great festival where there will be a pig showing, flower arrangement, and tug of war contests. There is also to be a white elephant sale and trophies awarded.

Friends, families, and even rapscallion neighbors (no bias here of course) have been invited to the event, to participate and enjoy a few days at Blandings.

Of course, there is much more going on than meets the eye!


There were so many, and no way anyone could keep track of all of them. Here were the principles plots I was involved with:

The Fat Pigs Prize at the County Fete: In order for Empress (my prize winning pig) to be in the best shape possible for the Fete, she needed regular care and attention. Similarly, my rival Lord Parsloe-Parsloe had his own pig (the Pride of Matchingham) that was in the stalls ready to compete. Leading up to the event we each needed to make sure our pings were fed and kept in good spirits, and of course, being very busy entertaining guests, we often had to ask others to do so. In fact, I had some positions to appoint (secretary, chatelaine (governess of the castle), and vicar (clergyman in charge of the chapel in Matchingham)) so I was inclined to send people to perform theses tasks in my stead in order to earn my favor, and perhaps a prized position.

The twist, of course, was that the pigs kept on being stolen. Put in peoples rooms, put in the wrong pens, and generally being frightfully disturbed. I suspected my nemesis was behind all of this but after a time I realized his pig was missing as well! Also, for quite some time, thought we both loved our pigs dearly, neither lord knew which pig was which!

There was quite some fun sending people out to go find my pig, knowing full well that many of them would probably steal it, move it around, or play some other prank if they could.

Perfect Peonies: Lord Emsworth was really a simple man. Yes, he had wealth and power, but what he really wanted was peace and quiet to enjoy nature. He loved his pigs and he loved his flower garden. He of course would speak of its magnificence often. How the smell of his flowers had enchanting effects on women, and how simply splendid they were. Each flower should be enjoyed… but at a distance, and certainly NEVER picked!

Which is of course why there was a flower arranging competition. My flower garden had more takers than a village trollop! Once the garden was diminished significantly, I flew into a rage and began exercising my executive powers! Much fun indeed!

My Aching Leg: I don’t think this was meant to be a major plot line but I enjoyed it so I played it up a lot. I had recently been injured falling off a ladder (because someone else was moving it!) and now my leg was quite sore. I played this up by using a cane during the LARP. I was in search of someone who could put the spring back in my step with some manner of tincture, poultice, or liniment. Luckily there were several who did have such wondrous items and after applying them, I was free of the use of my cane for the day (one hour in game). Free of my injury, I took quite a delight in acting young again. By George, I even danced with an American! And got into a biff with a woman who trounced me!

All in all my injured leg may have been the most fun plot for me personally, though it wasn’t as widespread as the others.

Positions of Power: I had several boons to give out: income, jobs, etc. And everyone knew it! My primary function really, throughout the con game, was to send people off to do things. Sometimes important, often just silly.

What I didn’t know until later was how hotly contested those roles were. Both of my sisters had it out for each other to be chatelaine, several people needed money, and my old servant Baxter did everything he could to regain employ as my secretary (more on that below).  For much of the game I felt like the eye of a storm. I really didn’t know what people were out there doing but it didn’t matter much to me. If someone asked for a job, I gave them one, and counted it a “good turn” if they came back and told me it was done (even if in fact it wasn’t).

Minor, but Fun Plots: Other things I was involved with (which were either minor, or I just didn’t know very much about) were: delivering my nephew his inheritance, uncovering jewel thieves, helping young couples get engaged, and, most magnificent of all, my beard. The beard of kings.

Oh, I had so much fun with this one. I kept expecting someone to want me to cut it, but as it turned out only the faithful butler Beach objected to it, and he would never go so far as to say so!


We ended with the Fete. Prizes were given, couples were engaged, and positions were appointed. There was much for for all!


Thoughts on the game

This was my second ever LARP. I love, love, love how it was put together. You never had to wonder “What should I do” because some card or part of your character sheet told you want to do. You never had to wonder “How do I do that” because an ability or item would tell you how. We spent the whole day doing some delightful role-playing but never worried about whether or not we were being out-played by someone else. It was very welcoming to a new player.

For all its insane complexity the LARP could use some editing. There are items that say “See a Director” but the Directors have no information on what they do. Also it’s just a ton of work to print out the whole thing and cut up all the pieces and sort them. Mary and Karen did an awesome job preparing everything, but it would be great if the original authors revisited the LARP, did some editing, and then published it in a box set with all the pieces pre-cut and prepared.

Being Emsworth was a lot of fun. I found it pretty easy to put on a mild but fun British accent and make period-sounding references “I say,” “Give him what for,” “You cad!” and the like. Also the role kept me on my feet all game long. Like I could never turn a corner without someone asking me for something, or telling me scandal. Thankfully part of my character sheet told me that as long as information I hear isn’t about pigs or flowers, I would soon forget it. Which is good, because as a player I couldn’t keep track of half of what was going on. I really enjoyed playing a lord who wasn’t really put out when he found out a valuable scarab was stolen. “How scandalous” I would say, and then ask if someone could find me a spot of tea.

Love was in the air. Despite my character being to old to look for love, I found myself enchanted by Ms. Gloria Salt. I think primarily because she beat me up! The woman has spirit!

I have some regrets. Baxter, my ex-secretary, really should have gotten the position. He did so much to earn it, including writing my speech, but ultimately greed compelled me to give it to the judge who promised Empress would win. Ah, well. One would hope good old Baxter would keep at it. Also, I should have challenged Parsloe-Parsloe for Gloria Salt’s hand in marriage. Their engagement had been broken off and I had a chance to step in, but hesitated. Should have leaped at the chance.