Mare Incognitum ࿇
A larp of Lovecraftian horrors
Running three times,
the 28th, 29th & 30th of November, 2014
in Gothenburg, Sweden
Kirkenes, Norway, 1951. The M/S Lyckan is the last ship out of Kirkenes before the seas freeze over. On board is the swedish crew, mining prospectors, a group of seasonal workers who’ve been rebuilding Kirkenes, a small polar research expedition and other passengers. Everyone is glad to leave the darkness and cold of the north, and for some it was a close call - missing the last ship out would have meant several months staying in Kirkenes through the winter.
For most of the passengers this is a short and unluxurious journey to Narvik, from where they will embark trains, and M/S Lyckan is not built or equipped for comfort. Through the dark night and howling winter winds the ship steams on as the passengers hunker down and try to stay warm, but the skipper is worried. The seas are treacherous this late in winter and mines from the war are still a threat.
Mare Incognitum is, in essence, a Lovecraft mythos horror larp set aboard a ship in the early 1950s, for 27 players. In the larp we are dealing with a type of horror that is both subtler and deeper than your average monster horror. Key components are unimaginably ancient powers we cannot understand, cosmic horror, insanity and the insignificance of mankind (and the very real possibility of that mankind being destroyed utterly). We offer you a detail filled background story, with lots of insinuations and atmosphere, but this kind of horror is mostly created in the minds of the players rather than through props, NPCs and effects.
You can expect a slow start, with a story that slowly builds pace and clues to follow and unravel. Mare Incognitum is not a straight up railroaded larp, but will be guided at times, try to roll with it.
Do not expect to be well fed or comfortable. Expect to invest time into getting into the headspace of your character and to do some research before the larp.
The venue, the destroyer HMS Småland, will be dark and claustrophobic, and cold. Once the larp is finished, you can expect a warm, nice meal someplace warm, in good company.
Keywords: Friendly, self-centered, hard to impress, adventurous
Description: Yours is the tale of adventure and wondrous discovery. The potential side-effects of any discovery is of secondary nature to the discovery itself, as is any financial gain. You are living on the poor side of wealth, selling the artifacts that you get your hands on to support your travelling lifestyle. You were quite disappointed during your time in Kirkenes, with all the work being done by boring archeologists and scientists. However, you’ve discovered that you share this ship with a lot of interesting individuals, perhaps someone who could finance your next journey? Some of the scientists might know some undiscovered area, too dangerous for their kind but waiting to be explored by someone with your experience.
Keywords: Rational, wary, self-confident, proud
Description: You are the enabler of the Adventurer and their glorious tale. Of course, the tale is a lot less glorious than your partner would ever admit, and truth be told, sometimes you think they are unaware of all the effort you put in. You are still great friends but you’ve found your place in their shadow, pride stopping you from making a fuss about it but pride also pushing you towards greater discoveries of your own one day. Your rational mind and wary personality often manage to secure the health of the two of you after which the Adventurer proceeds to pull you right back into trouble.
Keywords: Superstitious, ambitious, positive, altruistic
Description: You have been in Kirkenes to study the historical culture of Sami settlements. Your studies have granted you new insights into their past. With your insight and genius, you always see potential to turn any situation into a better one. No danger or crisis is too great to overcome, it is just a matter of insight and arranging the pieces the right way. One day, you will contribute to changing the world for the better, God willing. You have a great respect for the powers that be - God and the unseen order of the world, where both evil and good exists, hidden in signs all around you. You have a sense that your current field of study will result in something great.
Keywords: Worried, impulsive, intuitive, detached
Description: You have a bad feeling about this. Just like with the grave of Tutankhamun, something has been disturbed in your digs and there’s a growing feeling of unease perpertrating through the project. Whatever happens, you must see to the fact that you escape the events that have been set in motion. You are prone to rash decisions and rash conclusions. You’re often afraid that others might slow you down or hinder you with their incompetence or just by being there, which sometimes results in you distancing yourself from their troubles to instead focus on your own.
Keywords: Critical, logical, irritable, slow
Description: You do things slowly and you don’t like people jumping to conclusions. With steady progress, you will dissolve any superstitious or supernatural explanations and replace them with hard scientific evidence. In Kirkenes, you have tried to chart the minute details of the Sami presence there and in a year or two, you might be able to draw some exciting conclusions. This slow and methodical approach has in the past caused others to feel that you are in the wrong field of work, that you would do better as a mathematician but you disagree. People and cultures are as much about logic as math is. You frequently become frustrated and angry at others who don’t understand you or your approach to science.
Keywords: Social, emotional, insecure, questioning
Description: In Kirkenes, you have been there as an expert advisor to the rest of the scientific team. You have a history in Sami studies with an expertise in cultic and religious traditions. Telling others about yourself and your research is the most important part of your job. History is written by historians and you can write this particular piece to include a lot of you in it. You don’t believe a lot of the hocus pocus that the others are talking about and frankly, it’s not that important anyway, is it? Not when there’s a show to steal. At your core, you’re insecure and seek approval from others and your feelings tend to control your behavior a lot of the time.
Keywords: Outgoing, comfortable, friendly, scared
Description: Your camera is your shield, the barrier between you and the rest of the world. With the alibi of your photographer’s mission you feel safe wherever you go, you are popular, you are welcome into the most privileged social circles. Without it, you quickly lose grasp of what you’re doing in any particular situation and feel socially insecure. You were part of the expedition to Kirkenes and are returning with them but you are already looking forward to the next job. Too bad there’s a long, cold journey ahead before you get there.
Keywords: Empathic, caring, careless, brave
Description: For months, you have worked with construction in Kirkenes, building houses for the miners and administration on site. You were always the spider in the web for your group of workers, caring for your comrades and always putting yourself on the job if there was something dangerous that needed to be done. You were popular, but now you are headed home without the majority of them. Many have already gone before you and some just barely didn’t get a place on the same ship as you. The rest will stay over winter. You look forward to seeing them again come spring. You miss them already but you hope you can make some new friends on the two-day trip ahead.
Keywords: Skeptical, reserved, self-centered, disdainful
Description: You return from Kirkenes, where your job was to assist in the planning and construction of ventilation shafts in the mining complexes there. You also return from there with renewed belief in the stupidity of mankind. A bunch of good-for-nothing scientists, witch-doctors and financial cockroaches bogged up Kirkenes while you were there and now it feels like half of them are on board the ship with you. You think they are a waste of space. However, with nothing else to do and without your normal workcrew with you, you have to put up with their company.
Keywords: Hard, manipulative, confident, practical
Description: You have worked your way up to the top of the food chain among construction workers through relentless dedication, talent and sharp elbows. You have gotten rid of more than one boss through manipulative efforts and you’ve kept troublesome workers out of your way when they’ve gotten uppity. Now, you’re the chief in charge and you don’t intend to let go of that power. The others are jealous, of course, but that won’t get to you. A bigger problem is the high-ups and snotty spoiled rich people prying in your business or trying to use you and your team just because you share the same trip to Narvik. You’ll stop anyone who tries to sow disorder among your crew.
Keywords: Lawful, considerate, sensitive, superstitious
Description: You were born and raised in a fiercely protestant family, with a healthy fear of God and any kind of authority. Work hard, never complain, help others and obey your superiors. Those are the universal truths that everyone should try to strive for. When criticized or attacked, you tend to break down easily - you have done everything you can to do right in every situation so when that goes wrong, it’s hard to swallow and accept without emotions overflowing. You also tend to see signs from God in everyday life and interpret them often as warnings about immoral behavior.
Keywords: Intellectual, faithful, impulsive, insecure
Description: In Kirkenes, you were the Union representative, busy with political activism among the workers there. You were raised in a fiercly social-democratic family and you would defend the rights of workers everywhere. Now, you are worried that you have crossed the work leader in the wrong way and that they might seek to get rid of you. You have two days here at the ship to convince them that the interests of workers everywhere is also in the work leader’s best interests. You are never sure whether or not you have captured the hearts of those you speak you and sometimes you make rash decisions in attempts to convince them of your position. You are a firm believer in God and see Jesus as a socialist symbol for all to follow.
Keywords: Irresponsible, self-serving, confident, inventive
Description: The only person that matters is you, because no matter what you do, people won’t appreciate you for your efforts anyway. You’ve learnt that the hard way. People are, irrevocably, selfish and ungrateful and would gladly escape any kind of hard work if they think they can get away with it. Well, guess what? Now you are going to pay back with the same medicine. Only work for yourself, take care of your own troubles and don’t put in a moment of work if you don’t absolutely have to. In Kirkenes, you were nice, you were the martyr who did everything for others, who always worked the hardest and hoped to be recognized. No more.
Keywords: Charming, outgoing, false, adaptive
Description: You are on the run and have been for several years. The things you did during the war still haunt you, but you’ve managed to use your multifaceted skills and trustworthy facade to get a job under a false name and have been nested in Kirkenes as a construction worker for some time. However, when a prosecutor showed up unexpectedly and started snooping around, you decided to get on the last ship leaving town to get away before you were stuck with them all winter. Now it seems that the Prosecutor turned up at the ship at last moment’s notice and got a spot that wasn’t supposed to be there. You trust that you will be able to charm your way out until you reach Narvik and then disappear without a trace.
Keywords: Intellectual, insecure, bureaucratic, unprepared
Description: You were sent by the state to investigate the records of the Kirkenes mining facilities, under the suspicion of illegal transactions and agreements by the earlier administration. To do this, you had to gain access to all the papers and documents left behind by the previous administration. You contacted the one responsible for the organization of the Marshall aid to the Kirkenes area, the Robber Baroness/baron, who helped you gain access to the right documents. You are very serious and bureaucratic, you handle sudden changes very badly and prefer to take things slow. You are also quite insecure in your personal life, leaving a failed marriage behind to pursue your career.
Keywords: Opportunist, control-freak, superstitious, loud
Description: You make a living exploiting the weakened economies of the post-war era: plundering the weakest for their assets, investing in the growing markets and embezzling as much as possible of the Marshall aid money destined for Norway. You want to control every situation, including people, and you like being in charge. Loud and outspoken, you’re not afraid to use your social status to silence others or to overpower them in arguments. However, you have a very strong streak of superstition and should the signs stack up, you can easily be put off balance and descend into worry and fear.
Keywords: Analytical, hard to impress, persuasive, perceptive
Description: You are both the brains and the face for the financial ventures of the Robber baroness/baron. You represent your boss at meetings, you analyze the data and the potential cuts you can make. You give it all a sense of control. Tackling every situation, be it superstitious or factual, with a sharp analytical intellect you haven’t found many things in the world that truly stuns or impresses you. Where the baroness/baron fears the unknown and the supernatural, the Secretary solves the mystery and ascertains control of the previously obfuscated parts.
Keywords: Self-preserving, educated, hesitant, theoretical
Description: You work for the Robber Baroness/Baron with safeguarding them from the dangers of the occult and the mysterious. You know everything from the kabbalah to the hermetic secrets of the Emerald tablet. The rosicrucian mysteries are second nature to you and the gnostic secrets of the Cathars come closer and closer to being discovered. However, the few times you’ve scratched the surface of the occult and actually found something that wasn’t inward-focused but actually felt real, you’ve quickly retreated to the safety of your books and theoretical knowledge. Slowly, it has dawned on you that the mysteries are increasingly becoming real and you don’t quite know how to handle it. However, if anyone is prepared, it is you, and the lives and sanity of others is clearly secondary to your own well-being.
Keywords: Inquisitive, curious, careless, rational
Description: You want to see it all and prove the workings behind it. Unlike the Occultist, you are obsessed with seeing the occult as a natural science, obsessed with what you see as the ‘truth’ behind it all. Why does it work, how does it work? It can only be accomplished through experimentation. Often, you stumble into situations to find out more, even when it might be dangerous to do so. The Occultist is egocentric and insecure but is invaluable for their knowledge - somewhere in all that knowledge, pieces of truth are hidden. Working for the Robber Baroness/Baron has given you a taste of the good life as well and you long for more of the same.
Keywords: Naive, friendly, disapproving, careless
Description: Life is easy and when it isn’t, you have a servant to take care of that. Everything can be solved with a positive attitude but you are fiercely critical of those who refuse to see the good things in life. They are the sort of people who cause all the troubles in the world. Why can’t they just see that they, too, could succeed? You were born without much wealth, your family could barely pay for your expensive education in Britain and yet you came out all right. You should be seen as an example for everyone. You like to make friends and you travelled to Kirkenes to see the booming Norwegian industries being rebuilt there, what a wondrous journey!
Keywords: Stable, distant, critical, proud
Description: You are at constant work picking up the scraps and trash left behind by the countess/count in their naive and wasteful lifestyle. Whenever they turn, everything must be clean and no troubles in sight. You borrow money from other families, pay them back when you can, arrange for the cheapest trips that still manages to match the countess/count’s standards and try to safeguard their reputation. So far you have done a good job. They can always count on you. You are competent and keep yourself detached from any emotional involvement. You are also fiercely proud of what you do and the fact that you make the impossible seem possible, again and again. You are critical of others, and also of yourself.
Keywords: Empathic, over-achiever, thoughtful, hesitant
Description: You did not want to be a doctor in the first place but you just finished your internship in Kirkenes and now that you are, you are set on being the best one there is. Everyone must be saved, every life is sacred to you. In theory. In reality, you lack experience from the field and you often felt nauseous during your internship when confronted with the bloodier bits of your line of work. You are often stuck with inaction when it comes to stressful situations, unable to reach a decision and fumbling for answers. The fact that you are the authority on everything medical on the ship leaves you both with a feeling of pride but also with an unsettling worry. If push comes to shove, will you be able to handle the pressure?
Keywords: Hardened, unfazed, skeptical, rough
Description: You have just gone on holiday from your first aid work at the mining site in Kirkenes. You’re a veteran of the greatest war the world has ever seen, the second World War. You have seen the frontlines and you’ve seen the field hospitals.Amputations are everyday work to you. This has left you hardened and skeptical towards all things that aren’t immediately relevant to the situation at hand. Occultism and the soft sciences are equally irrelevant to you. You’re used to working with the very best doctors in the field and you know that they have an expertise that you don’t. You will expect the insecure doctor to step up if the need arises. You’re never afraid to speak up and not afraid to take charge if the situation really calls for it.
Keywords: Filthy rich, lazy, confident, rash
Description: You were convinced by your friend, the Humanitarian aid worker, that you would be known as a true humanitarian, be seen in newspapers across europe, if you followed them to Kirkenes. All you had to do then was to be seen and heard as well as donating a massive amount of money to the rebuilding process. That sounded like a cheap way to additional fame for you and Norway had always attracted you with it’s fjords and… whatever they called it, there was some other famous thing there too. You often do things just to make something happen, to see people dance to your tune or just to see people react to whatever you felt for at the time. You are not malicious, you just like causing a fuss.
Keywords: Altruistic, caring, theoretical, holier-than-thou
Description: The world needs people like you. If everyone could just care more and do something for others we could save the world. You are willing to die for the greater good, but you prefer to work from the sidelines, organizing and directing aid rather than getting involved in person. You often see egocentric individuals as somewhat inferior, as a kind of people who aren’t really needed in the new, better world you are building. If a crisis would truly come up and confront you directly, you have no idea how you would react. You know the theory but the harsh reality of it all could easily shock you.
Keywords: Self-obsessed, social, passionate, pompous
Description: You were in Kirkenes, looking for the Next Big Thing. Would it be the archeological findings? The donations of the Rich Dilettante to the recovery? The suspected illegal dealings of the previous administration of the mining complex? Nothing has risen to the surface as the truly astounding story just yet but you are confident that something will spring up. The make-up of the people on the ship is promising if nothing else shows itself - maybe a dramatic story about these people could be turned into a story worthy of your name? Find a secret, find a story, dig up some dirt. As a journalist, personal integrity isn’t that important - everyone owes you answers to your inquisitive questions.
Keywords: Scarred, emotional, realist, capable
Description: You fought in the war and you were in Kirkenes during one of the many bombings. Several of your friends died there and their remains were not found until the autumn that just passed, so you have travelled to Kirkenes to bury them and say a final farewell. Now, you are on your way home again with fresh scars from the memories of Kirkenes. You came there on the same ship as the Dilettante, the Journalist and the Humanitarian so you know them a little, and you rejoin each other’s company here on the last ship out. The journalist tried to pry your story from you but you have resisted so far. You are always close to your emotions, emotions that tend to burst out when someone fails to grasp the seriousness of a situation or when someone shows disrespect to those who experienced the war.
Mare Incognitum will be played aboard the HMS Småland, at Maritiman, Gothenburg Sweden during the 28th, 29th and 30th of november.
You will have to be able to be at the venue at 0700 hours, we can not accommodate late arrivals, game ends late, with obligatory dinner and talks. See “living arrangements” for information about places to stay.
We have three levels of participant-fees:
Any profits from the larp goes straight back into the organizer fund and will be used for subsequent larps.
For Mare Incognitum, 20% of the available spots will be reserved for beginners, and our aim is to have an equal 50/50 male/female ratio for the larp.
Participants will be drawn according to the criteria above (with a few exceptions).
Casting will be done by the 20th of August
Some players will also be required to bring items specific to their characters, this will be detailed in your character information.
The larp is not about re-creating old gender-roles. All characters will be written gender neutral, it will be your decision as a player to gender the character as you see fit. There are also up to you as a player to choose your clothing, the larp is not reenactment, use the clothes that fit the times, but also that you are comfortable with (this is probably mostly for cis-women, no need to wear a skirt or dress unless you want to). This also means that we don´t want play sexism: if you want to offend someone, don´t use sexist (or racist) language. Everyone can be from all backgrounds. While the real 1950s might have been more sexist and racist, Mare Incognitum is not. There’s nothing strange about, say, female professors or male midwives, and your ethnicity primarily what your character says, not what your real ethnicity might or might not be.
This is not a larp about fighting, hunting monsters or action. However, some forms of physical interaction will probably take place. Since we’re in a ship full of sharp edges and open stairwells, take it easy and make sure everyone involved is in control of the scene. Start slow and work up to physical confrontation.
For physical confrontations, we follow the rule of “Biggest gun wins”: if you have a wrench and everyone else is unarmed, you’re in control of the scene.
The language spoken on board (during the larp), will depend on the participants. It will probably be helpful to be somewhat comfortable in spoken English, and, for Scandinavians, to have basic understanding of the other Scandinavian languages.
We will not provide any lodgings during this larp. We have however secured a discount at Linnéplatsens Vandrarhem, contact us to get hold of the discount code.
Use the facebook-group if you want to check for available couches or similar.
For questions and other inquiries, contact the organizers at email@example.com
The signup is now closed, and we thank you all for taking the time to sign up and for all the buzz you all have generated. Everyone that has signed up should have recieved an email on the 1st of August, confirming their submission. If you have not received this mail on august 2nd, please first check your junk mail-folder, then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are now in the process of casting all the participants and setting up the characters, relationships, fiction, building props, developing the effects etc. But in the time being we want to take the time and present some statistics:
The larp is organized by “the Storytellers” (Berättelsefrämjandet), the responsible parties are Andreas Sjöberg, Olle Nyman, Sara Pertmann and Sebastian Utbult, with the help from Anna Jartin, Jon Rundlöf, Michael Hemmingsson, Simon Svensson amongst others
"Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time."
- H. P. Lovecraft