Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Feature 2012-11-30

Christmas is drawing closer. Snow is faling outside and the weeks seem to fly by. The time remaining until the larp will shrink, seemingly faster and faster. We are overwhelmed by all comments, the general excitement surrounding the project, and of course the burst of registrations since Monday! We will get back to you with confirmations and the like, as soon as possible, on Facebook and by email. Sure, we knew we were onto something good, but the response has simply been massive. Please bear with us, for a little while, as we tackle the onrush...

The Mysterious Game #4

As anyone who signed up has noticed we have four shows planned but have only opened registration to the first three. This has two reasons:
  1. The ship is expensive to rent and we have a clause that makes the last weekend (and last weekends rent) optional.
  2. From a casting perspective it is better with three full shows than four 3/4 full.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Character classes, status and plots

This is a clarification regarding the purpose of having character classes. We have heard voices claiming that you can pay your way to a high status character and a more "central" part in the plot. Nothing can be more wrong:

  1. All characters, and I really mean ALL characters, are as important to us. No one is support cast. Nobody's experience is prioritized over anothers. We place a lot of honor in this.
  2. There is not one hierarchy (the military) onboard The Celestra that provides high status characters, if this is what you want, but five: the celestra crew, Vergis corporation, the political representatives, the military and the Ha'la'tha. The leadership of three of those fall into the cheapest character class (A), one into B and only one into C. These hierarchies will operate independently and challenge each other, that's one of our dramatical foundations.

So why character classes then? 

We decided that it was not cost efficient for us to provide the base costumes for civilian characters. It's really easy for the players to provide themselves, we are talking about normal contemporary clothes after all. But for us to match sizes and gender specifics would mean a significant cost that we don't think that you players want to take. We will however provide some extra stuff for civilians to complement their garments with.

So the one and only reason for character classes is that we found it fairer that the player who gets a 2000 SEK uniform pays the cost of this compared to the one who gets a shawl.

... or a hat

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Feature 2012-11-23

It's Friday!

Right now, we're working at highest capacity behind the scenes. Costumes are clearing out, and the main plot and practical stuff are sorting themselves out too. Monday and Tuesday, a select portion of our crew will go to Gothenburg to check out the hostel and the warship Småland. Hopefully, this recon trip will enable us to give you some insight into what the locations will be like during game-time.

We're also prepping for the release event, as well as touching up on the sign up procedure. You'll be able to dedicate to the game during the party. Don't forget to bring cash to the bar - there'll be wine, beer and ample opportunity to chat with a diversity of organizer team members. The three below included. See you there?


The Monitor Celestra - Group Overview


The Original Celestra Crew

Three days ago, the crew of The Monitor Celestra was quietly going about its business. This didn’t stop crew members from grumbling about shitty air-scrubbers and long shifts, or from frakking around in general out of pure boredom. Three straight months of silent observation on the outer borders of colonial space had awakened a particular eagerness to return to Minos Spaceport, and deliver Project HERMES data-drives to their employers in the Vergis Corporation. Even more important, docking would allow them to shuttle planetside and plant their feet firmly on the ground again.

The Celestra could not only accommodate a core staff, but also scientists. The HERMES researchers were hired by Vergis Corp to gather and analyze anomalies in electromagnetic radiation. To most outsiders, the project would seem like a routine operation. There were even crew jokes circulating about Vergis investing a considerable amount of time, cubits and effort into merely listening to random space noise. Only egghead physicists and computer scientists might possibly feel any sort of enthusiasm for such a project.

The single break in the unrelenting routine of the mission happened en route back to Tauron. Something unforeseen arose from out of the static. A message.

“Humanity’s children are returning home.”

Captain Polos with officers, navigation, mechanics, engineers and most of the members of the FTL and sublight crews were a close knit team. They had been shipping out on The Celestra on a variety of missions long before being tasked with taking the HERMES scientists on their snail-pace tour of the Red Line. Polos and crew knew their ship as well as anyone could, and had formed strong bonds as well as festering enmities among themselves.

During the most recent trip, Project HERMES evolved into gathering dirtside radiation data in complement to deep space findings. To manage the increased workload, fresh talent was employed just before the departure, eight months ago. The new recruits would run shuttle and exo operations.

The Celestra is primarily crewed by Taurons. A few off-worlders belong to the science department, headhunted by Vergis Corp for their specialist skills.

The Vergis Corporation

On approach, The Celestra docked at Vergis 73, a corporate spacedock in geosynchronous orbit over Tauron. Only hours before the Cylon attack on The Twelve Colonies, a group of high ranking members of Vergis Corporation boarded The Celestra for an unannounced inspection. To most of the crew, the incident was no big surprise. One or two may have raised an eyebrow when recognizing high-ranking board members in the boarding party. Bringing a team of armed security guards could be explained by their prominence alone, but the destruction of The Twelve Colonies carries its own legacy and it may be more than a coincidence that these movers and shakers happened to end up in charge of a Monitor-class ship of their own - a ship also carrying secrets highly relevant to the entire war effort.

From Galactica’s point of view, integrating The Celestra into what remained of the fleet was of utmost importance. The ship would simply have to comply with Commander Adama’s orders. There could be no exception to his rule. Vergis, and its hold over The Celestra, was a serious threat to this military necessity. Simultaneously, some felt that uncovering the possibly dangerous secrets of Project HERMES was an objective worth pursuing in itself. Regardless, The Vergis Corporation had a way of bending Caprican laws to their own ends, no matter what the competition may have been. They would rarely walk into a conflict without a card, or gun, up their sleeves.

Tauron Civilians

War hit Vergis 73 hard and fast. The Monitor Celestra was saved by not having docked when raiders blew the station out of the sky. Despite direct orders to abort from Vergis board members, the Captain and the crew of The Celestra did the only decent thing as the attack escalated into nuclear holocaust. They tried to pick up as many refugees as they could find, and fit, into the ship before the Cylons burned Tauron to cinders. Some of these refugees were picked up from surviving vessels in low orbit, but one desperate run was also made to Minos (a.k.a. ”Tauron City”, as Capricans say), where many a clan member lived before the attack. This heroic effort was full of hellish decisions. Two members of the original crew were lost during the rescue mission. Adria was killed by falling debris, and Jane decided to turn her place over to a civilian.

Almost the entire population of Minos was wiped out as the first bombs fell. When The Monitor arrived, most of their loved ones could only be assumed to be dead or dying of radiation poisoning. And most of them were. Still, after searching through the debris with the Monitor-ship’s hyper-effective thermal and bio-sign scanners, trawling all radio frequencies for signs of survivors, the crew managed to find a few pockets within the city where the screens showed the flickering signs of life. The Cylons used Neutron bombs, apparently planning to repopulate the devastated planet, so radiation was quickly dropping to survivable levels. The first survivors were found in a nuclear bomb shelter reserved for high ranking members of the Tauron government. Since many went missing, some spots had been given to the best minds of Tauron which could be reached and saved during the few minutes passing between the first warning and the attack itself. The second pocket of survivors was located in the vast and ancient underground maze beneath The Temple of Taurus. When the bombs fell, the upper levels served as a place of refuge, while the lower levels remained what they always had been - a meeting place for religious sects. A place of death and shadowy dealings, where the criminal syndicate Ha’la’tha could work undisturbed by the watchful eye of Tauron authorities.

In the end, the people who found a haven in Monitor’s cramped crawl spaces were a disparate lot. Some were clan members. Some foreigners. Some were people who used to hold political, religious, or clan based office, wile some were just trying to disappear. Some survived thanks to their exceptional skills, while some made it thanks to exceptional luck. Or, as some might call it, by the grace of the Lords of Kobol. And while a Caprican might easily have taken a look at this group of Tauron refugees and thought that they must be useless and lost, any Tauron would know that true power would not be found in crude material possessions, but rather in bonds of loyalty. Even among strangers, the strings tying a person to clan and religion would remain strong among the Taurons. Both the crew from Galactica and the Vergis board members would find that they weren’t the only forces at hand to be reckoned with, when it came to deciding the fate of The Monitor Celestra.

Just as the last civilians tore each other to pieces, in the vain hope of boarding The Celestra, Captain Polos received news of the total destruction the main Colonial Fleet in the battle of Virgon, including the destruction of Admiral Nagala’s flagship, Atlantia. Hope was lost.

Caprican Civilians

Shortly after the first wave of attacks, Commander Adama assumed complete command of the remains of the fleet. President Laura Roslin ordered all surviving ships to organize and flee the war zone. Since The Monitor Celestra was FTL - equipped, it was ordered to take passengers from other surviving ships which could not make the jump themselves. This was the first of several events which would strain the Tauron/Caprican relationships onboard. Instead of being allowed to pick up Tauron clan members, the crew of The Celestra was forced to open their airlocks to Capricans.

Sure, several of them were VIP’s, of some sort, but in no way important to the survival of the human race. Nor were they family or clan, like many of the Taurons left behind would have been. Among the people who came in by shuttle were some well known Caprican pop culture celebrities, along with family members of high ranking politicians and wealthy industrialists. It didn’t take long before the rumors started, that these new Caprican refugees paid their way to safety.

Along the rest, a group of pencil-pushers sent out by the Roslin administration arrived. They had been tasked to take stock of supplies, people, skills and defensive capabilities onboard The Celestra. Their purpose was to redistribute such resources within the fleet, a fact which made their presence less than appreciated. Plenty of resources simply vanished before them. While the old world burned and fell to ruin, many argued that all available assets would have to be shared, that the concept of ownership did not apply anymore. What humanity needed, it would have to take - from the keeping of the few, to sate the need of the many. Others sought the opportunity to claim as much personal wealth as possible. Yet others were just desperately trying to cling to whatever they happened to grab, in fear of losing everything.

A few members of what used to be Vergis Corporation’s worst rival - Greystone Industries - seized the opportunity to join Roslin’s redistribution effort. Whatever the HERMES research project was all about, the competition was dead set to steal and profit from it. Among the Vergis board members, and even among the scientists, the whole scheme was like an old, festering wound. It wouldn’t be the first time Capricans would have made cubits off of Tauron innovativeness and entrepeneurship, and in fact a very similar incident had resulted in the creation of the enemy, the Cylons, destroyers of humankind.

The Galactica Crew

With tensions rising both within and outside The Celestra, Galactica’s XO Saul Tigh convinced Commander Adama to seize military command of the ship. While most of their crew was busy with stocking ammunition at the Ragnar station, a Special Operations team was briefed in one of the back rooms of the Galactica. A Captain, bridge officers and a flight-crew capable of operating The Monitor without any aid from its original crew were tasked with remodeling The Celestra into the warship she once was. They were given marines, Viper pilots and engineers to help accomplish their goal. At this point, no one was talking about a hostile takeover, but when the fleet left Ragnar Station, the inherent conflict between The Celestra and the Galactica started growing ugly.

Commander Adama ordered Captain Polos of The Celestra to hold off the Cylons, while the civilian (and for the most part, Caprican) ships made the jump to safety. This order was intended to be followed through, even if it effectively meant to sacrifice their own sorry Tauron butts. Captain Polos responded that The Celestra was, itself, a civilian ship - and even though they would agree to target the Cylons in the beginning of the battle, they’d definitely refuse to put themselves in the frontline or risk sustaining heavy damage. In the end, they would jump before all other civilian ships were out of the thick, something which would be interpreted as a blatant disregard for standing orders.

After making the jump, the order came down: The Celestra was to send a shuttle to the Galactica to receive their part of the weapons and ammunitions from Ragnar Station. When the shuttle operators arrived on the hangar deck - along with the promised arms and supplies - an armed Special Ops team from the Galactica waited for them with orders to take the shuttle back to The Celestra, and assume control over the ship.

The message they were sending was clear: This Tauron vessel would be under Caprican control, and anyone who refused to obey orders from Command could, and would, be relieved of duty.

The network and hardware engineers were set to go to work on the interior of the ship, cutting cables and shutting down networked computer systems to avoid a Cylon virus from infiltrating the ancient and powerful mainframe. The original crew members were naturally outraged, claiming they had already taken ample precautions to make sure an infection would be impossible. The Monitor Celestra was, after all, a warship build during the First Cylon War, and especially designed to play a deadly game of hide and seek with the enemy. She would not even have survived the initial attack, had she been vulnerable to the same digital weapons which rendered most of the fleet helpless through Baltar’s Command Navigation Program. The new Captain, with accompanying marines, were to secure the bridge and take over operations, effective immediately, while the rest of the crew were loading ammo and supplies.

And then, exactly 33 minutes after leaving the Ragnar Station, the Cylons attacked.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Friday feature 2012-11-16

Autumn is around and things have a russet undertone. The light is lower, but now again it’s time for Friday Feature! This week we bring you a VBlogg with Adriana and Cecilia.

And next week we will ha an interview our producers. Is there anything you wold like to ask them? Something you always wanted to now? Feel free to post your questions to info@celestra-larp.com


It has been many years since they organized together, but we found this photo when searching for some pictures from Carolus Rex, and there you have them! From left to right, Tomas Walch, Martin Ericsson and Henrik Summanen. It's shot down in the submarine where Carolus Rex was played.



As the homepage states, The Monitor Celestra is not only a larp inspired by Battlestar Galactica, but also the spiritual sequel to “Carolus Rex” (1999), a game which many Swedes - and some Danes - have fond memories of.

Those are some large pair of shoes to fill. This entry is all about the heritage from CR, with a brief status report on where we're currently at with the main story arc for Celestra.

Here's what the Nordic Larp Wiki has to say about CR (not much): http://nordiclarpwiki.org/wiki/Carolus_Rex

You can listen to the bombastic trailer (in Swedish) at Alternaliv, 
http://www.alternaliv.se/ljud/crtrailer22enhanced.mp3, alternatively go to http://www.alternaliv.se/, click "Projekt" and choose "Urval av tidigare projekt" - cycle one step onwards.

There's also this blog post on the game, written retrospectively by one of the participants: https://gondica.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/das-boot-in-space

What we're bringing with us from CR to Celestra:

  • The action-oriented WYSIWYG framework.
  • Science Fiction archetypes, made real and relevant. Yup, we have a space monster - but this time around the monster may be you. There's a cosmic enigma, or rather several. You can go where no one has gone before. Truly.
  • Integrating technical solutions with storytelling, not merely using tech for decorative purposes (sound, command consoles, bringing scenery into the experience by interaction, and more).
  • A complete pay'n play package with costume, food, off-game sleeping and everything else pertaining to the game included. The only expense we don't cover with your participant's fee is your ticket to Gothenburg.
  • Staging the game in the very warship intended for Gjallarhornet, the follow-up to CR which never happened.
  • Specific plot analogues. Remember the threat of the great pyramid, hovering alone in the void? We'll nod to that. The camaraderie of the work gangs and engineering personnel? Covered. The rogue AI? Yup. These, and other thematical parallels will be recognizable if you keep your eyes peeled. And make the right choices...
What we add to this mixture:
  • 13 additional years of experience in organizing larps, running transmedia events, educationalist practice, coding, and whatnot.
  • An even cooler gaming area. This is worth repeating. What's a retired old submarine compared to a warship?
  • At least four times the number of organizers and crew.
  • Custom characters (and more) for kickstarters. Hey, if you wanna give us some lurve, we'll sure as hell return the favor, with extras.
  • Meta-techniques. Not included for their own sake, rather to resolve specific issues. Six and Baltar? Easy.

Report from the Writer Squad

At this point in story development, we've outlined the general (non-customized) groups of characters, complete with themes and twists. We've also set the basics of the main story arc, including turning points and alternate endings. More work on this will, of course, follow. Due to real world concerns, we have to evacuate the playing area for sleep. This is an opportunity, in the sense that it organically leads to a partition of gameplay into acts, or episodes, which allow for the passing of time. There may be cliffhangers, and one or two episodes may even start in media res. We'll be able to give players new input through letters of resort - sealed instructions and flavor text. And we'll be able to reset the stage and do general upkeep, such as emptying the toilets. Someone's gotta do it, sometime.


It's been said that Science Fiction is never really about the space ships or the beam guns, it's about the human beings flying or carrying them. This is also true for Celestra. Our sources of inspiration worked with classical genre stereotypes to entertain, and to some degree comment on the world after the 9/11 attacks. We're doing something similar, a decade or more later, from a modern European standpoint. For better or worse, we're grounded in societal structures marred by unequality, xenophobia and a myriad of conflicting political agendas. The game wouldn't be relevant if it didn't, in some way, reflect this. Celestra will neither be agitative, nor engage in arthouse posturing, but it will most certainly touch on real issues, albeit set in a fictional universe.



So, regarding thematical crossovers and narrative work, this is where we currently stand. To paraphrase the CR trailer:

Sign on!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Feature 2012-11-09

Starting from now, and every friday before the events, we will provide you with a Friday Feature, just to celebrate that the weekend starts and that we are approaching March. Our Friday features will treat anything that possibly would interest you as an attendant in the Celestra: conceptual drawings, stories, videos and lots of other things. Some of these will be
directly connected to the Celestra project, some others just be vaguely associated to Sci-fi in general.
Part of the material will be of the kind that the organizer staff produces, but we also would like to see contributions from you in terms of material that can inspire us all. We appreciate all your contributions!

We start with our event dates, just to celebrate this first Friday Feature:

Game 1: March 1-3
Game 2: March 8-10 (all English game)
Game 3: March 15-17
Game 4: March 22-24 (if we fill the other ones up sufficiently)

Registration to game 1-3 will open on Nov 24, which we'll celebrate by throwing a release party in Stockholm on this very day. Time and place: 20:00, HiQ Stockholm, Regeringsgatan 20. RSVP to info@celestra-larp.com no later than Nov 21 to get on the guest list.

With great timing the first webepisodes of long awaited BSG prequel "Blood and Chrome" were released today, so naturally we'll finish our first Friday Feature by including these.





Thursday, November 1, 2012

Status update

 
  • Contract for the ship is written and we're now only need an insurance before we can sign! Hopefully within a week...
  • Both writer and tech teams are gearing up now that the location situation is settling.
  • Crowdfunding will run for another couple of weeks or so, we're planning to open proper registration in time for...
  • Release party, scheduled in Stockholm Nov. 24th