Knowing their roles
By ELIZABETH GOLDEN
Swords, shields and masks might seem to have jumped straight out of medieval times, but those items are part of every-day life to members of Heroic Interactive Theatre.
Heroics is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to creating live-action role-playing experiences for the national gaming community.
"It's kind of like playing Dungeons and Dragons," said Levi Gibbons, a senior at Fort Hays State University and projects manager. "Instead of using dice to determine your character's outcome, you act it out."
The LARPing game Life After is a "high fantasy and Steampunk game with a post-apocalyptic theme."
"You are facing a bandit leader who is intent on the contents of your purse," said Nick Cole, an FHSU senior and head of plot. "How do you handle it? The game we play (Life After) has everything from knights in armor to muskets to zombies."
Cole said the story revolves around the characters trying to rebuild their lives.
"This is while dealing with issues over government regulations to, 'That kind sir thinks I look like a tasty snack,' " he said.
Gibbons described the event as a mix between a renaissance fair and improvisational theater.
"It's like you step into a (renaissance) fair," Gibbons said, "except everyone around you is in character and heavily committed to the character."
Cole said everyone makes up his or her own character based on information he provides to the participants about the world.
"It's all about how much you know and how much you can create," he said. "We have players that are tribal leaders, and we have others that their only goal in life is to set things on fire."
Life After took place Feb. 8 at Frontier Park in Hays. The event lasted from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Events vary from four-hour fighter practices and full-day sessions to full-weekend events, hosted at Kirwin Lake.
"People do get really into the character," Cole said. "At one of our weekend events, I was so in character, I got hypothermia. I don't recommend anyone takes it that far."
Quincy Rayls, a KAMS student at FHSU, has attended several shorter events, but this was her first all-day event.
As the only girl involved, she knew several of the guys through mutual friends.
"We always have a blast," Rayls said. "I play a dark elf. She's kind of irritable and standoffish. I played characters similar to her in Dungeons and Dragons, and thought it would be really cool to physically play her. So, I picked her name and developed her back story. All of the characters have back stories. They're like real people."
The next event will be a two-day event March 28 to 30 at Camp Hansen. Anyone is welcome to attend. For more information, email email@example.com.