Close Up: Bloodsucking LARPers

Most of our exposure to vampires comes from Anne Rice novels and the occasional film, but Dead City Productions ensures the survival of these mythical beings through their year-long role-playing games.

Rodrigo Lopez, a Communication junior and president of Dead City Productions, sat down with PLAY to discuss what it’s like being a vampire at Northwestern.

PLAY: What kind of club is Dead City Productions?

Rodrigo Lopez: We are a live-action role-playing group, which is more commonly called “LARPing.”

PLAY: How does the club operate?

RL: Every other Saturday we get together, and a certain number of us, generally three or four, write up a story. Everyone else can be used as a character, and that character is used within the story. Each player has complete control over their character. There’s no script, and there’s no rehearsal.

PLAY: What kind of story?

RL: The most common role playing game that you’ll find is Dungeons and Dragons, which is similar to “The Lord of the Rings.” We don’t do that. We play a game called “Vampire: The Masquerade.”

PLAY: Why that game? Why vampires?

RL: It’s very accessible to people. Everybody knows vampires. It’s a good opportunity to play something you always wanted to be. If you’ve always wanted to be a secret agent, you could be a secret agent, but you have to be a secret agent vampire. You could be an astronaut, but being an astronaut vampire is hard because there’s not much keeping you from the sun.

PLAY: What role do you assume in the game?

RL: In addition to being the president of Dead City Productions, I’m also one of the storytellers, which means that I’m one of the four people who gets to decide the setting of our game each year. Whereas every player has an individual identity, the storytellers play everyone else that they interact with.

PLAY: How long does each game last?

RL: Our games take one year. At the end of the year, the game ends, generally because the world or smaller cities are destroyed. Sometimes martial law is declared.

PLAY: You said earlier that the storytellers choose a new setting each year. What are some other settings that the club has used in past years?

RL: Last year’s was set in Toledo, Ohio. You might say, “What’s so great about Toledo?” It’s a little town in Ohio, and all of a sudden two big companies move into it. There’s a population boom, and a bunch of new vampires come into town. The old vampires are upset about this, and this creates a clash between the old and the new vampires.

PLAY: How many people are involved with Dead City Productions?

RL: Between 30 and 35. This is the highest involvement we’ve had since its creation.

PLAY: Is the game played in full costume?

RL: We try to encourage that, but because it takes place in the real world and vampires try to blend in (with) mortals, that often means coming to the game in a suit or a dress or a baseball cap, if your vampire likes the Cubs.

PLAY: When and where does the game take place?

RL: We play every other Saturday in Parkes Hall. 

— Ryan Wenzel