The Last Voyage of the Demeter
And again I’ve managed to be a photographer at a blockbuster larp abroad. But this time it wasn’t in Poland (like Geas and Fairweather Manor), but at the Baltic Sea, somewhere between Denmark and Germany.
I’ve heard about Demeter at the Danish Knudepunkt 2015 for the first time. The only things I managed to remember was – it would be on a ship and everyone would die. My memory isn’t the best, but I was able to add that the Demeter was a ship that transported Dracula’s coffin to London.
Every player was either part of the ship crew or a passenger on the ship sailing from Bulgaria to London. And the variety of the passengers was, well, stunning, from a famous writer and an adventurer up to a spiritual medium or a police examiner.
I, as a photographer, have also been given a character. It was a character of a French photographer, with quite a few problems in his past. But the important and for me the most surprising part was the way I was inserted into the game. The level of my immersion to the game was set by the attitude of the other players to me and by my willingness to react. It wasn’t about being a non-player, or a “must-play” character with a camera, it was up to everyone’s discretion at any given moment. And I must say this approach made me a part of the game very much, and hopefully to everyone’s satisfaction.
It was new for me to have a two-hour pause between each chapter of the game. But it made sense, somehow, for the players to negotiate some interaction between characters in this pause.
It might sound dumb, but the thing I disliked most about the whole game was bottled beer. No the beer itself, but the bottles with 21st-century stickers. When you talk to someone in a historical costume and you’re trying to maintain the character and they are waving a silver-stickered bottle… well it isn’t the best you could hope for. And it doesn’t look good in the pictures either.
The ship was represented by two hundred and sixty tons of steel, called Pippilotta. It’s a sailing ship (it has sails and it’s able to use them), but at the same time it has an engine that we ran on for the most of the game.
To enhance our experience from the sailing, everyone was assigned to teams that took care of the sails or something else from the ship’s operations, like steering. Everyone had the opportunity to learn something new. And for example steering a sailing ship is a really nice experience. Most of the operations on the ship were running under the instruction from the in-game captain, who was not just an experienced larper, but also sometimes works on this ship.
The ship itself wasn’t just in the hands of the players, it had its own crew that took care of it, but they were trying to engage everyone in the ship’s daily routine.
The main plan for the photographs was to get as close as possible to the photographs from the first run of Demeter (a purely German run). Postproduction isn’t able to solve it all, every photographer has a different approach to the things he is shooting. But there were strict instruction to the color filter, grain and about adding lens error.