Welcome to Hard Times

Key themes: community – ambition – revenge – blame – cowardice – forgiveness

Designer: Karolina Soltys and David Owen (UK)

Presented by: David Owen (UK)

Number of participants: 8–10

Duration: 4 hours

Genre/style: Nordic-style, character-based

Run before at: Tallinn Larp Festival, several playtests

Content warning: Necessary: murder, violence. Optional (the players will decide during the workshop whether to include these themes and how much to play on them): gunshots, prostitution, sexual violence, racism, alcohol abuse, mental illness, homophobia, sexism.

About the larp

Welcome to Hard Times is a character-driven larp about pioneer life in the American Midwest at the turn of the 20th century, based on the novel of the same name by E.L. Doctorow.

They say that in the West a strong pair of hands is enough to build yourself a good life. You came here and worked hard to build your house, your shop, your farm, and now Hard Times is not only your town – it is your life. Far from perfect, of course, full of inequality, resentment and strife, but it holds your future, your dreams and hopes, and all the people you ever loved.

If it were ever to be destroyed… would you blame yourself or others? Would you lose your faith in God or your faith in humanity? Would you give up on this place you used to love and try to restart your life from scratch elsewhere, or would you sacrifice yourself to rebuild and protect Hard Times? Will you find love and forgiveness in the burning embers, or will your hatred consume you?

No knowledge of the novel is necessary.

“I told Molly we’d be ready for the Bad Man but we can never be ready. Nothing is ever buried, the earth rolls in its tracks, it never goes anywhere, it never changes, only the hope changes like morning and night, only the expectations rise and set. Why does there have to be promise before destruction?”

A notorious bleed-addict, Karolina Soltys runs The Immersivist Club: a group regularly playing Nordic-style larps in London. She has designed and co-designed seven larps, which have run at several festivals. She is in the organising committee of The Smoke.

David is one of the organisers of London’s Immersivist Club, playing and running a variety of chamber larps and occasional longer games. Before that he was involved with collaborative storytelling in various different forms. A fan of games with emotional depth and an open-ended dramatic structure, he’s co-written several games which have run at festivals in Stockholm, Tallinn, Oslo and London.