Epiphany – A Collaborative Mage: the Ascension Larp

Epiphany – A Collaborative Mage: the Ascension Larp

Epiphany was a collaborative larp based loosely on Mage: The Ascension that took place December 15-17, 2017 in Tiny T Ranch outside of Austin, Texas. The larp was an ATX Larp Productions event designed by Sarah Lynne Bowman, Russell Murdock, and Rebecca Roycroft. It was not affiliated with any official White Wolf Publishing club and was a one-shot event set during a weekend-long spiritual retreat where mentors help initiate mages navigate their Awakenings and come into their power. Playing close to home was strongly encouraged, and characters were designed to resemble their players in personality and background. There were roughly thirty players from different parts of the United States and Canada at the event. This article presents reflections from three of those players: Clio Yun-su Davis, Morgan Nuncio, and Jen Wong.

The barn space at Tiny T Ranch transformed into a magical retreat over the course of a weekend. Photo by Jen Wong.

The majority of characters were at the initiate level, the first and most introductory power level of this system, with a handful of people playing more powerful and experienced mentor characters. For the purposes of this scenario, power was demonstrated through imparting wisdom and guidance in workshops and conversation rather than displays of magical dominance or manipulation. Epiphany used consent-based mechanics, so if a spell was cast on another character, the recipient decided if and how it affects them. The outcome of magic-use in general was determined by consent negotiations and not abilities or any kind of character sheet statistics.

The larp did not focus on the mechanics, politics, and performance of the magical spheres in the Mage setting. Instead, it pointed a spotlight on the metaphysical aspects and the exploration of the players’ inner lives through their characters. While the larp incorporated the Mage concepts of Traditions, Avatars, Consensual Reality, Spheres, and Paradox to name a few, these were used purely as tools to aide in discussions on paradigm, faith, death, the afterlife, personal transformation, and acceptance. Additionally, Epiphany incorporated player-run Avatar characters who were, in this larp, spirits fueling the character’s magic. Avatars could offer subtle suggestions through the bird-in-the-ear metatechnique or players could explore more intensive Avatar scenes in the blackbox, described in more detail below. For further details on the design document, you can view it directly here.

Woman in a cloak near a tree

An Akashic mentor finds peacefulness in nature. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.

Tiny T Ranch, which has regularly hosted larps for the past two years, is a somewhat remote rural location where there is no chance of crossing paths with anyone who is not part of the larp or is not at least aware of it and comfortable with being around larpers. The site is home to two horses and a number of chickens, and is distant enough from light pollution that you can see the Milky Way at night. Since Epiphany is primarily a What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) larp, it was important for it to be hosted somewhere peaceful and picturesque, as many real-life spiritual retreats are, with little risk of interruption or distraction by out-of-character happenings. Tapestries and multi-color lights were hung in many of the spaces, with color-changing lamps in the bedrooms. Players ate meals in a decorated communal dining area, with most meals taking place in-character. Altars could be found throughout the premises, including the main altar in the living room of the main building. The barn was transformed with colorful curtains and rows of hanging lights with one half designated a ritual space and the other designated for sleeping.

A Hermetic altar provided by a player-character for Epiphany. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.

Jen discovered that setting foot on the ranch immediately instigated immersion. While it was beautiful to look at, the open expanse was a reminder of how miniscule and alone a single person can feel in the larger picture of the universe. This environment may have required some players to recalibrate their senses and ground themselves; however, this shift in perception also encouraged them to reach out to each other and begin exploring the questions of why they were there, both as a person and a character, and how they could begin to help each other. Jen recognized it as the feeling of coming home.

Person reaching out to pet a horse

Tiny T Ranch featured onsite horses, chickens, dogs, and cats.

Playing in White Wolf’s Mage: The Ascension by essence draws many parallels to other larps and role-playing games that inhabit the World of Darkness universe. As such, Epiphany draws much from larps such as End of the Line, a larp based on the Vampire: The Masquerade setting, and White Wolf’s first official dip into Nordic style larp. Specifically, the use of the blackbox as a closed space for smaller scenes in Epiphany is similar to the use of the meta rooms in End of the Line and other larps. In Epiphany, these scenes could be dream sequences, memories, delving into a character’s mind, journeying into the Umbral and other realms, or interacting with one’s Avatar.

Additionally, Epiphany’s blackbox mechanics resemble those from the Nordic larp about the AIDS crisis in the ‘80s, Just a Little Lovin’. In Epiphany, when someone wished to invite another character to a blackbox scene, they offered them a small crystal or stone, similarly to how a feather would be offered in Just a Little Lovin’. The main difference was that the object color did not indicate any particular type of blackbox scene, only that the offer was being made with details to be discussed out of character. If accepted, whoever was invited either went to the chapel (which was the designated blackbox space), or to any of the back rooms if the chapel was occupied. The chapel was outfitted with a projector, a speaker, and color-changing lights so that players could create the appropriate atmosphere for their scenes if desired.

A Dreamspeaker mentor leads a channeling ritual. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.

The design for Epiphany also relates to Just a Little Lovin’ in that it provided a steady stream of rituals that were created to engage meaningfully on both a character and player level. Epiphany diverges from Just a Little Lovin’ though, in that the vast majority of the content for rituals was written by people playing mentors with guidance from the larp designers, which means that, were the event to have another run, the rituals could be incredibly different.

Epiphany also shares elements with New World Magischola, as one of the designers worked closely with Learn Larp LLC to develop their consent and safety workshops. Many of the tools and vocabulary are shared, including the OK check-in, the look-down, pronoun correction, and consent negotiation mechanics, which have also been used at End of the Line and Convention of Thorns. Workshops and mechanics of note that were updated include methods for better player inclusion into scenes and for players to interact more with other players who they do not already know. Through these exercises, organizers encouraged players to engage in new interactions, creating a space that allowed for players to open up to each other and share potentially vulnerable aspects of their characters and themselves. As with New World Magischola, Caretakers were present to assist players struggling emotionally both an in- and off-game capacity, and as with several larps, an off-game sanctuary space was provided for players who needed it.

Playing for Spiritual and Philosophical Discussion with Paper-Thin Alibi

One of the unique elements of Epiphany was the gathering of characters (and players) who held wildly different beliefs about spirituality and philosophy, but were all present specifically to speak about these differences with respect, honesty, and vulnerability. For instance, Clio occasionally found herself in a state of existential angst when in the company of people who had a wealth of knowledge on spiritual, magical, and scientific subjects and held beliefs that sometimes fully contradicted her own. However, it was the satisfying, productive existential angst of having to reevaluate why one believes what they believe. The larp served to nudge participants out of their comfort zones at times, and it was valuable in that it removed them from an echo chamber while keeping them in a safe space where the intention was that everyone’s feelings were to be accepted as valid.

a male mage guides a workshop for several seated initiates

An Akashic mentor guides initiates through a workshop to help change their restrictive attitudes and beliefs. Photo by l.p.lade.

The character creation process played a crucial role in this balance. A few months prior to the larp, a character creation questionnaire was sent to players that asked them to list three close-to-home characteristics from their personality or background that they wished to be incorporated into their characters. Additionally, they could add optional three far-from-home characteristics, though many players chose not to insert fiction into their backstories in this way. Players were also asked about their personal experience with magical concepts, be it ritual work, research, or any sort of training, and about their personal knowledge of the concepts related to their chosen Tradition. Descriptions of one to three defining moments from the character’s backstory were requested, and these were meant to be similar to the player’s own history as well. One of the more challenging parts of the questionnaire was having to describe your character’s Awakening, as it was simultaneously an intensely personal question while also being potentially difficult to write in a close-to-home way. Players were strongly encouraged to reach out to the designers for help with any of this process. Additionally, the questionnaire asked players to list metaphysical or existential questions they wanted to explore in the larp. The Storytellers gave the following examples: “What is the nature of time?” “What happens after death?” and “Is consciousness singular or collective?” The designers used this information to write the character sheets and made adjustments based on further conversations with players as needed. These character sheets offered the characters a name, a catchphrase, a Tradition, 3-4 primary Spheres, a brief summary of their lives, a description of at least one Awakening experience, an explanation for how they found Epiphany Retreat, and fill in the blank questions about their philosophies and relationship to the universe.

Initiates prepare to be led through a Dreamspeaker shadow work ritual. Photo by l.p.lade.

Some people were playing with magic as a symbolic force that represented power in several different archetypal forms: the power of science, the power of being able to influence others, the power of creation, the power of destruction. Others were playing with magic as a real force that could shape reality through willpower, emotion, and ritual. Some bounced back and forth in a sort of agnosticism, and coping with uncertainty emerged as a prominent theme. This range of viewpoints yielded fertile ground for conversation and debate on topics not usually broached in daily life even, even if they consistently loom over us on a day-to-day basis.

The essence of Epiphany was one of internal rather than external conflict. The intentional absence of an overarching plot left players with no arbitrary goals into which to throw themselves and no problems to solve that were created to exist within the world of the larp alone. It was forbidden to speak of the Technocracy at the Retreat in-game in order to emphasize this insistence on internal focus. Instead, there was a gathering of people who were itching to discuss metaphysics, death, the afterlife, their struggles with (and sometimes loss of faith in) the religion in which they grew up, and the darkest, most hidden aspects of their personalities.

A Dreamspeaker mentor retrieves their item from the altar and narrates their character’s Epilogue. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.

Over the course of the event, Clio developed the distinct impression that many of the players did not normally have opportunities to speak about these topics freely in their lives. There is a very real kind of magic that occurs when people feel safe enough to reveal their innermost thoughts, fears, and hopes regarding these subject matter when they’ve been holding them in for years. Being able to witness these transformations was an experience unlike any she’d had in either a larp or in a real-life spiritual workshop. When role-playing, even when playing close to home, we are often far away enough from ourselves to be able to firmly distinguish our character’s experiences from our own. When attending a spiritual retreat or workshop, many of the participants have already spent a great deal of time processing and speaking about their beliefs, and everyone possesses only their one identity (or at least pretends to), so anything they say is coming solely from that identity. In Epiphany, the thin layer of alibi afforded enough comfort to allow players to be more adventurous in their conversations, and in many ways, more truthful.

A woman shrugging to two people holding books

A Society of Etherite initiate discusses magical philosophy with two Hermetics. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.

Because playing close to home also discouraged wild displays of cultural appropriation, there was an unusual ease in players when interacting with people who they had not previously known. In the design document, this principle was referenced as “What You Know is What You Know,” meaning that the character’s knowledge base and background remained identical to yours with maybe a few extra years of training or experience added to your character. Cultural appropriation is particularly complicated when it comes to religion and spirituality, as the lines between appropriation and exchange are often blurred. In a world where it is not uncommon for players to use elements of religious practices as casual costume pieces, fetishize cultures and people, create characters based on ethnic stereotypes, and claim vast knowledge of cultural subjects about which they have only barely skimmed the surface, Clio noted that this measure explicitly provided more protection against these pitfalls than any other larp she had played. Since real people and cultures were prioritized over fictional characters, there was a level of trust attained immediately that allowed deep, meaningful connections to form quickly.

Mages at Epiphany Retreat relax with a few rounds of Tarot Speed Dating in the evening.

Collaborative Play and Player-Created Content

The only rigidly set scenes for all participants in Epiphany were the following: a silent opening ceremony, in which players took turns placing an item onto the altar that represented their character (a worn journal, a pair of headphones, a statue of a goddess, a wind chime); the small-group Awakening scenes directly after; and the closing ceremony where players retrieved their items, name tags were switched back to player names, and players narrated short epilogues for their characters. The majority of the larp was composed of workshops led by mentors, rituals, social events, and other exercises led by a mix of mentors and initiates. These scheduled rituals were required to feature in-game debriefs for characters to more smoothly transition back into the more “mundane” game world. In addition to mentor-led workshops, initiate players were encouraged to create content for the larp before and during the event, leading to a combination of structured and improvised activities.[1]For more on race and cultural appropriation in larp, see Lizzie Stark’s articles in the Bibliography below.

The Epiphany altar, containing items for each Tradition and personal items from each participant of the Retreat. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.

Morgan and Lily’s Epiphany

Morgan participated in these activities primarily as a learner, but also had the chance to instruct and guide. Her character was Lillian “Lily” Rivera, a Cult of Ecstasy initiate whose underlying concept was “Wherever the Wind Blows,” a phrase meant to resonate with her real life approach to navigating the world. Playing close to home led to powerful new insights and realizations about herself, as well as some heart shattering, emotionally numbing moments. Members of the Cult of Ecstasy tradition are known for living “in the moment,” and Morgan embraced this philosophy in part by being the first one up each morning, making sure the kitchen was in order and preparing coffee and water for tea as one of the cooking volunteers.

Lily (Morgan Nuncio) after her ecstatic dance ritual. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.

Morgan felt at ease in a mindfulness meditation workshop run by an Akashic mentor early Saturday morning. However, when it came to the Dreamspeaker-run shadow work workshop, both the character and player felt emotionally vulnerable and exposed. In the shadow work, characters embodied and spoke with the voice of their darkest selves as they tried to come to terms with it while supported by 2-3 others in the group. The shadow she pulled from the depths within her left both character and player feeling wounded, afraid, and uneasy, but it did make her think about how to stop repressing the shadow and work with it instead. Because there was a heavy emphasis on players supporting one another and not competing or playing for drama, she felt safe enough to proceed with this deep self-exploration. The in-character exercise served as a catalyst for confronting her out-of-character greatest fear: being alone.

A group meditating crosslegged on the floot

Initiates and Mentors in a morning Mindfulness workshop led by an Akashic. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.

Lily then went on to spend an hour and a half in an impromptu death salon put into motion by a Euthanatos initiate, listening, lending support, and speaking about all aspects of death and dying. The salon continued for three hours, but with Lily’s barriers weakened from before, she decided to leave halfway through so that she could shift into a different mindset. She organized an Ecstatic dance session for the evening when there were no official workshops scheduled, something she had been preparing for long in advance of the larp. Ecstatic dance is a five rhythms movement where nonverbal expression is set to the beats and sounds played around you. The music starts soft, with meditation or soft drums, and crescendos into dance or club music, only to wind back down into meditation music, bringing dancers back down from the high. Ecstatic dance, for Morgan, is a spiritual experience. Ecstatic dance, for Lily, was not only a spiritual experience, but how she was originally Awakened. On a player level, Morgan found the experience of sharing this part of herself with the others there to be humbling. Having so many people participate in the dancing and movement and learn about one of the many ways Cult of Ecstasy folks develop their powers held great emotional significance to her that continues to impact her a month after the event.

Morgan constructing art during the Reflection hour after Epiphany. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.

These lingering feelings of overwhelming love and gratitude have been reported by many players in post-game conversations both in-person and on social media; they are often coupled with what has been described as the inability to fully articulate those feelings and the thoughts that accompany them. This reaction may be in part because these emotions are due in large part to bleed. However, because everyone was essentially playing a slightly different version of themselves, it is difficult to conceptualize them as bleed in the traditional sense. In Epiphany, “real life” and the world of the characters were more difficult to distinguish than in most other larps, so emotions could not be attributed to one or the other in a straightforward way. However, because the design steered players towards positive connections, players speak about this sort of bleed warmly.

Jen and Naomi’s Epiphany

For Jen, the two set framing altar scenes, as well as the Awakening rituals performed immediately after the opening ceremony, were the most powerful moments for her character, Naomi Takahashi, whose concept was “The Light at the End of the Tunnel.” In essence, Naomi was a lone Euthanatos mage, struggling to understand herself, her powers, and her place in the world around her. She was quickly losing faith in both herself and the good in humanity as she saw more of the struggles and injustices around her.

two people on a couch smiling

A Euthanatos (Jen Wong) and a Dreamspeaker bond before the death salon.

The opening scene for the larp was silent but intense as players moved into embodying their characters, and one by one, rose to their feet and placed a personal item on the group altar for the event. Naomi’s item was a wristwatch – intricate, delicate and beautiful. However, it’s time had stopped, much like she had. She was stuck without guidance through her visions and manifestations of power, and was caught in a struggle between her fear and compassion.
After entering the barn area, players were surrounded by airy fabrics and colored string lights before stepping into a large ring of chairs. As people finished laying their items on the altar, the chairs in the barn filled until the last of the players and hosts stepped into the circle. This ceremony eased the group into transitioning out of their “real world” selves, giving structure to slipping into character.

Immediately after gathering in the circle of chairs, small numbers of initiates broke off with mentors to experience an Awakening ritual. Jen’s group consisted of two other initiates and their Hermetic mentor. As an Order of Hermes ritual, this Awakening scene was highly structured, but Jen found that the intimate nature of such a small group, as well as the ritual structure being simple and repetitive, allowed them all to be pulled into the present moment and to connect in ways that they were not anticipating. Small but anticipated, almost pedestrian touches (clasping hands), and taking the time to really take in the whole of someone as you looked at them opened an awareness of each other in the players, as well as a new awareness of themselves. Even long after the ritual was over, Jen found herself mindful of and looking out for those who had participated in the ritual with her. She felt a strange closeness that would normally require a significantly longer amount of time to build with someone who had previously been a total stranger due to this process.

The Order of Hermes mentor who led Naomi’s Awakening helps initiates find their names and words of power. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.

One of the most powerful moments of this ritual for her and her character were the words spoken right at the beginning: “Your experience is valid, your impressions are valid. You are not crazy. Most importantly, you are not alone.” Jen thinks that perhaps these statements resonated so strongly with her because so many people spend their daily lives being told almost exactly the opposite, and therefore it can come as a shock to be instantly validated. This shock is especially true when someone has spent a long time trying to reconcile their reality with the reality that the rest of the world is trying to impress upon them. This concept was an ongoing theme for the entire retreat, as characters joined in respectful discussion and exploration of topics that often spark heated debates in other settings.

Through several mentor-led exercises such as the shadow work exercise and the impromptu scenes that sprung up — the 3 hour discussion about death for instance — Naomi found support and a path forward, even if her greater understanding of magic remained somewhat static. This change in her brought out more openness, a willingness to be vulnerable, and general optimism that she thought had been long lost. Jen felt that the closing scene, where characters retrieved their personal items from the group altar, served as a reminder of that change. When each player turned to face the others, their token in hand, and reverted back to their player selves to speak a few sentences about what their character went on to do after the retreat and how it may have transformed them, it gave some measure of closure for the weekend’s worth of role-play.

Clio and Dylan’s Epiphany

Clio as Dylan Lee, a Verbena. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.

A great deal of Clio’s time at Epiphany was spent preparing for another player’s blackbox scene that she had been casually helping to plan for months in advance. The gist of her character, Dylan Lee, was that she belonged to the Verbena, the Tradition that embraces life, but also felt a strong pull to Euthanatos, the Tradition that focuses on death and karma. This theme was articulated in her character concept phrase “The Ambivalence of Corporeality.” It is also worth noting that she chose to forgo almost any fictional element during the character creation process and was one of the many people playing with the least amount of alibi.

What Clio learned in workshops, especially the ones focused on shadow work and spirit channeling, proved to be instrumental to the execution of the anticipated blackbox scene. In the spirit channeling workshop, characters split into pairs consisting of one channeler, who became a vessel for a deity or other spirit, and one person communicating with and directing the channeling of the entity. The blackbox scene was a ritual involving Dylan and three other people channeling goddesses who would accept or decline the symbolic willing sacrifice of a character’s life in his archetypal role of son-consort.

One proposed iteration of the ritual was centered on death and mourning, but, in part because of Dylan’s influence, it eventually became much more about the dedication of one’s life to a purpose than the ending of a life. The outcome of Dylan’s inner game of tug-of-war between Verbena and Euthanatos was decided, which Clio as a player found the most personally valuable experience. As a result, both Dylan and Clio went into the ritual seeking an affirmation of life rather than a confirmation of the certainty of death.

The son-consort supplicates himself to his goddesses during a blackbox scene. Photo by Dani Higgins.

There were about nine characters who were present for the ritual itself: the person going through the ordeal and offering himself as a sacrifice; the four people channeling the goddesses who were being petitioned; the in-game facilitator; and others who were there to ground and support the group. Sitting in the quorum of goddesses was the most empowering moment of the larp for Clio, and embracing the physicality of larp and ritual helped to give the scene weight and impact. The participants were anointed with salt water as part of the cleansing. Dylan used a knife to cut a lock of hair from the head of the person offering himself. At the climax of the ritual, she held a tiny spear to his throat from a goddess statue meaningful to him and asked if he was truly ready to submit to the goddesses in what was essentially an extreme, metaphysical lie detector test. His answer was yes, the goddesses gave their final words of guidance and instruction. Then, they held an off-game mini-debrief for the scene, as the players felt the intensity of it warranted one.

woman holding a small spear to a man's throat in a church

Dylan, channeling a goddess, demands a symbolic sacrifice from the son-consort. Photo by Dani Higgins.

Clio found that holding rituals within a larp, which in and of itself is a ritual, fostered a particularly peaceful and cohesive flow when bouncing back and forth between meta-awareness and experiential consciousness. Usually during moments of heightened tension in larps, she would find the movement between the two states of awareness was more rapid and occasionally disorienting. However, these thought patterns were perfectly in tune with the themes of awakening to the knowledge of something greater than oneself and channeling an entity with an expanded consciousness. She was able to relax into the scene and accept her awareness of all three versions of herself: the player, the character, and the entity that character was embodying.

The Labyrinth

At the end of the larp just before the closing ritual, an Akashic mentor led a group of people in creating a labyrinth by laying down tarot cards in winding paths on the barn floor. Inspired by a Celestial Chorister character’s desire for self-discovery, the labyrinth was a place in which many versions of every character existed, as it tied together all realities in the multiverse and timestream. Players were instructed to enter the labyrinth one by one and follow the paths until they found a card that called to them. The card they picked up would represent how they would be transformed once they left the maze.

tarot cards face down on a concrete floor

Tarot cards were arranged to represent possible life paths character could take in the Umbral Labyrinth. Photo by Heather Oslund.

Most of the players participated in the labyrinth, with several taking on the role of guides who helped to clarify the meaning of the cards, support those who were struggling to choose one, or were challenged by the one they had chosen. Clio and Jen both played guides, while Morgan’s character Lily entered the labyrinth. Earlier on in the larp, this same Akashic mentor facilitated a workshop on identifying and understanding desires and using that information to let go of old negative habits to form new positive habits. This involved a deep examination of internal blocks, memories of events that might have shaped these problematic habits, and making a vow to change the unwanted behavior. This workshop had been outlined in advance, while the labyrinth was created on the spur of the moment. Though it was a last minute decision to make the labyrinth and the exercise was designed on the fly as the mentor had not expected so many people to attend, it has become one of the defining scenes of the larp for many players. Both examples attest to the value of player-created rituals in games.

Directly after the larp’s closing ceremony, players spent one Reflection hour in silence while decompressing and creating an artifact to take home. Many players worked on an art piece using various mediums from the provided supplies. Others wrote reflections by hand or by typing, while some chose to walk around the ranch, hugging trees, meditating, or petting the horses. Morgan found this period particularly helpful because it gave her time to collect her thoughts and channel them into a creative outlet before having to dive into the discussion portion of the debrief.

An initiate chooses her life path in the Labyrinth. Photo by l.p.lade.

A Minimal Judgment Zone

A Society of Etherite player enjoying the blackbox chapel space. Photo by l.p.lade.

As a whole, Epiphany proved itself to be a far more personal and enlightening experience than what many players had envisioned walking into it. It was a space where people on different paths and of different faiths could convene to talk about a myriad of subjects that we avoid for any number of reasons, including a desire to avoid conflict, to protect those raw parts of us, or to shield ourselves from possible judgment regarding our beliefs. It created an ambience and culture of safety that allowed us, not only as characters, but as players, to explore, challenge and question the things we normally sweep under the rug, such as our shadow selves, and see how others view spirituality, philosophy, and other areas of metaphysical significance. For many people, being able to speak about these topics without shame or judgment is an incredibly rare opportunity. In this way, many players unsuspectingly found in Epiphany a weekend of transformative experience on many levels.

When Jen now thinks back to the small ranch with its knobby trees, scattered farmlife, open skies, and the shared experiences there, she wonders if perhaps this is truly something that we should be striving to recreate for ourselves in the real world rather than relegating it to a fond memory. Having discovered such a supportive and community-oriented group of players brought together by this event, many participants left with clearer eyes, more open hearts, lighter spirits, and a hope to reunite with this experience again in the future.


Participation Fee: $75-95

Players: 31

Date: December 15-17, 2017

Location: Del Valle, TX

Consulting: ATX Larp Productions

Larp Design: Sarah Lynne Bowman, Russ Murdock, Rebecca Roycroft

Original Mage Design: Stewart Wieck with Chris Earley and Stephen Wieck

Mage 20th Anniversary Edition Design: Satyros Phil Brucato, Brian Campbell, John Snead, Rachelle Sabrina Udell

Documentation: l.p.lade, Sarah Lynne Bowman, Heather Oslund, Dani Higgins, William Nichols, Jen Wong, Jess Pestlin, Morgan Nuncio, and Clio Yun-su Davis.

Food: Lee Foxworthy, Rebecca Roycroft, Ross Cheung, Harrison Greene

The Epiphany altar featured stones for players to use to invite one another to the blackbox as a metatechnique. Photo by l.p.lade.


Bowman, Sarah Lynne. “A Matter of Trust: Larp and Consent Culture.” Nordiclarp.org, February 3, 2017. https://nordiclarp.org/2017/02/03/matter-trust-larp-consent-culture/

Bowman, Sarah Lynne. “Bleed: The Spillover Between Player and Character.” Nordiclarp.org, March 2, 2015. https://nordiclarp.org/2015/03/02/bleed-the-spillover-between-player-and-character/

Bowman, Sarah Lynne. “Epiphany Design Document version 3.0.” Google Docs, last accessed January 31, 2018. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HBcuDARPA1XFoRH1qY0bz08D3sjnzbc0BtgQ3A_Ci7k/edit?usp=sharing

Bowman, Sarah Lynne. “Love, Sex, Death, and Liminality: Ritual in Just a Little Lovin’.” Nordiclarp.org, July 13, 2015. https://nordiclarp.org/2015/07/13/love-sex-death-and-liminality-ritual-in-just-a-little-lovin/

Lehrich, Christopher I. “Ritual Discourse in Role-playing Games.” The Forge, last modified October 1, 2005, http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/ritual_discourse_in_RPGs.html

Schooler, Jonathan W. and Jason M. Chin. “Meta-Awareness.” Encyclopedia of Consciousness, vol. 2. Elsevier: 2009. pp. 33–41, labs.psych.ucsb.edu/schooler/jonathan/sites/labs.psych.ucsb.edu.schooler.jonathan/files/pubs/meta-awareness.pdf.

Stark, Lizzie. Race in Larp: Some Initial Musings.” Leaving Mundania, January 4, 2014. http://leavingmundania.com/2014/01/30/race-in-larp-initial-musings/

Stark, Lizzie. “Race in Larp Checklist: What to think about.” Leaving Mundania, March 24, 2014. http://leavingmundania.com/2014/03/24/race-in-larp-what-to-think-about/

Cover photo: A small chapel served as the blackbox for Epiphany. Photo by Jen Wong.

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1For more on race and cultural appropriation in larp, see Lizzie Stark’s articles in the Bibliography below.


Yeonsoo Julian Kim is a Korean American game designer and writer who splits their time between Arlington, Virginia and Austin, Texas. They graduated from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2015, where they studied interactive storytelling and became involved in writing and producing immersive theater pieces. Much of their current work is in tabletop and freeform games that explore some of the darker tropes in popular culture.
Morgan Nuncio is a larp enthusiast in Austin, TX, who strives to support the local community. She is the Vice Chair of ATX Larp Productions and helps organize the Austin Larp Meetup. She has dabbled in larp design and strives to push the community as a whole toward diversity and representation for larpers of color.
Gamer, foodie, fashionista, and traveler.