About the Game

Four of the "six" GMs - from left to right, with the Martian War Machine Prop ( "lectric ray" not installed) Horatio King, Henrietta Wallace, William Bucher, Abraham Marsden. Not Pictured - Thaddeus Walker, and nominally Dolores Cooke.


"Clarence" was originally produced in March 2003, at Intercon C. The game is available in printed form from the author. While Clarence is designed to be read as a humorous piece, it can be printed and played as an elaborate farce.

In 1903 the first LARP ever - "An Evening With Clarence, an Entertainment for Six to Twelve Gay Couples" - premiered at the Cleveland Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.

If you've heard of Clarence at all, of course, you haven't heard of this game. You've heard of the popular 1928 Mikhail Jung production, which continued to be produced well into the 1950s. Unfortunately, everything you remember is probably wrong, since Jung fundamentally rewrote the entire game, making it playable in the meantime.

In many ways, "Clarence" is a testament to the stoicism, and determination of early LARPers, who faced with a game that was more or less an imbecilic mishmash of mismatched parts, nevertheless forged ahead and made a LARP out of it.

It is also a testament to the fact that, before the days of Radio, people had a good bit of time on their hands.


What to Expect:

At the time it was a brilliant entertainment. A hundred years and three major revisions later, it is a hopelessly dated and unplayable nightmare. "Clarence" is a LARP for by and about LARPers.

If you enjoy the interplay of player and GM, the folly of bad rules, weddings, time travellers, vampires, and other canned plots - in short pastiche of everything LARPish, this is the game for you. If you've played some of the "classic" LARPs so many times that you know each character by heart, this is the game for you.

"Clarence" is not a freewheeling anti-game in the style of "Hose-a-Rama" or "Flog-a-Thon," but rather an elaborate pastiche, requiring players to engage in a lively amount of cooperative metagaming in order to maintain conflicts and tension, while attempting to play the game. It is intended to be amusing and light, not a mechanics heavy "salvage the game" scenario.

Clarence is a highly iconoclastic game. If you don't feel you would enjoy the game, you will have little luck in pushing it into a different paradigm. Our advice is to seek one of the many other excellent games available.

Here is what you can expect. We hope to have substantial material out. Unfortunately most of this will not be your character sheet. Most of this will be decades of incidental reviews of the game, articles about it and reminiscences. You will probably be handed a character sheet of some sort. It may be of grandiose length (though it may also contain errors in crossreference, references to characters that weren't written, etc.) It may also be two or three words. No matter what, we will virtually guarantee that you will have less guidance than you would actually like.

This may not matter a great deal, because in fact, everyone knows both your character, and how the game comes out. Like Mary Celeste and other "oft run" games, Clarence is no secret, and most of the game is published or known from the much better 1928 version.

The game revolves around a series of "scenes" which form its structure. The scenes always existed and they were always played. There will be Gamemasters (who rather tackily also play characters) to drive you from scene to scene, but it is hoped that you will be somewhat willing to help in this process.

Unfortunately there is no subject/verb agreement whatsoever between the Gamemasters as to what the outcome of the scenes should be. In fact the Gamemasters are players (there is also an actual GM) who fill the role of "faction leaders" as they fight each other for control of the game and its plots. Since the GMs cannot act directly except through "the characters" this forms a sort of natural balance that should make these interesting, but not pre-emptive, roles. Players must many GM roles were written to "screw" long dead friends or enemies as to "suck up" to them. Therefore, your GM may be out to get you...or you may be out to get them.

However this is not a shooting war, and there is some acknowledgement that the "show must go on" so for the most part there will be a balance between infighting and attempting to make sense of a largely skeletal game that was probably never, in fact, properly written down.

The object, however, is not an "antigame" with minimal material, but rather an excercise in reconstruction from a wealth of peripheral material.