Explore the unknown
Describe your discoveries!
This part describes everything you can expect participating in HEX Letter Larp! It will give you an idea of what we want to achieve and what we expect you to contribute with. It is required reading before signing up.
If you wanted What to Expect about HEX: The Great Exhibition, go here.
What is LARP and Letter Larping?
LARP (live action roleplay) or LAIV in Norwegian is an interactive theater experience where participants portray characters in a fictional setting, as both audience and performers working together to create a story through improvising.
We will use larp terminology such as OOC (Out-Of-Character), IC (In-Character) and In-Game/Out-Of-Game to differentiate between what you as a player need to know or do (OOC/Out-Of-Game), and what you as the character knows and can do (IC/In-Game).
Letter Larping is just what the name implies: larping done via letters. Whether it is really a larp or not depends on how you define that format and whether you think you can larp alone, but it is called a larp in Nordic countries, and it is at the least larp adjacent.
Letter larping is an inclusive game. It doesn’t cost much except postage and you can participate wherever, whenever.
You will create a player character and then write letters as that character to other player characters over an extended period of time. OOC start will be November 1st 2019 (you can join in later, more in Practical Information) and it ends in April 2020.
The game has a gamemaster/GM (the organisers) and our role is largely one of coordination; pulling together the group of players, guiding character creation, and establishing connections among the characters to give you reasons to write to one another. We expect that almost all story will be created by you through your letters.
Improvising Content and coherence can be a challenge in letter larping. At a traditional larp or tabletop roleplaying game lots of facts about the setting are defined by the source material and the GM is often the arbiter of what is and is not real in the setting. This creates coherence — the feeling that the participants are on the same page, telling a story in the same reality. This is not as instinctive in letter larps as all participants add freely and equally to the setting through their letters. In Setting Information we have given you some basic world knowledge you can lean on but remember that HEX Letter Larp is an explorative game, so please do feel free to let your imagination fly! More about improvising content in Practical Information.
In HEX Letter Larp your character is part of a 4 year long and adventurous expedition into Hollow Earth. All player characters will be presented in an easily accessible Character Gallery here on the website and in a Google Drive folder.
Events that happen on your letter larp adventure will affect what happens in HEX: The Great Exhibition – a one day Nordic Style larp, which both concludes the letter larp as much as it is a stand alone larp.
HEX Letter Larp is international and open to anyone from around the world. Everything will be in English but don’t worry, your English is good enough!
Riveting LARP would like to thank Mia Welander for her invaluable advice and for setting up the Letter Larp site as well as Malcolm Harbrow of LARP Wellington for setting up a template and additional set of creative rules with his Lovecraftian Letter Larp that we have adopted and adapted to suit our own purposes.
There are separate sign ups for the two parts of HEX. One for HEX Letter Larp (here) and one for HEX: The Great Exhibition (here). You can sign up for both or just one of them. Participation in the letter larp does not guarantee participation at The Great Exhibition.
HEX Letter Larp: Everybody is welcome to participate and join whenever between November 1st 2019 till April 30th 2020. In-Game it will be November 1st 1890 till April 21st 1894. More about the Timeline in Practical Information.
We do reserve the right to place a cap on the number of participants if necessary.
Because of the larp’s theme(s) you need to be 18 to participate (players under 18 need written parental permission).
Genre, Setting and Atmosphere
HEX is Gaslamp Fantasy (also known as Gaslight Fantasy). It’s the cousin of Steampunk. Where the latter is deeply rooted in sci-fi with industry, steam and clockwork as important elements, Gaslamp is connected to Historical Fantasy with magical, mythical and fantastical elements, themes and subjects in a late 19th/early 20th century setting. It has a lot in common with Romantic Fantasy and Gothic Horror for example.
For HEX this means that world history up until the expedition starts is the actual world history in the setting. Everything appears as it does in our real world history books, but if you dig a little deeper you encounter bigger-than-life heroes, exotic places, strange, mysterious villains, secret societies and organisations, all of whom have a vested interest in Hollow Earth.
The Fantastical and Magic
The world on the surface of the earth (topside) will be Victorian semi-historical. We will not be sticklers for historical accuracy, but do require some effort to be made.
The Hollow Earth itself is where the fantastical elements of our setting will be found. You can still be a believer in the fantastical, a hunter of the abominable snowman or Atlantis but it’s based on faith and not facts. The findings from Hollow Earth are however fact! Its alien (as in strange – not necessarily from outer space but hey, who knows?) and as fantastical as you want it to be.
Gender and Sexual Equality
The Victorian Era is infamous for its repression and oppression. We acknowledge this, and has chosen an alternate history route where society is more LGBTQ+ friendly and accepting. All genders are equal and sexual diversity is a fact. Women can do whatever men can do. Discrimination against gay and gender-diverse people, be they trans and/or non-binary, is not socially accepted and not allowed on HEX.
Imperialism and Class
There will be no play on imperialism, instead we will focus on class. It is still a class divided society but it is independent of (but not limited to) race, gender and religion. You still need to get married to secure your privilege and position but the gender of your chosen one (or even ones) doesn’t matter.
This is an alternative our world in the Victorian Era (1837-1901) where the journey into Hollow Earth takes place and where the magnificent findings will be on display in a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition afterwards.
The Hollow Earth was a concept notably suggested by Edmond Halley in the late 17th century. It proposes that the planet Earth is either entirely hollow, or contains a substantial interior space. It is a concept that reoccurs throughout our folklore and is the premise for a lot of subterranean fiction and adventure stories.
Stories tell of multiple potential entrances to this underworld land; caverns leading down is a popular theme. In Journey to the Center of the Earth, our heroes make their way down through volcanic tubes in the Icelandic volcano Snæfellsjokull.
HEX Letter Larp will cover the journey into Hollow Earth from November 1st 1890 till April 21st 1894. Tales of the Hollow Earth have been whispered in Explorers Clubs for months and now several teams of explorers have secured financing and begun to make their journey of discovery.
HEX: The Great Exhibition is a two day festive event hosted by the The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters in Trondheim (Norway), October 17th 1895. This is the exhibition where we will celebrate the heroes and their findings of Hollow Earth and decide who takes home the mantle of Explorer Extraordinaire! Rivalries will flourish, wits and sharp tongues battle, evildoers will skulk in the shadows and people will dress up for this year’s main red-carpet event!
Playstyle and Atmosphere
Although the Hollow Earth is fantastical and alluring, this is not a comedy. It can be light-hearted but mainly its light drama with darker undercurrents. Some of the things from Hollow Earth might influence or affect people in strange ways.
You can create any kinds of discoveries and threats, and refer to as many Non-Player-Characters (NPC’s) and other player characters as you want. You are however not allowed to take control of another player character, like deciding what they think, say or do, unless other arrangements have been made with that player OOC.
Given that we are stretching fantasy rather by stating letters can flow freely in, out and inside Hollow Earth, we need to stretch time as well to allow for at least some of the travel time that would be required. Thus we are ruling that each Out-Of-Game day counts as an in game week. More on this in Practical Information.
Theft and Sabotage
You are all competitors or rivals in some manner. Theft and sabotage is not unheard of but please make arrangements between yourselves if this becomes an issue during the letter larp.
Combat and Duels
You are allowed to describe combat scenes but if it happens to be an altercation with another player character, we encourage you to resort to long rantings about such incidences with your friends and allies instead. Or even with that rival player character! Remember the rule about not controlling other player characters.
What would this setting be without settling quarrels in a more genteel fashion? Hollow Earth has not changed that! We will be using an intricate Dueling System on HEX: The Great Exhibition, it is inspired by the 1777 Irish Code Duello. Please use this as a resource when dealing with duels during the letter larp. The dueling system is explained in the Game Rules.
Illness, Injury and Death
Your character or your NPC’s can become ill, hurt or even die. Hollow Earth is not a walk in the park! Strange events, creatures and items can affect you in different ways. Feel free to decide and describe what happens to your character and NPC’s. Remember the rule about not controlling other player characters.
Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth from 1864 is definitely the main inspiration but this isn’t about playing out that journey. It’s about YOUR journey! The book does not exist within our setting, so neither does the characters and their discoveries within.
Gaslamp Fantasy wasn’t coined until 2006 so lots of fiction have retroactively been recognised as Gaslamp. Bram Stoker and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works are examples of that.
Other notable mentions are His Dark Materials (1995-2000) by Philip Pullman, the movie Sleepy Hollow (Tim Burton, 1999), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen(1999-) graphic novels by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill, Stardust (1997) by Neil Gaiman, The First Men in the Moon (H. G. Wells, 1901), Showtime TV-show Penny Dreadful(2014-2016), and the 2006 Pulp tabletop roleplaying game Hollow Earth Expedition (Exile Game Studios).
Characters and Archetypes
In HEX Letter Larp you have the freedom to write your own character. We have given you the framework to do it, explained here. We are standing by ready to help anyone who needs help during this process.
Your characters are not venturing on their own! You don’t have to describe or mention the other team members who are with you (NPC’s) in your letters but you can if you want to.
All characters will be an archetype, described below. Each type have suggested examples. Some of the examples fit under more than one but you will still only choose one archetype.
For example: You can play a noble who is either the leader of the expedition team (archetype Explorer), a famous journalist covering the exhibition (archetype Cultural Elite) or the one financing the expedition (archetype Benefactor).
Example: You can play a scientist who is either the leader of the expedition team (archetype Explorer), part of the team as an expert (archetype Academic) or as an infiltrator with an agenda (archetype Secret Society).
Benefactors are people or organisations funding the Explorer’s adventures. They may or may not participate in the adventure themselves but they will most definitely want to have a say in what goes on, and even put their name on whatever shiny and interesting stuff you come back with.
The Crown (an agent of rather than a Royal), Nobles (old money), Nouveau Riche, Government Officials, Organisations, Secret Societies (any one from that list), Cultural Elites (any one from that list) , Museums/ Galleries, Universities, Banks, Lawmen (lawyers) or the Church.
Explorers are the ones leading the team from early preparations throughout the strenuous journey and getting everybody back safe with great treasures. They may be experienced and weathered or young and blue-eyed.
Examples: Nobles, Nouveau Riche, Academics (any one from that list), Secret Societies (any one from that list), Big Game Hunters, Soldiers (former?), Survivors, Cultural Elite (any one from that list), Missionaries, Occultists, Mystics, Outcasts, Criminals or Lawmen (police).
Crew Members are the people who do the hard work in the team. Who get up bright and early and are the last ones to bed, the ones who do the heavy lifting or digging but who rarely get the credit they deserve. Some are happy and some dream of leading their own adventure some day.
Examples: Soldiers, Sailors, Workers (factory workers, Butchers etc.), Lawmen, Cultural Elite (any one from that list), Natives to Hollow Earth, Aeronauts, Submariners, Occultists, Mystics Criminals, Secret Societies (any one from that list) or Spies.
Academics are the experts in the team. They know their sciences and history; either it is human, natural or fantastical, and they can easily spot a new discovery.
Examples: Scientists, Researchers, Professors, Occultists, Doctors (medical).
Cultural Elite are the famous and trendsetters. They might be up for an adventure themselves or more likely, they want their face and name associated with new and shiny discoveries. They decide what’s talked about, who gets the attention and who is forgettable. They can make or break a hero!
Examples: Benefactors (any one from that list), Academics (any one from that list), Journalists, Editors, Actresses/Actors, Musicians, Writers, Artists, Occultists or Spies.
Secret Societies are the secret movers and shakers of this world. They will have a hand in everything going on and are not afraid of using whatever dark means necessary to get their way. Participants at HEX Letter Larp can create their own secret societies.
Examples: The Crown (an agent of rather than a Royal), Government Officials, Academics (any one from that list), The Church, The Military, Mystics, Occultists or Spies.
You can play your HEX Letter Larp character at HEX: The Great Exhibition if you feel you can portray them in person. Alternatively you can be given a new, organiser written character for the exhibition, the choice is up to you! If you choose to play your letter larp character at exhibition, we will develop that character further in order to better fit with the rest of the larp.
Costumes and Props
HEX Letter Larp doesn’t require any costuming but if you want to dress up for the feel of it – Go ahead! Lighting a candle or putting on a playlist of appropriate music will also do wonders! Sprinkling your letters with sketches of the wonders and horrors you find, are also nice but not required.
The Letters: We hope that you are as excited as us about handwritten letters! However, we want this larp to be inclusive and are therefore allowing typed letters. Typewriters are within the style and era of our setting (mass produced from 1870’s) and there are many great typewriter or handwriting fonts out there if you choose to go that route.
Adding a parchment paper background before printing or aging your paper in tea before handwriting it are nice touches.
Letters can flow freely in, out and inside Hollow Earth all the way to the topside. See more under Practical Information.
Emails are not allowed this time. We will make use of Google Drive and Facebook during the larp for game updates IG and OOC communication.
If you are interested in describing fashion or appropriate attire for exploring the Hollow Earth, we will use the same information as given under Costumes and Props in HEX: The Great Exhibition. Under follows a short summary.
Costumes: Victorian or Edwardian fashion is definitely the way to go. Remember that it is a gender equal world. Anyone can wear a dress or a suit in this setting! We have made a Pinterest Board for this game you can use as inspiration.
Hairstyle: People can sport their modern hairstyles! Does your character have blue curls or a green mohawk? Great!
Piercings and Tattoos: Are certainly allowed.
Props: These can be anything (Victoria era appropriate, avoid steampunk) your character needs during the exploration, which is everything that can be carried really. Just make sure there are enough Crewmen to carry it!
Hollow Earth findings: During your strenuous journey you will make fantastical discoveries! Make sure to describing whatever mystical events and items you find on your adventure. If you decide to play your letter larp character at the exhibition, don’t worry too much about correlating your written findings with whatever your team are presenting then. This does not have to be the same. So feel free to be creative during the letter larp!
As your organisers, Riveting LARP promises
….to answer all your questions as quickly as we can, to send you the information that you need in a timely manner, and to do everything that we can to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience with us. We expect that you read the materials we provide to you, and ask us if you do not fully understand them. We don’t bite and love to have contact with our players!
This part describes everything you need to know about the practical elements of HEX Letter Larp. It is required reading before signing up. Some of the information here is also described under Expectation and some will be new information.
If you wanted Practical Information about HEX: The Great Exhibition, go here.
HEX Letter Larp is a different way to larp than what most larpers are used to.
To play you only need:
– A pen and paper, or typewriter, or computer with suitable typewriter font.
– Stamps and envelopes for posting.
– A digital camera or phone with which to photograph your letters with, or a scanner to make scans. You can also send a digital version to us (only).
– A willingness to write and post at least one letter to each contact per month at minimum.
Sign Up: Opens in October 2019 and will stay open until the end in April 2020. You can join anytime during that time period by signing up using this form. We need to know your personal details like full name and address but we will not share it with anyone outside of the game.
You don’t have to have a finished character at sign up. This can be emailed to us at email@example.com.
Tickets: No tickets necessary but you do need to sign up by using this form.
Where: You can be anywhere in the world to participate.
Participants: Everybody is welcome to participate from November 1st 2019 till April 30th 2020. We do reserve the right to place a cap on numbers if necessary.
Because of the larp’s theme(s) you need to be 18 to participate (players under 18 need written parental permission).
Sign Offs: We know that this type of larp doesn’t seem as binding as larps where you physically have to show up for but by singing up for HEX Letter Larp you are making an agreement to collaborate with others to create a shared experience.
We understand that life happens and that you may be forced to delay replaying to letters or even cancel your participation, and that is okay. However, we ask you to respect the effort that we and your fellow players put into this joint adventure and let us and them know as soon as this happens if you need to delay or drop out.
Character Creation: Since you are writing your own characters we have made a framework on how to do it. This is described under Character Creation below. Among other things you need to choose one of six archetypes.
We are standing by ready to help anyone who needs help during this process. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message on our Riveting LARP FB page.
Contacts: You decide how many contacts you want for your character. All characters will be presented here on the website under Character Gallery and also in a Google Drive folder. Players names and addresses will be available in the Google Drive only.
The Letters: We have set a requirement of at least one letter to each contact per month as a minimum. If you want to write more, go ahead!
As we have stated earlier only physical letters are allowed during this larp. Whether you write your letters by hand, type them on an antique typewriter, or use a computer and appropriate font to get the right look is up to you. You can find more information about those in Costumes and Props under the Expectations.
The envelopes need to have the OOC name and address of your fellow players on them but if you want to, you can put the letter within another more setting appropriate envelope inside with the character name. This is however not required.
Since letters can flow freely in, out and inside Hollow Earth, we need to stretch time as well to allow for at least some of the travel time that would be required. More about this in the In-Game Timeline below.
How To Do It: When you decide to investigate/discover something, describe the details of what you have found or deduced. These details are up to you!
When you encounter the unbelievable, describe how it has left you feeling, or what it has revealed to you about the world or yourself.
When you confront the terrifying, describe how you fled in terror, how close your escape was, or what scars it has left you with – mental or physical.
When you befriend or defeat the denizens of Hollow Earth, describe, describe, describe!
Improvising Content: At a traditional larp or tabletop roleplaying game lots of facts about the setting are defined by the source materials and the GM often decides what is and is not real in the setting. This creates coherence. In a letter larp this cohesion can be a challenge because you all can add freely and equally to the setting. First and foremost, be creative! If you’re planning on doing something really big, like describing the entirety of Hollow Earth in one fell swoop, or blowing something significant up, please inform us (the GMs) so that we can put out a memo to inform everyone else!
When someone writes a letter asserting certain facts (say, that there is a thriving species of dinosaurs down here), they are offering you story. When someone offers you story, consider saying yes, accepting it and build on it: this is YES, AND.
However, you don’t have to accept it, especially if it crosses a line, but consider it and how you can use it. If you don’t like it, see if there’s some way you can add something while rejecting it: a NO, BUT.
Example of YES, AND: “I have seen the dinosaurs, and heard from other explorers that they are a genetic experiment performed by a human denizen of Hollow Earth.”
Example of NO, BUT: “I believe the dinosaurs to be a myth, but one with an underlying truth – for I have it on good authority that there is a variety of mushroom that can give a powerful hallucination.”
If you want to know more about improvising, there are lots of games and techniques online. We also recommend this Improv for Gamers book.
Gamemaster/GM: There is a very limited role for the GM in this game. Other than managing initial setup, the GM is largely out of the action, and (if people don’t send photos or scans of letters) possibly unable to even see it.
Our intention is to run an occasional In-Game newsletter/paper of some sort, containing news stories which might arise from your letters, as well as some other topside events for flavour. We may also use stories or advertisements in the newsletter to seed discussion. This is why you need to send us (email@example.com) copies/photos/scans of all your letters. This newsletter will be posted here on the website, on Facebook (a closed player group) and in a Google Drive folder.
Facebook and Google Drive: For In-Game communication we will use this website, Google Drive and Facebook (a closed player group).
For OOC communication we will use Facebook (a closed player group) and Google Drive.
This means that you don’t have to have a FB account to participate but you must then make sure to communicate OOC in other ways with your fellow players, like email (but only OOC!).
We have a Facebook event but most of the FB activity will be in a closed Player Group.
In-Game Timeline: The Expedition will OOC last roughly six months (IG it is four years), but if you feel your story has ended earlier, or it needs to go on longer, then please do feel free to stop or continue. Just make sure you have communicated this to us and your fellow players.
Since we have stated that letters can flow freely in, out and inside Hollow Earth, we need to stretch time. Thus we are ruling that each OOC day counts as an In-Game week. This will hopefully help your immersion.
The Letter Larp will start November 1st 2019 and go on till April 30th 2020 but since you are writing letters that need IG dates, we have made an easy conversion of the IG dates where we have taken travel time into consideration.
OOC November 1st 2019 is IG November 1st 1890.
OOC April 30th 2020 is IG April 21st 1894.
All dates can be found under Hollow Earth Timeline.
Safety and Comfort: If there are any topics you as a player feel uncomfortable with during play, please do make sure to inform us (the GMs) during sign up and fellow players during game play.
HEX Character Creation
This part explains how you create your HEX Letter Larp character. It is up to you how detailed you want to get; you can create just enough to get started and build upon it during play, or you can write yourself a detailed character history, or you can go somewhere in between.
You will find an example of the character Lady Evangeline Harrington that will be one of the characters in play.
When we have received all player characters, we will work with you to build relationships for your correspondences through our closed FB group. Each character could have any number of contacts, if you wish to begin with two, that’s fine! If you wish to begin with ten, that’s also fine! You may also discover more contacts during play.
Choose a Name
Some like to start with this and some prefer to name their character last. If you’re stuck, just ask! There are plenty of resources online for popular names in the 1900’s. Remember that your character can be from anywhere in the world and your name should reflect your nationality.
Your character name will be visible for others.
Choose an Archetype
Are you an academic, an explorer, a medic, an engineer, a hunter, a rich individual who has funded an expedition, a reporter, a soldier or hired muscle? Are you part of the expedition, or are you waiting at home for news? What is your motivation and interest in Hollow Earth? What do you hope to find or discover?
The six archetypes for HEX Letter Larp are: Benefactors, Explorers, Crew members, Academics, Cultural Elite and Secret Societies. All six of them are described in Characters and Archetypes under Expectations.
When you’ve chosen your archetype, decide a few details about yourself that goes into the Short Biography and/or Momentous Life Events and Achievements under. Remember that this setting is gender equal and sexual diversity a fact. You don’t have to mention it at all but you can if you want to.
Your character’s archetype will be visible for others.
Decide how old you are. Are you old and seasoned or young and blue-eyed? Choose a birth date, or even a birth place if you like!
Your character’s age will be visible for others.
Nationality and Residence
Decide where you are from and where you live. The whole world is your oyster!
Your character’s nationality and residence will be visible for others.
Momentous Life Events and Achievements
If you feel like it, this is where you can fill out details of family, friends, momentous life events, great achievements, or problems in your life. Essentially this part will be your character’s history up to now, if you want to write it. Bear in mind that you can always develop your character’s story during the larp, but its nice to have a little to go on.
Your character’s momentous life events and achievements will not be visible for others unless you write about it in the Short Biography.
Write a short bio of your character for the other players. Please do try to keep this biography to a reasonably short length to avoid overwhelming with a wall of text.
Your character’s short biography will be visible for others.
Decide what kind of contacts you would like. Are you seeking friends, personal enemies, professional enemies, love interest(s), professional peers, family etc. This is what your fellow players will consider when they choose their contacts. This will also serve as a guide for us if you want some help finding contacts.
Your contact requests will be visible for others.
Email Riveting LARP
You will need to email it all to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please write HEX Letter Larp in the email subject line.
Join the closed FB Player Group and start making and developing your contacts!
HEX Letter Larp Character Example
Lady Evangeline Harrington. Baroness.
Age: 33, born in Mayfair London.
Residence: The Harrington estate is a sweeping acreage south of Cirencester, and the family also owns a great deal of land in Cork, Ireland, but the Lady Evangeline prefers the proximity and life of London and so spends most of her time at the family residence in Berkeley Square.
Momentous Life Events and Achievements (NB! This section will not be visible to others): Born the only daughter of the Earl of Berkshire, Evangeline is what is referred to as “old money”. And yet she has always been different to her parents. To their consternation, Evangeline did not dedicate herself to studies suitable for her station in life – but instead chose to spend her time with her tutor, learning how to accurately draw and interpret plants and animals, even stretching the matter to visiting a morgue during the medical examination of a corpse. But of course, once the Duke discovered that particular expedition, her tutor was fired and the Lady Evangeline sequestered for an embarrassingly long six months.
By the time her parents were both tragically killed in a carriage accident returning from the country estate, Evangeline had established herself a reputation as strange, unconventional and affected. That reputation combined with becoming an orphan and a Countess in her own right left her inundated with unsuitable suitors. With her reputation and family money attracting the absolute worst of all options, Evangeline did the best that she could within the rules of polite society. After a full year of ambitious suitors of all genders, both young and old, who wished only to gain access to her fortune and the prestige of her title, she lost patience. None of them showed an interest in her interests, some going so far as to outright dismiss them as base frivolity. Evangeline shut her door to suitors, an action that would gain the 21 year old an even worse reputation as cold, frigid and eccentric. None of which was true.
Instead she found herself in her studies. She wrote extensively to scholars across the world, hiring in new tutors for herself and blossoming with the knowledge that she gained with her money. It was a lonely life for her though, with only a few feminine companions, who didn’t truly understand, and a wealth of true companionship but only through the written word, Evangeline has yearned for something more for a decade.
Now she is 33 years old and still a spinster. She accepts her share of social invitations for the year, doing her duty by the noble classes as she searches for someone, anyone, interesting at the latest ball or banquet to converse with.
For the past two years Evangeline has been in contact with the Royal Geographical Society. Their exploratory work has fascinated her and she is eager to find the right team to throw money at. Financing true scientific progress has been a bit of a fever dream for her, but she would be more than your usual financier. Yes, Evangeline would request that whomever she finances should keep in regular contact with her, updating her with drawings and descriptions of all that is found.
Short biography: The Lady Evangeline is a upper class spinster; an unmarried woman in her mid thirties she entertains herself with a busy life of correspondence. She has a reputation for eccentricity and cold behaviour, but those who write with her would know that to be untrue. In fact they find her warm and engaging, kind and enthusiastic. She also has a reputation for throwing money at interesting projects, the latest of which have been a number of exploratory missions dedicated to science and geographical discovery. She is a sharp minded woman with a fine wit and an insatiable curiosity who greatly enjoys her correspondence but yearns for a deeper connection.
Contacts requested: I am looking for an explorer or two to finance, a rival to exchange mannerly barbs with, a love interest to warm her lonely nights, a journalist with whom to form an engaging relationship with – be it personal or professional. I could also form a contact with distant family, academics and perhaps a friend. A contact could be one or even more of the requested things!
Lady Evangeline Harrington’s presentation is in the Character Gallery.
This part describes the world of HEX Letter Larp. It is the same information as for HEX: The Great Exhibition.
It is not necessary to be a history buff to participate in HEX. Underneath you will find a summary of where each section of the world stands in this era of time. Use this resource to help you choose who your character is, where they are from and what they may have been involved in during the time leading up to our letter larp beginning!
Although your characters can be from anywhere in the world, and The Great Exhibition will be set in Trondheim (Norway), Britain and Queen Victoria are very much at their height of influence in the wider world.
This is straight Victoriana and, although we are not intending to be too rigid when it comes to historical accuracy, it is important to get the feel of the Victorian era correct.
Do remember that our topside world is a mundane one; yes, you may find people who spend their lives hunting for the abominable snowman, and you may find secret societies dedicated to exploring magic and the occult. But these people are very much in the minority, and may well be looked upon as eccentric or downright mad, depending on economic and social standing if anyone were to find out about their leanings. At least they might until weird and wonderful findings start coming up from the Hollow Earth – even then, there may be those who are skeptical to the whole Hollow Earth enterprise, even with scientific proof!
Victorians put great stock in social class. The theory was that class reflected indefinable but substantial differences in individual breeding, which therefore could be passed from generation to generation perpetually justifying the existence of relatively rigid classes.
Though libraries have been written on the subject, for the purposes of our game we define three fundamental divisions in late Victorian British society; Upper Class (aristocrats, landed gentry, high government officials, those who have amassed great wealth), Middle Class (professionals, merchants, a few exceptionally skilled tradesmen), and Lower Class (the working and criminal classes.)
An aristocrat inherits their breeding, and therefore their title be it Duke, Baroness, Baronet or Lady/Lord. The minor noble or person elevated to the peerage during their lifetime is also Upper Class, but of distinctly lesser status, because their breeding has not yet proven true.
Social class also affects one’s occupation. While those of higher status might enter any occupation of status (doctor or lawyer would be respectable; dance-hall singer would not be), the Lower Class was locked into basic and usually demeaning occupations such as servant or unskilled laborer.
THE STATE OF THE WORLD
Europe – The final years of the Victorian era were when innovation, exploration and invention were at their height in England. Victoria’s reign was marked with great changes that were to impact and influence the political, economic, religious, and cultural scenes of the world for decades to come. During this Queendom the British Empire became the largest empire in history.
This period in time was also one of relative peace in Europe, no major war had occurred on the continent since the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. That conflict had dealt the death blow to Napoleon III’s Second Empire in France, ushered in the Third Republic, and confirmed the strength of a now mostly-unified Germany and its Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Internally, the question of Irish independence was a thorn in British politics, and there was much unrest in the conglomerate Austro-Hungarian Empire as well as in the Balkan provinces of the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
In Britain, the Dynamiters, notorious for leaving nitroglycerin bombs on underground trains and other public places, still made grisly headlines. The Fabian Socialists and similar groups called for social reform and an end to the monarchy.
Although Britain’s absolute lead in manufacturing had, compared to Germany, France and Russia, declined relatively from the 1870’s, the British Empire was at its peak. All the continental powers traditionally fielded larger armies than the British, but at sea Britannia still ruled the waves.
While Anglo-German friendship was at its height during the early Victorian era, thanks to blood and marriage ties between the royal families, in the 1890’s the British perceived a growing threat from Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm encouraged an aggressive program of naval expansion from 1894-1900 driving together British and French interests.
The Americas – Across the Atlantic, the United States had become a world power, having recovered from the Civil War and grown extensively in territory, industrial and agricultural output, and in world prestige. The 1890’s saw the United States emerge as a major power, political and civil unrest was the rule in Latin America.
The Far East – Japan signaled its new status as an important regional power by its invasion of the Korean peninsula and subsequent war with China in 1894. Japan’s swift victory indicated her growing strength and China’s prostration. In 1903 Japan would establish its position as a dominant power in the Western Pacific by resoundingly thrashing the Russian armies in Manchuria shortly after destroying most of the Russian fleet.
Japan’s star shone as China’s waned. The Western powers pushed for greater influence on the mainland and, without the interference of the United States in 1899, China might have found herself carved up between the Western powers. Reacting to Western interference, various Chinese reform groups and secret societies flourished, designed to preserve the old Chinese ways and to reject Western ideas.
Eastern Mediterranean and Africa – Here conditions were even more unstable. In 1986 the Cretans rose in final revolt against the Turks, achieving autonomy under Turkish suzerainty two years later. The Turkish Ottoman Empire had been shrinking throughout the 19th century, and continued to do so. Although Egypt nominally belonged to the Ottoman Empire, the Turks paid it little attention, allowing Britain greater influence and finally gaining control along the Nile.
A number of revolts in Egypt and the Sudan spelled trouble for British forces. Quietening Egypt by 1883 the British did not intervene in the Sudan until 1896, by which point the Dervishes under the Mahdi, who had massacred the British General Gordon and his forces in 1885, had subjected the land to a reign of tyranny leading to the death of most of the Sudan’s people. In 1896, Lord Kitchener headed British and Egyptian troops at the battle of Omdurman, routing the Dervishes and restoring peace to the Sudan.
France grew jealous of the British influence in Egypt and in 1898 sent an expedition to Fashoda on the Nile under the command of Commandant Marchand, nearly provoking war between France and Britain before the French wisely withdrew.
In 1896 the British were forced to swiftly put down the final uprising rebellion of the Ashanti tribe in their Gold Coast colony having had to send forces to restore order in Uganda only six years earlier following uprisings and the murder of Christians there.
Italy fought with Abyssinia over the small colony there and in 1895 full scale war broke out which resulted in a crushing defeat for Italy, and full independence for Abyssinia.
South Africa is largely under British reign in this era. However, due to the Treaty of Pretoria which ended the First Boer War in 1881, the Boer Republic of the Transvaal was self-governing under British suzerainty. British settlers in other areas of South Africa resented the treatment their countrymen receive in the Transvaal gold mines, however, and plot to overthrow the Transvaal government and seize power from the Boers. In 1896 a small force led by Sir Leander Starr Jameson raided Johannesburg, expecting the British workers to rise up in support. That support never came and Jameson’s forces found themselves surrounded and captured. Jameson’s Raid led to Boer incursions into Britain’s Natal and Cape Colony in 1899, sparking the Second Boer War. This war would continue for the next two and a half years.
THE BUSINESS OF EXPLORING
Royal Geographical Society
Founded in London 1830, the club’s original name was the Geographical Society of London. It absorbed the older African Association, as well as the Raleigh Club and Palestine Association. In 1859 it was granted its royal charter from Queen Victoria and became the Royal Geographical Society. At the time of our game, the Royal Geographical Society is meeting at 1 Saville Row, an address that quickly became associated with adventure and travel.
The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters
Founded in 1760 and based in Trondheim, it is the oldest scientific and scholarly institution in Norway. At the time of our game, it is the northernmost learned society in the world and was established at a time when Norway did not have universities or colleges. It is also the host of The Great Exhibition In-Game.
The Exploration Society
A precursor to what would become the Explorers Club; New York City found herself host to regular informal social meetings of the USA’s most adventurous. Although the Society was only about thirty strong, it would expand to fifty in a day when noted journalist, historian and explorer, Henry Collins Walsh decided to create a formal organisation to unite them in purpose and funding in 1904.
The Exploration Society have been meeting in public places since about 1870 and are places where explorers can go to discuss ideas and tactics, as well as give and receive hints on the best way to go about securing funding for one’s latest venture.
As a player you are allowed to create other exploratory societies as well.
They are a Fraternal order of men of ‘good standing’. Heavily ritualised, the Masons are known to exist but what goes on within their walls remains a closed secret. In 1882 Maria Deraismes was initiated into Freemasonry. Having failed to gain acceptance from any masonic governing body, she and Georges Martin started a mixed masonic lodge that worked masonic ritual. Disagreements over ritual led to the formation of exclusively female bodies of Freemasons in England, which spread to other countries.
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Is a secret society dedicated to the study and practice of the occult, metaphysics, and paranormal activities. The Golden Dawn was active in Great Britain and focused its practices on theurgy and spiritual development. Many present-day concepts of ritual and magic were inspired by the Golden Dawn. Founded by three Freemasons, the system was based on hierarchy and initiation; however women were admitted on an equal basis with men. In 1888 the first temple was founded in London so it is a fledgling organisation in the current time of the Hollow Earth expedition (letter larp), but by the Great Exhibition in 1895 the Golden Dawn had reached its Golden Age with over 100 members from every class of Victorian society.
Other notable mentions
The first American Rosicrucian Order (the first Fraternitas Rosae Crucis in 1858) was founded by Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825-1875), an African American medical doctor, occultist, spiritualist, trance medium and writer.
Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O/ Order of the Temple of the East/ Order of Oriental Templars is an international fraternal and religious organisation originated in Germany/ Austria between 1895 and 1906 intended to be modeled after and associated with European Freemasonry but was reorganised around the Law of Thelema as its religious principle under the leadership of Aleister Crowley from 1925.
Intelligence Agencies and Committees start popping up mid 1900’s. Although they are not considered secret societies now (because their motives are public safety and not for themselves) their early beginnings were not as clear. The Crown, military and Governments had active spies working for them.
As a player you are allowed to create other secret societies as well.
“Is the Master out of his mind?’ she asked me.
‘And he’s taking you with him?’
I nodded again.
‘Where?’ she asked.
I pointed towards the centre of the earth.
‘Into the cellar?’ exclaimed the old servant.
‘No,’ I said, ‘farther down than that.”
– Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Jules Verne
The Hollow Earth was a concept notably suggested by Edmond Halley in the late 17th century. It proposes that the planet Earth is either entirely hollow, or contains a substantial interior space. It is a concept that reoccurs throughout our folklore and is the premise for a lot of subterranean fiction and adventure stories.
Early 1889 the Hollow Earth was again on everybody’s lips. Rumours about a letter from its depths was whispered about in quiet meetings of exploratory types, of entrances mentioned and maps carefully marked. For a long time most people believed that getting into Hollow Earth was a difficult if not impossible thing to do. After all, if it were easy, wouldn’t everyone be doing it? But in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Entrances to Hollow Earth are common, people fall into them all the time! The problem is that these entrances often look mundane; cave systems, volcanic vents and deep sea fissures can extend far deeper than anyone realises.
Several explorer teams are now rushing out! But what lies beneath the surface of the Earth? Rumour abounds of dinosaurs and great over-sized vegetation, of lost civilizations and technology beyond your wildest dreams. In Hollow Earth lies great potential for discovery and fame, are you the one who brings back the artefact that could change everything?
Hollow Earth is your setting to explore and develop.
What you find there is up to you to describe in Hollow Earth Expedition Letter Larp!
Here is our In-Game monthly newsletter The Deluge. First issue was published November 1st 2019 and covers news from November and December 1890. The second is coming out December 1st (2019 out of game), covering January through May 1891. This will include world events topside, but news of Hollow Earth events might also be included!
This is where you can find all the player characters already participating in HEX Letter Larp. We will post them all here as they come in. We now have 38 out of the 56 published.
Sign up sheet for HEX Letter Larp here. Sign up starts October 2019 and stays open til March 1st 2020. You can join anytime during that time period.