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Welcome to Hard Times

RPG system: Blackbox larp
Participants: 1 GM, 7-10 players


✏️David Owen
✏️Karolina Soltys


Welcome to Hard Times is a Nordic-style black-box larp about pioneer life in the American Midwest, based on the novel of the same name by E.L. Doctorow, with set design inspired by Dogville. It is a tale of human resilience and frailty, and the impossible dream of permanence. The players will tangibly participate in the cycle of creation and destruction of a small settlement, building it with symbolic props. In their doomed struggle to create a permanent home, the characters grow increasingly entwined. The story is told using various techniques: narration, naturalistic scenes, non-verbal physical play.

The larp can include audience members in an immersive way — they play anonymous settlers and can construct their own dwellings, which helps them build an emotional attachment to the story of the town they are a part of.

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?"

Played at

Grenselandet (2018)
Black Box Horsens ...And That's It (2019)

Other runs

May 17, 2017, Tallinn Larp Festival, Estland
January 7, 2018, The Smoke, London

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