Utopia Descending is a new live action role-playing (LARP) game by Imagine Nation Collective -- the creators of the zombie LARP Dystopia Rising. But despite the Ying-and-Yang configuration of the titles, it is not a zombie game -- it is about a different kind of possible future in which players can act out adventures. We chatted with game designer Michael Pucci about it.
Geeksagogo: Utopia Rising is described as a LARP about urban fantasy. It sounds a little like Rifts or Shadowrun. What is the exact premise and what differentiates it from those games?
Pucci: It is a completely different world, with different themes, different character focuses, different history, different stories, and different mechanics. The only similarity between Rifts, Shadowrun, and Utopia Descending is that they are Science Fiction - Fantasy.
Utopia Descending is a world in which Pillars, who were created when Rifts opened, receive the opportunity to work for several different mega-corporations. They then need to promote themselves through social media in order to maintain their popularity, promote their corporation's brands, and gain more money for their corporation so that they continue to be resurrected in a resurrection chamber when killed in the field on combat missions.
Geeksagogo: Although it is not directly related to Dystopia Rising, the title suggests a sister game at least in theme. What is the relationship between the games? Is a crossover conceivable?
Pucci: One is a world where the worst case scenario has happened and humanity is attempting to rebuild, one is a scenario where the world has hit a crescendo of technology and culture and is starting its decline. They are not sister games and crossover is not conceivable. The relation between the two games are that they are released by the same publishing company, much like Project: Paradigm, the Chronos Universal LARP system, Devil Days, ExArcana, Sleepy Hollow, and a number of our other Immersion Events, LARPs, and Tabletop lines. The wording was chosen to help participants understand that the Utopia universe would not be a survival horror setting (something that our fans have come to identify us by).
Geeksagogo: How many game sites are there in country? How many players?
Pucci: Dystopia Rising has over 16 franchises with 7,000+ players. Utopia Descending goes public for licensing (not franchising) within a month. Currently with the privately owned chapters there are over 200 registered character participants. We anticipate that once licensing opens our track for total players for Utopia Descending will follow Dystopia Rising's membership track of more than doubling each year for at least the first five years.
Geeksagogo: Some people have accused role playing games in general and LARPing in
particular of being too immersive. Does this criticism still manifest itself?
Pucci: Our goal is to create the most immersive experiences possible. To push immersion we also look to taking care of the participant by offering post event decompression, community building, and focusing on being a community of gamers instead of a gaming community. This includes organization of social events, post care check-ins, and a number of downtime techniques to assist players with post event drop and potential bleed. If someone wants to criticize an Imagine Nation event for being too immersive, yeah, I'll wear that critique as a badge of honor.
Geeksagogo: Willl there be a tabletop version of this game?
Pucci: It is our intent to release a narrative focus tabletop Utopia Descending game.