Monday, 3 December 2012

Singapore's First LARP

What's a LARP? you may ask.

It is Live Action Role Playing - a kind of game. Just in case you think Singapore is too boring or staid to be having such great outdoor fun, think again.

In 1990, many people came dressed as knights, fairies, adventurers, witches, warlords, etc., to do battle on Fort Canning Hill where a medieval village was built complete with a tavern (with beer), costume shop, apothecary (spell merchant), sword maker, slave auction site and gladiator arena. There was even a maze.

The whole of Fort Canning Hill was converted into a ghoul infested medieval country where the righteous did battle with the wicked; the latter nursed and encouraged by a Witch Queen - a tall and imposing figure reaching some 12 feet in height.

The Curse of the Witch Queen LARP opened and closed the Arts Festival Fringe activities that year; it included dance performances from Africa and a traditional drumming outfit from Kelantan, Malaysia.

The COTWQ event was planned, run and executed by the Science Fiction Association, Singapore, better known as SFAS. I was one of its past presidents. SFAS still exists today but only as a Google Group (no admin compared to being under the Registry of Societies).

At COTWQ I was its chief builder in charge of making everything that was on Fort Canning. I was not alone in that. I had great help from a number of fellow enthusiastic volunteers, many of them students, full-time NS men and mostly avid RPG PnP (role playing game, paper and pen) players from our sci-fi society. They came forward to spend many weekends and week-nights at two workshops in Bedok Vocational Institute to saw, hem, paint and paper mache various props. We shuttled back and forth, drank lots of coffee, and went days without bathing. So committed we were!

The Art Council gave us funds and Black & Decker sponsored the necessary power tools. Wood was bought from timber yards in Kranji and food was "tapowed" much from Bedok Central hawker center.

The COTWQ demanded a lot from all those who were involved but never mind. It turned out to be a huge success and ultimately a most unforgettable event in the annals of Singapore's literary and role-based gaming history. Now, I have to ask: Were you there? Heh-heh.

More photos here: Curse of the Witch Queen  The next story: One Leg Left

Me figuring out how to build the maze.
We (volunteers) spent about three months at a workshop in Bedok VI making costumes, props and furniture. What a time we had! Those with jobs came after work, stayed over and left in the morning to return in the evening. Weekends were especially special as we all stayed overnight from Fri evenings through to Sunday!
We at the Bedok VI workshop. Between making props and stuff, we indulged in some Dungeons and Dragon stuff. I mean the LARP was helmed by the Science Fiction Association of S'pore. Many members were also role=playing boardgamers.
Top left: Man Loon, our chief props maker and artistic head (in glasses). Bottom left: Drummers from Kelantan. 
The "Queen" giant puppet. Forces of good and evil do battle. Red (bad), Blue (good. ;-)
We were part of the Art Fest Fringe event.
Top left: Me planning the maze. Volunteers helping each other with make up and there's Dawn in-charge of costumes making. 
We had dancers at the tavern, volunteers helped to make the costumes, etc.
We had weapons, costumes and masks.
We had tents and built structures for the apothecary, armoury, etc. Even a tavern! Bottom right: Alicia, our make-up head. Loved her laughter. Years later I discovered that she was my primary school classmate's sister!
Gladiator fight rehearsals. Right: Slave auction (two volunteers (both very fetching SIA gals) acted as the slave girls up for auction. Very sporting!
At the Gladiator Arena (which we built).
The Finale - Did Good win over Evil?


  1. Is there anymore LARP's coming up?

    1. I don't think so, unless a comic con happens here or the Arts Fest pple asks us again. Also, the SFAS now exists as a Google group. Join us if you are interested. :-)