Power Props


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Scott Walker

“Power Props” is a sensor and actuator platform for Live Action Role Playing (LARP), immersive theater, theme park, and other transmedia experiences.
The system is an open framework allowing any kind of sensor or actuator to be easily programed and reprogrammed on the fly, allowing novice LARP masters to add magic props and special visual effects to their game.

The system premiered at Tri-Wyrd, in June 2012, and was integrated into “Veil Wars,” a 2-day pervasive, locative experience layered onto the Wyrd Con convention created by Scott Walker and loosely based on Medieval Japanese mythology.


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Ah, you are seeking The Yamabushi, eh? Yes, the woman who crosses the veil at will, walking freely in the land of the dead yet living to tell the tale.Who can say where her path will take her or when she will be back?

Demons are piercing the veil separating the land of the living from the land of the dead. Players are spirit masters who live in the mountains of an island chain empire called Kumo. Only spirit masters can find the demon gates, shut them down, and banish the demons who make it through. Armed with a pouch of spells and talismans plus their own courage, players must use their unique abilities to save Kumo from the demonic invasion!

“Veil Wars” included participatory elements, game mechanics, some ARG components, a bit of narrative, cool props, and a heavy dose of pervasive experiences.  Players didn’t know when or where demon gates would open, and in addition to shutting down demon gates, they also needed to stave off the invasion of the “boss” demon at the conclusion of the experience.

Reusable RFID tags were embedded in props such as swords, talismans, wands, and tarot-like power cards. Through a simple programing interface created in Processing, the LARP-master was able to assign different actions to the presence of unique tag IDs. Tags could trigger sound, lights, or other desired output device. The system allowed the tags and actuators to be repurposed for multiple sequences through the experience to constrain the hardware budget. The entire system can also be reprogrammed and repurposed for an entirely different LARP when completed.