Overwhelming Copenhagen!

A Copenhagen Scenario for the tourist guided tour larp Tant Pis, with a clever, bilingual twist. I just played it with a group of friends and it was glorious. Presented in English as Tant Pis has a lot of international potential.

Tant Pis

Tant Pis is a larp designed by Anne Marchadier and Mo Holkar. A tourist guide (the GM) takes a group of tourists (the players) on a real, physical tour of real, physical tourist attractions.

Twist 1! The tourists aren’t human! They are either aliens, evaluating the Earth for colonization, exploitation, as refuge or whatever, or monsters (vampires, werewolves, whatever) looking for a new hiding place.

Twist 2! And this is where is gets twisty – this is a tour of the most underwhelming yet unaccountably popular sights of the city. The embarrassing ones. The game is originally meant to be played in Brussels, which is a city richly accoutered with embarassing sights – the game is of course named after the famous Manneken Pis and a host of associated sights, but the game includes a few choice non-pis sights as well. An important theme of the game is “underwilderment”, the feeling of being bewildered and confused by being underwhelmed.

Bilingual Shenanigans

If all players are bilingual (as most Danes are bilingual in Danish and English, here is a neat trick. One language (we used English) is picked to be understood by all, and the tour and proper conversation is carried out in it. The other (Danish for us) is picked to be the language of the aliens or monsters. The guide character won’t understand it – but the GM will, out of character, and can use things overheard between the aliens/monsters to play upon. Which clever players know and can play upon, being clever and all.

Underwhelming Copenhagen

Brussels may be brilliant, but Copenhagen is not to be outdone. Here is an outline of the tour Overwhelming Copenhagen, by Flamingo Tours (I used a flamingo umbrella as tour guide visibility marker). Bicycles are a good way to get around, and public transport is a fine alternative. You can walk, but the total distance covered will be about eight kilometers.

Start at Nørrebros Runddel. Do character creation in one of the cafés around it, then hit the streets. Here are the posts in a geographically sensible order. As you move from place to place, do opportunistically comment and draw upon spots, events and whatever things you happen upon that can reference the unfolding story that you are creating.

Ungdomshuset Jagtvej 69 (The Youth House)

Which is not a house but a rather ragged-looking garden in between grafittied walls. Be sure to talk about it as if it were a house as you are walking there. The site goes well with a convoluted explanation of it’s turbulent history, ending with there actually being a different house that is an actual house elsewhere now.

There is some serious recent history here, but the site itself is solidly underwhelming.

The Grave of Søren Kierkegaard (Assistens Cemetary)

Or rather, his family’s gravesite. He is a footnote on one of the lower slabs – but the grave itself clearly does not present him as important. If you hurry, you can come by while it is still under repair. We had great luck! When we visited, it was cordoned off, the ground around it was partially dug up and full of weeds, and the headstone itself was wrapped in plastic.

Great philosopher, underwhelming place.

The Start of Istedgade (The Red Light District)

The beating, sensual heart of darkness! Of course, in the daylight, there is only a handful of restaurants and cafés to be seen, and a single basement sex shop. If you do pay a visit to the sex shop, be sure to keep it subtle.

The Statue of HC Andersten (Town Hall Square)

Not as obviously underwhelming as some of the others, but it is a near-mandatoty tourist photo op stop, and it really is just a statue. A solid “what’s special here?” moment, and also setup for The Little Mermaid if you reference a couple of his fairy tales. I used The Little Mermaid for the setup, and The Emperor’s New Clothes for thematic appropriateness.

Authentic Danish Street Food (Town Hall Square)

Hit one of the hotdog stands and buy everyone traditional red hotdogs with everything (as guide, I ate an apple and claimed vegetarianism). Be prepared for physical comedy! These things are almost impossible to eat neatly, especially standing up. Of course, don’t force anyone to actually eat the things! For bonus points and if your players are going to be OK with it, present the hotdogs by one of their traditional, problematic nicknames, such as “dead Indian in the canoe”. A very strong underwilderment moment for us when we played.

The Little Mermaid

The mother of Copenhagen’s underwhelming attractions. As you approach, be sure to talk it up as an important landmark and impressive monument.

Actual Play

We met at a Nørrebro café, I and Anne, Lotte and Marie. We had hot drinks and and introduction to the character creation process, and then I went for a walk as they actually made characters. So I had no idea what they were making – that turned out to be an advance party for a force of squid-like alien colonizers masquerading as humans. I was an ordinary, frustrated human tour guide. We used bicycles for transportation.

Between the “official” stops, we had some nice conversations on account of things we saw – the Nørrebros Rundel Metro Station in the corner of Assistens Cemetary got our visitors properly confused about burial versus mass transportation, and a burned-out dumpster had us picking up points from the conversation that we had at Ungdomshuset.

Lunch was horribly hilarious (and by the way, we also ate some proper food together when we were done with the game). Marie noted (correctly!) that it seemed like you would need more than two arms to eat one of these hot dog things.

In the end, the aliens concluded that while Earth was a silly place, humans seemed too inept to be able to put up serious resistance. So, they promised to give the tour a good review and be back with friends…

~ af troelsken på 16. maj 2021.

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