The play experience
The main themes of The Clinic are:
- Recovery from trauma and therapy – in game, the New Beginnings clinic exists to help clients confront their past and move forward. Characters, particularly client and therapist characters, will be exploring the aftereffects of different situations, what sort of work needs to be done to recover, and what recovery means.
- Identity and selfhood – the therapists are created to be representations of people who are or have previously been significant to the client. However, they also have previous memories and distinct personalities of their own; and as they learn and develop, they will have more personal agency. The larp aims to explore what personhood is.
- Class and status – this will be a theme among the clients, who have vastly different backgrounds; and among the staff, who have different goals and ambitions.
Is this larp for me?
If you have an interest in exploring any of the themes above, then hopefully yes!
- Therapy and trauma recovery are key themes of the larp. If this isn't interesting to you, or you feel this could be too uncomfortable to play on then this larp probably isn't for you.
- There are themes of abuse, death, sex work, drug abuse, attempted suicide, stalking and gaslighting in the backgrounds of the clients. Although we can cast people away from the specific characters that have these themes, we can't guarantee that participants won't come across them during the larp.
- The organizers won't be introducing any new plot or plot twists during the game. The larp is a sandbox, with players free to explore the aspects of their characters that interest them.
- This larp is not about the therapists uprising and taking back their freedom, or being rescued by clients: at least, not on a large scale.
Playing a client
Clients are here to have their psychological problems solved, in theory at least. They are assigned to a specific therapist, who is responsible for their treatment. They will be expecting to explore their issues in therapy, and hopefully journey towards some sort of healthier resolution. (It will be up to you to decide what are the results and effects of the therapy upon your character.)
Clients will spend time in various different one-to-one therapies with their assigned therapist; in various different group therapies; and in social activity with other clients. Their main relationship will be with their therapist, but they will also have predefined relationships with other clients and maybe also with staff members.
Clients are the only characters for whom this is not part of their work: they are paying (or someone is paying for them), so to some extent they are more free to slack off and enjoy the amenities. But they’ll never get cured, that way!
Playing a client will suit you if you like:
Playing a therapist
Therapists are artificial intelligences programmed to represent people: parents, partners, or other important figures who the clients need to confront and accept in order to heal.
Unlike the other characters, therapist characters follow an act structure which gradually gives them more independence as they learn and develop. There is an understanding that therapist personalities will be wiped at the end of the therapy. However the therapists retain core personalities and some memories of the previous people they have been.
A few therapists will have the ability to switch between personalities.
Dramatic play for the therapist characters will mainly come from the intense relationship with the client; where they will have taken on the appearance of someone that the client hates, fears or loves, and will have elements of that person's personality. It will also come through the arc of learning and developing into independent people, gradually becoming aware of their own agency (which may involve things like acting to protect the client from perceived threats, or pursuing a love interest).
Playing a therapist will suit you if you like:
Playing a staff member
There are four staff roles, and these characters are responsible for overseeing the treatment process. They all have their own motivations, and their game is more focused on status and intrigue than is that of the other characters. Staff are responsible for helping clients explore the process, and for monitoring the therapists. They have their own reasons for wanting to be part of the programme, which may be at odds with their public role.
Dramatic play for the staff will come from trying to enact their own agenda while remaining unnoticed; from relationships with the clients and therapists; and from trying to resolve personal issues in an environment that doesn't support that.
Playing staff will suit you if you like: