Feb. 28th, 2019

purplecat: A much younger me in a vaguely piratical outfit, holding a tankard (General:Larp)
30 years ago I came back from my first term at university (admittedly this merely involved walking half a mile up the road) and caught up with miscellaneous school friends. Among these was one who, in his first term at university, had discovered Live Roleplaying and, specifically the Fools and Heroes society. Over the course of the next year a branch was formed in Oxford, not without a certain amount of drama. Back in those days there were a number of "long-standing" society members* about whom one mostly heard through rumour and we were impressed by the status and importance of these people. A lot of the drama involved in the set up of the branch, in retrospect, derived from a certain amount of gatekeeping from these long-standing members. I've never unpicked entirely the root causes of this drama, and I'm fairly sure there was a certain amount of factionalism within the "in-crowd" which exacerbated the situation.

Anyway one of these long-standing members was Dave le Page, who played Hastrel, the leader of one of the in-game churches. Though, once I knew him better, I'm pretty certain he'd stayed out of most of the drama which us newcomers associated with that crowd.

I think I briefly met Dave that autumn at my first weekend fest but he was about to retire the character. His next character was Fabius T. Clattersmode who he intended as a comedy mage. He spent a lot of time getting spell-castings wrong, and acting slightly naive. During the course of this, in part as a joke, I think, he asked my character to marry him. If memory serves I had sent him an in character letter about something, and Fabius was so overcome by this that a marriage proposal was the only option. My character said no, Fabius persisted, eventually the two characters go married. Fortunately/unfortunately Dave had a deeply competent streak and his comedy mage quite rapidly ended up in charge of the guild of mages. He was fun to play along side of, he kept enough of the character's air of naivety to allow him to cut through a lot of nonsense and attempts to add moral complexity to situations. He could be relied upon to do something funny if things needed lightening up or were getting a little dull. He was also generally extremely competent and level-headed when it mattered.

My character died some time later. It was pre-arranged because I wanted to try something else, though it wasn't quite the exit I would have chosen. I think Dave retired Fabius a few months after that and left the society around the same time. We kept vaguely in touch via Christmas cards and met up once when he was passing through Oxford, but that gradually tailed off. In the age of Facebook we briefly reconnected but Facebook wasn't really his thing. He surfaced about 5 years ago to ask if I could find anyone who might take his larp kit off him. I gathered he wasn't well and hadn't been for some time and had given up any hope that he would ever live-roleplay again.

On Monday a mutual friend, another "long-standing" player from 1989 posted to Facebook that he had died in hospital on Sunday.

I've been looking for photos of him, or letters our characters exchanged, and have found a strange hole in my memorabilia. A lot of my F&H stuff seems to have gone AWOL, including several yearbooks, which I know I had a few years ago since I was archiving a lot of it online at the time. But even so, I'm not sure how much of Dave there was there. It's like there is a kind of blank where he should have been in everything I have kept.

He was a good man, with generous amounts of both good humour and good sense and I'm sorry I let him drop out of my life so completely.

* long-standing in this context meaning about three years. From the perspective of thirty years later this is pretty amusing.

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