On March 24, 2019, I dove headfirst into my first ever LARP experience.
“Live Action Role Play” always fascinated me. When Jordan offered to buy us both tickets to Cyberpunk 2020: Night City, a Nordic blockbuster LARP run by Jackalope Live Action Studios, I jumped at the chance.
I spent months developing my character. I designed her costume and created her ridiculously awesome cybernetic spine. I collaborated with other players to discover her backstory. At some point, I may write a series of posts on this process. I’d also love to share my thoughts on what it was like to play this game as a brand new LARPer.
For now, I’m here to share Scarlett’s story from her point of view. This story includes everything that happened, both before-game and in-game, to our favorite hard-hitting reporter.
Fair warning: this story is written for my own pleasure and for the enjoyment of my fellow Night City players. If you weren’t there, you might not get it. That’s ok!
The Backstory —Night City Corp Zone, 2028
My name is Scarlett Fay, and I am the daughter of PetroChem President Marcus Fay. Most people would kill to be on the primary inheritance list of one of the most powerful men on planet earth. I’d kill to get off of it.
My brother and I have been privy to my dad’s business dealings since we were kids. I’ve sat in board meetings and watched him lie, steal, cheat, and kill his way to power.
Mom thinks I should be grateful. PetroChem survived the corporate war for a reason, and we have a very comfortable life here in the corp zone. But I know what a monster my father really is—both as a businessman and as a parent. I wish people could see what my dad is really like behind closed doors. He’s cold, calculated, and cruel. He’s also insane.
Dad’s interests extend far beyond the petroleum industry. He’s always been fascinated with cloning, biohacking, and all things chemical enhancement. He ran those experiments on us.
I can’t count how many times I’ve been injected with miracle drugs. How many times I’ve woken up disoriented, missing 6 hours of my life due to smuggled anesthetics in my lunchmeat. How many times I’ve wondered if someday he’d shoot me up with something that would actually kill me.
Last January, he got close.
I don’t actually remember what happened. I was out for the whole process, which took the better part of two days. Apparently he injected a new acid-based stimulant into my spinal fluid. My entire spine disintegrated.
I woke up with a state-of-the-art cybernetic that my friends would die for. Best model currently available, Dad assured me. He called it a gift. From that moment on, I was determined to get myself out of that house for good.
It wasn’t easy to escape. I relied heavily on Jay, who I’ve been dating for about a year now, and his family’s network of hideouts all over Night City. I hid in various upscale apartments for the better part of a year while I wrote a tell-all biography exposing all of PetroChem’s dastardly business deals.
I never mentioned what he did to me and my brother. I wanted to keep that trump card to myself.
I knew I would only be free if my dad publicly denounced me, and I achieved that goal as soon as I sold the book to Network 54—the media corp where I served as an intern journalist. My friend Alex thought it was a stupid idea. I’m glad they were wrong.
Now I have a place of my own, a promotion, and a way to support myself for the foreseeable future. I have plenty of money stored in private accounts that my dad can’t touch. And I’m determined to keep publishing stories that expose the evil that corps are doing all around us.
The truth is all I care about now.
Night’s Wake 2036 —The Beginning
I walked onto Carter Street with the intention to find a big lead, and boy did I find one. Regardless of the truce, there was bound to be some violence, extortion, or murder happening in the maze of Northside. I wanted to be the one to film it.
Before long, I was introduced to my new bodyguard for the night, a pretty punk in heels who looked like she’d do better working for Xanadu than running the streets. She apparently wanted a “fun” and “entertaining” client.
I was pissed.
The only reason I hired Jay to get me a bodyguard was because Brad, my main man, got himself shot on our last run together. I knew it was a last minute request. But frag, Jay should do better than that. After I chewed him out, he hooked me up with a hefty metalhead named Oz who looked far more capable of keeping my head attached to my shoulders.
Later on, Jay bought me a peashooter so I’d have something more immediate to protect myself with. He was definitely trying to make up for his mistake. Good. He’s too much of an idiot to be trusted with anything important. I can’t believe I used to date him.
With Oz at my side, I followed plenty of stories:
- Murder. We ran with a mission team to gather evidence on the most recent victim of a cybernetic-obsessed serial killer.
- Extortion. We witnessed the Russian Organizatsiya hold Mischka at gunpoint, trying to take over Pigeon Magazine.
- Corruption. I caught a Trauma Team repo session being interrupted by Dr. Hannah Holmes, a local surgeon who offered the victim a new contract.
- Deception. We watched Memetic Menace give the biggest concert Carter Street has ever seen. The streamers (and Yen, Gwydion Dynamics’ head of staff) were going absolutely nuts.
- Violence. I witnessed Pluto Starstream pommel Utahraptor, my favorite thug-for-hire, outside Xanadu.
- Destruction. I saw Omicron, some kind of rogue AI, taking over the data streams. (And I pissed off the local prophet by publicly attributing the takeover to “Whisper.” Oops.)
On a tip from Zane, I connected the Rollers with the CEO of Gwydion Dynamics. She hired the gang and made a hefty donation to help them keep their derby rink. Later on, I was shocked out of my skin to witness the rollers kidnapping Sierra and holding her for ransom. Desmond Oken, a Biotechnica protege and apparently Sierra’s fiance, struck a deal with the Rollers to secure her release.
That was my first big story of the night.
Night’s Wake 2036 —The Plot Thickens
Over the course of a few hours, several people came up to me and said they were surprised to see me alive. Rumors said my spine had killed me. After watching Alex (or “Azure,” as they like to be called) deal with their freaky cybernetic on the streams, I knew enough to be cautious.
Even though I didn’t want to waste reporting time, I went to see Dr. Holmes. After hearing about the slight pains I’d been experiencing, she took a sample of spinal fluid. Something was wrong.
Tracking, malware, cyberpsychosis-inducing hardware failure, a kill switch. Anything was possible, and I needed to find a hacker to fix it. Frag that. I didn’t have time. I left her tent determined to forget about it, trying to push down the nagging fear that my dad still had some small influence on my life.
I was back in the doctor’s tent sooner than I thought.
Jonnny 5’s asked for help rescuing Alex from their Glitterati contract. And, more importantly, from their controlling cybernetic. I paid for the surgery. How could I not? Even with how far Azure had fallen, and how much they seemed to hate my guts, I couldn’t help feeling responsible for their wellbeing. They were the only friend I really had.
I stood watch as Dr. Holmes strapped Alex to the chair and forced the screws from their skull plate one by one. Alex was in total agony. Blood everywhere. It was horrifying to watch and nearly broke me.
When the operation was done and we walked Alex to Xanadu, they recognized me. They apologized for everything, and I barely held it together. I knew I’d never seem them again once Jonnny smuggled them out of the city.
I didn’t let anyone see, but in that moment I cried for the first time in five years.
Night’s Wake 2036 —The End
Apparently, a lot happened in the time I was watching over Alex. I passed Perl and Mischka at Beep’s feet, all three in violent tears. I didn’t have time to investigate.
Just outside of Xanadu, a torrential stream of data was crushing across screens all over the square. The children of Whisper held vigil in the city center. They proclaimed that their god was finally free. Whisper was attacking the net from within, destroying security feeds and launching a total northside lockdown. Before I headed for cover, I saw Utahraptor on his knees in rage, screaming “It was all a joke?!?”
I honestly don’t know why, but I immediately went looking for Jay. Together we tried to take cover in the Fixed Hand poker room. It was occupied. Jean, Lucius Lavigne, Glitter, and the Madam were having a heated discussion that seemed to be on the verge of explosion. I nearly lost my crash when I saw Lucius open his case.
Six live nuclear warheads.
The last thing I saw was the madam and the girls paying Lucius too many favors to count in order to take the case off his hands.
Outside, I learned from Pixie Devil and her virtual contact that Whisper could be stopped. I forwarded the message to Jay, who fell to the task of finding the hacker for the job. I discovered that TOM, a runner who I thought I trusted, was the one responsible for planting the nukes throughout the city on Whisper’s orders. But before I could do anything, I got stopped by two strangers claiming they needed to see me.
Apparently, Dr. Holmes had discovered what was wrong with my spine. I was another bomb.
As I sat in the doctor’s chair for the second time that night, I felt myself descending into a panic. Shots were firing all around us. People were dying, and I didn’t know who. Much as it pained me to admit it, I couldn’t bear the thought that it could be Jay lying on the filthy cement somewhere on Carter Street. The nukes could be anywhere, could detonate any time. And I was attached to a hacker’s lead wires while he attempted to forge a link through my programming.
I was terrified.
Seeing my distress, Dr. Holmes sat beside me and asked about my family. She asked about my dad. And despite all my years of secrecy, I told her the truth. I told her why I got this cybernetic spine in the first place. Why I wear it now as a badge of honor, like the vets from the 4th Corporate War. She shared with me her story as well—how she rescued her husband’s father and ended up dooming them all.
I sprinted from the doctor’s tent and ran straight to Jay. I found him at the poker table, slurping down a bowl of steaming noodles and seeming completely unconcerned by everything going on around him.
He had no idea I had almost died. He’d helped disable Whisper. Wasn’t that enough? He had all the money, all the power, all the influence… and he didn’t care one bit whether we lived or died in this fraghole. I left the room in complete exasperation.
Outside, I was bewildered to walk past bodies on the ground. Ronin. Mischka. Apparently an EMP had crashed all those who had organ-based cybernetics. Runners had secured the nuclear warheads and had completed a suicide mission to detonate them in the hot zone.
Night City was saved. But Carter Street was in mourning—and I was burning with a rekindled desire to take PetroChem down for good.
Oz and the Solids were hired by Aster Warwick, a PetroChem exec, to stage a coup and take over the company from the inside. Scarlett covered the story, of course. She was pleased to hear that her father was “dethroned,” though he was reported missing after the events at PetroChem headquarters.
She vowed to continue chasing down every lead until she found him and managed to kill him herself.
Scarlett watched the feeds constantly after the Wake, hoping for a glimpse of Alex reporting from some faraway city. She kept an eye out for news of her old friend for many years to come.
Jay and Scarlett never found the time to form a real relationship. They ran into each other from time to time, usually when Scarlett reported on a story in Carter Street. Both wish things could have ended differently.
“Night City is a place where high technology and low lives meet at the edge of society under the ambient glow of neon.”
-Cyberpunk 2020 Night City Player’s Guide