As soon as you were old enough, you packed up your things, said goodbye to your parents, and set off for new frontiers. Your goals lay beyond the distant horizon, and your dream of one day becoming a hero fueled each of your steps. You traveled for many days, many nights, until eventually, you arrived Here. Parched and a little confused, you find yourself approaching a bustling city hidden in the middle of the desert. As you trail along the winding circular paths of the town, dodging speeding cyclists whizzing by, you come across a sign outside of a tavern.
“Heroes Wanted. Inquire Within”.
Today, your adventure begins.
Nightcrawlers is an immersive theme camp that strives to bring together and build community for the nerds, geeks, cosplayers, gamers, dungeon masters, adventurers, and heroes of the Playa at Burning Man. It serves as the Guild Hall for PlayaRPG, where visitors are transported to another world once they enter the threshold of our camp.
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Starting my own theme camp has been a major goal of mine since my first year at Burning Man. Due to serendipitous circumstances, back in 2019 I was able to see my dream become a reality, as Nightcrawlers became a placed theme camp at Burning Man for the first time ever. We were a camp of only two people with pretty prominent city placement and we somehow managed to run an entire theme camp and event-wide game for over 150 people. It was a miracle and we were itching to get back out there, but as we all know, Covid had other plans.
This is the first year that Burning Man will happen since 2019, and I want to be able to bring Nightcrawlers camp and PlayaRPG back better than ever. We've already received placement at 6:00 and G Plaza, a highly trafficked area (and we're trying not to panic!) We've also added a few new camp members and would like to grow our camp structure to provide sustainability for years to come. That's where we could use all the help we could get; every little bit counts! We really want to see our ideas blossom and our vision come to fruition, and we want to ensure that every visitor to our new theme camp leaves feeling as though they had a truly immersive and interactive experience. That's why we do what we do, for the enjoyment of anyone we get to interact with. That's what keeps us going at the end of the day, and that's what makes all the blood, sweat, and tears during the year worth it.
Who are we?
Nightcrawlers began as an anime convention social partying group, a place where fun-minded convention-goers can connect with one another and meet up for parties or make new friends at local conventions. As the group grew larger, it was apparent that many in the group exhibited the same sort of creative or adventurous flare that would flourish and thrive at Burning Man. One by one, group members were drunkenly recruited at convention parties to join on their first quest, a first-time theme camp at Youtopia, the San Diego Regional Burning Man event in 2017. The Nightcrawlers camp was born. None of us really knew what we were doing, but we came together and created something amazing and wonderful. Our first time as a camp was a huge success, and we returned to Youtopia in 2018 a little more prepared. In 2019, we made the leap to the Burn and successfully brought the magic we had brought to Youtopia and brought to our respective Burning Man camps in the past to a new camp. Since, Nightcrawlers has also begun to expand to other events, including Wasteland Weekend and Neotropolis, creating a community and network of immersive art and interactive experiences.
Our group is based out of Los Angeles and consists of a handful of veteran and newbie burners, all in some way, shape, or form, related to nerdy or geeky pursuits. Our goal is to be a beacon for nerds, geeks, and gamers from all across Black Rock City as a place for them to gather, meet other like-minded folk, and set out on adventures together. Nightcrawlers serves as the home base of the highly successful PlayaRPG, which will be in its 5th year running in Black Rock City.
What is PlayaRPG?
PlayaRPG is an interactive, playa-wide, week-long role playing game. In it, players (heroes!) choose their class and receive quests at the camp. The goal of the game is for them to complete and turn in five quests without losing all of their Health Points over the course of the week. Each quest gets significantly more difficult depending on the level, varying from quests that ask players to find certain things, or pick up moop, to find a hidden art piece in deep playa, all the way to finding and visiting other camps and participating in their activities. We work hard to have the quests and plotline reflect the Ten Principles, encouraging players to not only absorb the principles, but to actually act on them. It was created as a way to call out to all of the nerds and geeks and gamers of Burning Man, letting them know that they’re not alone, but also as an inclusive way to include others who may be unfamiliar with role-playing, LARPing, gaming, or geeky stuff in a fun, unique way at Burning Man. The game is purposely made to be inclusive to anyone at the Burn, so that you don’t need prior knowledge in order to play.
PlayaRPG was created to fill the nerdy void the creator felt during her first year, but also for a city (albeit a temporary one), our communities could be doing more to interact with each other. Often times at the Burn it feels as though each camp holds itself as an autonomous unit, and rather than a network of camps, many times exploration feels like walking between separate silos, each camp its own world. PlayaRPG creates an opportunity for a more networked city structure, linking camps to one another so that they’re working together, rather than separately. As such, each year we reach out to camps to ask them to participate in PlayaRPG as quest locations, where we send players to go and visit camps and people they may not normally have stopped at, linking the camps of Burning Man into a Playa-wide network of activity and gaming.
Each year we’ve ran PlayaRPG, it’s gotten better and better. Having a whole themed camp to use as home base, along with engaged camp members will only serve to make this year the best yet!
PlayaRPG is my art. I know it’s not a conventional art piece, such as a drawing or a sculpture, but as Halcyon stated in his pre-burn video back in 2018, we’re all artists. We all have our unique gifts, our fighting spirit of creation that yearns to be released. PlayaRPG is the realization of my gifts of organization, dedication, creativity, story-telling, engagement, and play, and I brought it with me to Burning Man with open arms.
In the past four years of its existence, I paid for everything to do with PlayaRPG almost completely out of my own pocket. Unfortunately, especially after the pandemic, that is no longer sustainable. In addition, we also had our camp generator stolen over the course of the pandemic, leaving us scrambling to try to afford a new one.
We need your help!
Bringing this immersive story and experience to life costs money. But every dollar donated will help our dreams come to life!
Donations will help us update our theme camp infrastructure and build a camp foundation that will serve as our base for years to come.
Your money would help support:
●Powering our camp: Our camp generator was stolen over the pandemic so we need to buy a new one if we're going to be able to host some of our camp events, such as our adult anime movie night!
●Camp Infrastructure: Shade, furniture, sound, relax space, kitchen, shower, power, everything camp members need to provide the best possible experience to our visitors. We're expanding on what we brought in 2019!
●PlayaRPG Rewards: I try to use enticing and exciting rewards and prizes for each level, and people seem to really love them! This is where the bulk of the money goes.
●Guild Hall Enviroment Crafting and Decor: We want out visitors to be transported to another world when they enter our camp. We need help with build materials, printing, lighting, and transport!
●PlayaRPG Supplies: The game uses few supplies, but the health points and the badges and adventurers notebooks, as well as the printing costs, do cost money!
●Kickoff Party: The kickoff party is the Monday night event of the burn, and where the game first starts. I want to be able to throw a memorable experience, and some of the funding would go towards helping me afford to stock the bar during the party!
●Transport: Our camp drives all of our stuff up from Los Angeles. Unfortunately, renting cargo vans and trucks for a week in the desert is REALLY expensive, on top of the gas needed to make the journey.
PLEASE donate what you can.
Every donation helps, no matter the size.
You can find PlayaRPG’s digital presence below, where there are some photos, images, and descriptions. I’ve poured so much into this event, so I hope you'll consider helping me bring it back this year!
If you can't donate, but you or your camp would like to participate as a quest location, please follow us on Facebook for when we open up for camp submissions!
and as always, if you find yourself at the burn this year, you're also welcome to come play! We'd love to meet some fellow heroes!