One Shot: Kenzi Novotná

Character: Kenzi Novotná
Game: The Forgotten - Zombie expansion
Episodes: 1
Theme Song: Sick of Losing Soul Mates by dodie
Keywords: Patient, wise, authoritative

Recently a close friend had a birthday gathering and wanted to play a couple games. As you can probably tell, they settled on Epyllion by Marissa Kelly and The Forgotten by Andrew Medeiros. And we're just lucky enough to know and hang out with Andrew, so we had him join us to run a zombie-focused expansion of the Forgotten.

The Forgotten is a larp about folks who are in a city that's being hit during a war. You're just civilians though, and you're trying to survive by finding food, shelter, and medical supplies. You're not soldiers. You're all just folk. You start by choosing an occupation, and then get randomly assigned relationships to at least two people.

I chose cook, because it was so far from the truth about me that I found it interesting. My second choice was going to be cop, but I found myself struggling with body image issues around being a fat police officer so I went with cook instead. The cook gets to create one food for free a day so long as they have some food to work with. I also was lovers with the warehouse worker, Alice, who got one free food every time she went out for supplies, so we worked out well together.

It wasn't the first larp I've done, but it was probably the most intense larp next to the alien one I did a few months ago. And after, I spent a lot of time thinking about my character. I knew a lot about her by three days later and I found I wanted to see what had happened to her, so should I ever play the game again, I think I would play Kenzi again.

Kenzi, I had decided, had been working as a cook in a well to do restaurant, as the head chef. She had grown up in the Czech Republic and had come here when she was about nine or so. When she drinks, her accent comes out, but otherwise she's worked hard to ensure that she sounds "American" and that people don't think she's an immigrant. Even with the other survivors, she was sure to try to sound overtly American. Which was a weird thought process in my head. I didn't know what had happened that had made her nervous, but it was there.

As a chef, she was used to being in control of her kitchen, and she ran the shelter somewhat similarly. People weren't allowed to argue or not work as a team in her place. Or else she wouldn't feed them. And she kept close control over the food and an eye on it. When it came to people going without food, she'd make it be herself before other people. When folks wanted to do too many runs, she'd argue with them to stay, and usually won.

Before the fall, Kenzi had been in a semi-solid long-term relationship with her wife Deslee. The relationship had been falling apart just as the zombie apocalypse started and it left Kenzi with mixed feelings about never seeing her wife again. Initially she had been pregnant, after several long months of IVF. When zombies appeared, she terminated the pregnancy before it was too long in, because she didn't want to watch a child get torn apart.

There was a strong note of survival in her, although she was mostly resigned to the fact that they were just prolonging the inevitable. Neither her nor Alice ever really spoke about a future. It was always the present or the past. Kenzi didn't ask Alice a lot of questions. She knew Alice had seen her own child killed and that was a pain Kenzi had gone to great lengths to avoid. It wasn't a conversation she wanted to have. She didn't want to look selfish to Alice, either.

In the end, Kenzi and Alice made it out alive. It felt somewhat satisfying to know the lovers made it out together, and that the game itself didn't bury it's gays. I mean, it was luck of the draw but that's okay. It still was a zombie movie I would've watched, especially if the camera was only on in the shelter. It reminded me of the intensity of Pontypool (which is great and you should go see it). I don't know that I would play Kenzi again, but I did enjoy playing someone who wasn't the leader, who was more in the background than in the fore.

Whether or not Kenzi actually loved Alice, I don't know. She felt protective and loving towards her, but there was also the reality they had only been together for a few weeks. They said the words, but I know Kenzi was fairly private about her feelings and always felt very uncomfortable when others pointed out their relationship, especially the physical aspect of it. It was all she could do not to be indignant, and the apocalypse itself had left her a little dissonant from relationships. I had wanted to see how that would develop, because Alice felt things intensely.

I had no particular challenge in mind for her as a character. I wanted to play someone I could figure out pretty quickly and someone whom I could relate to on some level. I ended up playing someone I had only a very few things in common with. I hate cooking. I am not a lesbian (mostly). I am not an immigrant. But I am afraid of Americans. So I guess it works out.

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