Calls from BBC, interest from major German networks and newspaper articles stemming from all over the world, that – combined with years of planning finally drawing to a close – was Projekt Exodus’ final preparation days in a nutshell.
The Battlestar Galactica Live Action RPG (LARP) – by a vast majority of the media wrongfully dubbed as a political event organized by the German government to train diplomats – was in fact organized by a small group of LARP-enthusiasts, inspired by a similar event in Sweden several years ago. The Monitor Celestra LARP in Gothenburg, Sweden wasn’t only a stepping stone for the Exodus crew. They also lent their experience and some software coding, used to rebuild German naval destroyer Mölder into the Battlestar Galactica-type Civilian Freighter Hesperios.
For 4 days, the Mölder and a nearby submarine – located in Wilhelmshaven, Germany – became the playground for an 80-something crew learning all about the struggles of leadership, making the tough calls that might end up ending the lives of their fellow shipmates and working together in tight quarters, in the cold and under stressful circumstances. One of the project coordinators, Marcel Schmittchen, took some time out of his busy Sunday schedule to give the Battlestar Galactica Museum fans an exclusive behind-the-scenes and all-access look into the goings-on of the event.
What we found was an amazing eye for detail! The Wilhelmshaven Maritime museum (Deutsche Marinemuseum), overlooking the town’s beautiful and tranquil harbor, allowed the Exodus crew almost full control of the naval vessels needed for the educational LARP. Event coordinators worked hand-in-hand with the Mölder’s crew to get it in perfect BSG-shape. DRADIS looked and sounded like DRADIS! The project leaders could influence the onboard events with the touch of a button in the master control room. When the Hesperios crew attempted a final, desperate jump to escape incoming danger, the 12-point camera system was there to register the team in near tears as a rescue ship jumped in reach 20 seconds into their 30 second FTL-count. One problem: one of the LARP-rules stated FTL-counts were impossible to reverse, causing the ship to jump away from the ship that came to their rescue.
Projekt Exodus – subsidized in part by the German Federation of Civil Servants (DBB) – wanted participants to explore their own strengths and weaknesses in times of extreme situations, stress or emotional distress. After their 4 days aboard Hesperios came to an end, there were group – and private sessions where they could voice their opinions and talk about what they took away from the experience. Yes, it was cold aboard the ships and yes, there were a few minor computer- or software malfunctions but participants were overall very happy. One of the ship’s crew members told us: “I have been LARP-ing for about 10 years and this was one of the best organized LARPs I ever took part in. The details on the ships as well as the clothes we got to wear, the weapons and most important the storyline were amazing!”
Many of the crew were already asking for a second Projekt Exodus. While the event organizers told us there might be an Exodus II, all they could think of right now, was resting up after months of detailed schedules and analyze what they, themselves, took away from Exodus I. On the possibility of hosting an international LARP (While participants for Exodus I came as far as Switzerland and Austria, the vast majority came from Germany) Marcel and several organizers said “nothing is out of the picture,” also admitting the logistical challenges to an international LARP would be unprecedented.
During Exodus I, complete strangers became new friends as they learned lessons about life and themselves. The cut-off age for this particular Live Action RPG was 18 and over, one participant in her sixties proved there really is no age to this kind of extreme self-exploration.
The main question every participant had to make up in their own mind: Human or Cylon, pick your side.
So Say We All!
We were also able to make this overall impression of the ship, Projekt Exodus‘ use of the BSG technology & much more! Many thanks to project coordinator Marcel Schmittchen for the tour, answering all of our questions and to everyone at Projekt Exodus for sharing your experiences with us!
For a lasting impression on all things Projekt Exodus, Check our album or just down here (click next)
All images are © Battlestar Galactica Museum/Projekt Exodus/Norman Liebhold/Dennis Lange; unless otherwise noted
Graphic designer Armin Saß also created this Hesperios approach!