Stephen is the founder of the Rising of Chaos Larp system which has grown into a much larger vision than the one that he originally had in mind. He is a hard working chap who generally just goes by Stephen although he is known as El Gato (The Cat) to those that love him and as Plaguemantle, after one of his most memorable LARP DPC’s, to the internet and world in general. In his own words Stephen describes himself thusly:
“Hey I’m Stephen and I use He/Him: The Core Team let me hang around with them although I basically just make the coffee. I probably used to be a cat, Cthulhu visited me once when I was on a ride at Alton Towers and stole my mice. I Rollerblade professionally for the New York Jets where I also share a giant shoe with some guy called Mash Hordon? Last week I was made an honorary Leotard. I make stuff up for a living and have done since before you were born.”Some of these things are possibly true but we’ll try and bring some general enlivening to who he is.
Stephen grew up in North London at some point in the last century and puts his progress in geekdom down to several key factors: Watching A New Hope in the cinema on the day it came out, Doctor Who being there for him when he grew up, Mister Mills teaching him a lot about writing at school and Books, lots and lots of books. Specifically, he says, Fighting Fantasy books, rolling dice and leaving your finger in the last page in case things went terribly wrong. When he was still smol, his parents bought him the Red DnD boxed set and whilst the rules confused him he was hooked on the premise of making up games and that was that.
He says he started LARPing when he was eleven but we think Queen Victoria was still alive back then and that it had yet to be invented. He also tells us that all through his teen years he was crewing events and as soon as he could drive he went to Gen Con. Stephen started running TTRPG scenarios which led him onto TSR’s Schools program in the early 90’s. After some research and badgering we learned he even got a host of first Place medals for games in Dungeons and Dragons, Cyberpunk, Call of Cthulhu, Werewolf, Marvel Super Heroes and more! The Schools project he ran for? Stephen led the three schools he represented to first place in those tournaments in 1994.
Stephen has travelled around the world a bit and one of those travels led him to Southampton back in 1997. It is widely believed that he travelled to LARP, but apparently there was a girl, or a boy, it’s hard to say. When he got here he met some like minded folk who uncovered his secret Cthulhu game, admired his mighty sword and talked to him about larping. To that end he created The Rising of Chaos which led him to write and direct stories in an interactive narrative that has contained hundreds of subplots, personal character development and incredibly detailed locations and Directed Player Characters.
This has followed an overarching plot which led to an explosive twenty year anniversary special driven by player action and consideration. Stephen is a incredible game writer who singlehandedly carved out a story that has been told through the larping medium to thousands of people, building his game up from nothing to becoming a well recognised and respected member of that community. We should say The Rising of Chaos has been nominated multiple times for the UK Annual LARP awards including for Best Small System and Best Online LARP. This is generally due to the players as Stephen tries hard to avoid being nominated for anything!
Alongside this he has continued to run tabletop games across the South Coast for hundreds if not thousands of people developing his style of reffing and offering avenues into the hobby for people that might not have made it here otherwise. He has travelled the world extensively seeking new experiences and draws heavily from them when telling tales and crafting his worlds. He is also a keen aficionado of board, video and card games and an avid Geekologist across all fields.
Stephen has spent the latter part of the twentyteens recruiting and mentored a close team of people in order to assist with the day to day running of the developing “Rising”, including training in: plot development, event organisation, storytelling, character development, prop making, environmental design and storytelling, business management, personal relationship management and player engagement. He has built a community reaching over 1,000 players running events at least two times per week for over twenty years.
At its peak the system achieved over 200 days of eventing in a one year period. This has led to him being recognised as a subject matter expert in games direction, organisation and storytelling – for examples, Stephen has worked as a consultant for the award winning Strange LARP and Mythlore among many other games.
On a more personal note Stephen has been a person that has campaigned for positive things in the community that surrounds him for centuries. For a lot of people that is what has drawn them to the game in the first place. He is a campaigner for the LGBTQ+ community, an advocate against racism and just generally loves sticking it to the man. As the world of the Rising has grown Stephen has made it the priority of the project to provide Mental Health support through counselling and therapy, First Aid and Mental Health First Aid training and physical, mental and emotional support for those that need it where possible.
He’s getting old now but there are probably a few years left in Stephen yet.