19
February 2018

Reviews

We’ve taken a look inside this School of Witchcraft and we’ve got to say, it looks awesome! Here’s five reasons why you should attend this year.

1. It's in a real castle!

Yup, that’s right, it’s in a real 15th century English castle! Situated in the South East of England, Herstmonceux castle is surrounded by 600 acres of idyllic countryside, it’s the real deal, it’s even got a moat! During the game students get free roam of the castle and grounds for four days to do whatever they want. It’s got a great hall for dining, plenty of classrooms including an alchemy lab, expansive gardens for Herbology and even its own tavern! Whether in classes or taking part in a daring escapade with your fellow students, the surroundings create a 360 degree level of immersion in the game. We’ve heard tales of trolls in the dark forest and rumour has it that the Daemonology classroom has a dungeon!

Bothwell School of Wizardry Trailer

2. You make the story.

Bothwell School of Witchcraft is a Nordic/Sand box style larp. Once you get your character you have complete autonomy over what you want to do with your character. With their unique scene writing system, you can request a close encounter with giant spiders, form a secret society or plan a mishap for others and watch the calamity unfold. It means you become the central character in your own plot and you can be anything from a daring adventurer to a bullied book worm with a few hidden talents. Your choices make the story and its brimming with possibility.

3. House Rivalry

The warring and bickering houses of Bothwell make for a great playing experience. The most solid of friendships can be betrayed by choosing the houses glory first and the bitterest of enemies can become like family in the same house. Houses compete at the school for House Points in order to win the coveted house shield. Competing takes place at every moment, whether it be in the classroom, on the fireball pitch or even on a less-than-safe errand for a professor. Of course, there are students who don’t care about such things and choose self-interest over their houses goals. At the end of the day, Bothwell is one huge family and the houses are more like siblings than arch enemies, but it certainly makes for interesting play!

Wanna get in on the action? Click here to fill out the application form to attend this amazing school of Witchcraft!

4. Great for New Starters or Veterans

Bothwell is great for anyone who hasn’t been to a larp before. The game has been designed so those who’re apprehensive about attending a live action role play needn’t worry about anything. Heck, you can even turn up having done no preparation and there will be plenty to get your teeth stuck into. The schedule is packed with classes for everyone, and its easy to join societies or tag along on adventures and get the most out of your Bothwell experience. Of course, if you’re used to all of that and want to create your own magic, that’s all doable too. With the afore mentioned scene writing system, you can take yourself and others on a complex journey of twists and turns. Nothing is mandatory, you can skip classes, play pranks or duel in the courtyard. For those looking for a challenge you can also play a professor and teach some of the classes. Whatever your experience, the Bothwell staff are always on hand to help you through it. They offer Webinars on character development and will help you write your scenes.

5. Low Maintenance

It’s somewhat refreshing that if you wanted to, you need only a white shirt and trousers to attend, and it still looks good! The team behind Bothwell provide you with your robe and house tie, all they say you need to bring is “A wand and a sense of humour.” That’s not to say if you love costuming and want to bring your character to life you can’t, there’s loads of great opportunities to display your characters personality through costuming. There’s even the option for a few wardrobe changes as you dress up for the banquet or don as much of your house colours for the House Tournament.

Whatever you’re looking to get out of it, Bothwell is a fantastic game to play and shouldn’t be missed!

Now, if you like the idea of attending wizard school at a real castle in the UK click here to fill in the form on the next page and we’ll tell you how you can secure a ticket!

Don’t miss your chance to be a wizard in a real english castle!

Feb 06, 2018
Armistice Arcane is a high-immersion, rules-light larp set in 1890’s America produced by Peculiar Crossroads Productions held at Le Pavillon Hotel in New Orleans. Photos, unless otherwise noted, are by Alicia Nicole Trisciuzzi and I used this website to make them look old-timey! Thanks to Daniel Tan and Michael Kollen who edited this article.

 

Blockbuster LARPs have exploded since I started larping in 2014. This year alone boasts over six blockbusters scheduled across the country. For those unfamiliar with the term, LarpWiki defines a blockbuster LARP as

“a large, high-budget, high-profile larp which attracts international players and media attention.”

Blockbuster LARPs are still growing and organizers are still resolving questions including finding fair pricing, or if they are replacing local campaign games. I’ve found that people who have not attended a blockbuster are often hesitant to commit or suspicious that the experience may not be worth their money. Making the jump from $50 a month to $550+ for one weekend with little to no public reviews and information is difficult. Having been to a few blockbusters, I hope to shed more light on what I got from my time and money at Armistice Arcane.

I decided to use Youtuber LarpAnalysis’ system for “reviewing” LARP events. You can find his channel HERE. He also has an in depth video that explores the lore of Armistice Arcane.

Mechanics/Rules:

Before attending my first low mechanics (or what some might describe as Nordic or Nordic inspired) LARP, I was pretty confused about what exactly the game play would look like. Even after watching Youtube videos and reading articles about similar games, I still just didn’t get it. Coming from a NERO-inspired boffer larp, I had a hard time believing players would willingly accept a negative effect on their character for the purpose of good story. Armistice Arcane showed me how a simple set of well designed mechanics and high expectations of players could work together to build a collaborative story.

Armistice Arcane was a very rules light game. The only real “mechanic” was something the designers called, “open mediation and narrative decision making”, which is a fancy way of saying, every action in the game against a character must be consented to. So while character death and defeats were prevalent, none of them happened without the express consent of the “losing” player. This is the first time I really understood the phrase “play to lose”.

Here is just one of the many ways this played out: My character had the magical ability to sway and manipulate people’s emotions. At one point I was speaking with a character who was reticent towards me. While we chatted about mundane in-game things, I leaned forward and said, “if you consent, you feel very safe around me and that you can trust me.” That player then went on to reveal a few trivial secrets through the course of our conversation. It was a fun RP moment for both of us and there was no arguing about whether or not the effect happened. I am confident it was knowing that you had ultimate control over how magic affected your game that gave players a chance to be vulnerable to it.

I also loved the “no closed door” policy. I’m not sure if it was a mechanic per se, but it had a huge effect on how the game worked. The policy mandated that meetings must be held where other players could easily come across them. Therefore, plot wasn’t concentrated into the hands of a few high-ranking characters. In my past larp experience, players were reluctant to share their hard earned secrets and as a result, new players had a difficult time participating. “No closed door” made sure that this mistake wasn’t replicated at Armistice Arcane.  

Since the game was so “rules-light” the few in place were more in regards to safety and good community building and I will discuss those in the “Safety” section.

Lastly I want to discuss the expectations of the players. AFrom the first moment at Armistice, I was impressed by how professional the organizational team was and how they expected the same level of professionalism and maturity from their player base. Even at the best larps there are issues, but I couldn’t believe how few I witnessed at Armistice. For the most part, players accepted negative effects with grace and acted so well that the hotel actually offered a good deal for us to come back. I really believe treating your players with respect and showing them the same level can go miles towards building a thriving community.

One more thing I forgot to mention: The organizers also set up an escape room located in a fancy suite in the hotel. Throughout the weekend players were encouraged to attend with different factions to solve the room for pieces of in-game information. I attended one of these sessions and it remained completely in-character. This experience was completely optional and a cool bonus activity, as well as a way to meet players you wouldn’t normally interact with.

Atmosphere

For me there are three different elements that go into creating the atmosphere of a larp: the environment, the themes, and the quality of costuming.

Environment: The event was held at Le Pavillon hotel in New Orleans and WOW, was it beautiful. While there were elements of the game that were not in decorum (plastic cups, exit signs, and other modern items) they never distracted me from being immersed. Most of the players were staying on the 2nd floor, and we had full access to the conference rooms on this floor so we didn’t have non-player hotel guests stumbling on scenes (though we did upset one of the hotel staff who thought Larp Girl’s characters poisoning was an actual illness XD.) The rooms available to us gave plenty of locations for rituals, dancing, meetings, and more. The staff did a good job utilizing lighting and props-most amazingly building a fake wall with a mirror out of which an NPC literally came out of to the great surprise of all of the players. We also had live music one night that greatly enhanced the environment.

 

The themes of the game were definitely dark, but not overly so. While it pushed boundaries, I think this is a safe game for people who may not be comfortable exploring the darkest themes-especially because you can tailor your character to your comfort level. For a more in-depth look at some of the themes, Tara has written an excellent piece which I will link to when it goes live. Reading her experience showed me the vast range of stories this event contained.

The costuming was excellent. Some players were dressed in full Victorian garb, some were closer to Edwardian, and some were dressed in outfits from different time periods that fit their factions. I personally really enjoyed the variety I saw in costuming. I also want to give a shout out to Raquel Skellington who helped me (and more than a few others) find the majority of my costuming on Amazon for cheap!

Top right and bottom left photos by Foulweather Photos 

Roleplay

The roleplay at Armistice Arcane was excellent. I did not feel the need to be out of character one single time during the weekend. The amount of care the writers took with characters meant that most players, regardless of their level of RP experience, felt at ease. I came into the game with connections as well as information that was of interest to other players. This ensured that I felt I was an integral part to the experience right off the bat. While Evie did not sign any agreements or end anyone’s life, she was still an important part of at least a few other character stories.

The main engine of roleplay was player actions based on pre-written character sheets that each player received prior to the game. These sheets outlined our histories, our powers, our motivations, and our positive and negative relationships.

Highlights from my 7 page long character sheet. Your sheet includes a detailed story of your past, your motivations, and primary allies and enemies.

The organizers set up several events throughout the weekend (a high tea, a ball, dancing lessons) and sent out several NPCs, but most rituals and scenes were up to the individual player. For example, my character wanted to talk to someone from her past who had been murdered and may have a key piece of information. I spoke with a character who could contact the dead and she agreed to the ritual. We popped into the out-of-game room and told the storyteller our idea. He nodded, and sent me out of the room. He then told the other character what would happen if we attempted the summoning. Later we gathered in one of the ritual rooms, accompanied by two other characters. We performed a seance that was easily one of the most intense scenes for me of the weekend. I had tears pouring down my face as I listened to her relating how scared and alone the person from my character’s past was. I loved the way this worked. The only thing to look out for is that new larpers may not realize if they want scenes like this, they just need to ask. I know that when I was a new larper, I had no idea how to ask for or create plot. While many jumped in right away, a few players mentioned afterward that it took them awhile to understand how it worked. One potential remedy to this is to empower new players to ask plot for scenes such as this.

An intense meeting, me being whirled around the dance floor, and a kiss before a dramatic confrontation!

One thing I really loved about the RP was that it seemed that the designers accommodated for everyone’s level of comfort. As someone who is relatively new to heavy RP, I felt that my character had just the amount of drama that I was able to stay in character but was comfortable with her storylines. While my drama was relatively tame, I also heard from a veteran RPer that her character story arc was incredibly difficult and surprising for her, something she didn’t often get to experience anymore. I feel that the designers really took into account what you wanted out of the experience. I also felt that I had the ability to push myself further if I wanted, but that staying in my comfort zone did not detract from Evie’s story.

Safety

I really admire the staff’s attention to the safety and comfort of their players. Larp can be rough on players physically. Lack of sleep, forgetting to drink water, too much alcohol and high sugar content foods can be disastrous. While some of these are outside of the control of organizers, they certainly did their best to anticipate any issues. The staff went out of their way to ensure everyone was taking care of themselves, offering water and checking in on our well being. We also received a gift bag with snacks at registration. A few times I was so immersed in RP that I forgot to eat and those snacks saved my life. I personally did not sleep enough and did not eat at designated meal times, which did hurt my experience. However, this was completely personal and I will be sure to be better next time.

The emotional safety the organizers provided was amazing. They prepared us for the high drama of the weekend through an excellent pre-game workshop, a system for checking in, and escape mechanics for tough scenes. During the event there was a safe room players were welcome to decompress in with snacks, drinks, and a staff member with a certification of some sort in mental health. After the event they helped us decompress with an after party and a post-workshop. I loved that the game only ran until midnight on Saturday, because it gave us plenty of time to ease out of character safely.

This is particularly important to me because my last larp experience had none of these safety measures and completely threw me for a loop. I played a character that betrayed my family. Without any sort of pre or post workshop and general lack of communication, I was devastated when the game ended with my family sentencing me to death. Since many people in my faction were new to RP, I was worried that they would not separate my in-game betrayal from me as a person and I had no time to speak with them about any lingering feelings. Additionally, without a post-workshop I was confused about certain plot points and was frustrated by the lack of clarity. I felt used and upset. Every single issue I had at that game and others like it was anticipated and addressed by the staff at Armistice Arcane.

Some safety mechanics I think are worth stealing for other larps:

Okay-Check System: This system uses an unobtrusive hand gesture to check in with fellow players during high emotion scenes. For example, if someone is crying, you may make the “okay” hand gesture at them to check on the player’s emotional well-being. They have the option to respond with a thumbs up, a hand wave, or a thumbs down. There were many times Evie cried during the weekend, but Westbrook never felt she was in over her head.

Green/Yellow/Red: This is a system we were encouraged to use in any intense scene. A player can easily slip the word “green” into dialog to check in their partner is okay with what is happening. Green means “yes”, yellow means “ stop building intensity here”, and red means “full stop”. If someone says red, the scene is over and players walk away. It is as if the scene never happened and the player who called red does not have to revisit the situation unless they want to.

Community

The community was one of the best aspects of this larp. I will break this up into three phases:

Pre-larp: After your initial ticket payment, we were added to a players Facebook group. Once we were cast, we also had a seperate faction group where we hosted hang-outs and made plans for our faction. I specifically asked to be in a faction where I didn’t know any of the players because I’m still finding my RP legs and I was worried playing with my friends would make it harder for me to stay in character. The Facebook group was pretty active, there was a lot of character art, costume progress, and a little bit of shit talking between rival factions. We had some really cool LARP creators at the event including Larp Girl, GD Art, WanderingWolf, Momo O’Brien, and Raquel Skellington, who did a great job bringing the community together with photoshoots and character expose videos. We also had several talented visual artists who took commissions and costumers who offered their services.

At the event: There were plenty of meet-ups and hangouts on Thursday in New Orleans for people arriving early to get together. I felt that everywhere I turned there was a friendly face who wanted to check out a restaurant, bar, or even get pre-game pedicures together! A few of us explored the city and shopped at some of the many costume shops NOLA has to offer.

 

Exploring Bourbon Street and taking a quick pit stop on our ghost tour in a bar full of…dogs? Photos by me.

I was really blown away by how welcoming and inclusive the community was. Often times in larp there are “asshole characters” who use their character as an excuse to make others feel intimidated and excluded. Throughout the weekend, even the scary and “asshole” characters were approachable for RP. After the event there was a post-party where I felt comfortable mingling with different groups and getting to know everyone. The organizers were not excluded from this. After the Sunday wrap up, I attended a ghost tour run by one of the amazing NPC’s who is an actual professional tour guide in NOLA. We explored the French Quarter and afterwards a large group went out to Bourbon street for karaoke and dancing. While I was out dancing, still others stayed at the hotel for a more calm but just as awesome night. It really felt that everywhere you turned, you could find someone to hang out with.

Post event: The Facebook group is still active and I am in contact with many players who I now consider good friends. I actually found a sizable group of players from my city, so that is exciting. Some of us (not me sadly) are preparing for the next North American blockbuster larp (Real Royalty anyone?) and of course we are all busy making plans for Armistice Arcane 2!

Overall I found the community inclusive, safe, welcoming, and inspiring to both new and veteran players.

Approachability

I would say this game is highly approachable for new larpers. There were a large amount of people playing who had never larped before and I heard nothing but good things from them about their experience. A few new people expressed that they were a little intimidated to really go for some of the more dramatic scenes, but that they were excited to come back with more confidence and knowledge. The only significant barrier for this game is the costuming. I was quite intimidated by acquiring a Victorian ensemble and therefore went more Edwardian. I was happy with my costume, but it caused me a significant amount of stress before the event. I think next year it would be awesome if some of the veteran players can compile more resources-especially knowing I eventually got my outfit for under $100 on Amazon (Thanks Raquel!)

Accessibility

Physical Accessibility: The RP areas were physically accessible and the staff was on hand to help with any accommodations players might need. The organizers made it very clear that the player only need reach out to them if they needed accommodations. As someone who lives with a person in a wheelchair, I spend a lot of time noticing how events are run and their accessibility. This game would be great for those who are alter-abled with a few modifications and some pre-planning.

Financial Accessibility: Financially this larp was rather pricey, with packages starting at $550. You also needed Victorian costuming and transportation to and from the hotel. Notice I say pricey, not expensive. For what you got in the package (two nights in the hotel, a goody bag and swag, all meals catered, in-depth character sheets and personal plot lines, a fully catered ball with drink tickets and a string quartet, dancing lessons, etc) I can’t believe I only payed $550. At this point I would probably go for a higher package now that I have a longer time to pay for it and just because the swag was SO COOL.

Conclusion:

Overall I had an amazing experience that I found well worth the money. I am excited to return to Armistice Arcane 2 next year as well as see what other games Peculiar Crossroads Productions will come up with. If you are considering Armistice Arcane or are interested in finding out what other LARPs are happening in your area, I am happy to answer any questions at r.westbrook.evans@gmail.com. In the interest of full disclosure, I am friends with the organizers. However I did not receive any financial or other gain from this positive review. I have given them lots of my money and plan on doing so again because I really do believe in the experience they are creating.

 

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Feb 01, 2018
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From the Indiegogo Page: College of Wizardry is a four-day Wizard School larp event, where you can act out your dreams of being a student witch or wizard at a beautiful fairytale castle in Poland. Surrounded by around 130 like-minded people, at College of Wizardry you will:

  • Attend classes as a witch or wizard and learn the magical arts
  • Be selected to represent one of the five ancient Houses of Czocha Castle
  • Explore the castle and meet the magical creatures that roam the grounds
  • Make new friends and form long lasting bonds with like-minded people
  • Get into discussions, stir up shenanigans, and play games
  • Perhaps even a little (in-character) romance?
  • Spend 3 nights at a castle in Poland and have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure
To Indiegogo!

Back College of Wizardry on Indiegogo and help them get a castle dedicated to larp!

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Mar 02, 2015

Now this is cool! Questionably one of the coolest ways I’ve seen spells physically represented. These spell representations are amazing, and from what we hear, fly great! Deviant Art user Shovennae created these for a LARP, and we couldn’t help but promote the idea! Be sure to leave a positive comments on Shovennae’s original post HERE!раскруткасайтсайт […]

May 21, 2014

Quest_Thumb

“The Executive Producer of The Lord of the Rings has joined forces with the creators and producers of The Amazing Race to conjure a land of magic and malevolence, where mythical creatures lurk in the woods. For 12 lucky souls, a fantastic world will come alive in a unique competition series where players will engage in epic challenges.”

-ABC.Go.com

Over the last two years LARPing.org has been aware of countless attempts to bring LARP to TV, and in some cases have worked with the research teams behind those attempts to better educate and shed light on what Live Action Role Playing is. “The Quest” is one we posted about last summer, and after nearly a year of waiting we have a chance to see what ABC had in mind.

LOGO_Quest-BW1

Encouragements

It’s rare to see a reality TV series in which the genre has producer with tried and true track record for success. In this case we have producers from both “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy as well as “The Amazing Race”, both with years of experience in their respective fields.

Things we see that we like:

  • Beautiful Set Design
    Holy cow! Talk about some fantastic sets. They have obviously taken the time to setup shots the highlight the setting of the “Game”, and the projected mood of the scene.
  • Fantastic Makeup
    At one point we see a witch, few monsters, and (what I imagine is) a few baddies. All of them with impeccable makeup!
  • Unscripted (We hope)
    Reality TV is made on the cutting room floor, but from what we can tell neither camp developing this show has a history of twisting plots and creating unrealistic drama or tension between characters. We hope this is the case here!
  • Attention to Detail
    In many cases shows like this run with a very tight budget, it’s good to see they haven’t completely jumped the shark and put anyone in David Bowie’s wardrobe… yet.
  • Mark Ordesky
    If you’re unfamiliar with Ordesky, you must be living under a rock. That is all.

Discouragements

Sadly, this type of show is risky. Very risky. Without properly developing a narrative and making it clear enough for the audience, Non-LARPers will become confused by the In and Out of character progression of the show. This may be too much for some even with that clear narrative defined.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Things we see that we worry about:

  • “LARP” Never Mentioned
    This is truly a double edged sword. Some will immediately be interested in the show with that “keyword” included in its marketing, while others will completely sign it off. Of course we’d like to see it in there, but we can understand why it isn’t. Allow the viewer to make the decision!
  • Casting and Characters
    From what we can tell, there are a wide variety of players engaged in this game but all seem to fall into the Hollywood tropes of tall strong men and pretty ladies. Again, we completely understand why these exist, but we can’t help but wish there wasn’t at least “one small skinny dude with a D&D tattoo on his butt” totally in awe at what he’s doing and captured up in the moment. Heck, maybe there is and we just haven’t seen him yet! The average Joe is often missing in these shows.
  • RP or Acting by a Script?
    At this point we can’t tell how much RP will be involved, but from snippets we can tell there is a certain level of scripted conversation in place. Hopefully that stays to a minimum between players, and leaves players the chance to explore the game more naturally.

Information about the show is limited. All sentiments are purely anecdotal. We hope to offer more in the coming weeks.

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May 14, 2014
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