It’s our fourth day at Curious Pastimes. That means it’s Monday and climatic battle day. Time in for this day runs from 10am till 3.30pm. So it’s a short day. It’s also pack up and go home day so this make it the end of our CP adventure.
The morning is given over to the battle. The players (in this case the Lions faction), have their objective. They need to recover something special. They’ve got themselves allies and have made up an army. They are up against all the other players who either want or are able to take the field. These are now one massive monster crew.
Now here is the bit I like. Neither side is referee directed. The players must choose their entry to the battle field based on information learned. The Monster side don’t get told what to do either. The monsters are under direction from battle leaders who would normally direct their forces during faction combat. These people now get a briefing as if from the big bad and must make their own decision as to where and how they start.
The battle area at Paccar Scout Camp is wooded valley.
We’d elected to cover the battle instead of fighting in it; entirely for health reasons sadly.
However here is the first special part of the battle feeling.
We knew where the monsters where entering from. Yet it took very little time to reach a point where we could not see them or the players.
We were in a forest with two armies made from hundreds of players and we did not know where they were. I can see why Curious Pastimes like this location. It is incredibly atmospheric. The feeling of not knowing where things are coming from is exhilarating.
Armies however are good at finding each other and it took not take long for them to find each other and combat to ensue.
At first it was running, attacks. Elements of one side or another skirmishing.
It didn’t take long thought for the main bodies of troops to find each other. Then it turned into a brutal fight as both fought for superiority. Small units would break off to fight in the woods yet the main core of the combat units kept on hammering at each other. The word intense does not really do it justice.
Eventually though the grind of battle slowed and then stopped. The opposing sides where talking. It looked as if a negotiated settlement was taking place.
Everyone held their breath. Things were quiet. Then slowly and quietly the armies moved off the field.
The combat was over. There was an attempt to gain more through ritual by one brave and determined ritualist right at the end but this too failed.
Everyone made their way out of forest.
This was not the end of the event.
Battles have consequences and the players had several hours left before time out and so started post battle role-playing. Their were things to talk about, arrange and confirm.
I liked this format of straight into battle and then role-playing the fallout from it. That really was a great idea. It’s a new format for Curious Pastimes but the feed back at the time all seemed to be positive. No doubt a deeper look at this will be taken but it looks at the moment that this is a good format.
This also marked the end of our August adventure with Curious Pastimes. We will be back for more of their events next year. But for now, before you reach the photos I really want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone at Curious Pastimes for making this happen.
The Video Diary
It’s Sunday and by this point I can’t get over how busy the ritual circle has been. Rituals are an important part of this event; after all it’s full title is not Renewal. It is Renewal of Magic. Where the peoples of the world seek to perpetuate the continuation of magic in their world. Apparently there was a period when this was not done and the plot shifted to reflect that a balance had left the world.
The rituals are brilliantly done. There is a theatrical sound and lighting setup built around it and a control cabin. This runs the light and sound effects that enhance the immersion of rituals. Its also where the referee sits to judge how successful the ritual has been. This stage management makes turns the rituals into small stage performances in their own right and they are well worth watching.
I also kind of feel sorry for the ritual crew as the players are so into making these happen that there is a constant stream of them coming to the ritual circle from about 11am through to 2am.
Its also been a day for meeting people and conversation. The players at Renewal don’t just play Curious Pastimes events. They do other larps and some run somewhat systems of their own. We got the meet the creator of Green Cloaks. We’ve been talking about covering the Green Cloaks and this meeting also affirmed this and we’ll be attending events as soon as we can. He’s also a fascinating larp thinker so I am hoping that we can do an interview at this point. We were introduced by Curious Pastimes official photographer and as the conversation between all of us spun out we discussed a interesting idea regarding bringing people into larp. That is showing the social skills and benefits and larp brings. I’m not going to say more know but there is hope to turn this idea into a project and you can bet that we aim to be part of it.
There’s also a fledgling idea to build a Curious Pastimes media group. There is now quite a big media team made up of enthusiastic larpers and larp supporters. There is a hope to combine forces to be more effective.
In fact that’s not a bad idea for all larps. Do we need to rely on mainstream media when we are now fully capable of reaching out into the world with our own.
Back to the game.
There was loads of character chat going on but the main focus of the day was a major battle. The focus of Sunday and Monday are large scale battles that can easily last several hours.
This one did not go for well for the players. They lost their main objectives early on and were pretty much in trouble from that point on.
For me its nice to see a game that follows the plot and the outcomes. If things go well there are benefits, if not consequences. Bravo is what I say for following the story.
Time was spent also in the bar. So much roleplaying and conversations going on here. Its also on the main route through the site so you can see the hustle and bustle of players passing by. Its not just a place for drink and roleplaying. You can be here and be aware of that you are in place where there is a lot going on.
More than anything Sunday was a day that showed there is a lot going on.
The Video Diary
We were invited to visit The Grange Live Gaming in Birmingham. Not an opportunity we were going to miss; so on Sunday Stuart, Luke and Rob set off with Lukes daughter to take a look.
What we found was worth the trip (South Wales to Birmingham UK – not Alabama).
In the centre of Birmingham (and I do mean the centre) we found a larp and gaming centre that was operational across a number of floors and also in construction for 2 more. The first thing we all latched onto was the potential of the place, which is enormous. The gaming areas are on 5 floors of what would have been factory / warehouse space. It lends itself to being dressed as sets and that is exactly what is going on. The floors under construction gave us the size of the place. Those outfitted for gaming – gave us the realisation. Using simple wooden walls the team at the Grange have built configurable game spaces. Simply put the walls can be moved or even decorated to specification. You want simple walls and a maze to run around in – no problem. You want to design something more specific, that is possible. It becomes a question of planning and resourcing.
Right now plans for some specific designs are afoot. Such as a run down indoor fun fair. In place already are hospital beds and some old bits of medical machinery that may have once been surgical drain units. Creepy and very Silent Hill.
One feature that caught my attention were the security cameras. Yes these are for safety monitoring, but they can be brought in game. Which means if your game requires players to monitor a security feed – they really can do it. If you want your ref team to monitor the game – that can happen to. There is also the possibility of taking security footage after the event for promotional and documentary purposes. For me – it’s the in game stuff that excites. Whether its for the refs or players (or both); I love the idea of video monitoring. For the players it’s more immersion and for the refs its monitoring and being able to react to events without standing over the players shoulders. That too makes it a more real experience for the players.
There was something else that the ref in me liked too. The ability to build walls means that rooms and corridors can be hidden. Not in a maze like fashion. More in a this part of the facility is for crew only fashion. Remove the openness of the great outdoors, build the walls yourself and now the ability to have crew move from hidden crew rooms and through secret passageways. This caught the attention of the horror larp writer in me.
In fact this whole place is great for modern day, SF and horror larp.
It’s also nerdy inclusive. Which means a range of pursuits such as larp, airsoft, archery, hema, tabletop games and so on are all supported here. Its possibly Birmingham nerd central.
Any downsides? Just the one and I do not think it is a deal breaker. The site is not polished in a mainstream kind of way. Its bohemian and industrial in a larper kind of way.
If you haven’t guessed it – I love the place. Dale and Stephen whom we met were incredibly friendly and helpful. The venue is just one big pile of larping potential.
The good thing is that you do not have to take my word for it. While we were there we took quite a few photographs and a couple of videos. These are up next.
The Photo Gallery
Hopefully we’ve captured the feel of the place.
Interview With Dale
This first video is an interview with Dale. If you’re running a larp it is likely that you will be liaising with Dale over how you use The Grange Live Gaming.
Luke in the Rage Room
During the last few episodes of the LARPBook show Luke experienced some issues with his computer. This had hilarious results (here are the shows on youtube. Look at episodes 51.
The good news for Luke is that The Grange Live Gaming has a rage room. He used it to take vengeance on an unsuspecting computer.
Want to get in touch with The Grange Live Gaming?
We all hope this site goes from strength to strength. We’ll be back there to report on or play in a game. I see trips to Birmingham in our future.
This Halloween weekend (Friday October 31st and Saturday November 1st). Twilight LARP are running 2 events back to back. Here are the details
Friday 31st – Needs
Dependency, Addiction, Irrational Behaviour. They can affect all of our lives and in small doses cause no harm. But what when they start to take over? What when you can’t function without? Do you need drugs, television, do you have too many cats? Can’t you stop washing your hands?
Dr. Ian Farne can help you, at one of his exclusive round table meetings you can discuss your problem constructively with a group of people just like you. You can help each other with the healing process, but most importantly Dr Farne’s revolutionary new treatment can cure you. You can function and a normal, well adjusted human being again.
Isn’t that worth any price?
This modern day horror based scenario will take place over one evening. You will need to create a character with an interesting back story but most importantly your character will be suffering from some addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder or the like. Any discussion about your character should be kept away from other players until the evening. Please discuss it with the refs but not other players.
We look forward to hearing your ideas.
Saturday 1st November: Blight
You are from a small village some distance away from the capital. Occassionally the young march off to the big city – defending the nation and all that. Others settle down to a life of worship, or find a craft which serves the community.
Then there was the town meeting. A letter had been sent from a neigbouring town. It talks of a curse. It talks of blighted crops. A town like your own…. in the grips of some evil.
The mayor will not reveal the full content of the letter to the crowd before him. But he asks for voluteers to travel to this town and find the cause of this evil, before it spreads here. Before it comes to your home.
This scenario is set in a fantasy world that has medieval level technology. While magic exists it is rare and frowned upon. It is a new environment – different from Twilight Realms.
For this event we would like you to create characters that will fit into this world. We will be using an extremely simple rule system and are looking for interesting characters more than powerful ones. You may only play humans in this setting.
We’re looking for warriors, men and women of the cloth, perhaps more underhanded individuals with another motive…. You are not limited by a character class.
Talk it through with us and we’ll help with background information and flesh out your story.
Once you have decided who and what you are we’ll give you more information from the mayor and put you in touch with other volunteers from the same town.
The cost of the weekend is £50
The events are being held at Oakraven Field Centre
To learn more about this scenario contact the Twilight Realms Group on Facegroup. Here’s the address: https://www.facebook.com/groups/twilightrealms/
If you’re wondering why Twilight Realms and Twilight then here comes the explanation. Twilight is run by the Twilight Realms Crew. Whereas Twilight Realms was focussed on an ongoing campaign in a high fantasy world these new games are based on a very simple rules system and be from a variety of settings (or realms).
The image used in this post comes from Flickr user János Csongor Kerekes
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