Into the Woods

Yesterday was the playtest/fundraiser for Cottington Woods, the dark fairy tale themed boffer campaign starting next year. The first draft of the rules for character creation went up earlier this week, so I was excited to try out a few builds and see what this campaign was all about.

I borrowed some boffer weapons (including polearms and a sword and shield) and drove up to Camp Eagle Pass in Wales, MA. I’d never been to this site before, though it has hosted a few events. It’s one of the rare sites that’s been bought and is being built up specifically for boffer LARPing, which I think is great. (Though there isn’t much there yet.)

The main building, which I believe will serve as Cotting House (the Inn of Cottington Woods), is really quite nice. I guess I have very specific expectations when it comes to boffer sites- I’ve seen three summer camp locations, got a quick glance at another, and spent many summers in my childhood at various sleep-away (and day) camps. They have a very specific aesthetic- cheap, durable… designed for huge floods of kids of all ages to run through- that I’ve come to expect… and Camp Eagle Pass doesn’t match it at all. The main building is more like a nice little bed and breakfast, with heating and nice bedrooms and bathrooms. Wish I’d gotten a chance to peek in the basement, which I hear is full to the brim with boffer LARPing equipment.

Someone brought a staff with a really cool twining vine motif. I just love personalized boffers.

I’m really excited to see what the place will look like when it’s done- I hope the cabins for PCs will be nice.

The only other building I saw was a very simple, empty structure- I’m sure it was designed for hosting modules.

This mod building was a witch’s cabin during the event.

I was rather impressed with the donations and vendors they had- people brought in all kinds of tasty foods for the potluck, deserts for the bake sale, and really neat stuff for the raffle and auction. There was a lot of cool costuming stuff, fairy tale movies to inspire players and staff, and a collection of fairy tale and mythology books I wouldn’t have minded owning. (One was a collection of Native American myths that I’ve read and loved.)

I brought a double serving of salad, rosemary potatoes, and sugar cookies to donate.  (I think the potatoes all went, but the salad may have been completely overlooked.)

It was great to meet everyone- a lot of friendly staff and enthusiastic players, including some faces I recognized and many friendly LARPers I’d never met before. Some were in basic garb-ish costumes, and everyone was excitedly discussing character concepts.

I briefly listened to bits of two of the panels- one on combat casting, one on basic combat, and caught the tail end of the rogue demonstrations. (I practiced picking locks and disarming mouse traps- got my fingers snapped a couple of times.) It was a lot of fun, but it looks like the LARP will have plenty of rogues. Apparently, the head writer is known for doing fun rogue stuff.

There were two sample modules going on. Unfortunately, I missed one of them (though I heard about it and got to look at the set-up after it was over- it looked and sounded cool.) But the module I went on, though simple, was a lot of fun and made the LARP seem promising. It had a good combination of things to do- combat, social interaction, traps for rogues to disarm, and logic puzzles for a mage and a witch to solve in order to craft a potion. I mostly waved my sword ineffectually at some monsters. I’ve never used a shield before (except for that one practice at the spar-b-cue), and it’s taking me some getting used to.

At one point, I decided I wanted to see the whole of the campsite, and check out where future buildings and field fights might be, but I ended up on some paths through the woods… and got lost. (Met some locals riding four wheelers in the woods who gave bad directions… maybe they were secretly fae who like to get travelers lost? That would make sense in the woods around Cottington…)

By the time I got back, a couple of town-wide battles were going on. We fought against a pack of wolves, and then against hoards of undead. Our town got slaughtered… I think two out of the three battles I fought in. (We seemed to be lacking enough healing, I think, and nobody seemed to have any anti-undead abilities.)

After the battles, they served the potluck dinner, there was more character creation chatting, and then the raffle. I won a handmade shawl in my choice of colors (which will be waiting for me at the one day event in November) and a basket for cross stitching an image from The Princess and the Pea. (I’ve never done cross-stitching before. I was thinking if I couldn’t do it, I could at least still use the embroidery floss for friendship bracelets.)

It included other useful things, like a cute pair of scissors and a threader.

Overall, I had a great time. The two big things I wanted out of this event (besides the CP for character building, of course!) was to get a feel for the flavor and writing style of the campaign, and to help decide what kind of character I’d like to play.

For the former, I have to say, I enjoyed the simple module I went on (and what I heard of the other). I think what I saw was a bit lighter than what this campaign will likely be- I suspect there will be darker plots and villains and such. I think the flavor of this campaign will be right up my alley.

As for what character I’d like to play… I don’t think I’ve come closer to a decision. My biggest priority is not playing something that’s too common- I’d rather be one of the few (or the only!) character of a particular header or path than one of many. I thought I’d get a feel for what would be popular choices, but I don’t think I really did. I spoke to the head of the staff, who felt as though he really didn’t know what the most and least popular headers and paths would be. I’m hoping another poll will go up on the website soon, and people will have clearer views because they’ve now had a chance to read the rules and test them.

I have several builds I’m considering (a couple variations on warrior/priest, warrior/harrier or archer, and earth mage) and I’m trying very hard not to get too attached to any before I see what other people are playing, but it is difficult. I can’t help but look for good character names (I’d love to name a religious character Quill, since the religion is all about the Written Word) and plan costuming, but I’ve got to hold off… but it’s hard! I can’t help it; I’m excited!

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About Fair Escape

I've been LARPing for years in all different styles, including both boffer and theater. I love classic LARP but I'm always happy to try something new. I have a sort of "gotta catch 'em all" attitude towards experiencing LARPs. I'm currently serve as a board member of NEIL, a member of proposal com for Intercon, the largest all LARP convention in the US, and as en editor for Game Wrap, a publication about the art and craft of LARP. I was also con chair of Festival of the LARPs 2017, and I'm on staff for NELCO, the first all LARP conference in the US. I'm
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One Response to Into the Woods

  1. Pingback: The House That Cotting Built – Part I « FairEscape

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