The House That Cotting Built – Part I

At long last, the first in-game event of Cottington Woods.

Last Friday, I drove down to Camp Eagle Pass, where I was crashing for the night with my ride, another LARPer, and the two owners of the campsite.

For those who don’t know, Camp Eagle Pass is a campsite that was bought by LARPers with the intention of having a campsite to host LARPs all year round. Typically, campaign boffer LARPs run at sleepaway summer camps, which are, obviously, not available to rent over the summer. They also typically only rent spaces for a minimum of a weekend, which is unfortunate for those who want to run one day events. And, of course, summer camps look like summer camps (kid-made banners and modern sports equipment everywhere) and are designed as summer camps, not LARP spaces. Imagine if we could have a space available all year round, designed by LARPers, for LARPing. Unfortunately, Camp Eagle Pass was in development around the time the housing market crashed. Unless I’m mistaken, there’s something of an unfortunate cycle going on- it can’t really host weekend events until the cabins are built, and it can’t really complete building until it has the funding, and it was intended to bring in money by hosting events.

Currently, it has the main building and one empty mod building (a building for running modules, or mini-events, for you theater LARPers) and some fields for battle. The main building is actually pretty amazing in my eyes. There’s a large main area that serves very nicely as a sort of generic tavern, two small sitting rooms off to the side, a large fully equipped kitchen, and 2 bathrooms, both brilliantly divided by a door between the toilet and the sink- people can use the mirror for costuming and make-up without preventing people from using the bathroom. Upstairs, there’s a balcony all the way around, and 4 pretty good sized bedrooms and two more bathrooms. There’s also a large basement, easily accessible at the side of the building (not down cellar stairs) for storing LARPing equipment.

My ride and I arrived well before our friend and the site owners, so we sat in the car for a bit while it got dark. It was like something out a horror movie, sitting in a car in the middle of nowhere, wondering if the strange man who’d spoken to us and told us he recognized me (?!) as we drove up to the camp was a serial killer. Eventually, our friend came by and we did some boffer practice in the light of the headlights, followed by the most atmospheric games of Gloom I’ve ever played, hunched in our coats on the front porch in the light of an iphone. (Gloom is a card game that sort of mocks macabre and horror, you try to make your characters as depressed as possible before killing them off.)

When our hosts arrived, we went inside to do a little prep for the event and chat. We heard some rather hilarious and shocking stories about the search for sites for LARP events (I now know about the dead fish story from Aralis, and I’m going to try and get a peek at a basement I never knew existed at Camp Haiastan at the next Lost Eidolons event..)

I asked a few questions about plans for Camp Eagle Pass… I really hope this thing comes to fruition in the next few years… It kind of sounds like heaven for LARPers. I can even totally picture it being useful for theater stuff, as well as boffer (possibly depending on the prices… theater LARP culture in New England has expectations for much lower event cost than boffer does.)

At any rate, I associate boffer LARPing with sleeping in cold cabins on those awful camp bunkbeds, but the bedroom was big and comfortable and warm, for which I was very grateful.

Saturday morning, people starting arriving and I put off getting into costume for as long as possible, because I wanted to be able to be as useful as possible in helping set up for as long as possible, and I didn’t want to worry about knocking into things with my wind-up key or getting make-up all over everything.

Oh, by the way. My circle contact lenses arrived just in time on Friday morning. I think I will do a separate post about them because they’re a very interesting costuming option that a lot of people don’t know about, and it took a long time to figure out everything I needed to know about buying them. The short of it is, they’re a type of colored contact lens that make your irises look bigger. I knew I wanted an inhuman look for my doll character, so I went for the largest, least natural ones I could find. Here’s a shot with me wearing only one, so you can see what kind of insane effect they have.

Crazy, yeah?

Then I painted my face with the palest make-up I found (I was trying to achieve a porcelain effect) and lipstick (color was chosen at random)… I put on a circle of blush but took it off because it looked more prostitute-ish and less dolly to me. (I’ve never gotten blush to work for any costume. Or real life.) The pale face combined with the HUGE CREEPY EYES made me look a bit ghoulish… I wasn’t going for undead,  but it was dramatic and got quite a reaction, and that made me rather happy. People said my eyes were creepy, doll-like, inhuman… I think they sort of created an almost uncanny-valley effect. At the end of the event, someone told me that one of my friends (who had already left) kept saying how creeped out he was every time I stared at him. (To be fair, one or two people said they didn’t notice anything unusual about my eyes.)

People also seemed to like the rest of the costume, especially the writing on the vest. I agonized over starting the writing, because I was so afraid of ruining it. I had to rework the wording several times to get it to fit correctly and still sound decent, and so I only completed one side of the front done before the game. I figure I can add more text as the game goes on, so it will allow a chance for the setting to influence the wording of the benediction as my character evolves.

I was really impressed with the costuming and colorful character concepts of the other players. There were brer (the walking, talking animal folk of fairy tales) of all sorts, a coyote, a sheep dog, a sheep, a bird, a dog that barked when she spotted strangers heading towards us. There was a cat lady, and a witch with sparkly stars on her hood, an impish character in a grinning purple mask, a guy in armor made of masks, archers and huntsmen, a family of very sharply dressed gentlefolk, a character in full armor, and Men of Science with their strange inventions that moved and turned. (One of the Men of Science declared in a booming German accent, before game start, something like, “You haf to allow ze vizzy-bang, ozzervise ze science vill not heppy!” much to my amusement.) And my fellow golems, one brightly painted magical creation, a scarecrow, a nutcracker.

I think this post is getting a little out of hand, length-wise, and I haven’t even described what happened, or my thoughts on trying to roleplay my new character. I’ll save that for the next post.

A few more points to end on- one, the rosemary potatoes I made for the potluck dinner were consumed before I even got to the food. I’m so happy people enjoyed them (I know I made them for the last event, but I’m inconsistent as a cook at best) that I don’t even mind. Second, someone at the LARP mentioned that he found my blog and liked it, which of course made me ridiculously happy to hear. Third, I received a very soft, pretty, white shawl, hand-knitted, as a prize from the raffle I won at the fundraising event. I’m thinking of wearing it with a costume at SLAW.

Also, I just learned a new word that I suspect (hope?) will become useful in the future. Pediophobia- the fear of dolls.

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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 The House That Cotting Built – Part I

  1. JakeG says:

    Oh my god that contact lens… I realize you’re arching your eyebrow and tilting your head slightly, but the one expanded iris creates an incredibly distorted and uncanny-valley effect. Friggin’ cool.

    Even if Hurricane Sandy hadn’t dumped on my head, I wouldn’t have been able to work this opening event into my schedule. I really hope that my spring schedule opens up enough so I can NPC an event; reading this makes me want to see all the crazy things you’ve described.

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