First Weekend in the Woods

This past weekend was the first weekend event of Cottington Woods, the fairy tale campaign boffer LARP. I was only there until Saturday evening, as I had a wedding to attend on Sunday, but I had a wonderful time and I already can’t wait for the next event.


Over the weekend I…

… searched for the scattered pages of a holy tome

… entertained Lady Luck and Lord Chance

… met the Muffin Man

… entertained and distracted sprites while witches dealt with a boggart

… helped convinced a stone golem to let us have the masterwork anvil he was guarding

… chased down flying monkeys to retrieve the heart of a tin girl

… lost a round of Sticks and Stones, the popular and brutal sport of the Houselands

… played a game of Questions with a sly cat

… fought rats and wolves

… faced down living trees

… fought off demons while allies retrieved a magic mirror

… observed an exorcism

… pulled a mocking sign off the back of the tortoise (left by a hare)

… investigated the lab of a mad golem-maker, and met the last creations he made before vanishing

… followed three black butterflies into the woods, fought three corrupted fae and retrieved an enchanted dagger

… listened to a great many wonderful songs performed by talented bards, including a brer-bird and a brer-cat.

Some thoughts on the event:

– It looks like a lot of characters have already gotten some personal plot, which I think is absolutely fantastic. A few staff members made note of what time I was leaving, which I took as a very good sign, and I wasn’t disappointed. They made sure to get in a module that was related to my character before I left. It was a fantastic, creepy module where we explored a building that people thought was haunted because of the strange banging sounds coming from within. Within, we found spare model body parts lying on bare mattresses (which I thought was an excellent use of the furniture available- it all looked pretty creepy.) There was a golem chained up and hiding under a bed, and two half-formed golems lurching about. After we left, we had to force the two golems back inside. They continued to thump against the doors long after we left, which was both scary and reinforced the idea that it was going to continue indefinitely after we left (instead of feeling like a contrived event that ended as soon as we were done with it.)

I had a great little roleplaying moment where the golem under the bed (who had similar doll-like makeup as mine, though she didn’t wind up) and I made eye contact, which startled both of us and I stumbled back while she shifted back under the bed… it was interrupted by other players sort of blundering by and shouting “come out! We won’t hurt you!” but it was a very nice roleplaying moment while it lasted.

– Players are currently excitedly emailing one another and discussing the various plot lines that came up. On top of the stuff I personally encountered, it seems like there’s a lot more going on that I’m really looking forward to getting involved with.

– I was a little worried about organization for this LARP. Things were a bit chaotic on Friday, though that was not the staff’s fault. (Some of the staff and players were stuck in Watertown, thanks to the “voluntary lockdown” during the search for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect.) My character sheet was missing, no one seemed to know what to do with donations, and we started extremely late. However, on Saturday, I was rather impressed. There were tons of modules going on, and things were moving quickly and smoothly enough that I spent almost no time waiting for modules to start.

– I’m really loving the way music is incorporated into this LARP. We have several talented musicians involved, I heard a lot of period-music both during dinner and on some of the modules from both bards and non-bards alike. It’s both entertaining to hear, and it helps create the atmosphere of a small village in an era that’s ambiguous (but certainly well before television.)

– I got a French manicure right before the LARP. Partially for the LARP, partially for the wedding. I’m actually not fond of getting manicures (it always feels very awkward  to have a stranger bent over my hands, grooming them); I’ve only gotten them as members of wedding parties. Besides of being part of the wedding (I was one of the ketubah witnesses), I thought it would work well for my doll character, and I think this turned out to be correct on two levels. A French manicure made my nails stand out in the rustic setting (to me, anyway) as artificially perfect looking, which fits the doll persona. (Especially true because French manicures resemble naked nails, just more… perfect.) Two, my nails break easily and I almost never take care of them, so they’re typically unpainted and a little ragged. My hands didn’t look like my own hands during the LARP; they were explicitly someone else’s hands. My character’s unnaturally perfect hands. This makes for a nice visual cue for getting into character, so I’m thinking about doing it again for the next event.

– On the topic of little costuming details that no one else will notice, another player mentioned a custom-made scent she got in Salem. I’ve been thinking about getting a custom scent for this character, maybe something with a hint of old books and leather, to represent the time she spends in the church libraries. I think a trip to Salem may be in my future.

– Even though I spent so much time and effort prepping costumes and props and supplies, I already have a list of things to do for next time. I need to fix the bows for my hair, re-glue the key, re-sew the snaps on the obi, the entire make-up process needs to be streamlined (and I need to find a better way to organize everything that isn’t “drop it all in a plastic bag”), since it takes a rather long time even when I’m rushing, I have things to do with my sword and shield… etc.

– I agonized over my character build until the last minute, and I think I made some bad choices. The stuff I picked never came up, and the things I decided to leave off came up multiple times. (People kept asking for a paladin who actually had some paladin abilities.) Hopefully, the new skills I buy for the next event will improve this.

First though, I need to update my character’s journal and work on my PEL. One of my LARP resolutions was to get them all in on time.


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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4 Responses to First Weekend in the Woods

  1. Albert Lin says:

    It was lovely playing questions with you as Dominic.

    Coordinating the half-finished golem physical RP was also one of my event highlights. Locking us back inside the building was a stroke of creepy brilliance. 🙂

    • Fair Escape says:

      Dominic was my answer to question #3 on the PEL (“Were there any NPC characters you particularly liked, or would like to interact with again?”) Though I spelled Dominic wrong and am now going to fix that. And the golem module was wonderful and scary, I loved the way you guys lurched around!

  2. Alon Levy says:

    My favorite moment was when I went to the PC cabins as a rat, together with a bunch of other rats. We sniffed around. Rosemary asked us if we want food, went to her cabin, and came out with muffin-y things. I forget whether that’s when we negotiated an alliance against the spiders. The PCs asked if we’d leave them alone if they gave us a bit of food; we tried to wrangle more food – one of the other rats said “I have 50 cousins and we’re hungry” (rough quote). It may have happened after 1-2 extra rounds of fighting and recycling, since you guys see a rat and immediately attack. “My name is Rosemary,” she said. One rat remembered Rose, another remembered Mary, a third remembered to go to Monster Camp the Rat King and tell him the PCs offered an alliance.

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