A Wild Hunt Through the Woods

I put off posting about this year’s first autumn even of Cottington Woods for a bit too long, I think. It was a rather exciting weekend that featured a number of major plot developments.

The overarching plot of the weekend involved a number of puppets who had come to life and broken away from their puppet master. I happened to miss most of the modules that tied directly to this storyline, other than helping to retrieve one of the puppets, Brawn, from the graveyard when it was teeming with undead.  But from what I saw of the puppet NPCs, they were marvelously acted with very puppet-like body language.

One major development was the staking of the evil vampire princess Aurora. This battle was kicked off with the PCs acting out a story told to us by an NPC. We were each given a sheet that gave instructions for taking on the roles of guests at a ball, with brief descriptions of our new temporary characters. It was something like a very simple, very brief theater LARP contained within a boffer event. I played the spoiled wife of an author who had recently had some small success. Some PCs took on the roles of performers and played music or demonstrated skill as fire spinners.

All of the guests drank the wine (sparkling juice or sparkling cider) and succumbed to poison. A dramatic figure in dark tattered robes, carrying a macabre-looking scythe came in. He was a very dark, imposing presence, and very much evoked Edgar Allen Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death. Vampires swept in to feed, and we dropped out of the story and returned as our usual characters to interrupt them. That was when we staked Aurora, and a number of her followers, with the Silver Spindle.

Another exciting plot came to a head late Saturday night. A number of characters were being hunted by the Wild Hunt, which had been taken over from the fae by a mortal. The Hunt, comprised of fae hunters and scary white-faced hounds, chased those characters through the woods and the tavern, using an Accelerant mechanic that forces targets to reveal their location. I found this combat to be the most exciting of the weekend, partly because of the dangerous foes, partly because of the darkness, and partly because their targeting certain PCs, who were forced to flee, made the battle rather dynamic. Rather than being limited to one location, it was always moving, and keeping on top of what was happening in other locations was part of the challenge. It rather reminded me of the final, climactic battle of Lost Eidolons, which stretched out across the entire campsite.

The third major fight took place on Sunday, when Nevermore the raven, one of Lord Death’s servant, took us all into the Deathlands to assist Lord Death in taking care of the Jester, a villain we’d sent there a few events back. I found the moments leading up to the battle rather atmospheric — Lord Death spoke to us on a small outdoor stage, while a dreary sort of rain was falling. The weather was unusually cooperative this event — it was a bit chilly on Friday evening, but quite pleasant most of Saturday. There was some heavy rain very late Saturday night (which I rather enjoyed listening to as I was falling asleep), and the rain on Sunday didn’t last other than to set the mood appropriately for meeting Lord Death.

One other event worth mentioning — two of the PCs were wed on Saturday afternoon. It was a short and sweet ceremony, with the PCs gathered in the tavern to witness. After the ceremony, a confused ghost bride appeared, convinced the groom was hers, until her true groom’s remains were found and both were properly laid to rest. I thought it made for a very nice little plot to create additional story out of the PCs’ romance.

A few of the PCs dressed up for the wedding. (Beside the bridge and groom, of course.) My character’s formal wear consisted of the dolly clothing she used to wear prior to be taken in by the Church. In the week leading up to the event, improving the dolly costume was one of my major LARP projects. I bought a new black corset, new shoes, and added eyelet and ribbon trim to the skirt. I also made a new apron, with a pretty eyelet texture, to replace the old, plain apron.

I didn’t get any shots during the event, but here are a couple of shots of the dolly costume in its current state (minus the full makeup and petticoat.)

All dolled up.

All dolled up.

It’s unfinished, but I enjoyed wearing it. Before the next event, I’d like to finish the new apron (which has some temporary parts), replace the shirt, add more embellishments and make or buy a large petticoat so I no longer have to borrow one to give the skirt its full shape.

And speaking of projects, I also finished a replacement for the old wind-up key. The old one was in rather sorry shape. Pulling it apart to use the base for the new key was kind of hard — I get unreasonably sentimentally attached to costuming pieces. But it was worth it — the new one actually turns!

It turns!

As for my character’s personal experience, I tried something new at this event. I decided as part of her path of repentance for breaking her Vow of Truth at a previous event, my character would take a temporary Vow of Silence. I thought it would make sense as a religious practice, as a means of becoming more mindful of the words one speaks. Allowing oneself to lie might be seen, for priests in this setting, as becoming careless with one’s words, and taking the gift of communication for granted. Out of character, I thought it would make for an interesting experiment.

The temporary Vow of Silence proved to be fascinating. It was rather amazing to me how what I would think were simple, obvious concepts became impossible to communicate, even when I felt certain others should be able to easily guess what my gestures meant. At other times, I might gesture vaguely, struggling to come up with a way to communicate abstract concepts, and others would immediately understand what I was getting at, sometimes even using the exact words in my head.

I think the persistent challenge it posed to me actually helped keep me in the mindset of my character — I was actively experiencing the results of her choices, even in the most casual of moments of downtime. For others, I think, it was mostly a source of humor. A lot of people poked gentle fun and found some of the confusion amusing, particularly when another character who is always silent (when outside the Slumberlands, the land of dreams) and I tried to communicate. (Amusingly, a tailor PC has made her an apron with various words and images on them for her to point at in order to help her communicate without words.)

I was quite excited for the next event when this event came to a close, and I wasn’t disappointed. Next post will be about our weekend spent through the Looking Glass.

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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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