I spent a weekend in Wonderland.
Usually, events in Cottington Woods are bookended with readings by an NPC, Alice, accompanied by the Cheshire Cat. (In the beginning, I actually thought she was a framing device only, and not diagetic.) But at this event, Alice was missing, so the Cheshire Cat gave the text to a PC named Alyce to read. And when she finished, we fell down the rabbit hole.
The Cotting House, our local tavern, was quickly awash with odd and colorful NPCs — Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the White Rabbit, the Duchess and her frog footman, to name a few. Many of the natives of Wonderland were twisted reflections of regular Cottington NPCs. (Don Toro, the brer bull NPC who runs plot for the smiths, for example, was the Mock Turtle.)
I think this weekend was probably the most successful LARP event I’ve been to at capturing its intended flavor. It really felt like I was wandering loose in Wonderland. I helped put Humpty Dumpty back together. kept a lookout for the Queen’s garderner while other PCs helped some cards paint a garden bed of white roses red. I switched places rapidly at a mad cap tea party. I played a wild game of “chess” and a game of croquet with balls painted like hedgehogs and plastic flamingos as mallets and various PCs as the wickets. On Sunday, I observed several court cases (with a jury of the brer — i.e. animal PCs — in town.) And the whole culminated in a battle against the Jabberwock, after which we put together the Looking Glass and all of the denizens of Wonderland went home.
I wish I could have seen all of the modules I’d missed. There were two modules, for example, involving involving items labeled “eat me” and “drink me” that I wish I had caught. PCs caused minor earthquakes when they passed after growing, and moved the pins inside a lock (represented by camp furniture) while fighting off ants while shrunk.
There was some none Wonderland related plot going on, as well. We destroyed an evil artifact, the Anathema Stone, through a ritual and a rather dramatic battle against demons. I explored a library and tried to help a restless ghost endlessly searching for one particular story. A number of us attended The Telling, a centennial gathering of fae for storytelling deep in the woods. And as it was the annual in-game Halloween inspired holiday of Last Harvest’s Day/Mist’s Eve, we wore masks and carved pumpkins. But many PCs forgot to put the carved pumpkins out by their cabins as tributes to wandering spirits, so a number of people found that in the absence of jack-o-lanterns by their doors, their cabins had come under terrible curses.
One unusual highlight was an out of game experience. Three hikers from Great Britain stumbled onto the Cotting House and seemed rather shocked to see a group of people in fairy tale costumes milling about. They recognized two of the brer characters as references to Mole and Toad from The Wind in the Willows, and asked to take a picture. Their little daughter also pointed at our resident animate scarecrow and said, “look! A clown!”
Close enough, kid.
Another highlight — at previous events, PCs napping in the tavern had no where to get comfortable (the tavern has wooden floors and metal folding chairs.) So one other PC and I took some of the stuff we usually use to fill our tent and created a cozy corner in the tavern with carpets, camp furniture, pillows and blankets, and put tea and snacks to lure people in. We also had some candles for light, a backgammon set, and an actual clock. (Up until now, the tavern has been devoid of clocks, which always made it very hard to know when it was dinner time, or if it was a reasonable time to be headed to bed.)
It worked out well — a lot of players came to relax and chat and eat in the comfortable space we’d created, and nap on the couch, pillows, and carpets. I think we’re likely to reprise this little project at future events.
I’m quite glad that the Looking Glass was still present at the end, though the denizens of Wonderland had gone home and we sealed it behind them. Hopefully this means we’ll still see Wonderland-related creatures and plot in future events. In the meantime, I’m inspired to finally read the books. And luckily, there’s a winter event scheduled to tide us over until the next weekend event in the spring.