This past weekend was the Winter One Day event for Cottington Woods. The premise of the event was a ball, set somewhere deep within the Fairy Mists, into which all of the PCs had stumbled. (What would a fairy tale campaign LARP be without a ball?) But this being in the realm of the fairies, it wasn’t just one ball, but the memories of many balls that had taken place over the years, hosted by both mortals and fae, all combining into one strange enchanted evening.
At times, it was difficult to tell which of the other guests had come with us through the mists to watch the memories of the various balls, and which guests were memories themselves. We met kings back when they were princes, fairies before they were cursed, enemies before we angered them. Occasionally, they mistook us for other guests at the balls, and that created some of the most dramatic moments. I think one of the best hours was the memory of a ball in which the evil queen of the fairies held court and was willing to entertain requests from the guests. And I just might have met the toy maker who created my wind-up doll character.
There was a potluck dinner, a bit of dancing, and a bit of fighting. A few monsters came in to attack the people at the ball, others were wandering about outside. (I only fought the snowmen flinging snowballs very briefly before the extreme cold drove me back inside.)
The costuming for this event was something else. According to the backstory for the event, while following a fairy guide through the Mists, the PCs found their clothing magically transformed into ball-appropriate finery, which makes for an excellent excuse to dress formally even for players who would like to do so, but have characters who would avoid such a thing. Many players went all out with ultra-formal wear that fit their character concepts, which was very exciting to see. My own costume for the ball was new — a ball gown worn over a giant steel-hooped crinoline that proved a bit awkward when navigating narrow spaces.
The set dressing was also a step beyond the usual. I arrived the night before and spent a few hours helping set up the main building of Ye Olde Commons (an ex-horse ranch bought by LARPers and now used primarily by LARPs), and transform it into a winter-themed ball. Luckily for us, one of the players happens to be an event planner by trade, and a few of us filled the room with twinkling white Christmas lights, lanterns and tea lights, and white and silver ribbons and decorations. Later on in the evening, one of the NPCs showed up with a big stack of tissue paper and pipe cleaners. Three of us spent over three hours making 40+ large puffy white flowers to place around the room — on tables, hanging from the walls, and around the dais with two chairs set up as thrones. I thought they helped fill out the space nicely. (You can find the instructions on Martha Stewart’s website here — it’s easy and fun and great for set dressing at LARPs.)
I wish we could have had more one-day events like this one, especially during the off-seasons of LARP. It’s too bad this is the last year of this campaign.