This past weekend was another Cottington Woods event, this one taking inspiration for its theme from The Nutcracker. The enemy we fought on Sunday afternoon was Cluny the Rat King, (which I think might be both a play on the Mouse King of the ballet and possibly a book from the Redwall series.)
As the end of the campaign is around the corner (the last event will be this autumn), a number of long running plots reached their conclusions. One such plot was of particular significance to my character. Quill came to life when her clockwork heart broke and was replaced by a heart carved from the chest of a fairy. Over the past few years, we discovered the fairy was named Athyrium and was responsible for guiding people through the winding paths of the woods. Losing her heart was causing a corruption to spread from her through to other fairies in her service and mortals connected to them. A number of PCs made deals with other faeries and collected bits of their Purpose to fashion her a new heart. Quill gave back the piece of the original heart responsible for Guidance, and as a result, has completely lost all sense of direction.
Another plot that came to a conclusion this weekend was that of the Invasive, a fungal plague from the Elven homeland that spread into the Cottington Woods, infecting plants, animals, and people alike. A number of PCs were infected with the Invasive; we slew the Invasive Mother at the last weekend event, but the infection still remained, and the Invasive was now looking for a new Mother. This culminated in a fight, very late on Saturday night (several PCs were roused out of bed by the combat going on right outside their cabins.) It set half of the PCs, infected by the Invasive, against the half of the PCs that were free from infection.
I think it may have been one of the most exciting boffer fights I’ve ever been in. The variety in PC abilities made it dynamic and unpredictable. The Invasive side was trying to get off a ritual in multiple locations that kept the battle moving. Typically, PCs outnumber NPCs by a fair amount, so having sides roughly equal in number was new and unusual. PCs free from infection who were captured by the other side became infected, which lent a scary atmosphere to the battlefield, and it added to the considerably difficulty we already had keeping who was on which side straight. Sometimes we weren’t sure who was safe to heal. I think both sides had an equal chance of triumphing.
The battle was brought to a halt by Athyrium (now with her new heart) who brought us all through the Mists to a nest of moths capable of destroying the infection for good. The moths were just as happy to try and eat healthy PCs, so the healthy PCs had to temporarily sacrifice their friends to the moths, then jump in and rescue them before the moths did too much damage. It was a second rather tense stage for the battle.
Another highlight of the weekend was the wedding of two PCs. There was a lovely in-game ceremony; the bride looked beautiful, and the bridesmaids all wore pretty flower circlets in their hair. The celebration included live music and a white tiered wedding cake.
I wore Quill’s “formal” outfit to the wedding — it’s meant to be a classic doll outfit (which is why it has a lot of pink), what she wore before being taken in by the church. I also took inspiration from European folkwear. I finally put the finishing touches on it just before this event — I finished the apron and glued flower appliques to the front of the corset (and temporarily stuck some on her little black shoes.) I think the appliques are the details that really sell both the doll and European folkwear aesthetic, especially when I compare it to how it looked without them.
It still definitely needs a much bigger petticoat.
Another highlight of the weekend was a module run on Friday night, in which the PCs traveled to the Asylum to rescue the pet of Alice (an NPC), the ersatz Cheshire Cat. Prior to the event, the staff asked all of the players to make short recordings of things said during times of significant change in their lives. The recordings were given an echo-y effect and played on loop during the module. The space was quite large, but the fog machine managed to fill it completely with a thick haze, and in various spaces in the room, NPCs played out visions related to various characters’ pasts. I thought the acting for this module was particularly good, and altogether, it created an eerie, emotionally fraught, dreamlike environment — just the sort that we LARPers just eat up.
All of this just leaves me wanting more time in the Woods — luckily, we already have the summer one-day event coming up, right around the corner.