At the end of the previous Cottington Woods event, the PCs found themselves in a battle against red caps, and had to escape into the fairy mists. We followed Tinkerbell and a fairy named Second Star on the Right, and the event came to a close just before we could emerge from the mists.
About two weeks ago, at Ye Olde Commons, a dedicated LARP site in Massachusetts, we picked up where we left off. Friday night was sort of half in-game; people who arrived early for the event were welcome to hang out in-character and roleplay with one another (with the explanation being that we found ourselves caught somewhere between the fairy mists and the slumberlands, where seconds can stretch into hours, as though we were dreaming of one another.) I spent much of the evening watching one of the PC smiths skillfully craft boffer weapons.
The next morning, the event began in earnest, with Second Star on the Right revealing that while trying to open the way into Neverland, various foes and monsters (enemies from previous events who had gotten lost in the fairy mists) had attacked, and she’d dropped our Happy Thoughts. They would have to be recovered if we were ever to fly home.
A large field fight ensued, and when foes were downed, we found slips of paper on them, bearing descriptions of happy thoughts. Back in the tavern, we found instructions for swapping them around so that each Happy Thought could find its way to its original owner. We roleplayed being immersed in one another’s fondest hopes and memories. I particularly liked finding ways to describe the thoughts in a way that showed how they might be perceived through my character’s eyes.
I thought it was a particularly creative and fun way to encourage roleplay and enable characters to discover inner aspects of one another. Some sort of magic ritual or effect that requires or forces PCs to reveal their deepest fears or personal goals or fondest memories aren’t terribly uncommon, but in this Neverland event, it felt like a very natural, in-genre part of the setting, and not arbitrary, as it sometimes can seem. I rather wished all of the PCs would be a little less practical about getting each Happy Thought to the correct owner, so that there might be more opportunities for us to roleplay swapping and experiencing the thoughts that made our characters happiest.
Not long after arriving, we quickly discovered there was much going wrong in Neverland -Nana had gone feral and was leading a pack of were-dogs, the pirates had turned undead, and the Lost Boys had become vampires. (Hey, it’s a very referential game.) Much had gone wrong ever since Peter Pan had severed his Shadow, and we had to restore the various denizens of Neverland by reminding them of who they were. We retrieved Nana’s collar and the favorite toys of the Lost Boys. We also helped Cillian Jones retrieve his ship, the Jolly Roger, from the mermaid lagoon. It flew when he acknowledged his true name, Captain Hook.
Throughout the weekend, we received glimpses back into the Written World we’d fled, via visions and meeting up with various NPCs who were dreaming themselves into Neverland. We quickly realized time was passing much slower in Neverland, and the war that had recently begun between the House of Cards and the Clublanders back in the Written World was escalating. We saw alliances form between various factions, allies get taken captive, stories of Farraway, the capital city, burning. And all the while, everyone was wondering, where were the folks of Cottington Woods? It set a dark tone over the event, and all of the PCs were clearly grimly determined to get back home before it was too late to turn the tide of the war.
And I got to play out a scene I’d been hoping for since the beginning of the campaign; I found a fairy (the effervescent Jack Frost) willing to make a deal that would enable Quill, my wind-up doll character, to experience the world as a human for a few hours. It came at a high price; Quill pledged her service to a powerful fae for a year and a day — a foolish bargain, perhaps, but the opportunity to make foolish bargains with fairies was one of the things that drew me to play a fairy tale themed LARP. So I spent a few hours with my big wind-up key set aside, my dolly make-up wiped off, and my giant black contact lenses out. Definitely a roleplaying experience worth the price–well, worth it from an out-of-character perspective, at least. We’ll have to see how much this truly ends up costing Quill.
Unfortunately, I had to miss the tail end of the event. (Very important NEIL meeting.) I’m assuming (hoping?) Neverland was set to rights and the PCs found a way to get back to the Written World before the end of the war. The very last event of Cottington Woods is coming up this spring. I’m so sad to see this campaign draw to a close, but I’m really excited for the grand finale nonetheless.