Cottington Woods, the fairy tale themed boffer campaign I’ve been playing for the past three and half years, has come to a close.
Cottington is the first boffer campaign I’ve played all the way through. I joined my first campaign, Lost Eidolons, a few events after it started, and missed a number of events throughout for reasons of scheduling conflicts. I realized from Lost Eidolons how much benefit there could be from joining a LARP on the ground floor and having (near) perfect attendance. I think the only Cottington event I missed was one summer one day, when it conflicted with NELCO. It’s been such a huge part of my life for so long, it’s so strange to think of it as over.
Originally, the campaign was supposed to end at the last fall event, but there was still so much story left to tell, and plots left to wrap up, that the staff extended it into the following spring. But then the new final event was canceled because the campsite wasn’t properly dewinterized (pipes freezing and such), so the final event was rescheduled for June, with an additional one-day to allow PCs and NPCs who couldn’t make the newest final event an opportunity for closure.
We ended the event in January on board the Jolly Roger, flying home from Neverland through the Fairy Mists and back to the Cottington Woods. But because time passes slower in Neverland, even though it felt like only days, months had passed in the Woods, and the war back home was catastrophic in our absence. (To be fair, things were often catastrophic when we were there, too.) For example, while in Neverland, we had visions of the capital city, Farraway, burning and falling.
At the one-day, the event began with the PCs waking up in a field after being washed overboard from the Jolly Roger. We fought our way through Red Caps to one of the few remaining safe havens left in the world — a mausoleum, and discovered we’d been in Neverland for years, not months, and the war was largely lost. We heard about all of the lives of allies who had been lost… but something was very off, and before long, we realized we were trapped in a vision of a likely future. We re-woke in the field where we had fallen from the Jolly Roger, and set about trying to prevent the future we had seen. We saved Robin Hood from a fatal encounter with a fire elemental and defeated a necromancer in her lair.
The teaser for the final event described how those who had remained on the Jolly Roger (i.e. hadn’t attended the one-day event) used magic to bring us back on board, before a rough landing not far from the Cotting House. Over the weekend, we sealed away one of the lieutenants of the Evil Fairy Queen (the Big Bad of the campaign), freed the High Queen from a curse, exorcised a demon from the (in-game) husband of one of the PCs, and supported another PC in battle when he challenged the king of the Frostwroth for his crown.
One of the highlights of the final event, for me, was the last Wonderland module, in which we freed some of the PCs from the influence of the Black Court. The Red Queen presented us with games to play for her amusement while the battle went on, with the winners receiving boons that would help in the combat. I volunteered to serve as the White Bishop, which involved racing to unscramble a sentence faster than the Black Bishop. Sadly, it took me an embarrassingly long time to solve it. The Red Queen tried to offer helpful hints, but as I’ve never actually read Alice in Wonderland, the hints didn’t mean much to me. I won the challenge but later discovered, as I had strongly suspected, the Black Bishop (an NPC) had thrown the challenge to allow a PC to win.
Nonetheless, I always enjoy the Wonderland-related content in Cottington Woods, and this module was no exception. Appropriately, the battle involved a lot of confusion, as some PCs were forced to fight on the side of the Black Court, and some of us were granted the ability to temporarily bring the pawns of the Black Court to fight on our side. And the Wonderland characters, especially Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum, kept us amused all along with their antics.
The other highlight of the event for me was finishing a plot that involved the Wizard of Lakapaparu (the ersatz Wizard of Oz) searching for the heart, bravery, and intelligence of his adopted daughter, Dorothy. The final piece, the heart, turned out to be in his old workshop, where a half-finished golem has been animated with it.
Of course, this story struck a chord with my character, another golem animated by a heart belonging to someone else. The copper golem (inspired by the character Tik-tok from the Oz books) was a simple thing who had never been outside of the workshop, yet did not want to give up his”sympathetic harmonizer” out of fear for ceasing to exist. Part of me wanted to defend him, but I didn’t want to deprive other PCs of their happy ending with Dorothy restored. But it was excellent fodder for internal roleplay either way. It was not just a highlight of the event for me, but a highlight of the entire campaign.
Sadly, I missed the Grand Finale Battle late on Saturday night, in which the PCs took on and defeated Baeldannen the evil Fairy Queen. I found out the next day that the staff had strung a string across the campsite, and the PCs had followed it one by one, facing a variety of mental and physical challenges along the way to the final battle. In true fairy tale villain style, Baeldannen transformed into a dragon. I saw pieces of the dragon the next day — an enormous horned purple head that could fit an NPC (maybe two?) inside to move it, giant boffer claws, and enormous wings suspended with a system of pulleys that allowed them to be unfurled dramatically. I’m sure it was glorious.
So Cottington Woods draws to a close. It’s a bittersweet feeling. I’ve grown immensely attached to my character, and through her, the other characters who lived in the Cottington Woods; it’s hard to wrap my head around the idea of retiring Quill. I’m reading through materials for campaigns starting up in the near future (Shadowvale and Madrigal 3 in particular, with Vox Mundi later down the road) but I’m struggling to come up with any character concepts that appeal to me — I don’t think I’ll be able to create a character I’ll have as much fun portraying as I did my porcelain wind-up doll.