Branching Out – Playing a New Game

Site

     The site was Camp Niwana in Woodville, Texas. The weather driving in was less than ideal as Texas has had an ongoing battle with weather recently. We arrived later than expected, as the weather put a stop to traffic about three quarters of the way there. Parking was simple enough, there is a lot for cars, but we arrived late, and had to drive up to the main tavern building, where we were never asked to move our vehicle. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the camp had no power because of the storm. Everything in their tavern area was lit by candlelight and everyone was simply sitting around talking waiting to see what was going to happen. The camp was reminiscent of Iti Kana, with long trails, and small camper style cabins. The bathrooms are separate structures from the cabins, but are pretty big. The toilets have curtains in front of them and you can almost stand all the way in as long as you’re not afraid of spiders as big as your palms! You can say we are spoiled here in Louisiana, as Fountainbleau State Park has air conditioned cabins, with solid walls! Check-in was kind of lax in nature given the power situation. Character creation was pretty simple as none in my group were completely new to the community and more or less had our characters built walking up.

Tavern

Tavern

The Tavern

The tavern looked crazy summer camp for children, am I gonna die this is a horror movie from the dark times for probably the first half or so of the event. Given the situation with the lack of power, and that a generator had to be acquired from Beaumont (a two hour endeavor) the first full day, tavern decorations really didn’t come to light until probably midday Saturday I believe. But, once the tavern transformed, it was glorious. The mood was set incredibly well with beautiful tapestries, tablecloths, and in general wonderful decoration.

Library

The Library

This setting really draws you in to the game, and makes you want to be a part of the immersion.  By far my favorite part of the tavern area is the Library! It’s a sort of one stop shop of awesome that explains some in game mechanics like alchemy. The alchemy book lists different plants in the game, and descriptions with simple recipes. The Library even has blank books for adventurer’s to write their stories in, for all to experience.

Community

Community

Community

     The community at Sovereign Scrolls was unlike anything I’ve experienced in a long while. Everyone is incredibly friendly and about helping new players! The group that I brought to play received buffs, items, and even coin from different groups and individuals. It was a warm place to be, the game definitely has some rogue in it, and there are many protections against it, but for the first time in a long time as a PC, I didn’t sleep with a sword in my hand.

Represented here, is but a sliver of the community and some of those responsible for creating that community. Thomas Rocap, owner of Sovereign Scrolls, has done his own cross gaming at Larpworks presents Mordavia, and some of us thought it fair to see what he does in Texas.

Owner

Owner

Our group was invited to do mods, hang out, and generally be one with the game. The staff was great, especially during our NPC shift. All of the information was handed out clearly and explained in such a way that it was quick and easy to grasp, so we were able to get up and run with everyone quickly. I was worried about having some new players signing up for a decent sized event with our lack of knowledge about the whole system, but it was a fantastic time.

Players

     Speaking of players! Sovereign Scrolls has them from as little as five years old, to by my estimation, into their fifties. This is an incredibly diverse group who all seem to know each other very well either by having played together for so long, or personally. I would say at this event there were between twenty and thirty players. I think there were some late comers and some who left early due to the electrical and water outages. As I’ve already said, the interaction was seamless, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Game

     The game was slow to start for my group. We arrived late, and it took a while to finally get checked in because of the anticipation of power that never came that night. So, we unpacked and traveled to the cabins to seek out our beds in the darkness of night and went to bed fairly early for a Friday night. We awoke as a group and got dressed to go see what we could get into. We were also the first to rise, minus some ladies who went and grabbed us coffee! But soon enough, events began to unfold and a lair was found! At Sovereign Scrolls they leave skulls hidden along the trails and in different places for players to find. Once found, you can bring it back to their monster camp to participate in a “Lair”! From what I gathered, this can be an random encounter, a random dungeon type scenario, or barring certain circumstances can even be loot (coin, story driven, etc.). I heard a story of my group doing a lair while I was helping get the generator, and they found a big monster guarding a treasure. “Backpack” is what we called our rogue, and he waylaid the beast! However, our “Tank” (Fel Knight) had drawn his blade already, and how unfortunate a mistake that ended up being! When a Fel Knight draws his blade with the intent to kill, he is driven to do so, the consequences be damned! The beast became conscious and just started ripping apart everything.

     Our next piece of adventure came from a random invite to try and find some PCs. My group had just been attacked by some shadow creatures which rifted through our cabin walls and we began adventuring to see what the source of these creatures could be. We ran into another group of players also investigating so we decided to travel together. It didn’t take long to find ANOTHER group of players in the heat of battle. Having made no enemies, and desperately needing friends, my group jumped into the fight. We weren’t incredibly effective against the demon horde this group was fighting, but we assisted how we were able. Come to find out, a PC had put a purple stone (origin unknown) into a mana font and this crystal’s energy had corrupted the font in such a way that demons were creating portals to our realm and attacking! Rituals were completed to try and cleanse the font, but the group became aware that one of there own was missing. The group suspected he was taken by a demon to their home world, and so we set forward to brave the demon’s lands to save him!

System

     The system in more intricate than I anticipated it being, even having read the rule book beforehand. I realized there were a lot of skills offered, and that are many ways to implement them all in any given number of situations. But having planned ahead and knowing what I wanted to do as a PC, I was confident in my knowledge of the skills and what they were, and after that it was just a matter of seeing the game function and finding a rhythm within it to get started. There is one specific piece of this system I enjoy. When you start the game you have a set number of build to spend and then upon attendance you gain “build”. This build is used to purchase the ability to use other skills associated with your character just like any other game. However, in this game, you must be taught the skills you wish to learn. This teaching can come from other players who have been staff approved to do so, or by NPCs with the ability to teach whatever you may be trying to learn. Another point that actually was kind of confusing at first was the coinage. There are, to my knowledge four types of currencies that exist in three denominations. Each of these coins represents the same denomination of currency, but they all have different designs and details! They are beautiful to look at, but not immediately knowing the values were the same, I almost died once my group started to get some serious coins! But all in all, the system is interesting they have terms like “verily” which is essentially used to describe something that cannot be immediately represented. Verily you see a four hundred pound spider monkey, would be an example. Luckily I heard verily used outside of it’s explanation once the entire time I was playing, and it was from a PC! Another cool term, “If I recall correctly”, which allows two players to share an impromptu past experience without previous communication is a clever tool. Say an NPC is coming to drop some back story details on a portion of the story you left to the discretion of staff. A conversation may begin wherein that NPC might ask if they recall correctly – insert story details -, and the PC would then have the ability to confirm and accept the story, or deny the fact and reject the story.

Overall

     I haven’t played a PC in almost three years. I began playing Mordavia as a PC and quickly became a staff member. I worked my way through new friendships and new gaming experiences and now I am a storyteller for Mordavia going on two and a half years. Being out of the PC realm of a game for so long really allowed me to feel the details of the game I was playing even harder. I had a new perspective, the staffer perspective. Where I had no previous experience in balancing factors, and how to feel about people not pulling swings, etc. I now had the confidence and the know how of running my own stories at Larpworks presents Mordavia here in Mandeville, Louisiana. I was so excited, because I have really grown to enjoy Thomas’ company and the company of his wife. It was a pleasure to play their game. I didn’t exactly know what to expect driving to Texas, but getting flashbacks from Iti Kana didn’t deter me from playing. High temperatures and long trails make for more dangerous larping, but it allows you to lose yourself that much more into the game. I also haven’t been to a full three day event in almost eight years, and Sovereign Scrolls had their monsters and their stories spaced out. All their shifts were specific and served a purpose to keep the game alive and interactive with the extra time we had to play. Although I missed it because my group had to leave Sunday to make it back to Louisiana, there were pictures of one last big mod fight where there was decorative lighting to display some kind of ritual, I heard they had to fight a demon prince, which if memory serves, there are only six of. The one other thing I loved about playing this game is that there wasn’t a since of distance between lower and higher leveled characters. It seems like anyone is really capable of anything so long as they have purchased the appropriate skills and have the resources to use them. But starting your journey and claiming the knowledge for yourself is the only way you’ll ever really know! This is true with all LARP and I would recommend playing different games like Mordavia and Sovereign Scrolls to taste different cultures and different systems.

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