- bandits and heroines and kidnapping
- renaissance sort of costumes
- almost all 7th graders but possibly some range on the ages (downwards)
- lots of combat
- in the woods somewhere
- E. and her friend have made swords already for everyone (foam ones)
EDIT: cf. also Liz's report for details on the preparations and the puzzles.
The results were very chaotic, with lots of swordplay, lots of role-playing, and lots of fun. For a solid hour and a half, the woods rang with a lot of calls of "milady!" along with clashing arms.
After rejecting our original choice, we chose Edgewood Park in Redwood City as a balance of ease of getting to and facilities while still having a feeling of being in nature. We picked the area by campground #2 specifically (cf. Google Maps). Liz drew an excellent in-character map of the area:
Each of the three groups had a slightly different copy of this map.
I wrote up short character backgrounds for everyone. My principles were that the kids should fight each other mainly, but that by the end everyone should be able to set aside their differences and draw together. Also, especially given the limited time, it had to be a very simple premise.
My result was that I went with a premise much like Robin Hood -- a cruel regent ruling in place of the true queen who had disappeared. The characters were in three groups: the Royals (lead by the regent's daughter Carsa), the Druids (lead by the prophetess Alea), and the Bandits (lead by their leader Starling). All three really wanted the regent deposed and the true heir found, but that was not clear at the start.
Rather than making her the true heir, I set up the birthday girl as the prophetess, who knew almost all the background and would find the true heir. I told her that she could decide for herself which of the other characters was the true heir -- and made sure that their parentage was all in question.
Below are all the characters linked to the background I gave the player. In the end, there were only 6 seventh-graders with the main parts, plus 2 adults and 3 younger kids (ages 10, 9, and 6) playing who had less central roles -- plus myself acting mainly as organizer, observer, and referee. The gender balance was 5 girls and 1 boy among the older kids; 2 girls and 1 boy among the younger; and 1 man and 2 woman of the adults (since the parents and grandparents opted not to play). Characters not played below are marked with
- Elaina as Carsa the Regent's Daughter
- Jake as Gareth the Knight
- Sarah as Magda the Servant-girl (younger)
Jolene, Carsa's Attendant(adult)
- Sydney as Starling the Bandit Leader
- Julia as Bridget the Witch
- Rachel as Tana the Thief
- Danny as Dory the Beast-tamer (adult)
Wilem the Giant(adult)
- Milo as Mardel the Archer (younger)
- Ada as Zyr the Tiger (younger)
These are all on a webpage of the Redwood Realms.
The basic plot was that the royals were stopping to rest at the druids' sanctuary in the woods for the night while on a secret mission. The bandits planned to kidnap the regent's daughter. They would eventually find that they were on the same side, and support the druid's ritual that would find the queen's true heir. However, a fae creature had stolen the druids' chalice and wand that would be needed. So there would be fighting, negotiation, and finding clues leading to two items hidden in the woods. Liz had prepared two puzzles written on mock scrolls, which I hung in plain sight. When solved, the puzzles gave a clue to the location of the hidden item near where the scroll was hung.
By design, the plot was all contained in the characters themselves and the clues. The adult roles were all supporting.
The rules were simple. I went over the Scandanavian traditions of "cut" and "break" -- meaning "emergency - stop the larp" and "give me a minute." In combat, hits to the limb disable that limb, while hits to the body incapacitate. The magical characters (the witch and the druids) had unlimited healing, taking to the count of ten for each wound. There was to be no killing. Also, I said that magical characters could give instructions if they declared a power or hit you with a spell packet.
This was organized on short notice, so only Ellie knew her character in advance. The kids dressed themselves in RenFair outfits that they already had, without being based on character. The outfits were great, with the drawback being that the dresses were sometimes tricky for getting around in the woods.
In practice, loyalties shifted over the course of the game. There were many negotiations during the game. The prophetess ended up alienating most of the others by insisting that she knew everything (which she nearly did), while refusing to tell even when captured and held at swordpoint. There were several attempts to kidnap the regent's daughter.
On a social level, I had split up three whom I knew were close into different groups: Ellie and her friends Julia and Jake. Eventually Ellie and Julia got together on the excuse of magical undertakings.
The youngest player, Ada, spotted the first scroll. The puzzles were difficult given the limited time and the distractions of going out to fight, so Danny mostly did the first one. The second Ellie and Julia mostly solved on their own, but as we were almost out of time, I helped them with it.