STRENGTH TO THE EMPIRE! STRENGTH TO THE NAVARR! I heard roar from my fellow players thrice, by the third time Podine was crying it out as loud as anyone. I had been roleplaying for 20 minutes by this point as I listened at the meeting my fellow Navarr countrymen and women held, speaking of many thing that brought pain in the last season. 3,000 civilians of our nation who had died from an invasion, to the tale of the Voice of our nation sacrificing himself to kill the heart of a new and terrifying threat. But under it all a stolid faith in the empire and each other.
It was 7 months ago that while browsing Facebook I saw a mention from a friend of the LARP he had just been to, after a conversation with him by the evening I had decided I was going to play in the next event… unfortunately the event he had mentions was the last in the year, so a 7 month prep time went into effect and which to be honest I’m glad of. You don’t join the biggest LARP in the UK of thousands of players with no prep, there’s a whole wiki about the history and the world. And there the character of Podine started to develop, going through iterations until I settled on the morning of the event what he would be… after three days of roleplaying, he was something completely different.
The Empire, 10 nations, each with their own distinctive culture, look, beliefs and goals. From the renowned mages of the Urzen, The Imperial Orcs to the Viking-esk Wintermark. 4 times a year at the solstices and equinoxes heroes from each nation come to Anvil to discuss, trade, battle the enemy whoever they may be… and drink. On many sides there are enemies, everything from barbarians to hordes of orcs to the deadly treelike Vallorn that destroyed the homeland of the Navarr. A giant camp with a senate building, dozens of player run and real money pubs, imperial offices, civil service, a sentinel gate to create portals to the battlefields, it is essentially a city. My nation was the Navarr, since the fall of our homeland we wander the empire walking the magical roads known as trods to weaken the Valorn, with a true belief in the Empire we are a practical people who fight furiously. Based in the woods of anvil the small camp is beautiful at dusk and pretty much any other time of day.
Turning up at my first every LARP with homemade bright green robe and brown linen trousers I immediately felt very badly dressed compared to all the other players. Any time I mentioned this to other players they would jump to disagree with me saying I only needed time to develop and the best solution is to, I quote “go and roll around in the dirt for a few minutes and it’ll look great”. So I went out and I brought a sword, dagger, water-skin, LARP safe chisel to use as a mending wand and a bunch of other miscellaneous items and immediately felt more drawn into the world.
Above all else I can say the players in the Empire LARP were fantastic in welcoming me to the event saying “welcome welcome”, then finding out that this was my first ever live action event they had a look of glee in their eyes having a chance to share their special knowledge with an initiate. One of the Egregores giving me a talk through how anvil works even though I missed the new player intro because I thought it was at 5pm instead of 4pm. Before the roleplay started one of the Navarr generals walked me through character creation and, as an artisan who makes magic items, what the best ones were to pick so they would sell.
However my first day was a bit lonely, my only friend that I knew was in the camp (turns out I had others who just happened to be there) was working on the crew and was very busy. On the first night I hung around the Navarr camp fire as we all sang songs, told stories and we played drums. But I had only spoken to a handful of characters in-game as many of those who I had spoken to before were involved with some very intense stuff and were quite understandably very busy.
On the second day however I met Stitch while out monstering or as everyone refers to it in character “fruit picking”, in order to fight in the big battle with your nation you must fight in the other battle as the monsters against the other nations fighting that day. Being my first ever event and my LARP combat experience consisting of a few hours when
visiting Birmingham 6 months earlier I decided to go for a low combat role, I ended up being a siege engineer with stitch, it was the orc armies mission to get us and 3 other engineers to the other side of the battle field to blow up a port.
After the battle she introduced me to her partner Darius and their striding (player group) called the pathfinders and they started showing me the ropes, everything from what a good price is for magic items to basic advice about the camp and where the best pubs are… Saturday night bar crawl with Stitch and Darius got pretty rough and ended with a character being murdered 10 meters away from me while I drank a very large amount of quite delicious mead. Followed by me announcing to what in retrospect seemed like half my nation what happen during song and story time.
It was quite honestly one of the most fun 3 days I’ve had in years… spattered with some rather embarrassing moments (see drunken announcement mentioned above and screwing up a song). But what I loved above all else was the general atmosphere, unlike most of my tabletop roleplaying experience there was a large mix of men and women at the event, whole families and in character school to train them up the children to one day be “citizens of the empire” (and also give them something to do while their parents ran around in the battles or at meetings). People striking up conversation across tables in the dining tents, player running little businesses to earn in-game money.
Here are some of my favorite moments:
● Going to a graduation of several children from the school and the mighty roar from the Navarr players crowded into the tent with the battle cry “strength to the Empire! Strength to the Navarr” which then woke a baby from the boisterous cacophony.
● discussing with an Urzen woman (who I later found out to be a rather senior Mage) about how it is always wise to poke the weird magic thing to see what it will do.
● The Mead
● The bartering and haggling for materials and magic items that players want made.
In conclusion all I can say is I have fallen in love with this world. The complex political system, the military council, how almost every seat of power is inhabited by players, a detailed world, complex economy and if any players are reading this, thank you so much and I hope to see you at the next event in June.
Photos by Tom Garnett
Event run by Profound Decisions ( http://www.profounddecisions.co.uk )