Curious Pastimes, Battlefield furniture taken to the max!

I’ve been going to CP for a very very long time. Hell I’ve had people wander up to me and tell me stories about my previous characters without ever realising it was me (in their defence I was playing a leather masked sociopath at the time). Much like everything you do for so long slowly you start to see nothing but the bad bits of it, which is why when I turned up to Renewal I did so with zero Froth.

I should explain Froth to the non-larpers amongst us. Froth is the feeling of excitement and anticipation you get before an event, part anticipation of the role-play and part wanting to see all the people you larp with. It thrives on wanting to be at the event already, talking to people about it and so on. Not having any froth is something of a surprise for me, normally I have plenty but this time it was running on 0%.

It was not helped by the fact that the CP system had recently gone stab safe. I actively hate stab safe, and it’s a major reason why I don’t do the battles at Empire. I’ve fought against Stab safe weapons before and none of the people using them seemed to bother pulling their blows. Plus the throat was considered a viable (indeed seemingly preferred) target. Whereas combat at Empire is very much an optional it somewhat isn’t for CP, with camp attacks and fights on the path. Most of the time I really like camp attacks and the danger of walking from camp to camp, but now it just meant I couldn’t avoid stab safe.

I should also point out that I’m a group leader as well, which involves a greater or lesser amount of herding cats at events. Luckily my group are quite good at being organised (i.e. they are generally organised, not that they respond well to me organising them) so that took a bit of the stress off the event as well.

Being one of the smaller factions at this event, we were camped in one of the small glades, although handily right next to the Tavern and traders. It meant that the tents had to be very carefully organised, and indeed lead directly to what is termed “tent city” in the Jhereg. Strangely however we also had a number of trees with faces on in our camp. I still have no idea what they were about, but they were very atmospheric, and they were EVERYWHERE, which was both creepy and unfortunate as the glue seemed to drive the wasps absolutely insane.
The wasps were definitely an issue at this one, everywhere you went there were thousands of the little buggers, and the tables at the tavern were covered by the end with upturned pint glasses with wasps trapped underneath. I suspect the hot summer had helped the wasps out, but would definitely be bringing some form of Wasp repellent if we use the site again, or you know different glue for the creepy tree faces. It was not helped by someone leaving a pint of coke near our tent, that quickly turned into half a pint of coke and half a pint of angry caffeined up arse-dagger wielding murder-insects. Luckily I have pretty fast reflexes, as otherwise I would have been stung a lot more than the three times I chalked up.

On the whole though the faces added more than the wasps took away, and it was evidence of a change in CP I’ve been observing for a while. Gone are the days of Hessian walls and Hessian covered monsters. More often there are “set piece” monsters such as the frost giant, Fimbulwinter, or the Ents mixed with the players wearing their monstering kit. These set piece creatures are also bloody terrifying to come up against. CP have steadily been improving the stable as well, with a large number of sodding amazing werewolves being at a previous event, and some more specific monsters set aside for this one.

One of these, the Drune Lord Brock I got to see up close, and by up close I mean it was trying to kill me. The kit itself was relatively generic, but the axe and the helm were fairly distinctive, the Axe certainly made an impact on me at least. The other Drune who appeared in the battle (Nyssor I think) was not as physically imposing but you could tell great effort had been made to make him look imposing if not physically so. Many of his underlings, the skull swords, were also wearing kit made for the purpose. While Empire might have X hundred sets of NPC armour CP has previously relied mostly on player provided kit, with some minimal additions, such as the red tabards the blood-slaves war in the past, and believe me seeing the red wave coming over the hill was fairly impressive at the time. I support the efforts CP is making on this front. The addition of monster kit is a good thing as even one or two such monsters on the battlefield makes a big difference.

Especially the Devourer of Flesh, which despite being a massive piece of kit seems to be able to SPRINT across the battlefield.

This was added to by actual buildings.

Again before now buildings had been attempted, either with hay bales, or Hessian walls. In the last few years though set pieces have begun to appear, towers and ruins, and at this one they definitely rolled out the barrel. The Ritual Circle had an archway and viewing room, as well as a huge Triptych, and an ivy covered pool. The only thing it could have done with extra was a bit more in the way of demarcation of where the circle actually lay. Out on the battlefield were two smaller towers, and an honest to god FORT. Yes a fort. With doors, and sally ports and archery slots and walls just the right height to fight over. In the first battle however, the one I played in I had no chance to look at any of them on account of having to keep fighting the enemies who had surrounded us.

The second battle however I spent a lot of time in and around the fort, and it was excellent. Even better however was the fact that it was perfectly safe to fight in. Top marks to whoever designed the thing, and the refs that ran the battles were very good at avoiding crushes and other such problems inside it. As I said I had no chance to look at it in my playing battle, but I spent a lot of time around it in the monster battle, shouting at the players as the “conciliatory slough” priest of the Drune Lord Brock, who in the player battle I had been present at the death of. I can only imagine what it was like for the players as they first bashed down the doors and then fought their way inside. Then they started to leave and had to do it again when the enemy rallied. Seeing it swap sides back and forth, the players breaking in and then getting pushed back, and the final rush for the fort where they took down the last Drune lord felt truly epic.

That is one of the strengths of the CP system, the battles really are spectacular and on the player side at least the tactics are purely player lead. The site helped with this, with a combination of thick woods, open clearings and hill sections meaning that you had to navigate from one area to another and change tactics as you did so. This meant that while skirmishing might work in one place on the field you had to change to line fighting in others. This makes the battles feel nicely fluid, and lets everyone have their moment.

There were also a couple of skirmishes that I got involved in, one as a monster, and two actually playing. The monstering skirmish was in fact the first large fight I was involved in and my first meeting with stab-safe on a large scale. I will admit that we did not have a good time of it, it was one of the earlier fights at the event, and everyone was a little over-excited I think. I will however say that after the two main battles I was somewhat happier with it as people seemed to get the hang of pulling the weapons much better. I’m not a convert by any stretch of the imagination, but I will accept that used well they are not too bad.

The skirmishes themselves were a mixed bag, our first one was against some Imperial greenskins complete with oriental armoured ogres and spell casters in oriental style robes. It was a hard fought battle but relatively short. Our other skirmish was more frightening but we had to wait a very very long time for it to get started, originally it was slated for about 8 but ended up happening at about midnight in the end. I’m not sure if it was a miscommunication between the game team and faction command, or just a scheduling issue but it put a bit of a dampener on the evening as we had to be “stood to” ready to go at a moments notice, limiting what role-play could be done that evening, which was unfortunate as we had planned to do some socialising. Better communication might have worked here at least letting us know that it had been postponed would have helped.

The small dedicated game team seemed to have been out in force! Although the npc team seems smaller than that of other large fest systems, what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality. I suspect they must be fuelled by some form of battery that is charged from a portable nuclear reactor, as they always seem to be full of energy and very helpful. They are also very good at switching from one npc to another, although you do have to watch for the costume changes lest you greet someone that is playing someone else. They are pretty good about this however, the costumes are usually fairly distinctive so its not too difficult to tell them apart. They really are very good indeed, and deserve some form of round of applause!

Its a good job as well as the one thing CP has in spades is plot for them to NPC for. It is literally everywhere, from group level stuff created by the group leaders or faction command, to faction level things, all the way up to game level plot that people can interact with. Added in are scouting missions, meditations, and other ways of gaining information about what is going on. With so much going on its literally impossible to miss all of the plot, and you certainly not want to! To get enough monsters to run all of the plot (which is not always confrontational and indeed contains plenty of things for non-combat players as well), the game has specific monstering slots regarding when each faction has to turn out for the duty. It’s a good system, although I think having the times on a blackboard by the tavern might be a plan, as would some form of timepiece somewhere!

Efforts are made to make the monstering interesting for the people doing it, and some of my finest larping moments have actually been from monstering at CP, the “zombie who could” for example and also the stealthiest fomori cultist ever. I have never understood the people who do not like monstering as it allows you step outside your character for a little while, sort of a mental palate cleanser. Same is true of battlefield monstering, and it is a shame that the Monday battle tends to have fewer people on the monster side of things, but packing and people having very long drives does have a bit of a shrinking effect on numbers.

The best part however is by far and away the players. After such a long time in the game I know a fairly large number of people, and it is always good to get out among them! They are a very friendly bunch and I spent a lot of time out of my own camp visiting other peoples. From the wolves, where they explained the concept of shaving a bee so you could milk it, to the Fir Cruthen where we had a lovely conversation spoiled by attacking beast-men, to the Akesh who literally have the comfiest tent in existence, and as the owner of the second comfiest I know what I’m saying! It is for the most part easy to get to know people, an evening in the tavern will be enough to get to know at least some of them! There is no problem with wandering up to peoples gates and getting to know them that way either, in fact I would recommend it as a good plan.

The people of the game are very much the reason why I keep coming back to the game, and are also the reason that by the end of the event I was frothing a lot more than the 0% I had at the beginning, it’s just a shame that was when the event had to end!

All in all CP is well worth a look if you want a slightly more combat and plot heavy larp event with very good crew and excellent battlefield furniture and improving monster kit! If you do go I would suggest getting out and about and meeting people, and if you do so, come by the Jhereg!

One Response to “Curious Pastimes, Battlefield furniture taken to the max!”

  1. Ha I think I know who was telling you about the bees. It’s interesting getting a veteran view because that was my first event so I didn’t have anything to compare it to

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